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25 Cents’ Worth: In defense of millennials

Millennials: We are not entitled. We are frustrated and we have every reason to be.

I’ve heard the phrase, “Iba na talaga ang kabataan ngayon,” one time too many. I’ve heard it from my parents, my grandparents, my titos and titas, my professors, and even the occasional jeepney driver. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this, and surely our elders mean well, but it can only be said enough times until it gets annoying. And why is that? Because it’s usually followed by, “Ang tatamad! Marunong na sumagot! Mga walang respeto!”

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Sometimes, it takes me a couple of breaths to collect the strength to just walk away without a retort, but I wonder how many times I’ve regretted not defending myself because of how wrong and unreasonable adults can sometimes be.

To be fair, it is true: Talagang iba na ang kabataan ngayon. No one’s denying it. The youth of today are very much different from the youth of past generations, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Writing this article, for one, is already walking on thin ice, with the possibility of being called a know-it-all for touching up on a subject that’s been overused, maybe even sensitive. But what’s even worse is that the first thing that came into my head when I started writing this was, “Wait, I’m a millennial,” followed by the guilt and fear of being judged. How many people, upon reading this, would scoff at the idea of a millennial trying to prove a point?

“Millennials are waaay too opinionated!”

The Me-llennial Generation (because, according to them, it’s all about me, me, me!) has a bad reputation because we are stereotyped as privileged, lazy, numb, indifferent, incurious, narcissistic, and self-absorbed. Sometimes you just want to roll your eyes, but on most days you want to stand up and tell people how wrong they are about millennials.

It’s never right to generalize an entire generation based on a couple of negative accounts. If you encounter one lazy, self-absorbed teenager, it does not mean that every other teenager is also lazy and self-absorbed. This is a no-brainer and does not need to be expounded on any further. Insufficient samples do not lead to conclusions.

I believe that the backlash against millennials arise when older generations jump to stereotypes, because I have yet to hear a fellow millennial say, “Our generation’s degenerate.”

Gone are the days of, “I am right simply because I am your parent and I am older than you,” and “Do what I say because I say so.” This kind of outlook may have worked before, but it’s no longer the best approach that adults can take towards the younger generations. The worst thing an adult can do to the youth is to make them feel infantilized. The youth wants to be taken seriously. We want to be heard and we want a reaction.

Take, for example, the lionesses in the animal kingdom. Lionesses, as a pack, will roar and attack whenever one of their cubs is threatened. This is a fearless proclamation of protection for their young. These animals that are devoid of rational thought act this way purely out of instinct, so why do they react better towards their youngling’s cries than some actual adults?

All around us, the youth’s cries and voices are ignored and silenced by the very same people whom we thought would support us. This isn’t to say that our parents aren’t fiercely protective over their children in their own right. However, why is it that some grown-ups are so keen to prune our wings off without even first giving us the chance?

This is not a sob story of boo-hoo-hoo-no-one-ever-listens-to-me. It’s just tiring to hear the same thing about millennials over and over again because we are capable of so much more than we are given credit for.

One thing that I have noticed in DLSU is that most of my peers do not like hierarchies; we prefer spectrums and matrices. At some point, everybody wants to speak, to be heard, and to be a part of the bigger picture, whether it’s as mundane as reciting in class for the first time or as big as helping organize a fundraising activity, or advocating for a social issue in campus. We all want to be involved and to participate, and we want to do all these while being treated as equals.

Which brings me to my next point: Equality. My age group is the first time I have seen such a large collection of people so supportive and accepting of all kinds of human beings. Unlike the baby boomers who grew up in an era where racism was prevalent and homosexuality was considered a mental illness, it’s beautiful to see such a big group of individuals come together to celebrate and stand up for various advocacies.

Forget about everything you’ve heard about millennials: lazy, indifferent, entitled, numb, insensitive, and selfish.

We are self-focused, not selfish. We are self-interested because we know we must be. We have the freedom to be self-directed. We are not lazy; we focus on personal growth to figure out what we find meaningful in life, taking one day at a time. We are not numb; we are accepting. We are not indifferent; we are curious and open to change.

Grown-ups may say that our generation has a backwards and dumbed-down junk culture because our interests may deviate from the norm, but in Steven Johnson’s words, “Deviating from the norm has always been an old story. In fact, it’s where real stories begin.”

Cody Cepeda

By Cody Cepeda