Millenial men are assumed to be lazy and uninvested. Stephane Wahl questioned the assumption and met some pretty great men.
Generation Y. Millennial.
Just those words can rapidly conjure a particular picture in the minds of the previous generation: a lazy, entitled, self-absorbed youngster who wants to be rewarded for showing up, and doesn’t know how to have a conversation outside of text speak. They want amazing jobs with little effort. They want praise for doing the bare minimum. They think flip-flops are appropriate business-casual footwear. Because I’m technically a part of this generation and don’t fit that mold, I did some digging. And when I surveyed a group of millennial men to find out who they really are, I came across some surprising insights.
Millennial Men are Critical Thinkers
How many people grew up with political or religious views simply because they heard their parents espousing the same beliefs? Not so with Millennials. Not a single one had the same religious or political affiliations that their parents had. They were able to take the foundation that was laid out for them, critically examine it, make their own choices and draw their own conclusions. These men ranged from ultra-liberal with conservative parents, to Tea Party members with parents who never bothered to vote. Catholics with parents who were staunch atheists made an appearance, as did Buddhists, Wiccans, and agnostics with a wide range of backgrounds.
I’ve heard people worry that the current generation is a bunch of sheep –slaves to their devices who could be talked into just about anything if Apple says it. But this group of young men showed that they do not take things at face value. They question, they research, and they figure out what is right for them.
Millennial Men are Goal Oriented
All of the men were either in school or working, and all had set goals in mind with their careers or education. One is working toward being a teacher, and wants to shape the minds of the next generation as a way to honor those who helped shape his. Another does a great deal of charity work and is always looking for ways to become more involved in the community. Future attorneys made the list, as did an auto mechanic, an engineering student with a view toward professorial work, and a football player with professional aspirations. Every single one knew where he wanted to be in five years. In ten years. And everything they are currently doing is working to meet that goal with hard work and dedication.
Millennial Men are for the People – ALL of the People
Despite the wide range of political and theological viewpoints represented in the survey answers, one constant stayed strong among all of the participants: they believe in human rights. Even those whose main political ideologies ranged in the conservative believed that marriage equality is essential to our country moving forward, and to embracing the idea that “all men are created equal.” As one eloquently put it, “If you could choose who you loved, the world might be a better place in general. But you can’t – no one can. And anyone who is in love should be free to pursue that love, no matter what gender they are.”
These men also followed what in some circles seems to be a controversial thought – that women are people, too. When asked about Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), the unanimous opinion was that they are childish, spoiled jerks who want someone to blame for everything that doesn’t go exactly their way. They stressed that anyone who would treat another human being that unkindly (think Gamer Gate rape threats) is single for a reason.
Millennial Men Fall Prey to Prejudice
Despite the open mindedness espoused in most of their answers, their responses to what they thought of other men in their generation were less than generous. “They’re selfish,” said one. Another cited the fact that many MRAs are in the Millennial generation as a reason to believe that young men are less chivalrous, less respectful, and more ridiculous than their older counterparts.
I know that my small pool of men (there were a dozen) does not necessarily represent the commonality here. But it is enough to show that we cannot keep grouping all Millennial men together. Just like any other generation, some work hard and some are slackers. Some are ambitious, and some just want to hang out all day. Some care about our country, and some don’t. Some support their fellow Gen Y-ers, and some think they need work. There’s nothing any more wrong with the Millennial generation than there has been with any other – but there is something wrong with prejudicial perceptions that we need to stop using to cover this diverse group.
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