In defense of my generation


“Kids these days,” sighs a middle-aged man from the nearest table, with a pointed glance at me. I look up from my phone, setting down my drink as I turn to listen. Ignoring my stare, he continues his tirade to his uninterested wife. “They don’t know anything. Completely obsessed with their phones. Always texting. I would bet my life savings that none of them know what’s going on in the world. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.” He casts another disapproving glance my way.

I’m reading an article on microagression towards minority groups on my phone and texting my friends, but I don’t tell the man this. I don’t need to justify my personality or interests to anyone, especially people who are so quick to judge.

His wife nods noncommittally, which the man takes as a cue to keep talking. “It’s like that article said. They’re entitled and spoiled. You can bet they won’t take care of us when we’re old.”

Their conversation quickly spirals into a petty argument about the benefits of yoga, and I tune them out. The man’s words stick in my head. Entitled. Spoiled. Ignorant. To him, I’m what I appear on the outside- a teenage girl- and nothing more. Obviously, this means I’m brainless, bratty, and vapid.

Millennials, as they’ve been dubbed by the baby boomer generation, are thought to be spoiled, unintelligent, and shallow. I won’t deny that we have more access to technology and spend more time on social networks than older generations. But I don’t think we’re ignorant; more access to media means there’s a larger supply of information readily available. Perhaps we’re less likely to remember information when we can always google things we’ve forgotten, but we aren’t unintelligent.

Similarly, our dependence on cell phones doesn’t necessarily make us self-centered. We like keeping in touch with each other, which has become much easier with social media and unlimited texting. True, maybe not everyone cares what a teen posts on Twitter or Instagram, but social media has given our generation an outlet for our feelings. Of course, I’m not condoning cyberbullying or any of the horrible things that have come out of social networks- but as a whole, they aren’t inherently bad.

Snapchatting or posting selfies doesn’t make us vain. For some, it’s a way to make a fashion statement; for others, it’s a show of confidence in their bodies. Both things shouldn’t be shamed.

Perhaps the reason teens are so active on social media sites is the fact that we’ve been shut out of the conversation for so long. Our age range has a scarily low voting rate, and we’re leaving the big decisions up to others who may not have our best interests at heart. We’re facing massive amounts of college debt, and yet we aren’t participating in politics. It’s much easier to pretend our decisions matter when they’re only posted to a small number of followers.

As I leave the coffee shop, I consider approaching the man and giving him a piece of my mind. Instead, I hold back, deciding to leave my ranting for Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Social media is much more receptive to a teenage girl’s thoughts anyway.