The idea that people born within the same decade can be defined and categorized based simply off when they were born has always been strange to me. Sure, they may share similar pop culture tastes and remember the same events, but does that really mean that their personalities line up? I am aware of the fact that personalities develop in part due to environment, but we talk about generations in the same way we talk about horoscopes (I could write a whole article based on how lame those are, but now is not the time).
The concept has been a major thorn for millennials so far. As the ones currently taking the reigns on the world, all eyes are on us. So far the scrutiny has been harsh and constant. We’re called lazy and entitled. For the most part, preceding generations don’t have much faith that we will be able to steer society in the right direction. Unfortunately, I can’t blame them for making those assumptions. We’ve basically hand-crafted the opinion for them. And as it always tends to be with millennials, the blame falls on the internet.
Through our love of social media, we have crafted and strengthened our generational stereotypes. We’ve made that picture all on our own. Whether it be riddled with jokes or not, this picture is what the other generations see. The internet is everywhere, and is used by most people every day. If you have elder relatives on your friends lists, they see every picture you like and see everything you share. Often that is the only medium they have to form their opinions on us. Personally, I see ‘memes’ every day of people exclaiming how they don’t want to ‘adult’ or that they just want to be at home in their pyjamas.
We all know that most of the things that get posted or shared on social media are riddled with hyperbole. But do our contemporaries understand this in the same way? When they post things, it is direct and to the point. Sure, they share memes to, but often it’s more sentimental. Posts about relatives, posts about religion and the occasional funny cat video. The older generations don’t have to worry about the internet shaping their image, they spent enough time without it that their generational identity was already set in stone.
Now, I’m not repeating the assumption that all millennials are lazy, entitled and self-centred. Quite the opposite, there have been articles written about how our generation is driving companies to think and work differently and have had an impact in plenty of fields. They also talk about how most millennials have very entrepreneurial attitudes in their work environments. But that’s not the public face we put forward. If we want to be taken more seriously now when we are entering the ‘real world’, then we need to put a little more thought in to how we present ourselves. We have the work ethic and the proper etiquette. There is evidence, a little bit of digging will bring it out, but why would anyone bother doing the research if they have a picture already in front of them?
For every silly little meme you post to social media, there’s got to be a story you can tell about things you’ve actually accomplished instead. Everyone has a life offline even though our peers say they really don't care to hear it. We should be using social media to talk about those lives. If you’re not using it to push yourself forward in the best way possible, then you’re only adding to the pile of negative criticism.
So instead of posting a meme, maybe post about what you are really doing. Talk about what you are doing at school, or the challenges you face at work. Post about your stance on politics or social matters that are close to you; do so in a way that conductive of a proper conversation. Screaming in people's faces for change often turns sour. Show people that we aren’t what they say we are. Show them that our generation should be taken seriously. Because our outward face makes it look like we’ve never outgrown our teen years. We are more than our pajamas and beds. And it’s about time we started to show the world that.
Shane Gordon is a father, geek, and rage-aholic. He likes video games, comic books, and tends to hate long walks on the beach. Considering himself a swiss army knife of writing, he plans on freelancing as a career, just so he can call himself a word mercenary.