Straight Talk Advice

Jan 14, 2014

What bugs Millennials about their generation?

Dear Readers: What bugs you about your generation? I asked the panel this simple question and their responses are, I hope, unsettling. As the first children to come of age in the Digital Age, Millennials have unique challenges, often unrecognized or misinterpreted by parents and elders. They are the most stratified generation ever (meaning, there was/is less mixing with older generations). I hope today's column stimulates increased cross-generational interaction and dedicated protection of childhood from pornography and other commercial media.

Here's what's bugging them, in their own words. More next week. —Lauren

Chuck 19, Sylvania, Ohio Ask me a question

My generation inherited war, widespread health issues, economic crisis and many other problems, yet so many of us stay positive and useful! That said, we struggle with self-image and distorted societal roles, no thanks to the media's insidious portrayal of what “normal” is. For example, a movie poster I used to pass each day depicted four people who become a pretend family: “The Drug Dealer,” “The Stripper,” “The Runaway,” and most offensive, “The Virgin.” All were glamorized, except “The Virgin,” who was depicted by a pale, acne-covered boy wiping his nose. This stereotype is a blatant tear on those who aren't sexually active at an early age. It also implies that it's cool to have sex as soon as you can coerce someone into joining you. I love my generation and I believe we can achieve incredible things, but it scares me to see the expectations we are adopting.

Savannah 20, Portland, Ore. Ask me a question

My generation needs to be “cool” and do what's hip and trending all the time — regardless of whether it's immoral or unhealthy. The pressure to have this, “I'm young, screw-the-rules, screw-my-body” attitude is exhausting! Everything is trendy, even good health. My peers shop organic for image! You see it in language, too. Smart people sound dumb because they feel they must speak the trending slang. Social media is one of my generation's biggest problems. We are more on display than real. You “advertise” yourself on your media page the way you want the world to see you, but then you can never measure up.

Brandon 21, Mapleton, Maine Ask me a question

My biggest gripe is the rising fad of bisexuality and the justification of cheating. Where I live, many girls identify as bisexual, which is fine, except that they feel it's completely acceptable to date a male and female at the same time. Most of their parents are completely oblivious and “support their gay child.” I'm not against homosexuality. I've helped gay and bisexual friends come out of the closet. My gripe is about declining morals and the declining value of monogamy. Between outrageous justifications for cheating and this “bisexual” craze, morality has just flopped! A friend actually called me a “faggot for being in a relationship at my age”, when I should be “tapping that and running.” Ever generation has a party phase, but we wear ours like an aura. Moral decline is worsening in Gen Z kids who have no problem sending nude “selfies,” having sex with multiple partners and stealing their parent's drugs all before they're old enough to get their permit. I'm not religious or “morally superior,” but there is right and wrong, versus what's “cool.”

Sarah 16, Monclova, Ohio Ask me a question

What bugs me is the romanticizing of depression and self harm. On social media sites like Tumblr, you see an abundance of pictures of scarred or cut-up arms, with comments like, “I find this oddly beautiful.” But it's not beautiful! It's sad and makes self-harm acceptable, even desirable. It has almost become trendy. We are starting to act like depression is something positive.

Editor's Note: The last time I asked this question was nine years ago, when the Straight Talk column was just a few months old. The Millennial generation was younger then, but the same things were bugging them. Take a look at the column from DEC 29, 2004.

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  1. By Brent, age , from Windsor, CA, USA on 01/20/2014

    Just wanted to say how much I appreciated the Straight Talk Column in Sunday’s paper. Somebody on Tumblr made a post that said kids in high school today experience as much stress as people who used to live in insane asylums, and although I’m not sure how one would make such a comparison it is very evident to me that life in the information age can be very stressful for young people. I wrote Tumblr months ago about all the accounts that glorify suicide. What amazes me over and over is how aware young people are of themselves and of their emotions — their precociousness is very inspiring and I hope it will help them make good choices in life.

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