Among the laundry list of millennial hallmarks I can’t stand lies the phrase “entitlement,” closely followed by Tinder and veganized pastries.
Baby boomers and Gen X’ers think we’re ignorant to their reductive perception: the millennial girl Snapchatting down the street, disengaged, drafting a mental coordinate plot of every Starbucks within a five-mile radius, on her way to 8 a.m. SoulCycle, getting in shape before her dreaded workday doing the bare minimum at the job that her aunt’s cousin’s sister’s hairstylist got for her. I mean she has to feed that cold brew addiction somehow. She struts like she owns the world, no regard for those who went before her, pioneering the technology in her hand or the opportunity at her fingertips. Utter, inexcusable entitlement.
I’ll be the first to concede that I occasionally fit this mold. Our generation has undoubtedly yielded superficiality and materialism and it can be hard to stay down to earth. However, I fundamentally disagree with the way this prototypical millennial is perceived by the elder generations.
Yes, she may be contorting her expression into the duck face in an openly public forum toward a handheld device. But, what you don’t know is that she’s sending this picture to a close friend she met studying abroad in Venezuela. Her Venezuelan friend speaks broken English, and she speaks Spanglish at best, but they bonded over the universal language of art as they explored museums, concerts and films together. Communication through Snapchat isn’t inhibited by language; it’s become their preferred medium.
Yes, she may be minutes away from shelling out 30 bucks to have a disconcertingly over-caffeinated instructor teach her proper hand positioning on a stationary bike in a room one roofie away from being a full-blown South Beach discotheque. However, perhaps there’s more going on. Maybe she had an eating disorder earlier in life, an increasingly rampant issue in our generation, and has found SoulCycle and it’s party-inspired vibe a fun, measured way to stay healthy.
And perhaps she is working at a job garnered from a distant connection, that she hasn’t rightfully earned, detached from her surroundings. She’s the picture of entitlement. Well to this I say, yes, maybe you’re right. Maybe she is just hopelessly self-centered, toting around a ballooning superiority complex.
But maybe look a little deeper. Maybe your crystallized preconceived notions are obscuring your judgment. Maybe she’s a champion for LGBTQ+ rights and these stodgy old cubicles are just riddled with homophobia. Maybe she aspires to speak out about body image and writes a blog about her eating disorder experience on her laptop during breaks. Maybe she’s fresh out of med school but can’t seem to pin down a job in this gridlocked market and is itching to make a bigger impact. Maybe she really is grateful for this opportunity but she’s struggling to reconcile the generations, too.
People love to classify. It simplifies the complexities of humanity. But be mindful, Boomers, there may be more to us than meets the eye.
Dana Munro is a TMH alum currently attending the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her column, Glass Half Full, ran every Tuesday in spring 2018.