Constructing The Millennial


From coverage on avocado toast to the growing fashionability of ‘millennial pink’, the news stories covering this generation grow increasingly derogatory from those who consider themselves of an older, wiser, and essentially better, time. For instance, just this weekend the Sun published an article stating that ‘snowflake students’ were re-evaluating Shelley’s Frankenstein and making the monster into a victim; the whole point is that the monster is the victim! This is how the text has always been studied, to point out the human flaws which lead to the shunning and alienation of others. So why is it that this has become the latest scapegoat in this ongoing metaphorical pin the tail on the donkey?

Wikipedia defines a millennial as someone who was born between the mid 80’s and early 2000’s. Yet despite this being the principle definition, along with the fact that this is a youth culture which has grown up alongside technology, negative connotations have become frequently intertwined with this word millennial. There has even been an app created to transform the term every time it pops up on line into ‘lizard people’. Comical as this may sound, the reality is that just because a generation has grown up differently to those before it, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. It most certainly doesn’t mean that every single person born into this category is suddenly the living incarnation of Narcissus or doesn’t hold any respect for all that has come before them. So why do comments take elements of C.21st century culture, mock them and play the blame game? In my mind, these are ill educated ideas which construct and promote negative stereotypes, which then serve as the face of those in question.

This is the danger in pluralised labels - they fail to take into account many individuals and the fact that no two people are the same. There are good and bad Millennials alike, just as there have been in every other generation; there is no singular truth about anything but instead continued counter-narratives which co-exist at the same time. For instance, think of all the good things there are because of Millennials! Increasing technology and medical progress and a better connected, more compassionate world. For us, social change is always at the forefront of the agenda - we want to be active about making positive change a reality. We are empathic and welcoming of one another’s diversity, with the legalisation of gay marriage and the defending of women’s rights being promoted most fiercely by our voices; those same voices which are dubbed rude, ignorant and childish by the media of Generation X.

And those all knowing generations from before us? Again, a mixture of good and bad. Alongside their many positives, they also continued the ‘traditional’ oppression of minorities and ignored the growing issue of climate change until it got to a stage where there is less and less we can do to prevent it. Millennials are dubbed ‘the Peter Pan Generation’ because there are so many ‘grown up things’ which are off limit because of the destruction of the economy at their hands.

Owning our own houses before 30? I wish. Finding a good job? Unlikely, with unemployment being at an all time low. Being able to go to University for free? At £9,250 a year and then maintenance, we’ll be lucky to have £10 a month to spare for some extra groceries.

As you can see, the reality is much more complicated than any singular person or one specific generation being to blame for the current state of things. The reality is there is mess that needs cleaning up and eating healthily or wearing the most up to date fashions, no matter how ‘vapid’ they may seem, are the least of our problems. That shouldn’t be at the top of the headlines, but instead the things that need fixing and what we are doing about it. It’s high time we took back the term Millennial and prove it doesn’t constitute anything other than a mindset that is going to change this planet for the better, one person at a time.

What do you think about the Millennial debate? Let me know in the comments below.

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#MillennialDebate #millennials