Stop punching down at millennials

An analog clock reading 11:492014-06-06 / 2014-W23-5T11:49:56-05:00 / 0x5391f134

Categories: politics

Um, complaining loudly in a coffee shop about how much you dislike millennials is pretty rude.

— Chris Phan (@functoruser) June 6, 2014

Also, it's hilarious how your complaint boils down to "They were raised poorly." And whose fault would that be?

— Chris Phan (@functoruser) June 6, 2014

At least my parents raised me to know that complaining about people loudly in coffee shops (and making gross generalizations) is rude.

— Chris Phan (@functoruser) June 6, 2014

(FWIW, I don't think millennials were raised poorly.)

— Chris Phan (@functoruser) June 6, 2014

I absolutely hate millennial-bashing. While I don’t consider myself a millennial—I’m just a tad bit too old—I have a great deal of sympathy and affinity for that generation. That generation has been dealt a bad hand. Many of the manufacturing jobs that provide a path to prosperity for those without college degrees have been moved overseas, and as a result millennials desiring prosperity were told they had to go to college. Alas, millennials did not enjoy the same level of government subsidy for their college education as their parents, so many of them have been saddled with crippling amounts of student debt. Furthermore, many millennials came out of college right as the economy tanked due to the financial sins of their parents’ generation. Yet, it’s common to hear people blame millennials for their inability to launch.

Annoyingly, much of the millennial-bashing you hear boils down to complaints about how they were raised. Millennials, many baby boomers will tell you, were praised too much as children. There was too much emphasis on self-esteem. They were given too high of expectations by their parents. For whatever it’s worth, I think these complaints are over-wrought. In my experience, millennials don’t suffer from too much self-esteem and many have adjusted expectations—I think more than they should have to—to today’s economic realities. But even if these complaints were accurate, it takes quite a bit of chutzpah for someone to say, essentially, “Ha ha, your generation sucks because we did a poor job raising you!”

Millennial-bashing by older people is good example of “punching down”, that is, it’s people using their power to attack someone with less power—which I find very distasteful. And criticism of millennials is used as a convenient excuse to avoid questioning the policy decisions (such as financial deregulation, globalization, and defunding of post-secondary education) that have put that generation at a disadvantage.