By Chris Taydus
Editor-in-Chief, Riderwood Reporter
I’m going to admit something that is difficult to say: I’m a millennial.
I know! The revelation is shocking, but I fall into the generational gap that Pew Research defines as being born between 1981 and 1996 (but often lumps in anyone under the age of 40). The group that has been accused of “killing” the housing industry, diamonds, marriage, golf, and (my personal favorite) napkins is often portrayed as lazy, tech-obsessed, selfish, and entitled.
According to a study by the National Institute of Health, cases of narcissistic personality disorder are three times higher for people in their 20s than people 65 or older. For the first time in more than 130 years, the percentage of young adults ages 18 to 34 that are living at home with their parents has surpassed the number of those living with a spouse or significant other in their own home. The disorder formerly known as cubital tunnel syndrome has acquired the moniker of Cell Phone Elbow due in part to excessive cell phone usage in younger people. I’m here to tell you that it’s all true…for some of us.
For others, it couldn’t be further from the truth, and that’s something that needs to be addressed.
Merriam Webster defines stereotypes as “to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same.” Ageism is often mentioned in the context of younger people treating older people differently because of their age. A 50-year-old is passed up for a promotion by a 28-year-old with half the experience, or someone tells a joke about a senior and their hearing aid that’s based around common misconceptions.
But ageism can go the other way as well. Automatically assuming someone is tech-obsessed because you see them on their phone in passing, thinking that a young person doesn’t own a home because they’re financially irresponsible, or hearing about an unemployed 20-something and telling yourself that they just aren’t trying.
Tom Brokaw, television journalist, and champion of the Greatest Generation, actually holds high regard for Millennials, often calling them the Wary Generation. In a 2013 Time magazine article, he remarks on how Millennials are and will continue to be a significant force for change: “Their great mantra has been: Challenge convention. Find new and better ways of doing things. And so that ethos transcends the wonky people who are inventing new apps and embraces the whole economy.”
So, and this goes not just for residents, but anyone outside the “Me Me Me Generation,” don’t assume we’re narcissistic, entitled, lazy, technophiles that are just waiting for our big reality show break or the next participation trophy. Realize that we might be tech-savvy, student loan paying innovators trying to find our place in the world.