Whether splashed across newspaper headlines or on the Internet, I have come across a lot of criticism about today’s budding Generation Y (i.e., Millennials or what some fondly refer to as the “Me” Generation). They say we are rebellious, impulsive, impatient, immature, narcissistic, selfish, insane, and unrealistic – and that’s just the beginning.
As TIME magazine puts it, “They are narcissistic, overconfident, entitled and lazy … But that’s merely one way of looking at the largest and most important generation since the Baby Boomers.”
The Upside of the ‘Me Me Me Generation’
I understand the human tendency to magnify the negative so forcibly that it clouds the mind from realizing the greatness underneath. But could it be that the doomsday millennial chatter has easily been labeled as fault when in actuality it has been misconstrued. We agree that today’s world is a far cry from what generations before us once knew – but is it necessarily a bad thing?
Are millennial’s really rebels?
Or could it be that millennial’s just want to break free from hierarchies, bureaucracy, or superiority issues where age and experience are the determinant factors? Our perceived rebellion might actually be indicative of our innate perseverance to change the world.
Is Generation Y impulsive and fickle minded?
Millennials understand the value of time and the repercussions of the sunk cost fallacy. “Do you think you make smart, rational decisions most of the time? Chances are good that even if you pride yourself on being rational most of the time, you still occasionally fall for the sunk cost fallacy,” according to Lifehack.org. “In economics, a sunk cost is any past cost that has already been paid and cannot be recovered.” Yet when applied to life, the sunk cost fallacy is manifested when we have a greater tendency to continue an endeavour once an investment in money, effort or time has been made.
A good example of this psychology is the “Job-Hopper”, loosely defined as millennials in the corporate world. They are often judged harshly for not sticking with a job for a long duration of time. According to Forbes columnist Jeanne Meister, “The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.” But for many millenials this scenario begs the deeper question: what is the point of staying in a role if you are not happy or fulfilled?
Are millennials impatient and lazy?
There will be no innovation and entrepreneurship without impatience and laziness. Come to think of it that most problems are just caused by people’s lack of patience – problems that call for entrepreneurial ideas and innovation. Consider this: who would have thought of creating Google if everyone was so pleased and eager to find answers by scanning thousand of books and asking millions of people?
Is Generation Y too immature?
Millennials are considered immature in a sense that we don’t follow systems and think through things thoroughly before jumping to conclusions or action. This could be deemed negative, but this also means millennials don’t suffer from analysis paralysis. In fact, young entrepreneurs often turn ideas into execution, immediately. They do not wait to be validated by societal norms, acceptance, or tradition. The new era for entrepreneurs and startups is proof of this.
“According to the Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (KIEA), the entrepreneurial rate in the U.S. is already well above the dot.com bubble of 15 years ago, although we have slipped a bit this year from the high point of 320 new entrepreneurs out of 100,000 adults in 2011. It still adds up to over 20 million non-employer businesses out there today, with more starting every day.” (Source: Forbes)
Is narcissism a millennial reality?
Sure, millennials are the inventors and purveyors of the “selfie” and baby boomers view this as narcissism. The other side of the story is this: millennials are just advocates of self-acceptance and embracing uniqueness by self expression. The Daily Californian writer, Liz Larka, explains that “Following our generation’s individualistic modes of thinking, we Millennials strive toward common goal of self-actualization.”
Selfish … maybe?
Aside from “selfies”, millennials are also said to be selfish. Maybe this idea was born from our self reliant nature – focused on individual goals in life. Most millenials want to be successful and operate outside of status quo. But their goals are really not as selfish and self-serving as they may seem. Many are motivated to give themselves and their families a comfortable life in the future in lieu of being a burden to others.
Those insane and unrealistic kids…
Millenials might be considered insane and unrealistic if you compare their actions to the age-old wisdom and standards of generations that came before them. “Study hard and find a good job!” Sounds familiar, right? This mentality, for many millennials, has proven obsolete. We’ve learned that “more college does not beget more economic prosperity” and “Generation jobless” isn’t convinced by the current prospects of gainful employment.
Meanwhile, why would one study hard just to work for someone else and fulfill someone else’s dreams? Why spend numerous years as an employee to gain experience if you can just as easily experience entrepreneurship first hand by starting a business while you’re still young?
Obviously, I see more than the downside of our so-called ‘Me’ generation. Why? Because no one knows millennials better than a fellow millennial. Born in 1992, and as a fledgling entrepreneur, I will always be proud of our generation. Sure! I might be rebellious, impulsive, impatient, immature, narcissistic, selfish, insane and unrealistic — but I am also making a mark in this world.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Aira Eunice M. Barashari is a solopreneur and founder of Whimsical Marketing, a digital marketing service provider serving various small businesses around the globe. Connect with @whimsicallypeng on Twitter.