Thursday, April 24, 2008

Millennials In The New Millennium

Mister Rogers Says “You’re Special”
Damn Right We Are
By Amber Gray

I remember being in second grade and embracing the feeling of the soft keyboard against my fingertips for the very first time. I sat in awe glued to the computer screen that read AOL 2.0 “Get Connected.” This began my love for technology. I held it in my arms like a newborn baby and waited for more.

The media is defining echo boomers as those born between 1982 and 1995. According to 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer, we have the upper hand. “They are the first to grow up with computers at home, in a 500-channel TV universe. They are multitaskers with cell phones, music downloads, and Instant Messaging on the Internet,” he said.

Is this such a bad thing? What’s bad is that my 45 year-old mother recently asked me to take a typing test for her so she could get that job she’s been yearning for, but is falling short because of her lack of computer skills. However, for Millennials, this is a great thing. There are about 80 million of us, and according to a 60 Minutes report on Millennials, that said, "we’re “rapidly taking over the baby boomers who are now pushing 60.”

While 60 Minutes, as always, tries to get all the angles for this story, I can’t help but be angered by the old wrinkly men who think they still know what’s best for the future. We are the future, not them.

It’s true, as a child I was taken care of. I could even go as far as to say I was spoiled. Catholic school on Saturdays, cheerleading on Sundays, basketball on Tuesdays and Thursdays, piano lessons on Wednesdays, ice skating lessons on Fridays. I did it all and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I was also brought up with good values and was taught that all of these activities were provided because of one thing: Money.

Dr. Mel Levine says it perfectly in the 60 Minutes report that parents put these kids into these activities to create stability and structure. “This is a generation that has long aimed to please. They’ve wanted to please their parents, their friends, their teachers, their college admissions officers.” Although I did live a childhood where I was treated like a princess, it was because my parents could afford to do it and that’s exactly how I want my kids to live.

This story does conflict when it comes to my life. Today, I know the right thing to do is be independent and work hard in school. When our parent’s were 20, they could live an all right life not going to college. It’s not like that for us, so it’s not as if we aren’t working hard. I have a job, pay for my own food, cell phone bill, clothes, hair, nails, and soon, my own apartment. All of my friends are the same way; they’ve grown up with parents who have more than enough money to continue providing for them, but all of them tense up with the sense of guilt when it comes to asking their mom or dad for twenty dollars.

The fact is we aren’t going to settle for anything less than great. I grew up with a father who from age 16 started at one company and continued with it for the next 25 years. Recently, he was demoted because a lot of college kids were flooding the market with revolutionized ideas for the future of his company. I don’t want to be my dad and maybe that could be why we aren’t sticking to one job.

As Marian Salzman reminds us in the 60 Minutes report, “I believe that they actually think of themselves like merchandise on eBay. If you don’t want me, Mr. employer, I’ll go sell myself down the street. I’ll probably get more money. I’ll definitely get a better experience. And by the way, they’ll adore me. You only like me."

I do agree that Millenials may sometimes be too distracted to look up from their cell phones during endless texting, and we may even spend just a little too much time on the Internet. But don’t say that we don’t work hard. More importantly, don’t doubt the genius Mister Rogers, who told us we are special.

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