We even understand that participation medals are just for participation, too.
Much like Kermit, Damn Daniel and that video of Donald Trump drawing himself – the rise of the “special snowflake” insult will always be looked back on as one of the defining moments of the internet in the early 21st Century.
It’s funny, because nothing makes you seem more bitter than yelling at someone who has better opportunities in life than you did at their age. The baby boomers and Generation X succinctly point out how millennials are easily offended and that, actually, they find that offensive. Voting Brexit and Trump because we’ve forgotten all that they did for our countries; a valid point – but one that seems to be largely summed up by balding, white men yelling “we’re special too you know – we’ve just learned to stop harping on about it” while simultaneously harping on about it.
But I digress. What I really want to focus on is those of the generations above me that don’t seem intent on telling me I ain’t shit. Instead I want to take a look at those who sympathise with us – those who feel sorry for us. Because who can really blame a generation for acting spoilt when they’ve been brought up on instant gratification and participation medals?
It’s this patronising, “you’ll understand when you’re older” rhetoric used to quash any millennial that dares to make a point, and make it well, that I take issue with.
For years I’ve heard people blaming Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the way kids are today. Kids are so used to getting likes for posting statuses and tweets about basic daily tasks and getting medals for simply taking part, that when we enter The Real World™ we suddenly can’t comprehend that we’re not being constantly patted on the back for doing our job.
Makes sense, right? Except the people blaming Facebook and participation medals for the way the youth of today are turning out have missed a crucial point. The point being that millennials are actually really quite smart. In 2014, Millennials launched almost 160,000 startups and made up nearly one-third of all entrepreneurs in the U.S. We have access to education and resources that the baby boomers could only have hoped to have received when they were in school – so believe me when I promise you that we are smart enough to understand that a like on Facebook doesn’t actually mean anything.
Millennials understand that social media is bullshit – which is maybe why 27% of Millennials use Facebook less than once a week, as well as 11% who don’t even have an account with a further four in 10 who don’t have accounts on Pinterest (41%), Twitter (39%), or Instagram (39%).
Millennials grew up using social media during their most formative years. We are Generation Internet. We understand it without having to learn how it works, we just get it. And because we “just get it” – we understand that people exaggerate their presence on it. So when someone replies “omg I’m dying” to a funny tweet I’ve made – I know they’re not actually dying and I’m not going to become the next Katherine Ryan. Likewise, when I publish this post and it gets a couple of likes from other bloggers – I know I’m not going to be scouted by the Independent to write for the Voices section of their website.
In short – I’m not a deluded lunatic. And neither are the majority of people my age. We get it, hard work equals reward.
“But the participation medals! THE PARTICIPATION MEDALS!!” I hear you, a 45-year-old with nothing to do but troll a 21-year-old blogger, shout from behind your laptop screen.
With the risk of sounding like Taylor Swift after Nicki Minaj called out the music industry for being racist – you’re welcome to have any participation that I receive from now on.
In 2014, it was found that 1 in 6 graduates were having to take jobs in coffee shops and call centres because of the lack of graduate jobs out there. And what’s wrong with working in a coffee shop? Absolutely nothing – but what’s the point in spending £40,000 on attending university for 3 years for me to be working in the same job as someone who left school at 16?
To quote my grandad: “Back in my day, you could leave a job on Friday and be working in another one come Monday morning.” So if you like, I’d be happy to give up any participation medal I received for taking part in my primary school’s yearly sports day for the job security my grandparents had at my age. Seem fair? No, I didn’t think so.
Every generation has had it’s problems. Yours was not having the education opportunities that you’d like, and ours is not having the job opportunities that we’d like. And maybe one day the government will sort that out, but in the meantime could we please stop blaming social media created to serve people’s nosiness and participation medals that were – clearly – only invented to get that one kid who’s shit at cricket to stop crying?