When my daughter was in the throes of her angsty teen stage she became so disgusted by my uncoolness that she spat this insult at me. “You’re from the ’80s!” My mind danced with visions of Trans Ams, huge permed hair, and Van Halen concerts.
“That’s right,” I said proudly. “I am from the 80s.”
And so the generation gap continues. According to our ages, my mother is a Baby Boomer, I’m a Generation Xer, and my kids are Millennials. But what does this all mean?
I search for understanding.
“So is a hipster like an emo kid grown up?” I ask my younger daughter. She stares at me a little and says, “Kinda.”
The next day my husband came home from a shopping expedition for the perfect color of converse tennis shoes to match our turquoise motorcycle. He was high in spirits. Not only did he find the perfect chucks, but he bonded with the clerk.
“This kid was so helpful! He had these wooden things in his ears and a ton of tattoos but was so great. He even has a Honda Rebel like yours,” he enthused.
“Oh yeah?” I said. “Hipsters really like you. They probably find you ironic.”
“What does that mean?” he asked.
I responded truthfully. “I don’t know.”
Ok, so I don’t have it all figured out, but here is what I do know. Millennials are not
materialistic. They are drawn to the tiny house movement. The huge McMansions of past generations just don’t seem to hold the appeal. The priority seems to be more on enjoying life and travel than keeping up with Jones’s and I admire that a lot. The same seems goes with clothing. This generation is a far cry from the 80’s mall rat in Guess clothes head-to-toe. No qualms do they have about thrift store clothes or even Wal-Mart. In fact, this seems to be the norm. Curiously, Millennials also seem to be in workout clothes ALL THE TIME. Perhaps this is because they workout all the time so they are always prepared when the opportunity strikes. In fact, Millennials are health conscious. While they can be pretty insufferable with their very particular diets (vegan, gluten free, all organic, special vitamins, etc. etc.) it’s a great thing! Obviously, eating well has life-long benefits. And they need to be healthy with the state of the U.S. health care system! (My soapbox for another time.) However, this tendency toward healthy eating and working out does seem to overlook drinking. No hesitation on the craft beer and gin and tonic. Lol!
Millennials are into politics unlike kids were when I was in college. This is a big one. The climate has changed to say the least. Millennials are social media experts. They can use social media as a platform to express political beliefs, get people together for protests, and get information. Even Julie is an example of how Millennials use the internet to communicate. Why, in my day you had to walk 15 miles uphill both ways in a blizzard to call a boy and have his mom answer the phone!
Now, I have heard some negative things in the media about Millennials. That they are entitled brats — the first generation of the participation trophy. From what I can see, “entitled brat” is totally unfair. These kids have grown up with some serious shit. A terrible economy for one. It is harder now than ever to make enough money to live on your own and compound that with crippling student loans. Entry level jobs are harder to come by and the wage gap is even bigger. Even the value of having that all-mighty degree has gone down. Sadly, school shootings now exist. This is something that wasn’t even in the realm of thought when I was in high school. Even family life presents challenges. Divorced (or never married) parents is now the norm. As for the participation trophy? Good! You all deserve it. Maybe this is something we should have had all along.
So at the end of the day I can conclude that Millennials rock. Real rock, like Def Leppard and Motley Crue.