Thursday, March 18, 2010

Understanding "Millenials"...and finding I am not one

I took a quiz today from the Pew Research Center's website asking "How Millenial Are You?" A "Millenial" is the tag given to those individuals born in 1981 or later, according the continuum on which your score is placed after you take the quiz (see graphic below). This is in contrast to "Generation X" (1965-1980), "Baby Boomers" (1946-1964), and the "Silent" generation (1928-1945). My score was 19 which placed me somewhere between Baby Boomer and Gen-X'ers, which, seeing as I was born on the cusp of both of those categories, seems to make sense. Julie (my wife) scored a 7, which puts her between the Silents and Baby Boomers. We got a good laugh at that one, since I'm five years older than she is.
Everyone's all hot and bothered now that the generation has a name. Basically, old people are so incredibly impressed that The Millennials all know how to use Facebook, all have cell phones, and all spend 7 years in college that they've decided that this is one whip-smart, super-creative, socially conscious generation. Mark Tapscott thinks that when they see how destructive top-down government is and how stifling it is of their technologically enabled creativity, they'll revolt and all become conservative Republicans or something.

Well, you know I wouldn't be posting about something if I didn't think it was B.S.

Speaking as one who is responsible in part for teaching said generation, their blistering intelligence and stunning creativity is highly overrated. Sure, they've frittered away more years of life in school than any previous generation, but that's in large part because school has become so devalued. If I would characterize the Millennial Generation, here's how I would do it:

1. Knowledge that they have no immediate use for is viewed as a complete waste of time.

2. They expect to have things done for them and for everything they need to materialize out of the sky.

3. Complex things aren't worth understanding. Anything requiring reading a book isn't worth the time it takes to know.

4. They believe that they are never at fault for the consequences of their own actions.

5. They need to be constantly praised.

Mark Tapscott and everyone else who thinks the Millennials will rebel against top-down socialism are sadly mistaken. Quite to the contrary, they have all the necessary prerequisites to embrace and even demand socialism. When socialism fails to deliver, as it always does, they lack the critical thinking skills to associate the failure with the nature of the system and will be naturally inclined to listen to explanations that promise even more handouts and less responsibility. You know who's out there rioting in Berkley, demanding that a bankrupt state somehow magically conjure up more money to spend on them? Millennials. That should give you a foretaste of the feast to come.

Frankly, I'm not all that in to labels. Applied to individuals, they can lead to vicious stereotypes. Applied to generations, however, perhaps there is some benefit to these categories in order to better understand them...not to tailor the Church to their desires, but to reach them with the Word of Truth to meet their spiritual needs, which are the same in every generation.

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