“You can’t be harsh. You cannot tell them you’re disappointed in them,” Marian Salzman, president of Euro RSCG Worldwide said. “You can’t really ask them to live and breathe the company. Because they’re living and breathing themselves and that keeps them very busy.” The difficult, self-absorbed employee type to which Salzman refers to are millennials.
Anyone born within the years 1980-2000 fall into the millennial generation. Defining characteristics of this generation include the rise of the smartphone, widespread use of social media, and increased documentation of daily life in photos. Older generations of businessmen and businesswomen like Salzman have conjured the millennial stereotype into existence. From motivational mindsets to technology usage, millennials are attacked for adopting the lifestyle laid out for them.
Means of communication have progressed, enabling instant contact via text-messaging. There are even ways to reach out to the distant public, such as previously unattainable celebrities, via viral media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.
Communication is no longer limited by distance. However, older generations argue that social media distances young people from conversing in any way without using a screen. The parents and grandparents of millennials exaggerate technology’s strong presence in today’s youth; it’s made out to be a social crutch, that without it a user would be completely disarmed in the face of business and basic human interaction. As for any deviation of views in history, people choose not to like or accept the things they do not understand. Many accusers have not experienced these new technological interfaces for themselves, and therefore cannot grasp the purpose of their prevalence in today’s world.
Another assumption commonly made is that millennials are lazy and don’t know the value of hard work. The adoption of a new tool does not automatically render its users as slackers. The generations that nag millennials about ‘how easy they have it with portable cell phones’ were nagged just the same by the generation before them about ‘how easy they have it with microwaves’. ‘Back in my day’ is a phrase that will be preached by elders as long as the earth is populated and repopulated, again and again. While nostalgia for the ways of the good old days is a natural occurrence, disrespect for another’s lifestyle is a whole other subject.
Yet another general critique on millennials is that they are self-centered yet sheltered. Perhaps this notion is correlated with the vernacular term ‘selfie’, but aside from that, humankind is just as selfish as it has always been. This aspect of human nature has only been magnified in recent times due to the rise in media platforms that enable self expression at our disposal.
Society must also address the misconception that millennials are sensitive and unreceptive of constructive criticism. Though exaggerated, the essence of these flaws were born at the hands of millennials’ parents. It is not the youth’s fault that the parenting style of the century revolves around positive reinforcement rather than tough love. Being raised under constant support has more benefits than acknowledged; it builds an individual’s confidence as they enter the business world. Thus, millennials should not be berated for their upbringings.
It is sad to see the face of the future criticized for living the only lives they know, especially when they were crafted by those before them. Their only crime has been a childhood where they grew up loved, and that shouldn’t make them suddenly worthless as they enter adulthood.