Silenters, Boomers, Millennials, X and Z – no matter your age, you can expect to be lumped into a generational pigeonhole.
Meanwhile, Millennials – born between around 1980 and 1995, and also known as Gen Y – are often derided as greedy but lazy; spending all the money they should be saving for a house on avocado toast.
A psychology graduate and marketing researcher has run with this theme in a recent opinion piece for the Chicago Tribune, in which she describes why the Covid pandemic is forcing “some Millennials” to “finally start #adulting.”
The writer, Jennifer Rosner, credits her father with correctly summing up the lived experience of both his daughter (who is a Millennial herself) and all other members of this age group.
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His key theories, Rosner explains, are as follows:
1) Many Millenials “have been given things without having earned them (like As for just showing up to gym class). As digital natives, they only know a world in which an endless supply of options in the form of information, products, and people are acquired on demand via the internet.”
2) As “collateral damage from the Great Recession” who “never stood a chance at developing principles around saving and planning”, Millennials have found themselves stereotyped as “entitled, self-absorbed, overly picky, noncommittal Peter Pans with very short attention spans”. She adds: “From an older person’s perspective, these characteristics are all signs of immaturity and a failure to launch.”
Rosner then suggests that her father is “not wrong” in thinking these things, but adds that she has a “feeling” that the end of the pandemic will see a “cascade of life changes for the 30-something elder Millennials.”
She jokes: “Even the trusty millennial brunch couldn’t drown out the debilitating terror that was 2020. After all, where could we brunch?
“Instead, we went home — back to our parents — which is ironic given some of us never really left. We started crafting and baking, watched a lot of PBS, and learned how to play online mahjong.”
Rosner then continues by pointing out that the oldest Millennials “will turn 40 this year” and it is, therefore, “time to grow up”.
The Chicago Tribune shared the essay on Twitter using the caption: “Writer Jennifer Rosner predicts COVID-19 lockdowns will force easy-breezy millennials to grow up.”
The suggestion that people aged 25-40 are having an “easy-breezy” time of things has not gone down well, with scores of users lashing out against the op-ed and the sweeping generalisations it perpetuates.
Here is just a glimpse at the impassioned reactions the piece has provoked:
Suffice it to say, Millennials do not consider their lives “easy-breezy” or, indeed, easy full-stop.
The Chicago Tribune later removed its tweet to the article, stating: “We deleted an earlier tweet because some comments in replies violated our guidelines for social media posting.”
However, Rosner’s piece can still be accessed on the news site.
And despite the fallout, as some Twitter users pointed out, opinion pieces are exactly that: opinions, not fact. They are there to be debated and to provoke a response.
In that case, this op-ed most certainly achieved its aim – the responses keep pouring out.