Are Millennials Ruining The World?

Those darn young people are at it again, ruining everything! If it weren’t for you meddling kids, the rest of the world could get away with being successful.

At least that seems to be the attitude these days—as continuous stories emerge carping about Millennials (or Generation Y). They’re lazy, entitled, selfish. We at qSample are not entirely beyond that, even if it’s with sound data, demonstrated in our article Millennials and Holiday Shopping:

A recent study from Hanover research reveals that that millennials live and shop in the moment, often making purchases and dealing with the repercussions later. The study also shows that 52% of Millennials were more likely to make impulse purchases than any other generation.

The apex of this collective Millennial buffaloing might have been the piece in a May issue of Time, entitled The Me, Me, Me Generation.

The article wasn’t exactly flattering, and it’s illustrated by its cover provided below—with the selfie as the perennial symbol of the alleged narcissism of Millennials:

Time cover with millennial taking a selfie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it is true? Many Millennials would disagree. Tech Marketer Scott Hogan is one of them. He pushed back in an insightful LinkedIn Pulse article, detailing how Millennials are actually responsible members of the commercial and cultural ecosystems. Some of his evidence included:

Millennials are more prone to support socially-responsible products (like Tom’s Shoes and other brands that actively support charities and environmental causes).
Millennials are expected to reach $200 billion in spending by 2017, the largest consumer generation in U.S. History.
– Millennials are the masters of technology, which will make them the best possible members of the workforce.

So who’s right?

In the end, probably both viewpoints. It’s a matter of perspective.

No way, some in the older generations will insist, barking that it began with the hippy-sell-outs-turned-yuppies; and it just keeps getting worse with each decade. Millennials are the culmination of too much spoiling and touchy-feely psychology. They are an unprecedented threat to western culture, the end of history!

No, no…it really is a matter of perspective. There is nothing new under the sun, as seen by this quote:

The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no respect for their parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone know everything and what passes for wisdom in us foolishness in them. As for the girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior and dress.

—Peter the Hermit, eleventh century AD

If you still feel we haven’t gone back enough to the “good old days,” how about this:

Our young men have grown slothful. There is not a single honorable occupation for which they will toil night and day. They sing and dance and grow effeminate and curl their hair and learn womanish tricks of speech; they are as languid as women and deck themselves out with unbecoming ornaments. Without strength, without energy, they add nothing during life to the gifts with which they were born—then they complain of their lot.

― Seneca, first century AD

Wow, looks like the ancient Romans had their own hippies and selfies and overall belfie attitude…at least in the view of the “real” grownups.
But it had to do with that immoral Roman Empire, right? Instead, the birthplace of Democracy and Reason possessed the blueprint for a healthy society. Not so fast! Look at this quote by arguably the greatest thinker in history:

The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.

― Socrates, 5th century BC

We can go back even farther to one of the fathers of poetry:

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.

― Hesiod, 8th century BC

Guess the ancient Greek whippersnappers were constantly wasting their lives on marble versions of Snapchat and Instagram, impulsively buying real Amazons instead of shopping at Amazon like Millennials do today.

Fine, we older ones might admit, but at some point in society the younger generations were restrained and dutiful, in a time of steely kings and primitive habits.

Sorry to disappoint, but no:

Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.

― Assyrian Clay Tablet, 2800 BC

Sheesh…ancient forms of Y2K or a Mayan Apocalypse, surely caused by a bratty younger generation. If only Kindle could go back in time to assist all those people wanting to write books! The horror!

I hope you see my point. Millennials aren’t the problem and they are—because they are part of the natural cycle of societal evolution. In the end, the Time article does agree with Hogan: Millennials will ultimately leave a beneficial footprint on this era (just as earlier generations did during their heyday). Millennials will leave their mark, mostly positive and partly negative. Regardless, the world will not end because of them, as it didn’t during Assyrian times.

Millennials will surely complain about the generation that follows, even if they happen to be on a base on Mars…or in a future article of Time.

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