Opinion: In defence of 'useless' millennials

Stephen Delahunty

Stephen Delahunty

Opinion: In defence of 'useless' millennials

This week ITV's flagship breakfast news programme Good Morning Britain tweeted: “Are millennials (those aged in the 18-35 range) useless?”

As a disclaimer, I have to admit as a topic for debate it probably appeases their TV audience while driving thousands of engagements on a platform mostly used by the group it was trying to attack.

Kudos aside, amidst some of the more curt responses on Twitter most people were left wondering whether the media landscape really needs another major outlet demonising an entire generation with such a loaded question. As a millennial living through the era of Brexit I think there's enough division in the country already without driving an even larger wedge between generations.

However, it's unsurprising the divide is being helped along by a show that is co-hosted by a man who thinks a 'scoop' involves breaking a press embargo. Piers Morgan's news values aside, I find it increasingly hard to swallow being patronised by an entire generation.

Naturally in the ensuing Twitter thread there was some debate about how the millennial period is measured – a grey area roughly defined as anyone born between 1983 and 2000. So for the sake of argument we can measure my generation’s usefulness from about the latter year onwards.

The internet for example first appeared in its modern form in the early 90s. However, while baby boomers were still booking holidays using Teletext and checking seven-bit maps of the weather on a TV with five channels, it was millennials who were the real early adopters, and anticipated the use of a technology that now touches nearly every aspect of our lives.

Not bad for a generation who are the first since the rule of King George III to be born worse off than our parents. Criticism of my generation usually follows a familiar trope: “Kids these days are [delete as appropriate] lazy/snowflakes/don't know they're born.” This ignores the fact memes have become a coping mechanism to ironically romanticise our lack of power, wealth and opportunity.

Despite that, since the year 2000 we've helped develop artificial human organs, wearable nanotechnology, driverless cars, 3D printers, virtual reality, pulled pork and top knots. Not to mention we're on the very cusp of private space exploration, combined with an explosion in robotics, AI, the blockchain, cyrptocurrency and frictionless travel.

So baby boomers may want to climb down off their high horse and come and join us on the hyperloop, because in the same way they gave us planned obsolescence they may find there is no reserved section for the elderly in a future of tube-based open source high speed travel.


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  • RB Riddick

    08:08, 22 March 2018

    Literally none of the things you listed as Millennial inventions are in fact Millennial inventions: Artificial organs have been a process of development at least since 1911, and the first lab grown organ - a bladder was grown in 2006 - not a Millennial in sight. Private space exploration - if you use Elon Musk as an example, then he's gen x. Virtual reality - baby boomers (from the 1960's). Blockchain, Gen X. Top knots - Japanese and Vikings were onto that a long time ago. Don't confuse using or improving with inventing. Whilst I'm not going to call an entire generation useless, Millennials are certainly physically weaker (Harvard grip strength test) and do love a complain session, the vacuous "me me" ramblings made worse by social media platforms. If you want to complain about the lack of opportunities, that's fair enough; that there are not the jobs there used to be - that's true. However a generation that embodies "disruption" doesn't really have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about the subsequent death of proper investigative journalism, the print media, opportunities in the music industry, or even more blue collar work in transport, construction, sales, the death of book shops and so on. These are all a direct result of Millennial action, as is the massification of social media and the internet that is used to spread fake news and promulgate all the opinions that Millennials don't like. Millennials should look to themselves before blaming others



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