As a person born in the 90s, I am classified as a millennial, which means I am everything that is wrong with the world today. I stare at a screen instead of talking to people. I expect everything handed to me. I am lazy. I binge watch television shows. I overuse the word “binge”. I expect a trophy when I fail. I take selfies everywhere. I am narcissistic. I am entitled. I don’t read the newspaper. I spend too much time on “The Twitter.”
Or at least that’s how I’m categorized.
As if I’m a book and my date of birth is the summary on the back, telling everyone exactly what I’m about.
I feel as though there is a sense of pride that people have for growing up when they did. I look back on the 90s and am thrilled to call that decade my childhood. Just as people born in the 80s, 70s, 60s, 50s, and so on, would probably say the same about their childhood.
Once we grow up, I think we start to look down on the next generation. As if they’re growing up wrong.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had someone tell me that back when they were a kid, it took them an hour to walk to school – uphill, even. And that I should be grateful for all the methods of transportation readily available to me.
Excuse me, what part of me told you I wasn’t grateful? Was it when we were stuck in traffic? Was it when the bus was late? Was it when the subway told everyone to get off and wait for the next one?
Because if you take my complaining about inconveniences as me being ungrateful, then you’ve once again judged me by my date of birth.
Can I blame them? I don’t know. Probably not.
I mean, my generation is the punching bag for many people these days. With good reason, too. Just look at the celebrities that represent people my age. I won’t list them; you know who they are.
I can’t text, let alone touch my phone, without one of my grandparents asking me who could be so important that I have to talk to them. Do they have a point? Perhaps.
But I also think there is a lack of understanding.
Technology brought the world closer together, while simultaneously pulling us apart.
Growing up in the 90s, I was a part of the end of an era. Everything back then seemed proper. Life was simple. The older generation passed on their wisdom to the younger generation.
I didn’t grow up in a house with a computer. Not one that I was allowed to use, at least. I learned how to type on a typewriter. A typewriter! I bet it doesn’t say that in the summary on the back of my book.
I grew up with backyard rinks, road hockey, fruit punch breaks, and “Car!”
I grew up with Arthur, The Magic School Bus, and Boy Meets World.
I grew up with the multiplication table taped to the patio window and The Series of Unfortunate Events books glued to my hands.
I grew up required to finish my homework before I was allowed to blow air on an overheated Nintendo 64.
I grew up sitting in a lawn chair on the driveway just feeling the breeze go by, as I ate an ice cream sandwich and took part in an impromptu Spelling Bee, set up by my parents. Yes, I had a mini chalkboard to write my answer.
And then the turn of the century came and there was a shift. Technology took over.
I got a computer in my bedroom when I was 10-years-old, so I could type up school assignments. The Internet was so foreign to me. I didn’t know what to do with it. I had seven sports websites bookmarked, and then once I finished reading them, I turned off the computer. Crazy, right?
At school, we were using computers more. The first thing some people did when they signed in was change their cursor to an image. Remember that? We’ve come a long way since then.
But it just goes to show how new everything was to us.
I had the hardest time figuring out what the difference between “Save” and “Save As” was in Microsoft Word. I eventually taught myself.
And I think that’s what millennials have done. We have adapted to a world that didn’t exist before us. A world that we were born into, and forced to grow up in. People talk down on us for not acting like they did when they were our age. I don’t understand it.
I had no say in what era I was born.
So, I’m sorry I don’t walk everywhere. I’m sorry I have a cell phone. I’m sorry I like to listen to music from an iPod. I’m sorry I text people, instead of phoning them. I’m sorry I don’t have to get up to change the channel on the TV. I’m sorry I’m on the Internet for hours every day. I don’t have a selfie stick, but I’m sorry that people do. I’m sorry for growing up differently than you.
Is that what you wanted to hear?
I mean no disrespect towards older generations who have formed these opinions about millennials because, (un)surprisingly, I’m no different.
Many people my age are no different. We look down on millennials too.
We already use the term, “Back in my day…” when judging millennials younger than us.
We cringe when we see 8-year-olds with a cell phone. We cringe when we see 12-year-olds on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We cringe when we walk outside and see empty neighbourhoods. We cringe when kids would rather play video games instead of challenging an older grade of kids to a massive game of soccer at recess.
My childhood was different, yet we’re all millennials.
What I’m trying to say is this:
No one in the future will grow up like you did, just like no one in the future will grow up like I did. We can’t change that. We can’t refute that. We just have to live with it.
You will judge my generation, just like I judge my generation, and will judge the next generation, who will judge the generation that comes after them. It’s the circle of life.
However, all of us should know that our judgments are just that – judgments. Perception isn’t always reality.
I promise you that there are millennials that are everything that is right with the world today. They talk to people instead of staring at a screen. They don’t expect everything handed to them. They aren’t lazy. They don’t binge watch television shows. They don’t overuse the word “binge”. They don’t take selfies everywhere they go. They don’t expect a trophy when they fail. They aren’t narcissistic. They aren’t entitled. They read the newspaper. They don’t get all of their information off of “The Twitter.”
They are the ones overlooked.
They are the ones categorized by their date of birth.
They are millennials.
You just have to get to know them as individuals.