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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

Proud to be a Millennial

Why is millennial such a dirty word? Use of the word is met with uncomfortable silence or scoffs from those in the ?generations that precede us.

Or even worse, they re-appropriate the word and use it pejoratively against us. Because of this, the word has become associated with qualities older generations falsely claim we possess, such as elevated feelings of self-importance and entitlement, laziness, ?narcissism, among others.

Time Magazine even called us “The Me Me Me ?Generation.”

Well, consider this my manifesto. The Millennial Manifesto.

Let’s begin with the assertion we are lazy. Many say we’re lazy because we’re moving back home to live with our parents after graduation instead of entering the “real world.”

The real world isn’t as easy as it used to be. The job market is so saturated with people with college degrees that they don’t mean much anymore.

But with this proliferation of college graduates comes the cold, hard fact that a degree is no longer optional if you want to work outside of the service or retail industry.

To make matters worse, manufacturing jobs are quickly dying. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 million manufacturing jobs were lost between 2000 and 2009.

No longer is a high school diploma enough to get a well paying, secure, unionized, I’ve-worked-here-for-40-years factory job.

Now, to get a job, you have to have “experience.” And that’s just a fancy way of saying “unpaid internships with absolutely no guarantee of paid employment.” Millennials are the most educated generation ever, but it takes until an average of age 30 for us to reach the middle of the wage distribution, up from 26 in 1980.

Older generations — and Time Magazine — blame us for the problems of the bad labor market. No longer will I sit idly by while my generation is treated as a scapegoat.

We’ve also been called “more narcissistic than previous generations,” according to one of my psychology professors sophomore year who will remain nameless. Every generic, misanthropic think piece — still looking at you, Time — cites the same tired studies that over-generalize and over-simplify what counts as “narcissistic behavior.”

One of these studies, conducted in 2008 by Jean Twenge, found that narcissistic behaviors among young people in this generation have significantly increased since the 1970s. But the problem with this is that Twenge used the incredibly broad, 40-question survey called the ?Narcissistic Personality Inventory to gather her data.

How does agreement with statements such as “I am assertive” or “I wish I was more assertive” qualify someone as narcissistic? The NPI is laden with questions like this, questions with answers that don’t really prove anything at all.

Time’s 2013 cover story mirrors the 1976 cover story of New York Magazine, in which Tom Wolfe dubbed the ’70s “The Me Decade.”

Millennials just seem more narcissistic because narcissism is a part of young adulthood; it’s not any different than when Gen X or the Baby Boomers were our age.

I could go on and on with this, but surpassing my word limit for this column would make me seem pretty entitled, wouldn’t it? Maybe if all these people criticizing my generation would actually take the time to talk to a millennial, they would discover that we’re not even that bad.

Maybe they would see that we’re not that all that different from how they used to be.

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