A Series of Blog Posts about Millennials and the Haters Who Hate 'Em
I have to say I laughed out loud at the video posted above, I also have to say that I think that a piece of me died as well. Sure that seems hyperbolic, but if we are being honest, so is the video above. It paints an extreme, but the thing that I really appreciate here is the conversation that it will allow us to have.
For many reading this, you are a millennial. Oh wait... you aren't all that familiar with the definition? Let's use the internet and not our brains to sort that out:
I really firmly hope you grasp the humor in my use of Wikipedia... because it is truly the millennial thing to do.
The difficulty with this conversation is that we are not only grasping with the perceived entitlement of a demographic, but we are, at the exact same time, coping with a world that is transforming before our eyes. This rapid transformation has contributed to a worldview shift which has laid the foundation for this perceived ever increasing generation gap.
Over the next series of posts, I would like to start looking at this "issue" from a number of angles. Mostly as my way of facilitating a conversation, and at the very least, this is my way encouraging us to think through this matter.
So what then is the "issue" or the "matter" that we are in fact iscussing.
Here is the problem: US vs THEM
Yup, it is as simple as that. We have two worldviews that are perceived to be warring, because on either side we have those who are willing to dig their heels in and say, the way that I am living is right, and because it is right, and right for me, then you are in fact doing it wrong. And by it, I mean, living.
So why are there only two sides when there are multiple demographics all alive at the same time? Great question. This battlefield is difficult to define, but let me lead with this, I believe that there is a lost generation which has contributed to this fight.
A lost generation? That sounds epic! Well... not as epic as you might think, we are talking of course about Generation X, which includes those born between 1961 and 1981, sandwiched in between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. This makes things a little bit clearer for us, as it helps us draw some battle lines.
The warring factions who represent the US and THEM respectively are the Millennials and the Boomers. So, aside from something to read while you are at work, you may be wondering why this should be of any interest to you? The answer is simple. I write from the perspective of a Pastor & Leader. I write from the perspective of a Millennial. I write about real life, and I write about the church, and when I say church, I mean, your church, my church, any church. This is important because we are seeing a major shift in the church, right across the board, and at the core of what may feel like an insurrection is actually this very debate... US VS THEM.
The perspectives of each faction are 100% valid, they both feel deeply about their way of life, and ironically, both seem to share fear when it comes to their way of life being challenged.
It is my goal to help us peel away the layers of this giant onion, and let's be honest, there are corners of this discussion and argument that really stink, and others that would almost make you cry, I will leave you to decide whether the crying corner is made up with those full of sad tears, or tears produced by an abundance of laughter. Either way, things are going to get dicey, a little more culinary humor, but hey... life is always more exciting when things get spicy.
These leaves us with some battle lines drawn in the sand... US VS THEM.
In this corner, fighting for years of hard work at one company, doing whatever needed to be done, now grinding it out at a maxed out earning potential, nearing or living off of huge retirement packages that don't exist anymore, and living in paid for homes that cost less than a current down payment... we've got the BOOMERS!
And in this corner, fighting for their hopes and dreams, and constantly changing jobs to find a better fight and an outlet for their creativity, living on broken promises of a corporate culture which can no longer afford to offer a 1/4 of the benefits that were previously offered because the Boomer's are living off the rest, living in rented homes and starter homes that cost more than a Boomer's first three homes put together, all the while trying to make a positive difference in this world we've got the MILLENNIALS!
I love a good fight, and the truth is, if you are a boomer you would think that I am making a boxing reference, and if you are a millennial you are a most likely convinced that I am doing fighter intro's for a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Fight... Same reference, different execution for a different age set, interesting right. This is just one small minuscule example of how we live in the same world, and share the same vocabulary, but the words and worldviews couldn't be more distinct.
I believe the diagnosis is simple... we have locked ourselves into a US VS THEM mindset. Both sides have settled in and ready for a no holds barred, knockout laden, heavyweight fight, and I LLLLOOOOVVEEEE a good fight, but herein lies the problem. We are never going to get anywhere if our only posture resembles that of a prized fighter. The problem is that we have a problem and instead of trying to sort through those issues we are trying to punch our way to a draw, because the fundamental flaw in this fight is that the Boomer is fighting in a Boxing ring, and the Millennial is fighting in an Octagon, and neither are making contact, nor engaging, because both are fighting from their worldview and neither one has decided to step onto some common ground.
The problem is we have a problem, and we can't solve it if we can't get ourselves. Both of us. Here's the kicker. This is the same fight that you've been having for your entire life if you are a millennial, and for the last 20 years if you are a boomer.
You know who is really fighting? This is Mom & Dad vs. The Kids. This is the age-old, teenage vs parent slugfest, but with one interesting wrinkle... Mom & Dad aren't fighting with their own kid. In fact, Mom & Dad are so convinced of their own child's greatness and are patting themselves for the personal potential housed inside of their precious little one, that they could never believe that their child is the one who is causing these problems because they are angels.
And the funny thing on the other side of the fence is that the kids aren't fighting against Mom & Dad because it was Mom & Dad who put all those hopes and dreams and positivity in their minds, and it's Mom & Dad who are financially allowing them to pursue their dreams because Mom & Dad never got to.
We have a US vs THEM battle, where combatants on either side want to fight, just not against each other. So it's those other people's kids vs. those other people's parents ... and that just gets weird, and never ends well. But it does begin to bring something to light.
We have to recognize that the problem with the ENTITLED GENERATION aka The Millennials is that they aren't so much ENTITLED as they are EMPOWERED, and that they were EMPOWERED by none other than Mom & Dad who in most cases represent the BOOMERS.
We've got a problem because the most vocalized problem with the Millennials didn't actually originate with the Millenials, it's only manifested by them. The seeds were actually planted by Boomer's who were trying to give their kids the opportunity to dream, and the self-confidence to live inspired and meaningful lives, in many cases, the lives that some Boomer's feel like they never got to live themselves. So... is the ENTITLEMENT problem really about ENTITLEMENT?
Is it possible that the maybe ENTITLEMENT isn't the problem, maybe the Boomer's are looking into a mirror and they aren't happy with they stand now, and these 20 somethings following their dreams just reminds them that they sacrificed theirs?
I can't answer that... I can only ask the question because sitting comfortably in my entitled millennial chair, writing a blog, the irony is not lost on me... How entitled do I even have to be to have this conversation?
Well... entitled enough to know, that we've got to navigate these waters, and empowered enough to know that somebody has to cross the floor and make the first move. Except my first move isn't to step out of the octagon and into the ring, my first move is to take off my gloves, and offer a seat at a handcrafted harvest table serving ethicially sourced coffee prepared in a Chemex, with only our hopes and dreams of our honest conversation lighting the room, and of course, string lights... there has got to be some string lights.
I don't think there really is a US vs THEM, I think there is a US & THEM and that the sooner we recognize this is not a fight, the sooner we can move forward... together.
The Millennials are not trying to steal from you, they are not trying to rip you off, they are trying to build on your legacy and your foundation, using the confidence and inspiration that you provided as fuel...
The Boomer's are not trying to steal your dreams millennials, they are trying to create a sustainable pathway for your success. They are inspired by your creativity, and your ingenuity, but they also need you to realize how much they've invested in you and that there is a cost involved in all of this...
Brett Esslinger is a Husband, Dad, Son, Brother, Pastor, Speaker, Leader, Writer whose life goal is to help people unlock their potential and fulfill their life's purpose.