I say this because my friend, and the Collegian’s managing editor, Matt Miller recently posted an article on the Forbes website regarding the hireability of millennials. The comments on his post are mostly angry, and that anger is directed at the indifference of my generation.
The comments got me thinking about a few things, but most significantly that the older generations sometimes forget they were once young.
Young people aren’t interested in politics because we’re more interested in ourselves. I admit it, and I think most people my age would admit it, too. What I wonder is, if you aren’t a millennial, are you willing to admit that you were like us? That you didn’t care about important national and global matters when you were young, either?
Take for instance the fact that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a dismal 21 percent of 18-24 year-olds voted in the November 2010 election. That figure is embarrassing. It’s shameful. It makes me pity myself for living in the U.S. (and for not voting in 2010), but it’s not at all out of the ordinary.
For the same 18-24 demographic, the voting rate was 20.1 percent in the 1994 election, 21.9 percent in 1986 and 23.8 percent in 1974. In fact, in 1970, during a period of heightened political activity among the young, the voting percentage was still only 30.4 percent.
Only the demographic of 65 and older votes in the same volume today as it did 40 years ago. Voter turnout for the demographics of 25-44 and 44-64 have both significantly declined during the last 40 years, meaning that only the young and old are reliable in terms of whether they’ll show at the polls.
So at least you know what to expect from us. And by us, I mean every young adult who has existed since 1970.
I think it’s time for people to accept that it’s in the young American’s nature to not see issues such as increased taxes and foreign civil wars as having an impact on our lives. It’s part of the natural maturation of the United States citizen; we rebel through our teen years, become self-centered in our young adult lives, get married and then care about important things like elections, neighborhood watches and re-landscaping the front yard. Some of us then get divorced and restart the process.
I’m well aware that political involvement isn’t the only gripe that people have with millennials. Mayra Jimenez, a 32 year-old entrepreneur and business owner, recently wrote a column for www.inc.com in which she listed the five greatest gripes she has with her millennial employees. They include cockiness, a feeling of exemption from the rules, taking things for granted, an inability to follow through with tasks and the belief that “paying our dues” is unnecessary.
On three of these charges I find my generation guilty.
Yes, we are cocky, feel exempt from the rules and take things for granted. How can we not? We’ve grown up with technology that, for better or worse, has alienated us from previous generations and made us feel somehow different from even the Gen Xers.
On the charges of never following through with tasks and not “paying our dues,” I say: a good work ethic transcends generational gaps. Jimenez needs to re-evaluate her hiring process and find some better employees.
At the end of the day we millennials are acting in much the same manner as the generations that came before us.
There’s a long tradition in this country of youth-as-ball-and-chain. Yet, when you think about it, the young may not be the humiliating drag-nets behind the boat that is humanity. As history would indicate, a period of narrow-mindedness may be necessary for the young in order for us to become big-picture adults.
And whether our role is necessary or not, I think that Oscar Wilde captured the spirit of this column succinctly when he said that “Youth is wasted on the young.”