Millennials are the 71 million people born between 1981 and 1996. They are entering the workforce, becoming parents, and experiencing life differently than generations past.
And they are angry. At least that is what pollsters are telling us.
But why? For most, it appears to stem from financial, environmental and personal challenges. Many feel that baby boomers and earlier generations are leaving behind a damaged planet. Furthermore, millennials are often criticized by the media and boomers alike for “having too many tattoos,” taking days off work, being lazy, switching jobs too much, playing video games, etc.
Obviously, there are several reasons millennials are angry, but let’s focus on the big ones:
DEBT & UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS: No, millennials didn’t walk 75 miles to school uphill both ways. Rather, they took out loans to cover $50k – $100k for school, just so they could land an entry-level job making minimum wage. How much was college when boomers were 18? According to Yahoo Finance, public college in 1982 cost $4,000. Total.
Furthermore, there is a societal expectation that young people get married, buy a house, and start a family. However, due to massive debt and lower pay scales, millennials cannot afford marriage or children, much less a house.
CLIMATE CHANGE & PLANET NEGLECT: Climate change was ignored and doubted for years. Forests were clean-cut, animals hunted to extinction, and now the oceans are churning like the garbage chute on the death star. Millennials are angry because they are left to clean up the mess of past generations.
WORKPLACE VALUES: Previous generations worked long hours, sacrificed family time, and stayed in jobs they hated to “live the American dream.” Now, people are eschewing this mentality in favor of maintaining a healthy, happy balance between work and home life. Unfortunately, the media and older people are vilifying millennials for being soft, less work-oriented, and less motivated. To some extent, they may be right.
But millennials do have skills! They are educated and tech-savvy. They know how to type with both hands because they didn’t learn on a “typewriter” (whatever that is). Heck, they even know how to silence their phones and solve computer issues. “Help me with this computer, millennial, you’re my only hope.”
Millennials are under steady scrutiny to perform at the high level of expectations set by the boomers. While they want to uphold the standards of previous generations, millennials are also striving to live healthy, balanced lives, focusing on what makes them happy and content.
So how do we avoid contributing to the creation of an angry society?
Check out Mary Louise VanNatta’s article on boomers in this publication. It’s essential to consider how you would choose to live if you grew up in their world; with wildly different work expectations and values. Keep in mind that each generation is doing their best and working toward a common goal: a better world and a happier life.
Keenan J. Emery is an Account Manager at VanNatta Public Relations, a PR, event planning, and consulting firm in Salem, Oregon. PRSalem.com