A while back, I wrote an article about millennials in response to well-known author and speaker, Simon Sinek, and his then viral video discussing the woes of the millennial generation.
According to Sinek, although his intentions seemed of positive intent, the millennial generation is nothing more than a helplessly lost, impatient generation forever chasing the ethereal promise of “making an impact” — of which he is compassionate.
It’s as if we’re so troubled we barely know we are troubled, and throughout Sinek’s viral-worthy video, he works hard to advocate for this new adult generation, as if we couldn’t possibly defend ourselves.
The irony of this big controversy between millennials and boomers (of which Gen X finds themselves frustratingly in the middle) is that every single argument that is made for one generation is mirrored in some way by the other:
- Boomers claim millennials aren’t hard-working enough.
- Millennials claim boomers didn’t do a good enough job balancing work and enjoying the journey.
- Boomers accuse millennials of being impatient and even naive for wanting to find a job they can work while traveling with their laptop.
- Millennials point right back at their parents and remind them of their own unhappiness climbing a meaningless corporate ladder.
Both sides are saying the exact same thing to one another.
As a millennial, I’ll be the first to say it
Neither side is doing a very good job working to understand where the other is coming from.
Boomers don’t react well to a 20-something coming in and disrupting the way things have “always been.” Millennials don’t react well when they’re told to shoot for the moon and “do big things,” and then when they walk in the door with new ideas ready to disrupt age-old models, get told to know their place.
Boomers get frustrated with new technology. Millennials get frustrated when the technology they grew up with isn’t being adopted, and they’re forced to do things inefficiently.
And then boomers get frustrated when millennials get frustrated, calling them impatient. And then millennials get frustrated because their boomer bosses get frustrated at them for wanting to do things differently.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most ridiculous banters to observe, because at the end of the day both sides truly have good intentions.
It’s just through the lens of a boomer, the younger generation is entitled, and through the lens of a millennial, the older generation “just doesn’t get it.”
Understanding begins with acknowledgement
The only way both can understand each other is if the perspective is pulled back and both sides can be acknowledged at the same time.
Any time an argument arises within this topic, it always stems back to one side not wanting to acknowledge the other.
Because the younger people who are able to see both sides have a lot of respect for those that have come before — I have a lot of compassion for someone who is 50 and has no idea what the Internet really does. I can’t imagine what that would be like (probably similar to how I felt the first time I had to pay taxes).
And on the flipside, the boomers who lead companies with dozens of millennial employees and are willing to step back for a second and remain open to change and new ideas have a wealth of respect for the younger generation — if anything, they are excited by them.
There is so much we can do together, so much millennials can learn from boomers, and vice versa.
But, in all honesty, this great debate is hauntingly similar to a parent/child argument. And it sort of doesn’t matter who takes the first step, but someone has to — and it has to be in the direction of being able to acknowledge both sides.
There is no right. There is no wrong.
This article originally appeared on Minutes.