Gen X and False Millennial Stereotypes

Jennifer Plain, Contributing Columnist

As a 41-year-old undergraduate, I am considered a non-traditional college student. I admit to being nervous walking through the doors of Marting Hall on my first day and wondering if I could ever fit in. But, being a part of the Baldwin Wallace community has turned out to be an amazing experience for me, and I’m proud to say that I’ve met many brilliant and creative students who are my peers in ability, even if they’re not in age. It still sometimes feels like I am a Gen-X diplomat, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the generation of millennials. Honestly, it’s a pretty cool gig.

As graduation inches closer, I am thinking more about this role. I know there are stereotypes that some harbor about millennials. Having spent so much time around them at Baldwin Wallace these past few years, here is what I will take back to my Gen-X world in December upon graduation:

Millennials are not lazy. Maybe Yellow Jackets are just exceptional, but I really don’t see evidence for this stereotype at all. Millennials are busy. There are lots of double majors, part-time jobs, internships, sports, clubs, volunteering, and more. Meanwhile, I think I drove poor Kalie Johnson crazy trying to find time to finish this article.

Millennials are not “entitled.” Consider this: My parents were from the Baby Boomer generation, and “those kids with their long-haired hippie music” inherited labels just like this from the previous generation.

Also, everything that is said today about the millennial generation being entitled is exactly what the famous comedian Louis CK was saying about my generation ten years ago. Pull up YouTube and check out his routine about how “everything is awesome and no one is happy.” (By the way, that part where he talks about hating people with zeroes in their phone numbers? Totally true.)

Millennials are not narcissistic. So you take a lot of selfies. So what? We spent hours in front of a mirror curling our hair in the nineties. And not just the girls, a whole lot of hair-band-loving guys did this too! Do you have any idea how many super-sized bottles of toxic aerosol hairspray it took to hold all that hair in place? When your selfies start depleting the ozone layer, I’ll be the first to stage an intervention.

Now, I’m not suggesting you use these anti-Gen-X arguments on your parents – especially if they pay your tuition. If you simply must, at least have the decency to white out my byline and substitute the name of a Gen-Xer with tenure.

All kidding aside, the truth is that we do have our own differences – in music and fashion and in the seminal events that shape each generation. I still like to think that in most ways we are a lot more alike than not. Twenty years from now, you will probably hear similar negative comments said about the next generation. Don’t believe it.