Dawn Muenchrath/The Gauntlet

An open letter to our parents

Publication YearIssue Date 

Dear baby boomers,

You have been writing a lot about us Millenials lately. You’ve been publishing plenty of articles about how lazy and entitled we are in Time, The Globe and Mail, MacLean’s and other publications. But, for your sake, please give us a break. 

Millenials are people born in either the 1980s or 1990s. We are the children of you baby boomers — a clan of information-age natives who grew up with unparalleled wealth and comfort compared to previous generations. 

So far, we remain undistinguished. Our grandparents defeated fascism, modernized Canada and became “the greatest generation.” You guys dropped acid, joined the counter-culture, then joined our grandparents in the workforce. And us? So far, we’ve invented Internet memes, watched The Simpsons, streamed unnerving levels of Internet porn (for free!) and produced Mark Zuckerberg.

Somewhere in the midst of all that, we became dreamers. You told us that we could be anything we like — and we believed you. You taught us that we are special and unique, that we could do anything we set our minds to. In turn, we are deciding to put off the responsibilities of adulthood — like a career, marriage and children — to a later age than any previous generation, opting instead to craft our identities like a product, marketing it over social media and measuring our worth by Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

This has had its consequences. As your articles point out, Millenials have record levels of clinical narcissism. We are also the first generation to value fame more than work ethic, power or money, which has led you to characterize us as a generation of over-confident, technology-addicted, participation-ribboned, soft-assed egotists who can’t be bothered to grow up. 

This generalization is a little heavy-handed. We might seem obnoxious while Instagraming pictures of our lunch or posting daily selfies on Facebook, but the difference between you and us is overstated by the technology we have. Young people tend to be selfish. This isn’t new. You simply didn’t have the means to share your self-indulgent behaviour with the world. 

Our hesitation to enter the world of adulthood is also understandable given the grim realities we face. As university students, we are entering a sluggish job market that is oversaturated with people of similar levels of education and we’re doing this with higher amounts of student debt than ever. We will also soon have to foot the bill for your looming medical and pension expenses — entitlements we will never see unless drastic changes are made. It looks like we will be the first generation in this country’s history that will have a lower quality of life than the previous one. 

So baby boomers, please be patient and give us a break. We know we can be difficult to deal with, but you were too, and soon we’ll be spending our lives paying for your retirement. Before we do, let us fool around a bit.

Gauntlet Editorial Board