an enigma wrapped in a mystery
I just got done reading an article by a Millennial about Millennials. And although I am not in a position to know the first thing about Millennials, I'm pretty sure the article was worthless, asking more questions than it answered.
Any first person account, opinion, or analysis of an outsider group (Millennials in this particular case; as in, in this rant) inevitably takes as its reference point the author's bias. And this author's bias is that I consider myself smart... smarter than the average bear. I may be wrong. But, you know, I'm probably not. Of course, saying that I am smart simply is another way of saying that on average, I find others to be a bit dull (arrogant cuss that I am). And this little tidbit is true for all groups, Millennials included. So, if I say (the next generation, call them) Millennials seem a bit silly to me, I'm really just reflecting back my own bias of the world, which on the whole, comes across as a pretty silly place to me.
The point is we all have biases.
And I wonder what biases Millenials think they have.
Of course, given my belief that any objective observer is going to find the out group more divergent than the in group, I suspect your average non Millennial (the in group in this case) would (on average) find Millennials (the out group in this) to be more divergent (and therefore, worthy of comment) than themselves.
Or if that's not clear (and why should it not be), labelling Millennials as different (and therefore worthy of comment in the first place) was my first keen insight (super brilliant privileged white male that I am).
The second (super) keen insight (being even more general than the first) is that I don't actually care about behavioral quirks (such as the incidence of gum chewing) in a sub-group like the Millennials. I really don't think the lads down at the skate park have much in common with the gals practicing yoga in some air conditioned studio. On the other hand, there must be some common societal factors (being a kid today is different than it was twenty years ago) and that's pretty much the only aspect of Millennials that I find interesting.
In other words, what's different about being a child today versus being a child in the past?
During my childhood, digital watches became a thing; hand-held calculators became a thing; microwave ovens became a thing. And so, when I talk about Millennials and what's different about them, what I really want to know is how is it different now, growing up with cell phones and computers than it was back in the day, and how this changes a person. And almost nothing else.
See, we had 'Soccer Moms' back in the day. We just didn't call them 'Soccer Moms'. Being children, we actually related to the other children directly (as in, he's a soccer player) rather than going through the convolution machinations of relating to a friend vis a vie their parent's parenting style (as in, he's got a soccer mom for a parent). Now, I know different styles of parenting will change a kid. But there are still enough parenting styles out there to allow both smoking in the park on weekday evenings along with mandatory Saturday morning college prep classes. As in, I'm sure some kids do both.
But I'm getting off track.
As I don't care about differing parenting styles and the presumed emergence of the 'Hovering Parent', because as far as I can tell, some parents have always been hovering... and others not so much.
But like I said, I'm getting off track.
In grade school, they rounded us all up and sat us down in the gymnasium, where upon they rolled in a big ass TV. I mean, that sucker must have been at least 24" across the diagonal (and was just as as wide as it was deep). It was so big and heavy it rested permanently on its own audio visual cart.
Let me say it again.
Anyhow, the authorities that be let us watch the moon landing that was taking place that morning... or maybe it was, yet another, launch... or a space walk... or something.
Actually, I don't remember. Nor do I care. And although I have wondered about that episode a time or two in my life, I've never bothered to figure out what launch, landing, or (possibly even a) moon walk I was watching... BECAUSE I DON'T CARE.
See, I didn't care about the moon program. It had been going on my entire life. And if the adults in the room said there was going to be a lunar landing, well then, there was going to be a lunar landing.
But they were excited. Gads, but they were excited. I mean, to hear them go on, you'd think Mankind was making history or something.
But really, for me, it was just blah. And I like to think that I'm a fairly science oriented guy. OK. I'm not. But, come on, a few years later and I'd discover Science Fiction and that would become a true love. So, one would think that if any member of my generation would be excited about the moon launch, I would be. But I wasn't.
Is this individual?
How did the other kids feel? You know, the other kids that were able to think for themselves and could do something beyond parrot back what the elders had said?
I don't know.
And I don't think anyone really knows.
But in a nutshell, that's what I (like me, myself, and I) want out of a Millennium article. I want to know how these so-called Millennials interact with technology differently than I do from an emotional and philosophical perspective... and not just some stats telling me they Twitter more often (the twits) or are more prone to wasting their lives on FaceBook, you know, when they could be reading my rants, instead.
Um, where was I?
Emotions and Philosophies!
Major World Views!
This is what I care about, when I say I want to understand the Millennials (the Hippies, the Beats, and all the rest).
And so far, I haven't come across such a Manifesto. And I doubt I ever will.
Millennials (as a group) includes both boys and girls (or should that be men and women, at this point), Democrats and Republicans, Americans and Foreigners, this group and that group, every binary split one could possibly imagine and then some.
And to generalize such a (patently obvious) non-grouping is impossible.
But if we do, if we are going to, I want to know how this group (call them the Millennials) interacts with technology and how the advance of technology has effected them... and not the effects of growing up in a more affluent culture than one's parents, because we already know the effects of that and have known since the beginning of time... or at least, since the Roman Elders complained about the up and coming generation.
Affluence makes the next generation weak.
Money opens doors; and so, those with money tend not to learn any other ways of opening those same doors.
Making a fire with flint and stone is difficult, so those born into a world of ever present safety matches don't bother to learn such patently useless skills (unless its for some kind of bragging rights).
It is as simple as that.
So, is that it?
Are Millennials weak?
Does that sum them up?
Or am I being simplistic?
Perhaps, this is why articles such as the one that I read always wish to talk about other factors than technology, you, like how Millennials grew up in a different world, a world to which they adapted, a world in which they are stronger than me, that their weakness in the world of old is actually a strength in this wondrous new age... an age that includes both computers and safety matches.
But then, if this reasoning is true, in order to understand the Millennials (and their new coping strategies), we would have to understand the world in which we live (and to which they are trying to adapt). And that's (quite simply) never going to happen.
So, I'm done trying.
And now, with this rant nearing its end, I would like to thank you for your time... and implore you (at the top of my lungs) to 'Stay the fuck off my grass!'
Actually, now that I think about it, the biggest difference between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials is that at this point, the Boomers are old and the Millennials are not. Oh, and the Baby Boomers had better music.
© copyright 2017-18 Brett Paufler