The “Millennial Attitude” Is Justified


By Alisa Patience

Millennials are those lucky individuals who were born between 1982-2004, as reported by The Washington Post. We’re known for having smartphones glued to our hands and not having our lives figured out. We’ve all heard it before from older generations: “lazy, entitled, disrespectful.” But do they ever think that our so-called “entitlement” is justified?

In addition to being unable to pry our eyes from our phone screens long enough to make goals for the future, we have come to be known for complaining about student loans and college being expensive.  According to the 1976-77 U catalog, general tuition costs in 1976 for 10+ credit hours per semester was $175 for residents. In 2016, the tuition cost is a staggering $7,680 for a full year — roughly $3,840 per semester. In 1976, 40 years ago, the Utah minimum wage was $1.55 – 1.70, and now it’s $7.25, which means that for college students to work to make enough money to cover all four years of college tuition, they would have had to work a total of 904 hours. Assuming that those students worked every single day for one year, they would have had to work about two and-a-half hours every day, or 17.5 hours a week. Now, in order to make enough money for all four years of college today, we have to work about 4,323 hours. Once again, assuming that we work every single day for one year, we have to work twelve hours every single day. Current college students have to work 4.78 times as much as they did 40 years ago to financially earn the same education. That alone is a good enough reason to be jaded. I’m pretty sure that means we’re not lazy.

In high school, my teachers would always complain about how students would demand cars for their 16th birthday and how if they wanted a car 30 years ago they would have had to work for it. First of all, most of us do work for our cars, whether that means riding the bus to work or slowly paying our parents back. But it’s harder to get a job without a car. In every single job interview, I’ve had, one of the questions was “do you have a car?” Before I had a car, I wouldn’t get hired because people didn’t want to hire those who don’t have a means of getting around which makes them less reliable. However, we can’t buy cars without money and we can’t get money without a job. It’s a vicious circle that doesn’t earn any sympathy from our elders.

On another note, I could live without my smartphone entertainment-wise just fine. I would just read more or watch TV.  The issue isn’t that it wastes time; the issue is that it’s nearly impossible to keep up on school work, actual work, scholarship applications and current events without always having the Internet easily accessible. What if my boss needs me to come in suddenly, but I don’t get the message because I’m not at a computer to receive an email, or at home to answer a house call? People get angry because we don’t talk to our neighbors or random strangers on the bus because we’re too busy with the Internet, but I hate having to force myself into conversations. Back in the day, you had to stand next to the fence and awkwardly talk to your next-door neighbor about things that hardly matter. In fact, some people still do that and it makes me uncomfortable. I still see plenty of people having face-to-face conversations on the bus and train. But I’m not going to force myself into a conversation with people I don’t know.

As millennials, we’re also judged for taking selfies in public, for having more than one sexual partner during our lifespan, for having social media, for not having to walk ten miles every day, for having “crazy” colorful hair or for “disrespecting” our elders. Being older than me does not automatically earn you my respect. Being rude to me for no reason and telling me that I should get better at housework for when I’m married loses you my respect. Let me tell you, I always held the door open for someone, whether that was an old couple, a boy, a girl or a whole family. It just seems like we can’t enjoy anything modern without being judged and ridiculed.

You know why Baby Boomers and Gen X’s generally hate us so much? Because when someone tells us that we can’t have everything we want or need to survive, we say, “Why the hell not?” Sure, maybe we don’t know how to cook a four-course meal for our in-laws and taxes are a little scary, but we don’t settle. We’re complaining because older generations seem to try to push the “traditional route” on us — to go to college just to get a job that hopefully doesn’t make us want to kill ourselves. We refuse to settle for less than what we want or what we think we deserve.

Interestingly, the current season of “Survivor” is themed “Millennials vs. Gen X.” Who do you think is winning? The original tribe who went straight to strategy and building the camp and making enemies, or the original tribe who took time to get to know each other, make friends and explore the land? The Millennial tribe, the tribe that built social unity and postponed the dirty work, is showing us that positive attitudes and teamwork is more powerful than cynicism, individuality and pride.

All my life, as short as it’s been, I’ve been told that I don’t deserve what I have, that I’m lazy, that my positivity won’t get me anywhere in life. I take selfies because it makes me feel better about my body. I complain because, contrary to popular belief, life probably isn’t easier now than it was 40 years ago. Different, yes. But not easy. I’m on my phone all the time because I love knowing what other people around the world are doing. I’m proud to be a Millennial because when my children have children, there will be no one left to tell them who they can or can’t be, or what they are or aren’t capable of.

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