Drop the word Millennial and you’re guaranteed a response. Whether the response will be positive or negative is hard to say. But you’ll get one. Like snowflake or safe space, Millennial is a seemingly innocuous word that’s been supercharged overnight.
To be clear, there’s no exact science to the defining of the generations, but most agree that a Millennial is loosely defined as someone born between 1980 and 1995.
If the word shows up in Boomer-driven media, it might be describing a lazy bunch of business-killers, who expect the world but refuse to work for it. If it shows up on Millennial-driven social media it might be describing a generation that’s inherited a dying planet, an impossible housing market, and crippling debt. Some say entitled brats, others say progressive dreamers. If there’s one thing that Boomers and Millennials can agree on, it’s that there’s tension between the generations. Tension that will probably never be fully remedied.
But there is something Millennials can do about it. They can decide not to continue the cycle. As a Millennial, when I look to the generation following us, so-labelled Generation Z, I feel a lot of things. Likely similar to things felt by previous generations. I feel afraid of my own irrelevance. I feel envious of their understanding of technology. But most of all, and most importantly, I feel overcome with awe.
When I look to people like Tavi Gevinson, or our own Ella Yelich-O’Connor, I see bright young artists, who understand and explore youth in a way I never thought to. When I look to someone like Zendaya, I see a person who so understands social media, she takes down trolls like it’s as natural as breathing.
When the Columbine High School massacre occurred in 1999, it is said to have changed America. When the Stoneman Douglas shooting happened in 2018, it happened to the kids who grew up within that change. This is America’s Generation Z, a generation who grew up with active shooter drills, and constant news stories about high school massacres. When a shooter took the lives of 14 of their peers, the Parkland, Florida students decided their part in the news cycle wasn’t over. They were to become activists for change.
And when the conservative pundits came for them, as they disgustingly did, the social media generation flawlessly took them to task. Eighteen-year-old Emma Gonzalez, who didn’t previously have a Twitter account, now has more followers than the NRA. David Hogg, also 18, has become a lightning rod for harassment and conspiracy theories - but charges on with his simple mantra: “the young people will win”.
Generation Z isn’t a group to be messed with. They are smart, they are quick, and they care deeply about the issues that face them. As do plenty of Millennials. As do plenty of Boomers.
And I know that Millennials are tired of headlines telling them what to do. But this one’s indisputable. As Millennials, we mustn’t get caught up in what makes us different from Generation Z. We’ve got to support them. Or at the very least, we must not get in their way.Support Villainesse