Why Do Older People Bash Millennials?An Interview with Jason Feifer, Entrepreneur Magazine
Jason invited us to take a look at the history of innovation and how each new thing introduced through the generations was met with resistance. He starts with the bicycle (Yes the bicycle was going to ruin civilization!), recorded music, the radio, and so much more. But eventually, the adoption of these inventions became so commonplace that the resistance dissipated and the disruptions went mainstream. Fast forward a generation or two down the line, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single soul who can still recall or explain the resistance in the first place.
You’ve probably heard the saying that history repeats itself. Then it’s no surprise that each older generation tends to morph into similar attitudes and judgments toward their successors. If you disagree, just take a look at what Seneca was saying all the way back in First Century A.D.
“Our young men have grown slothful. Their talents are left idle, and there is not a single honorable occupation for which they will toil night and day.”
Sound familiar? If that’s not enough, how about the Life Magazine cover from 1968 that describes the up and coming generation as promiscuous, lazy, rebellious, and idealistic (aka the Baby Boomer Generation!)? This was repeated again in 1985 when Newsweek’s over displayed an image of 3 Generation X distracted by video games. Or the seemingly endless headlines and media covers covers bashing Millennials beginning in the 1990s. Case in point – Generations Gaps are nothing new and older generations have demeaned young people from the beginning of time.
So, why does the older generation seem to keep forgetting that at one time they were the change makers, the rebellious, and the idealists? Why do the Boomers seem to fail at understanding millennials? This memory lapse would be a fair one if each generation was getting progressively worse, but they’re not. Instead, we’re finding them growing kinder, more empathetic, developed, and advanced. One could even argue that with the current state of technology, the younger are catching up to the older at a faster pace than any of the previous generations.
Jason brings up a great point as to the actual reason why the older generation is consistently bashing the younger… “The older generation is aware that the new generation is their replacement.” This may sound harsh, but it’s true. “And, by admitting this truth, you’re admitting your own mortality and replaceability.” Tough words, but is that not exactly why baby boomers seem to hate Millennials? We, as the proven and established generation, don’t want to see them as equal or as a replacement because then, what does that make us?
Now, in case our conversation was starting to make you feel either vindicated as a Millennial or like a puff of dust as a Baby Boomer, Keith, Jason, and I also took the time to highlight the less morbid side of this discussion on why older people seem to hate millennials.
First of all, just because the older generation is preparing to either retire from the workplace or pass over the mantle of their experiences, doesn’t mean that they’re not needed. In actuality, they are still, and will continue to be, absolutely necessary- a fact, that most Millennials know and appreciate. The Millennial leaders of the next generation are intelligent enough to take advantage of the fact that their elders are carriers of wisdom. They do have more experience, and they can provide valuable advice from their life experiences, whether this advice is career, life-based, or both.
You can also listen to the full episode on understanding millennials here on iHeart Radio.