I’m not going to pretend that I speak for all Millennials.
I grew up overseas. The 90s nostalgia over cartoons, cereal, and toys was never part of my life. I’d made plenty of trips back to the US, but never really spent any time in the culture until I was 17, arriving on the shores of the new world like the opening of some cliched immigrant story.
Not quite so dramatically, but I was still very much a stranger in a strange land…
So maybe I’m looking at things through a strange, distorted lens. Maybe I’m alone in feeling that I’ve been seriously shortchanged on my future in the land of opportunity.
But I don’t think so.
Still, as I was writing this, I was starting to have second thoughts. Maybe my tone was too harsh, my criticisms to generalized, my frustration too warrant-less.
“Beautiful twenty-somethings (Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Miley Cyrus, Jon Rudnitsky) search for the love and success they’re entitled to on The Millennials.”
We watch a couple god-awful caricatures of Generation Y make outlandish demands of their sensible, long-suffering precursors. Near the end of the sketch, one of the smarmy Millennials threatens to jump out of a window. The two older workers stand back and say:
“Just do it.”
Cue the applause and cheers from the audience.
So yeah, **** being nice and measured here. Let me break down what I’m sick and tired of hearing from Gen X and their Boomer counterparts:
I. Kindly Ease Up With Demanding That I Get Married/Have Kids
The four victims of the La Loche shooting, Adam Wood, Marie Janvier, and Dayne and Drayden Fontaine.
When I first heard about this heartbreaking tragedy I was shocked. Since then, I’ve been reading more and more about the town of La Loche in order to better understand the context of what happened. Below I’ve shared some of what I’ve learned about the situation this small Northern town has faced.
In some ways the popular Canadian cliche of a “vast, empty wilderness” is still true today. Just like the “discovery” of Canada – when a country filled with many different nations was considered “empty” by explorers – today Canadians still consider the jobless pockets of Northern Canada “empty”.
First Nations communities continue to survive, despite the loss of many traditional practices and lands. While these communities struggle to overcome their isolation, many settler-Canadians continue to ask why they don’t move south to find more jobs and a “better lifestyle”. In her article responding to this question, Susanna Kelley argues that many rural reserve members are forced to give up their land and community support if they want to find employment and education.
“First of all, the overwhelming majority of [rural] reserve residents have not completed high school and have no place to work once they hit the urban south. And many fly in reserves don’t have high schools. Would you like to send your 13-year-old to live 70 km. away for months at a time?
Many who do come to the cities end up in the sex and drug trade. They simply are unqualified to make a living other ways…
Which is why many [First Nations] people stay where they are, close to family and their community.
But what most Canadians don’t know is that our nation is legally bound to provide housing, health care and education to [First Nations people] who live on reserves.
The federal government isn’t just doing it out of the goodness of its heart.
The obligation comes from legally binding agreements made by treaty many years ago.”
I mean, I might have to in the near future, but as of yet, I haven’t.
Today I’m going to be making some pretty bold statements, and I want to be up front about my reasons for doing so. While I don’t work in the big house (I have had to deal with min-sec “transitional housing”- if that counts for anything), I do work exclusively with an ex-felon population. As with a bad car wreck, you don’t have to be an expert to a look at the current situation and work backwards to figure out just where things started going wrong. Now I’m not saying that prisons help cause crime, just that as they stand today, they aren’t doing a whole lot of helping.
I’m writing these words in the last hours of what has been a quiet May Day.
For me, at least.
Elsewhere in the world, red and black flags are being proudly waved as people march through the streets, chanting and singing. In Greece, a nation-wide strike is being carried out in defiance of massive lay-offs enacted by the government. In Bangladesh, thousands are protesting after the collapse of a sweatshop resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of workers. Similar protests have broken out in the Philippines as nearly 10,000 workers march in Manila. Youth in Spain are raging against the nearly 30% unemployment rate. Korea, Cambodia, Turkey, Indonesia- just to name a handful- are witnessing similar turnouts.
EVAN: This week on E> we take a break from scrutinizing film to look back about seven or so months to a different time of our lives: college. Now that we’ve both graduated we find ourselves in a different stage of life, and it begs the question of what those four years did for us, and whether or not that’s what we wanted or expected.
GORDON: Throughout my college career, especially towards the end, I heard a recurring argument:
“College is a scam,” they said, “It’s a trap or, at very best, a waste of money. You don’t learn anything you can actually translate into a job, so either drop out while you can or don’t sweat the grades and party your buns off.”
EVAN: Wait, who is the “they” that was saying this?
GORDON: I’ve read it in various Cracked articles, I’ve seen it covered in webcomics and in comments, I’ve heard it on the radio. Not always the same tone, but it always boiled down to that essential idea. “College doesn’t teach you what you really need to know, it just puts you in debt and wastes your time.”
EVAN: Well, I guess that really begs the question of “What is it that we’re really supposed to know?” If college is the great institution to prepare us for our lives, what should it have taught us?
GORDON: Some would argue that technical and vocational skills are what we really need. Stuff that’s meant to train us for jobs. Wrenches, not Whitman.
EVAN: Which is the sort of thing you see advertised on television late at night or in the middle of the day; schools for electricians and dental assistants and plumbers and what have you.
GORDON: Which always come across as propaganda films from a dystopic alternate timeline. They can claim to be breaking the mold all they want- I’ll still always just see Orwellian Factory-Schools designed train the subservient masses for laboring in name of supreme leader and glorious fatherland.
EVAN: Heh heh.
The contrast to this idea you brought up when first introducing this topic, that the two sides could be seen as college prepping us for our careers or making us more well-rounded individuals.
There’s obviously more to it than that, but how would you boil the latter option down to its essence?
GORDON: I’d probably cite our own alma mater’s (for me more just “mater”) slogan of “global mindedness.” The idea is to create people who are, first and foremost, thinkers. Logical and critically minded thinkers with strong creative abilities and appreciation for art and wonder. A noble enough sentiment to be sure.
EVAN: To really engage with this topic I feel like we should have equal footing, and I’ll have to give our readers a little bit of context-
I’m currently unemployed, and chose to live the latter part of 2012 living with and taking care of my grandfather, whose wife [my grandmother] passed away in September. My job hunt has only very recently started up again.
I say that because as it stands one of us is currently working and knows how his education has aided him and the other is not.
GORDON: I, unlike my Canadian counter-part, am currently employed, having worked two jobs simultaneously for a while there. Having vainly searched for a job the entire summer and most of the fall, I am now working a job helping unemployed people find work, the irony of which is not lost on me.
EVAN: And did you, my Employed-American friend, find that a degree helped you in your search for work?
GORDON: In all honesty, I’m not sure.
On one hand, I can say that certain classes I brought definitely assisted me in securing a job, but those classes really more on the whole “applied” spectrum of education. I definitely didn’t need to go to a top 3% college. People, it turns out, don’t give a crap about where you went.
EVAN: Again, I can’t comment from experience, but I’d like to say that it depends on the job.
GORDON: This is probably true. However, if you were looking for a job, which is gonna look better on a resume? Four years of college, or four years of experience in that field? From everything that I’ve seen, I’d take experience every time.
EVAN: And I agree with that entirely. I can’t count the number of want ads I’ve seen [and this is for stuff like janitorial work, and dishwasher] that require “minimum 2 years work experience.”
It’s like, heck, what was I doing in school when I could’ve been out working this whole time?
GORDON: But of course, that brings up the first question: what’s the point of college? Are we expected to choose a career path and be trained like the mindless, dehumanized proles that we are?
EVAN: Well, for me personally my career goals were more tailored to an academic setting. My personal interest in writing and editing is definitely something that can and is fostered in that environment.
That being said, if I had skipped my four years of college to simply freelance as hard as I could out there in the real world, would I be a better writer today? I honestly couldn’t tell you.
GORDON: The problem is that both sides have really, really big flaws.
On the one hand, turning college into a simple vocational training course does truly rip the soul right out of academia. It makes it just the place you go to get a desk job instead of a manual one.
On the other hand, college as it is now, while fostering intellect and creativity, is as unhelpful as it is expensive. Why put yourself over a hundred thousand dollars in debt to not get employment?
EVAN: I guess in the bigger picture, what is it that we want to do with our lives?
There are plenty of jobs out there that don’t require a college education, and that certainly benefit from hard work at an early stage.
On the flip-side, there are jobs that you simply can’t get without a degree.
GORDON: We also can’t imagine that we can simply get any job we want to begin with. It’s all a gamble. I can get a degree in biology, but that doesn’t at all mean I’m gonna get a job in biology- heck, I’d probably be lucky if I got something even close!
EVAN: Like a janitor in a pharmaceutical company. Or the guy who delivers mail to a biology professor’s house.
GORDON: Exactly. So is that it, then? It’s the whole dang system?
EVAN: I mean, yeah. I feel like more often than not that’s all it really boils down to.
GORDON: So let’s talk about an ideal universe. Or at least one that ain’t quite so screwed up. What’s college look like? Give me your take.
This does not count as an ideal college…
EVAN: It’s tricky, man- Because I would like everyone to be well-read individuals who think about the media that they access and have a fuller understanding of what makes us who and what we are as a culture, I mean, that’s the dream-
But at the same time I acknowledge that there are people who don’t care a whit about any or all of that.
And with so many people who enjoy poetry and the arts, while those are debatably important parts of society, what happens when they need to find work? How many playwrights can any single country sustain?
GORDON: My response would be “how many playwrights are there actually out there?”
EVAN: I think there’s a difference between the actual number, and how many individuals would actually like to be a part of that number.
GORDON: Touché, but we can blame certain jobs being glorified and others suffering from unwarranted contempt.
But let’s move on. College. Your college- what’s it look like?
EVAN: A thorough exploration of the ideas that created Western civilization, the one most of us live in today, because it’s extremely important to observe our origins before we can look at our present and then ahead, after that.
A strong emphasis on writing with the reason that without the ability to properly communicate our thoughts how can we even really fully think them to begin with.
GORDON: Sounds to me that you’re still leaning more towards the side of academia.
EVAN: Well, like we’ve discussed, I have a slight bias. And I suppose we haven’t really defined the question as far as the purpose of college.
GORDON: My take would a combination of both sides, with the end goal being application. We’re talking about the study of English for the purposes of applying the principles in same, either in writing or screenplays or entertainment or communication of some kind.
I feel this would allow for all the creative and academic elements while keeping the whole process grounded. No ivory towers.
EVAN: I don’t think my take discounts the possibility of lining up with what you said, but that’s a really good description of how college could and maybe should be.
That being said, we are actually overtime.
GORDON: You wanna talk about drugs and culture next time?
EVAN: I think at some point we could hand this back to the viewers, actually. We’ve really gotten a handle on this whole E>. I’m just not sure when or how to do so.
GORDON: The readers are slack-jawed cattle who would eat their own shoes if we told them to.
EVAN: I should probably edit that out of the final post.
GORDON: Nah, we can let ’em vote. My subject would be Drugs and Culture.
EVAN: Mine would be . . . um . . . huh. About SNL. How to fix SNL.
GORDON: Nice. Let it be so.
EVAN: Tell the nice people to have a good Wednesday, Gordon.
GORDON: Have a good Wednesday, Gordon.
EVAN: And don’t forget to vote, readers! Thanks for putting up with my co-writer!
I started retweeting people complaining about welfare, food stamps, etc. and then following it up with a previous tweet of theirs that makes them look hypocritical/dumb/etc. I discovered that as I would retweet these, my followers would start @replying these people and let them know they were idiots. They would then delete their offending tweet. Well, I couldn’t let that happen. So, I screenshot away.
What Binder is very aware of is that Twitter is, by and large, a public forum. Anything that you tweet, unless your privacy settings are changed, can be read by anyone and everyone; my local Metro, and other newspapers around the world, have a section dedicated to them. This is something that people like Donald Trump often forget. As he mentions, once the tweets draw enough attention they are normally taken down. While this is unfortunate, screencaps serve to archive these tweets, and I’ve embedded a few for your viewing pleasure. The first two are a few of the more relevant ones, and the last is a wonderful showcase of hypocrisy:
In response to Korean pop artist PSY closing the American Music Awards.
Regarding a few Mexican high school marching bands and dancers marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Just one of the many, many tweet comparisons that highlight the plight of the privileged.
GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen- this is your captain speaking. After some unavoidable delays we will finally be taking off into our mid-week discussion. Our topic for today is “What’s the greatest flaw of this generation?”(This generation being those born in the late 80s to mid 90s: “The Millennials,” “Generation I”, “Gen Y”- call us what you will).
EVAN: As I mentioned in the news update, we scrapped our conversation last night, largely because it became cyclical. To be more specific, we ended up going back and forth between apathy and cowardice, with one leading back to the other and so on.
GORDON: But let’s widen the picture a bit. While apathy is the go-to criticism many have, also up there for our generation’s flaws is our alleged “sense of entitlement.” Thoughts?
EVAN: If we’re still going with your incredibly broad age range, then yes, I definitely think that a lot of kids these days feel a sense of entitlement. It’s just the norm now to have wireless internet, a phone, the latest iGadget, etc. They’re just expected, the new given.
GORDON: Is that fair, though? I mean- haven’t we assumed that phones, indoor toilets, and electricity are “the norm” since they were first invented?
EVAN: To a point, though, some of what you listed are basic necessities. I’d argue that indoor plumbing is considered much more standard than an iPad.
GORDON: This is true, but I don’t think our generation- barring the handful of people who actually do feel entitled- views the iPad or any specific item as being “standard”- it’s the interconnection that’s the norm, as well as the expectations for new technology.
I mean, back in the day you didn’t need light bulbs. But if they’re mass produced, and safer than gas-lamps, then it just stands to reason that we’d eventually come to expect them.
But of course technology’s only one element. what about the idea that this generation is “entitled” in the sense that they get to “find themselves” or “focus on their art” or whatever hipster euphemism is being used to say “part-time employed”?
EVAN: Do I think that people feel they deserve the right to do more than just hit the ground running after college, get right down to the ol’ nine-to-five? I mean, yeah.
But I think this brings up a point I made yesterday about the “where” of our question. In France the age of retirement is 62 and that’s just expected. There are different standards depending on where you live in the world.
GORDON: This is true. I mean, each and every one of us would be considered spoiled brats if we jumped back a hundred years or so.
EVAN: Oh, no doubt. Especially you with your freakishly smooth hands.
GORDON: So would YOU say that the whole “entitlement” criticism stands?
And I use gloves. I refuse to be put down because I take better care of myself.
EVAN: You say that every time, but they’re still as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
GORDON: That means they’re working, and I’ll further have you know that I have a big ol’ scar in my right hand in the shape of a number “7.” But back to the issue-
It doesn’t seem like the “entitlement” bit sticks. Could we be classified as “lazy,” perhaps? The warped and stunted half-humans resulting from government dependence and the welfare state?
EVAN: Well, we discussed “laziness” last night specifically in the context of wanting to change what is clearly a broken system, but is what we’re talking about a general laziness? People just expecting to be spoon-fed?
GORDON: That’s the question. I recall a Cracked.com article in which the author kicked things off by apologizing for helping perpetuate the myth that a college education was a guarantee for a good job. Are we “lazy” in having had the expectation- as most of us had?
EVAN: Well, depending on who you ask, college is hard. In a way, I guess we expect that the hard work we put into maintaining a good GPA, et cetera, will result in finding employment once we’re out in the real world. Which, as I can attest to, is clearly not the case.
GORDON: So is that laziness then? Entitlement mentality?
EVAN: I don’t think that doing hard work and expecting a reward is laziness. That’s like someone working the fields and then being called a layabout because he expected crops to grow. A shaky comparison, I realize.
GORDON: Works for me. And I agree.
Now you yourself have accused us all of being creatively bankrupt. Could that be our major flaw? That we don’t make- we remix?
EVAN: I guess it depends on how we’re working this whole “greatest flaw of our generation” angle. The trend to rehash, remix, et cetera came about recently, but I’m not sure it’s because of us. Or is the question in regards to this day and age we’re in, and not those growing up in it?
GORDON: No, I mean us as an age-group, and that does pretty much answer the question right there. We are, for the most part, not the ones who are making the films and TV shows and music (give or take) of our time- that’s those who came before us.
EVAN: Exactly. Which is why we’re getting stuff like He-Man and Thundercats reboots, because those who were kids in the 80’s have a crippling nostalgia. Music is different, of course, but TV and movies are definitely controlled by the generation before us.
Okay, how about this. Maybe the flaw is our hellish appetite to be entertained.
GORDON: Ooh- interesting take. Expound, by all means.
EVAN: I mean, you’ve talked about the bilge that’s on television countless times. Do you know what we’ve been reduced to? A musical chairs gameshow called “Oh Sit!”
Are we so bored that we’ll watch people play “extreme musical chairs” for an hour?
GORDON: I had no idea that existed. But surely this isn’t the first time in history that TV’s been crap. Or radio, or books, or music, or anything. Think of the “Penny Dreadfuls” back in the Victorian era- little, cheap trashy pulp-fiction novels made for mass consumption. Is that any worse than what we have today? Seems like the bilge is the same- it’s just the media that’ve changed.
EVAN: It may be the same, but it’s being produced at a frantic pace. That change, at least, has to be important.
GORDON: That speaks less to our appetites and more to our efficiency.
EVAN: I’d say that it has just as much to do with our appetites, judging by the content of what’s put out.
GORDON: We’re almost out of time, so let’s hit up some other key issues:
Apathy. As we said before, apathy tends to be the go-to criticism, at least, one of the major ones when it comes to our generation, and I think this is one of the easiest to put to rest. The Occupy Movement, environmentalism, increasing number of social movements, increasing global awareness- you name it. We’re strides ahead of the past couple generations. Heck, I’d go so far as to say we’re the most involved generation since the 60s and early 70s.
Well we’re out of time, and still of plenty of ground to cover- so rather than sloppily close up, we’ll be continuing our discussion next week with a question about hipster morality: “Do we want to be good, or do we just want to look good?” If you have any suggestions or recommendations for topics, don’t hesitate to shoot us a comment.
EVAN: Thanks for reading, and remember that CWR now updates every single weekday. I’ll see you tomorrow in our first ever “Fame Day” post!