Did you hear the terrifying news? The United States is under attack by a dangerous group of serial killers who are single-handedly crippling the economy and destroying the moral fiber of our nation. Their name? The media fearfully calls them “millennials.”
It may sound ridiculous, but even after inflicting more than two decades of scorn and ridicule, many members of the older generations can’t seem to let go of their initial unfavorable impressions of America’s least popular demographic group. Commonly associated with the explosive development of the Internet and modern technology, the term “millennials” typically refers to those born anytime between the early 1980s to as late as the year 2000 (The Atlantic, “Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts,” 03.25.2014). So if you are a student attending Vassar College right now, then congratulations—you are likely part of what many call the worst generation, characterized by narcissism, laziness and entitlement.
Wherever you look, this negative stigma toward millennials is almost impossible to avoid. As early as 2006, San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge classified millennials as fundamentally irresponsible and maladjusted in her book, titled “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before” (The New Yorker, “Where Millennials Come From,” 12.04.2017). According to Twenge, these deficiencies are due to children receiving too much positive feedback from their parents. As a result, she claims, millennials need to lower their expectations and degrade their self-image in order to become functional adults. Then, in 2013, Time Magazine published their cover article about millennials called “The Me Me Me Generation,” which similarly blamed the narcissism and entitlement of the younger generation on parents instilling “too much self-esteem” in their children (Time Magazine, Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation,” 05.20.2013).
Even now, we are bombarded with an influx of articles proclaiming that millennials are destroying the economy due to their lack of spending. So far, millennials are in the midst of killing everything from the diamond industry to Hooters (Business Insider, “‘Psychologically scarred’ millennials are killing countless industries from napkins to Applebee’s — here are the businesses they like the least,” 10.31.2017). Not only that, the beer industry (Business Insider, “Millennials are killing the beer industry,” 07.24.2017), the hotel industry (Mashable, “Millennials are allegedly ruining hotels for every other generation,” 03.04.2016), the wedding industry (Bloomberg, “Young Americans Are Killing Marriage,” 04.04.2017) and the designer handbag industry (Business Insider, “Women have abandoned a longtime wardrobe staple — and that’s terrifying news for Michael Kors, Coach, and Kate Spade,” 08.05.2015) have all suffered from the millennials’ frugal nature. Oh, the horror.
The funny thing about all of these supposed tragedies is that we would probably be better off, or at least minimally affected, if most of these businesses and products actually disappeared. For instance, why should we be sad that the diamond industry is suffering because of millennials? The entire diamond industry is driven by a 150-year-old marketing scheme that controls the supply of diamonds in order to artificially hike up prices to ridiculous extremes (Waking Times, “When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss: the Truth About the Diamond Industry,” 02.13.2016). In fact, the De Beers diamond corporation, which commands an overwhelming share of the market, spends $200 million every year on publicizing their “A Diamond is Forever” slogan, despite the fact that their chairman Nicky Oppenheimer has admitted that diamonds are intrinsically worthless (Independent, “The Gem Trail: Diamonds From Angolan mine to third finger left hand,” 02.13.1999).
It should be obvious that millennials aren’t seeking to destroy America’s economy—they just don’t have the money to buy all the luxuries that the previous generations did in their era. After the devastating effects of the Great Recession in 2008, the younger generation is struggling harder to earn money and find jobs than their parents despite being more highly trained (Financial Post, “The millennial disadvantage is real: Most millennials are worse off financially than parents,” 11.14.2017). This competitive and financially unstable environment has naturally made them much more stringent with their spending. According to a 2018 survey by the financial planning company Student Loan Hero, the biggest source of money stress is debt, especially from student loans (Student Loan Hero, “[Survey] No. 1 Source of Money Stress for Millennials Is Debt,” 03.13.2018). In fact, despite the common stereotype of young adults overspending money on frivolities like avocado toast, a nationwide study of 1,000 Americans found that millennials scored higher in financial knowledge and foresight than both Baby Boomers and Generation X (CNBC, “Younger people are actually better with money than Boomers and Generation X,” 09.14.2017).
So yes, millennials are “killing” a whole lot of goods and services, but they’re largely remnants of a lavish and financially reckless era. Therefore, let’s give them a round of applause—the future is secure in their hands.