menace 2 society

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
- Socrates, 469 - 399 B.C.

Clearly, public opinion of young people hasn’t changed since 399 B.C.

Looking back on a previous post I wrote about today’s youth (Gen Y vs. The World), I’m slightly disappointed that I didn’t aptly illustrate my point. It was much too convoluted when in reality, it’s so simple.

Here’s the gist:

Every generation has idiots, bums, and junkies. Every generation has young people who fuck up and usher in (not-so) new and creative ways to annoy the world. Every generation has disheartened twenty-somethings.

And every generation has older people who chastise, shame, blame, and generally despise young people.

That’s just the way the universe works, folks.

We see the shit everywhere. Millennials are spoiled, ungrateful, selfish, whiny, lazy, assholes. We’re shitty workers with shitty work ethic. We don’t take responsibility in the workplace or in our personal lives. We expect handouts at every turn and we’re narcissistic nihilists.

We don’t respect our elders and we value people like Kim Kardashian and listen to terrible music by terrible humans like Kanye West. We curse and complain. We brood and we’re crude. We objectify women and that’s why females are looser and more morally bankrupt than ever. We spend and lament. We’re pretentious and promiscuous, etc. etc.

Recently all of our so-called shortcomings were put on blast by Alexis Bloomer, a Texas native and fellow Millennial who had this to say of our/her generation:

And you know what? That may all be true. In fact, a lot of it is true. But whether or not there’s validity in any / all of Alexis’ statements is of little importance, to be honest. Here’s my take on the matter.

Before we begin, let’s try to get on the same page about the parameters of Gen-Y.

First - I see and hear tons of people not much older than me refer to Gen Y as if they aren’t a part of it. Just because someone is younger than you, that doesn’t automatically put them into a different generation bucket. Do some basic Google searching and the general consensus is that,

“...there are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to around 2000”

So maybe jump down from your high horse, 28-year-olds and even early 30-somethings. Stop referring to it as “your” generation as if you’re not in it. Perhaps you’re being just a little self-righteous.

Second, young people / emerging adults / whatever you wish to call it have always historically struggled existentially. But what we brood about, in my opinion, hasn’t changed much over the years:

*Note - I’ve only used examples of work and popular culture I’ve consumed myself. I’ve read / seen all of the books & movies listed.

Catcher in the Rye  (novel) - 1951

 A controversial novel popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation. Deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection. The novel's protagonist Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion.

On the Road  (novel) - 1957

 “In 1957, Kerouac’s...controversial subject matter was considered by many to be outrageous and offensive. When it was published...some critics [...] would deride Kerouac’s effort as...vignettes filled with petty criminals and dope addicts.

‘Since most critics had never experienced anything like Road, they denied its existence as art and proclaimed it a ‘Beat Generation’ tract of rebellion, then pilloried it as immoral,’ explained biographer Dennis McNally.”

Kerouac began working on the novel in 1949 at the age of 27. It was published when he was 34.

The Graduate  (film) - 1967

 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock is a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life. Back at his parents' house, he's trying to avoid the one question everyone keeps asking: What does he want to do with his life? He is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson, and then proceeds to fall in love with her daughter Elaine.

Reality Bites  (film) - 1994

After college, valedictorian Lelaina films a documentary about herself and friends as they flounder in their attempts to forge relationships and begin careers.

Vickie works retail, has an endless string of one-night stands and awaits the results of her HIV test. Sammy tries to come out to his parents. Lelaina gets involved with yuppie Michael while maintaining a love-hate relationship with Troy, who's undergoing an existential crisis.

Their challenges exemplify some of the career and lifestyle choices faced by Generation X.

Into the Wild  (film and novel) - 2007 / 1996

Addresses the issues of how to be accepted into society, and how finding oneself sometimes conflicts with being an active member in society. Most critics agree that Chris McCandless left [for Alaska] to find some sort of enlightenment."

His extreme risk-taking...eventually led to his downfall and subsequent death at the age of 24.

Garden State  (film) - 2004

 The film is partly autobiographical, depicting Zach Braff's own emotions while he was writing the screenplay (which he did when he was in his early 20s).

"When I wrote Garden State, I was completely depressed, waiting tables and lonesome as I've ever been in my life. The script was a way for me to articulate what I was feeling; alone, isolated, 'a dime a dozen' and homesick for a place that didn't even exist."

My long-winded point is, it doesn’t seem to matter when you’re born. Whether you’re sipping wine with Socrates in 399 B.C. or sipping wine existentially alone in 2016, the societal trend is that it’s pretty normal to go through some shit in your early twenties. And it’s even more normal for older generations, who are now hypothetically past that part of life (and who experienced different social norms & economic circumstances) to be unsympathetic about it and rip you apart for any and all missteps you may make in trying to find your way.

Have we all not lamented about lack of free time, dwindling freedom and increasing responsibilities? About growing up, growing wary, & growing jaded? We feel our “youthful innocence” wax and wane and slip further away from our fingertips while simultaneously worrying about lack of money and dismal wages. Haven’t we all, at some point, felt as though we’re a slave to “The Man”?  Wandered and shuffled our feet as we tried and failed and tried again to decipher what we want in life? At times, haven’t we all wanted to run away in an effort to naively find some elusive version of an idealistic, utopian life?

“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there.”
“Where we going, man?”
“I don't know but we gotta go.”

On the Road, 1957

Alexis is right, a lot of Millennials are lazy and entitled. Again, the issue isn't necessarily that Alexis' statements are incorrect, it's that they're incomplete. My aforementioned examples illustrate, it seems, that feeling lost, depressed, or a "dime a dozen" are sentiments that transcend time. And in the same breath, the popular public opinion that young people are lustful, greedy, gluttonous, slothful sinners also prevails.

But those sins are as old as time itself. They are not new and novel. Today's youth is not the first youth to be a piece of shit. And we won't be the last.

The only difference between back “then” and “now” is that now  we have the technology and platforms to constantly voice our opinions and/or angst publicly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (It’s unfortunate that so MANY people voicing their thoughts have poorly-formed arguments and even worse grammar, but that’s freedom of speech for you.)

“Our idea of standing up for something we believe in means going on Facebook and posting a status with your opinion,” says Alexis.

But is social media not, in a sense, standing up with a picket sign? Also, is this not the exact same thing she did with her video?

 And as a side note, we all know that Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, who was born in 1984. By our earlier definition that classifies him as a Millennial. I’d say Mr. Zuckerberg seems to have contributed an awful lot. Like the social network that has allowed Alexis to stand up for what she believes.

While we’re at it, let’s not forget Spotify, Instagram, Pinterest, WordPress, & Snapchat, just to name a few. These apps were all founded or co-founded by Millennials. Median year these people were born - 1985. The youngest CEO was born in 1990. He turned 26 on June 4th.

If you look at only what is spoonfed to you through popular news and media outlets, you’re obviously going to get an uneven and biased view of just about anything. Just because the idea that Millennials are ____ (lazy, arrogant, etc.) is constantly perpetuated and discussed does not necessarily make it true.

Do your own research before coming to conclusions.

However -- One large caveat about that research:

We tend to immediately seek out information that aligns with our conclusions and beliefs, instead of approaching things from a “Devil’s Advocate” sort of view. Do enough one sided digging and you’ll be able to find anything that supports your argument, i.e. If you oppose Millennials, you’re obviously going to seek out and point out things that support your claims against the generation while ignoring any of the positive aspects.

For instance - If I was a Trump supporter, I could say that he is an eloquent, inspiring man who has the potential to motivate America to greatness, while I conveniently leave out anything bad or negative he’s said...

How touching.

However, if I opposed Donald Trump, I could (very) easily find several examples where he comes off as a disgusting, awful, rotten turd of a human being…

See what I mean?

Confirmation bias, ya’ll. It’s a thing.

Stereotyping is a thing, too. Which is what Alexis’ entire statement basically is. This is somewhat surprising to me considering she is ~ supposedly ~ a journalist (according to her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).

Yet for over two minutes, she makes sweeping generalizations about a group of people and not a single word is backed by any sort of journalistic research. She has no supporting evidence and uses no examples to illustrate her point, but instead lazily regurgitates the many tired and unimaginative cliches regarding today’s twenty-somethings.

Stereotypes exist for a reason, but it’s arrogant and ignorant to attempt to position yourself as better than the group of people you are publicly reprimanding using what I can only describe as a weak case and poor journalism.

So. Let’s get into it then.

"Our generation doesn’t have the basic manners that include ‘no, ma’am,” and ‘yes, ma’am’ —we don’t even hold doors open for ladies, much less our elders anymore."

1. If our generation lacks basic manners, doesn’t that say more about the generation that raised us, than us?

If you hear, know, or encounter someone without etiquette, it is more than likely because they were never taught to have any or because no one led by example. Who's more at fault for bratty children? The child, or the person in charge of raising them to be decent?

2. As a female, I do not expect anyone to hold doors open for me just because I have a vagina.

As a human being however, I hope that other human beings hold the door for me under certain circumstances. It is always appreciated if and when someone does do this act of kindness, but it is never expected, especially just because I have an additional X chromosome.

If you see, know, or encounter someone who doesn't do this for another person, (female or not, elderly or not), it is more than likely because that someone is an inconsiderate asshole.

Lack of manners and common courtesy is not a byproduct of the year one is born.

"We listen to really obscene music that degrades women and pretty much glorifies drugs and crime."

1. We’ve been degrading women since the beginning of time. It’s not new. It’s not news.

Obviously, that doesn’t make it right/okay to degrade women (now) and it is not an excuse. But to use this as an argument as to why everyone’s “so mad” at us Millennials is, quite frankly, stupid.

2. Musicians may sing or rap about drugs and crime, but this is often because those things were/are integral facets of their life and part of their identity. Many of these artists grew up surrounded by drugs and crime and now they have a platform to speak about it.

 Yes, some artists “glorify” these things. However, many artists do exactly the opposite. Or they do both. But no one ever pays attention when these musicians say something good or inspiring or equivalent to social commentary.

No. Instead, those lyrics are ignored and, more often than not, they are immediately pegged as obscene criminals wrecking society today. Instead they are censored.

Simply put, music is storytelling. These artists are storytellers, not rampant anarchists with an agenda to incite violence.

"They say music can alter moods and talk to you.
But can it load a gun for you and cock it, too?
Well if it can, then the next time you assault a dude
Just tell the judge it was my fault, and I'll get sued"

Sing for the Moment” / Eminem, 2002

"It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings
We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
We trying to buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coop/coupe"

All Falls Down” / Kany West, 2004

"I think that all the silence is worse than all the violence
Fear is such a weak emotion, that's why I despise it
We scared of almost everything, afraid to even tell the truth
So scared of what you think of me, I'm scared of even telling you"

Words I Never Said” / Lupe Fiasco, 2011

 The cover art for the single “i” -

“features members of gangs the Bloods and the Crips forming a heart, on the subject of the cover art Lamar said in an interview:

‘Where I'm from, there's a lot of gang culture and things like that, so instead of throwing on up gang signs, which we [are] used to, I put a Blood and I put a Crip together and we’re throwing up hearts...sparking the idea of some type of change through music.'”

"I" / KENDRICK LAMAR, 2015

3.
“We” Millennials are not the only ones to sing the gospel of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.

In fact, the music scene in 1985 was so offensive to Tipper Gore (wife of then-Senator Al Gore) that she & four other women formed the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), which aimed to increase parental control over children & protect them from “music deemed to have violent, drug-related or sexual themes.”

Behold: The Parental Advisory sticker.

The PMRC released the “Filthy Fifteen,” i.e. a list of 15 songs they found the most offensive and worthy of censorship.

Prince, #1. Imagine that. Often celebrated as one of the world’s / music’s most influential artists, and here he is, topping the charts for obscenity for a song he recorded at 25 years old.

“We listen to really obscene music…”

And when illegally armed it's called 'packin'
Shoot a motherfucker in a minute
I find a good piece o' pussy, I go up in it
So if you're at a show in the front row
I'm a call you a bitch or dirty-ass ho
You'll probably get mad like a bitch is supposed to
But that shows me, slut, you're composed to
A crazy muthafucker from tha street
Attitude legit cause I'm tearin up shit
MC Ren controls the automatic
For any dumb muthafucker that starts static

"STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON" - 1988 N.W.A

“...that degrades women…”

Girls always ask me why I fuck so much
I say "What's wrong, baby doll, with a quick nut?"
'Cause you're the one, and you shouldn't be mad
I won't tell your mama if you don't tell your dad
I know he'll be disgusted when he sees your pussy busted
Won't your mama be so mad if she knew I got that ass?
I'm a freak in heat, a dog without warning
My appetite is sex, 'cause me so horny
 

"ME SO HORNY" - 1989 2 LIVE CREW

“...and pretty much glorifies drugs…”

Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, it's my wife and it's my life
Because a mainline into my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I'm better off than dead
Because when the smack begins to flow
I really don't care anymore

"HEROIN" - 1967 THE VELVET UNDERGROUND

“...and crime.”

Early one mornin' while makin' the rounds
I took a shot of cocaine and shot my woman down
I went right home and I went to bed
I stuck that lovin' forty-four beneath my head.
Got up next mornin' and I grabbed that gun
Took a shot of cocaine and away I run
Made a good run but I run too slow
They overtook me down in Juarez Mexico.

"COCAINE BLUES" - 1968 JOHNNY CASH

How come when Johnny Cash talks about domestic homocide he's inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but if 50 Cent did it he'd just be another criminal?

(P.S. I love you, Johnny Cash. Just trying to prove a point.)

“We...cuss now to prove a point..”

1. So the fuck does everyone else. It's not just us.

In 1972, comedian George Carlin (b. 1939) became infamous for his bit, "Seven Dirty Words." It caused such an uproar that he was arrested in Milwaukee & charged with violating obscenity laws. It caused such an uproar that when a radio station aired it, it sparked a court case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The seven words are:

  1. Shit
  2. Piss
  3. Fuck
  4. Cunt
  5. Cocksucker
  6. Motherfucker
  7. Tits

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): A 5–4 decision affirmed the government's power to regulate indecent material on the public airwaves.

This decision formally established indecency regulation in American broadcasting.

2. Have you ever seen a Martin Scorsese (or Quentin Tarantino) film? The Wolf of Wallstreet currently holds the position for most F-words in a non-documentary film with 569 "fucks."

That's no Millennial holding that record. Martin Scorsese is 73 years old.

I suppose you could make the argument that Scorsese didn't write the screenplay, but he did, however, write the screenplays for Casino and Goodfellas, which hold the 4th & 12th spots, respectively, for most F-bombs in a non documentary film (Casino - 422. Goodfellas - 300).

For perspective, 2007's Superbad, which was written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (and both of whom were born in 1982 and were 25 when the movie was released), only rakes in 190 "fucks." That's 3x less than Wolf of Wall Street.

3. If you've ever wondered why the American Music Awards has a 5-second delay on their "live" broadcast, it's because at the 1989 AMA's Slash & Duff McKagan were wasted and repeatedly cursed during their acceptance speeches on behalf of their band, Guns 'n Roses.

For the past 27 years, the AMAs has had that 5-second delay because two hammered punks decided to cuss on live TV.

They were 23 & 24 years old the night this aired.

If this happened today, people would say it's because Millennials are rude and crude. They'd say it's because Millennials are this and Millennials are that.

They'd say it's because we "start to cuss now to prove a point."

"...we use words like 'bae' to describe someone we love..."

1. This is such a weak and irrelevant argument against Gen-Y I almost shouldn't give it any space. But I will anyways.

2. Why does it matter what one person calls their partner? What significance does this have? To you or to anyone else?

3. People also use words like -

boo, pookie, scnookums, puddin', hubby, hubsters, "the boyfriend," honey-bun, snuggle bear, hunk,  hottie, cutie-patootie, muffin (& various other snack names).

These are all, awful. 

And I would rather hear someone refer to their partner as "bae" than ever, hear or see another status update with the word "hubster" in it.

Closing Remarks:

Time is the great equalizer.

In general, young people annoy older people.

And in general, when youngsters become older themselves, they will be annoyed by twenty-somethings. Myself included. I am not an exempt from this rule.

It's the great cycle of life. It happens. Because people change, but some things don't.

Like being young and condemned for the way you speak, dress, and act. Being criticized for the music you listen to and the people you like. Being written off as delinquents and used as scapegoats as to why the world and modern society is the way that it is.

Say all you want about Millennials, because a lot of it is true. But don't try to say that we are the first of our kind.

You are just as guilty as us for your young and carefree and stupid ways, too. It's time to take off those rose colored glasses, sirs and ma'ams.

Lastly, I just want to say one more thing.

I constantly see and hear people my age defending themselves and their lives, to which our elders say things that brush it off or trivialize our efforts. Things like, “Oh well you’re the exception. The rest of the ‘younger’ generation is like XYZ.”

Like Alexis’ video, that is not a valid argument. There are no facts. There are no opinions supported by research.

And frankly, I disagree.

An exception is the girl who wrote a public letter to her CEO on Medium asking for handouts via PayPal. This is the type of thing that drives people to say we Millennials are all the same, entitled, whiny, brat asking for things we don't deserve. This is not the rule, this is the exception.

The rule is my friend Stefa who is in grad school and also works three jobs.

The rule is my friend Danielle who just moved 1,300 miles away from her family to raise her 9 month old son with her husband.

The rule is my brother Andy who just signed up to be an Uber driver to help finance his wedding.

The rule is my friend Eric who lives in a high rise apartment in Miami, Florida who affords it by working 60+ hours a week as a civil engineer.

The rule is Eric's roommate who doesn't have a "real job" but works as a successful traveling DJ, and has done so since dropping out of college to follow his dreams.

The rule is me, working a full time job in order to pay all my bills and fund my social life. Remaining not quite fulfilled but not complaining about it either. I'm not looking for sympathy or handouts or a pat on the back for being a functioning member of society.

Alexis is right, we are entitled. She was entitled to her opinion, and I'm entitled to mine. So here it is:

SINCERELY,
A MILLENNIAL.