Don't Blame the Millennials

Nov. 12, 2013

This guest post is the second in a series about generational similiarities and differences between baby boomers, Millennials and a newly defined subculture, Generation Z.

I'm going to start off with an unpopular statement: all the problems in the world are not the Millennials’ fault.

There. I said it.

But the claims are that we need recognition for small achievements, that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves and that we shift blame. I'm a part of this generation. Sometimes, it’s a drag to be guilty by association.

According to our critics, these behaviors never existed before us, and we're not ready for careers or responsibilities because of it.

Well, they're wrong. So, very wrong.

Here’s where we rise to the occasion:

We learn fast – faster than the previous generations. If you disagree, then go ahead and give a Millennial two different mobile devices. Instruct them to take a photo and move it from one device to the other without utilizing email. If you give these devices to a Millennial, you can expect much faster results.

I’m certainly not saying that we’re more intelligent than the incumbent generation, we’re just more comfortable with constantly being expected to learn. I think that is what separates the millennial generation from all others – we’re aware learning is never finished, wherever you go, whatever you do.

The problem that I see with earlier generations is the absence of the importance of constant awareness.

Yes, we’re on Facebook, a lot.

We take pictures and share them with others.

We tweet, pin and vine until our heads hit the pillow – then we see what everyone else did until our eyes are too tired.

We’re in front of screens more than anyone, but we’re not being antisocial or uniformed of important events.

Do you know what else is on Facebook and Twitter? Major news outlets, upcoming politicians, companies and unheard ideas. It is possible to be a useful member of society and have a device in hand. This is foreign and unusual to our predecessors.

The idea of fearing what you do not understand could not be more applicable in the criticisms of the Millennial generation.

This was the thought process that drove me to the UA's communication graduate degree program – the desire to prove the earlier generations wrong when it came to activity on social media.

So, I did.

You can be just as socially active and aware through the use of the Internet. In fact, a research team I was on, led by UA associate professor of communication Stephen Rains, discovered that social media usage can prolong relationship satisfaction – across generations – when stacked up against traditional communication methods like email, instant messaging and phone calls.

The Millennial generation has been forced into a state of constant absorption in an effort to escape being left behind. Any new information has to be logged and filed. I believe this makes us more efficient.

Learning new tools that give us access to each other’s calendars, location and personal information allows us to schedule, plan and execute faster. We use the tools available and are always looking for new ones. We’re comfortable with change because it is so much a part of our life.

We’re the Millennials.

We’re not responsible for all the world’s problems, but you can be confident that we’re the generation that will fix them.

Other articles in this series are:

Kyle Oman is a co-founder of Armory Pacific, a video marketing firm located in Seattle. He graduated from the University of Arizona with his undergraduate degree in media arts in 2011. Oman then went on to pursue a master's degree in communication, graduating in May 2013. Oman is active on social media and can be found tweeting at all hours via @kyleoman.