Hashtag: The Millennial Dilemma
If you were born between 1982 and 2004, then according to the experts, you are classified as belonging to the Millennial generation or Generation Y - the demographic that have taken the baton from Generation X. Although there is some debate and confusion as to the bookend dates that define the Millennial generation, the point is that there are a lot of them and they are taking over the world. (Sounds like a Science Fiction movie plot).
To be fair, they might seem like aliens to older generations. (Emoji language and green, purple and turquoise hair are dead giveaways.)
‘The experts say the media get to determine when generations happen, and we’re the media. We also get to say which generations are the worst, and the Millennials are the worst. But you already knew that.’ [Philip Bump at www.theatlantic.com]
The main distinctive of a Millennial is that they do not have any memory of a world that is not electronic, technology filled or socially networked.
The mantras that raised them and fed their psyches were: ‘Follow your dreams, ‘You are special’ and ‘If you just believe, you can do anything.’
This ‘Disney filter’ has definitely been their comfort blanket.
In other words, their confidence is evidenced in their narcissistic and self-centered tendencies. ‘Selfie generation’ and ‘Generation Me’ are not accidental terminology.
Millennials grew up being told ‘All you have to do is believe
in yourself and all your dreams will come true.’
Of course, they are not completely to blame; they were enabled by a generation of Millennial parenting dogma based on bestselling e-books and blogposts. Dr Spock was thrown out with the Millennial baby and bathwater.
I am a parent of Millennials and raising them in a Millennial and post Millennial world has required much creativity in thinking and practise. The world their generation has grown up in is so vastly different from the world I grew up in.
The one is not necessarily better than the other but there are unique challenges that a technological and global world has brought with it. The bridge into their world has been difficult to cross but has been necessary.
As I have crossed into the Millennial world, my senses have been assaulted – there is speed and noise and action and jargon and hashtags and gifs and memes. (No wonder the New York Times advised employers in dealing with Millennials that they need regular naps). It is a computer game generated world and it is wonderful and scary. It is non-stop.
But there is one thing that both my generation, their generation and all
preceding generations have in common – none of them are perfect.
This is significant, because there is a tendency for each generation to glory in its heydays.
There is a tendency for each generation to assume superiority over its predecessors – to throw away the histories, the stories and the values; to look down on and spurn the ‘outdatedness’ of previous generations.
The flaw of the Millennial generation is to not acknowledge any flaws. They have the answers, the technology, the vision, the innovation, and the speed. This has resulted in elitism and disrespect of older generations and what they can contribute. Millennials are missing out.
They remind me of the hare in Aesop’s fable, ‘The Tortoise and the Hare.’
Here is the introduction for context: ‘Once upon a time there was a hare who, boasting how he could run faster than anyone else, was forever teasing tortoise for its slowness. Then one day, the irate tortoise answered back: “Who do you think you are? There’s no denying you’re swift, but even you can be beaten!” The hare squealed with laughter.
“Beaten in a race? By whom? Not you, surely! I bet there’s nobody in the world that can win against me, I’m so speedy. Now, why don’t you try?”
Annoyed by such bragging, the tortoise accepted the challenge. A course was planned, and the next day at dawn they stood at the starting line. The hare yawned sleepily as the meek tortoise trudged slowly off.
When the hare saw how painfully slow his rival was, he decided, half asleep on his feet, to have a quick nap. “Take your time!” he said. “I’ll have forty winks and catch up with you in a minute.”’
That is the general attitude I see in Millennials. They scoff at, mock and are scornful of older generations. They think we are slow.
But I am slowly and steadily seeing the cracks appear and the frustrations emerge as they are not winning the race, their dreams are not being realised and they cannot just believe.
Let me articulate the dilemma I witness in the #millennialgeneration:
(I admit here that this entire article is based on stereotyping the Millennial generation and on general tendencies I have personally observed.)
Millennials want to make a difference…NOW
Making a difference and changing the world is applaudable. Their passion and enthusiasm are contagious and exciting.
But slow and steady doesn’t do it for them. They are an instant generation.
Making a difference for one starfish at a time is not their ambition. They want to save them all and preferably accompanied with many selfies, vlogs and likes. They rush ahead, impatiently, and get frustrated with those who want to slow them down. They block their ears to those voices of wisdom; to those who tell them to plan, to think through options and to consider how those options will affect others.
Solomon’s wisdom urges them in Proverbs 19:20: ‘Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.’
Millennials question the status quo…but not to change it
Millennials make debating and arguing seem like an art form.
They love a good argument.
They will hug trees, join #blacklivesmatter and #feesmustfall, because they can. They will sign up for a cause, especially if it is anti-establishment. Tolerance of all that is counter the existing culture and norm seems to be the reason they were born.
Millennials tend to care more for causes than for people.
As long as there is a cause, they have an opinion and it is generally contrary. They are defensive. Their peers are their Magi. They question the status quo because they have a voice. Millennials are not concerned with outcomes – they just like to protest. And they do it really well.
They hate any form of injustice, but logic and critical thinking don’t always inform their opinion. They don’t easily acknowledge the other side of an argument or historical context and they don’t have time to listen to reason.
Millennials are the antithesis to the wisdom of James 1:19-20 where he says: ‘Be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to become angry, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.’
They certainly would do well to heed the warning given to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22-23 ‘So flee youthful passions… have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know they breed quarrels’ Paul recognised the propensity of youth to eagerly become involved in passionate disputes well before Millennials arrived on the scene, but it remains true.
What is good and what does the Lord require of us? ‘To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.’ [Micah 6:8]
Humility seems a foreign word to many of the Millennial generation.
As Christian millennials, they are in a privileged and unique position to fulfil this God agenda in ways previous generations could not do.
Their voice can speak louder and wider and reach further than any generation before them. They should not abuse that or mess that up.
God, as the righteous judge, cares more about injustice than Millennials. They would do well to submit to His way. They would do well to consider the Biblical examples of Joseph, Daniel and Paul and how they responded to injustice, discrimination and prejudice.
Millennials hate stereotyping…but they hide behind their own #stereotypes
As millennials, they love labels, of their own making.
Hashtags are more than symbols, they become identities.
They tend to become one dimensional. They rationalise much and explain away behaviour under their millennial banner and hashtags.
According to Millennials, stereotyping, especially if it is discriminatory or prejudiced, is always wrong, but they are excusing their own indignant behaviour by buying into peer group-think and their own hashtag stereotypes. The more of them there are, the more right they believe their actions to be. Their individual voice is lost in the crowd of their peers who don’t actually want to listen.
Millennials question authority…they don’t respect it
In a postmodern and post Christian age, truth is relative and therefore so is authority.
Google and social media have offered access, in bite sizes, to everything.
Millennials, therefore, give the impression that they are an authority on everything. This new and wonderful global world spits out the old. There seem to be no experts with deep knowledge of anything anymore – just a rash of opinions based on a 3 minute read of an article or video clip. People’s opinions trump expert opinion on the news and in the media.
Past value systems are spat out accompanied by crass lingo and jargon.
Since when did manners and respect become generational?
For a generation who invented an entire text language based on acronyms, it is ironic that they seem illiterate as to the meaning of basic acronyms such as rsvp! (lol)
This impacts their commitment: Perhaps something better will come along or perhaps they won’t feel like it. No wonder they are often overlooked for positions of leadership and responsibility. It seems they cannot be relied upon.
Jesus addressed this directly in two parables. His simplified message was clear: ‘He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much,’ [Luke 16:10] and ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things,’ [Matthew 25:21]. Let me move on.
Millennials want to learn but don’t want to be taught. They don't respect their teachers because they have authority issues. They want respect but don’t easily to give it. This is not a new dilemma. It is as old as time and Scripture, which never changes, speaks directly to it.
‘Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.’ [1 Timothy 5:2]
‘Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.’ [Proverbs 23:22]
Millennials are creative thinking optimists…not critical thinking realists
Millennials are visionaries. They are told at every graduation ceremony that they are world changers and they believe it. They just don’t know how to do it.
This is not all their fault. They have lived with educators and parents having high expectations of them but not necessarily equipping them.
Millennials have not been prepared for the reality of the real world which doesn’t think they are all that special.
And so when they step out into the real world, confident an outspoken, they have expectations which are quickly dashed. Their sticking power and perseverance are short-lived as this is not what they believe they were promised.
Millennials have been characterised as lazy, coddled and prone to jump from job to job as they have unrealistic expectations of the working life. They want flexible working hours. And yet Indignation does not pay a salary check at the end of the month.
They weren’t told you would have to start at the bottom. They didn’t realise that they cannot walk straight into their dream job.
They struggle with bureaucracy and demand a playground environment to enable them to be creative and solve problems. Their modus operandi is doing what they feel like doing.
‘A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.’ [Proverbs 25:14]
Perhaps that is why they are not great at commitment or hard slogging.
‘This age group has also been called the Peter Pan or Boomerang generation because of their propensity to move back in with their parents, perhaps due to economic constraints and a growing tendency to delay some of the typical adulthood rites of passage like marriage or starting a career.’ [Douglas Main at www.livescience.com]
Millennials were promised the world and now the world seems to have failed them.
The fall from their entitled high horse is painful.
Millennials disregard the past…which compromises their future
The past is irrelevant and history is unnecessary. This is sad and results in the Millennial generation becoming impoverished. The only value they see in history is to lay blame at its door and use it as a scapegoat. They become angry, indignant and resentful.
Their pride in not learning from the generations who have gone before (the Greatest Generation 1930-1946, the Baby Boomers, 1946-1964, and Generation X, 1965 – 1984) and failing to respect their past and their stories, is to their detriment.
It is as if they have opened a book and the first 100 pages are blank or torn out and they start reading from the middle. Nothing makes sense. Context is missing. That is a problem.
‘In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.’ [Edmund Burke]
The Apostle Paul reminded his early readers of regarding history as a valuable teacher: ‘These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.’ [1 Corinthians 10:11]
If millennials heed history’s voice, the good, the bad and the ugly, they can face the future with an attempt at not repeating the same mistakes, learning from its failures and successes and retaining that which contributed positively to society, community and family.
Are the #millennialgeneration destined to lose the race?
Millennials are passionate and creative and they have a voice.
They care and have a vision to change the world.
They are not passive and we can learn much from them.
But if they refuse to not learn much from us, then the history and legacy they leave behind for future generations will not be one they can be proud of.
As Christian Millennials, children of God, called by name and adopted, their identity is not in a hashtag, but in Christ, the One who left His heavenly kingdom to rescue from God’s wrath those who are His in each generation. They are called to follow Him.
‘But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." [Isaiah 43:1, 6-7]
That is what God has called Christian Millennials to do – to make His name great among the nations.
They are able to do this uniquely and powerfully and in ways that earlier generations could not.
That is the only legacy that will stand the test of time and outlast their #millennialgeneration.
Millennials were born for such a time as this – for God to use them mightily for the extension of His kingdom – in this generation. God is not absent or silent in this #millennialgeneration.
Christian Millennials are to hold high His banner and His name. Let that be their hashtag. May they be, according to Philippians 2:15, blameless and innocent, children of God, as they shine like stars in a dark and depraved #millennialgeneration.
PS. I wanted to say more but I may already have gone past the attention expiry time of Millennial readers! 😉
(Oh, and for those, who from the title were expecting a blogpost on the end times, I am sorry to have disappointed.)