By Rowana Miller
There he lurks, surrounded by greasy bags of potato chips and mildewing cups of coffee, staring at his iPhone screen: the basement-dwelling millennial. He is a myth with whom we are all familiar. But as students, our connection to him is especially strong, because we are him. Or, at least, he is what we are perceived to be.
Millennials spend all their time on Instagram, refuse to become adults, and have no drive or ambition. Everyone agrees, from our grandparents who constantly ask us to “fix the Internet” to Pew Research Center, whose “How Millennial Are You?” quiz inquires whether you have watched more than an hour of television in the last twenty-four hours, whether you have received more than fifty texts recently, and whether or not you have a tattoo.
In response to these criticisms of our generation, I give you five reasons why millennials are fully-functioning, significant members of society:
- We adapt well to change:
New technologies are being invented constantly. Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation because we grew up alongside the development of the computer and smartphone industries. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we are 2.5 times more likely to use new technology than older generations. Although teens are often criticized for having a technology obsession, our ability to adapt our lifestyles to the advancement of computers and phones shows that we are open to change in our society. We are also fairly optimistic, as the same U. S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study shows that millennials are the happiest generation. Clearly, as content and tech-savvy teens, we have a leg up on earlier generations.
- We are excellent with computers:
Computers have become so important in everyday life that all generations now rely on them. Here at Beacon, technology has become integral to the learning process, reshaping the definition of a literary text and expanding boundaries of what we can and cannot do in school. “I like to think of my classroom as a multimedia space,” says freshman and sophomore English teacher and fellow millennial Ms. Yazdiha. ”You want what’s going on inside the classroom to reflect what’s going on outside the classroom, in the real world. To ignore it would be to ignore real life.”
- We are well-educated, and we take education seriously:
From 1990, when the youngest of Generation X were in high school, to 2013, when millennials made up the high school student body, the dropout rate decreased from 12% to 7%. We are the generation that has made the choice to stay in school and to pursue higher education in record setting numbers, and this has given us more opportunities to go into professions that we are passionate about and work harder in our jobs. Malala Yousafzai, a millennial and women’s rights activist focusing on the state of girls’ education in Pakistan, agrees that education is “like a precious gift.”
- We genuinely want to improve the world:
Whatever our shortcomings, millennials do more than gripe about world issues. In fact, 47% of millennials have signed petitions or pledges for causes that they care about. Additionally, 54% of millennials either aspire to start a business or already have one. Even social media, which is often seen as a medium for sharing selfies, has been used as a tool for organizing and for spreading messages about social justice. For instance, the Black Lives Matter is the product of this kind of social media. Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr have also been used to raise awareness about feminism, LGBTQIA+ issues, and many more.
- We believe in equality:
The following statistics are from studies by Harstad Strategic Research Inc., Pew Research Center, and Achieve: We have been fighting to get rid of gender roles and promote women’s rights. We are the generation most in favor of mixed-race marriages, and the majority of US volunteers helping the less fortunate. We see the benefits of immigration and support the protection of undocumented immigrants. Also, we want to protect workers’ rights, and would like to see the government do more to aid the poor. According to many research centers, a few of which are listed above, millennials are the most progressive generation.
We millennials represent the generation that has the strongest desire for economic and social justice. It’s time our public image caught up with our real identity.