By Stevi Breshears:
The image of a stereotypical millennial is a popular one, among most everyone except millennials themselves. Typically, older generations view millennials as unmotivated and narcissistic, but that may not always be the case.
“I thought that millennials were ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled’ until I began teaching at AC. So many of my students are trying to work and go to school, and many of them have children,” said Dr. Deborah Harding, psychology professor. “Listening to their experiences has helped me understand more about the challenges they face in today’s world.”
As with all stereotypes, however, there are some aspects of truth.
“Millennials have both broken stereotypes as well as created new ones,” said Sierra Caldwell, an English major.
Stereotypes, while common, can be harmful to those being stereotyped.
Caldwell said that generation shaming not only makes indiviuals feel bad about themselves, but also feel ashamed of their peers.
“If I was being told that I was ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled’ I would want to distance myself from the person saying that,” Harding said. “Stereotypes take away the individuality of the person being stereotyped. None of us like to be boxed in by others’ ideas of us. It leaves us angry, resentful and ruptures the trust in a relationship.”
According to Harding, generation discrimination stems from the fact that all generations have issues. As communication becomes more widespread, it’s easier to point out the flaws in groups and shame them for it. It’s also easy to forget that different generations, especially those on the younger end of the spectrum such as millennials, don’t have as much life experience as older generations and therefore handle situations differently.
“We might want to ask ourselves if we aren’t being pretty self-involved when we judge them from our world experience, rather than their own,” Harding said.
Regardless of what causes generation shaming, it’s an issue for both older and younger generations.
“Every generation is guilty of mocking other generations,” Caldwell said. ”It is a problem because there is a serious lack of respect between the generations that should be there in order for generations to grow and build together.”