A reader writes:
As another child of 1984 (Orwell's children), I want to add that it's too easy to paint all of us with the same brush. I have some good friends my age who are every bit as conservative, religious, and social-issue driven as our parents' generation. I myself come from one parent who was a deacon in our church and has become even more religious and conservative over the years, while my mother was a Jesse Jackson supporter who protested Bush and took time off to visit DC to see the Obama Inaugural.
Like many millennials, my parents divorced. I didn't have the "Leave it to Beaver" childhood, and more importantly, never aspired towards it. The sitcoms I watched growing up, from "Full House" to "Family Matters", showed how people made connections based on a willingness to live with and work with each other by choice. This shift in culture – of not blindly following our sometimes bumbling parents, of embracing technology faster than the generations that came before us – has all had the cumulative effect of making people of my generation a little more willing to challenge orthodoxy than those before us (see Occupy Wall Street and the strong pro-pot movements).
As other writers have articulated, we do pride ourselves on our ability to try to get the real scoop of the story. But this pride, I fear, may be our downfall as a generation as well.
Just about every year of my life, I look back on the stances I took prior and feel a crushing sense of regret that I ever dared express such beliefs. We're still young, and we're living in a time where adolescence is longer than ever. Add to this the sort of smug ideological entitlement we feel on account of "getting it" more than our parents and you have a recipe for a generation that is unwilling to confront whatever blind spots become a hindrance in the future.
This may seem vague, since I couldn't articulate right this moment where my ideologies go astray. But I've learned the importance of never resting on my own laurels. Yet it's all I see my peers doing. From the prevalent Millennial presence on sites like Reddit to the people I've encountered in the college classroom or on Facebook, what I see among people my own age is a profound sense of confidence that the world's problems end with us. It reminds me very much of the social phenomenon we saw with the Baby Boomers, who – despite being showcased in the media during the late '60s and early '70s as the hippie generation – ended up being the villains of many of today's Millennial narratives.
I'm not saying that our generation won't make some valuable progress. It is undoubtedly positive that we're more level-headed when it comes to drug policy, and overall support marriage equality. Yet when it comes to the really tricky economic challenges we'll face – unfunded mandates, entitlements for an aging population, continuing dialogues on race and the social implications of complex human sexuality, I fear that we are woefully under-prepared. The worst part is that most Millennials don't even realize it.
To read all the letters from millennials, go here.