I feel ya Brett Stephens, and the other pundits of my generation, who are put off by what Stephens refers to in his recent NYTimes column as the “histrionic self-pity and moral self-righteousness, usually communicated via social media with maximum snark” that, in part, defines Millennials and Gen Z from the POV of Gen X.
I like Brett Stephens. I don’t agree with all of his views, and we generally truck an equal distance on opposite sides of the political center, but I admire his intellect and recognize his concerns about the manner in which Millennials practice discourse and demand. I mean, the “trending” reaction to his column on Twitter all but proved his damn point. And like him, reading those snarky ass posts from anonymous sources (launched from their parents’ basement…Oh!!!) does dangerous stuff to my already elevated blood pressure and looming date with Daddy diapers.
That said, I also really like Millennials and Gen Z. I’ve had them in my college classroom for the past dozen years, students from all over the country who engage in the self-expression and critical thinking required of humanities courses in higher education. Like most kids, they are good kids. I feel for them, too. A lot.
I’d be just a little snarky as well if the world, that is supposed to be my oyster, is instead a morass of economic hardship, climate crisis, endless war, broad inequality, mass shootings, partisan politics, rampant corruption, flagrant indifference, social injustice, douche-bag patriarchy, and a grossly incompetent president who is among the worst human beings on the planet. Oh, and SoundCloud.
I might take to nasty Tweeting, too. Or overreach when it comes to removing suspected cancers from our national or local body. Or tattoos I’ll have a hard time explaining to my children.
Yes, they are a little hysterical and a lot anxious, but it ain’t (mostly) from helicopter parents or everyone getting a trophy. They are somewhat hysterical and a lot anxious because they are inheriting a shit show! And it’s our fault…
We brought them climate change and social media and Donald Trump. The fact that 1% of the nation’s population controls 40% of the wealth ain’t their fault either. And, oh yeah, don’t blame Millennials and Gen Z for being a little tense since their classmates can show up at grammar school or high school or on college campus with high capacity arsenals purchased at fucking Wal-Mart and the government refuses to do anything about it. I could go on…and on.
The good news is that the current generation(s) have evolved as human beings. They are, for the most part, inclusive and tolerant. They are also savvy, educated, and progressive. And hopefully they will rise to the challenges we have created and save our democracy and save our world, just like a previous American generation who was faced with myriad and momentous challenges in the 1930s and 40s.. They honor this generation with the moniker of the “Greatest Generation.” What we need now is for Millennials and Gen Z to become the “Greatest Generation 2.0.”
They can do it. But first, let’s get Brett Stephens fired.