I enjoy Millennials.
I can even banter with them on Twitter and they don’t curse at me.
Most of all, though, I enjoy the concept of them.
I suffer from Smokey Robinson Complex. I like to tell a joke or two.
So the idea that there’s a self-absorbed, narcissistic, naive, lazy, delusional generation allows for the occasional quippery.
Truly, though, they’re not all like that, are they? No, they’re not.
This is a speech given to a marketing conference earlier this year by Adam Conover.
He’s the star of TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything.
A bit of a debunker is Adam, but he doesn’t do it gratuitously.
He explains that generations are an invention. They’re invented by people who hope to make money out of their wheeze.
Generation X, Boomers, Millennials. Someone came up with the name, slathered a few characteristics onto the carcass, and the group became presto-digitarians.
Conover attacks the Millennial canard with gusto.
Oh, and with some facts.
If Millennials are entitled, how is it that 61 percent of graduating seniors hold internships–of which almost half are unpaid?
But they’re narcissistic, right?
I might interject that a 70-year-old narcissist is currently running for president.
But Conover is fed up with hearing about participation trophies.
He snorts at Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who was appalled that his kids got trophies for winning nothing.
So appalled that he aired his feelings on Instagram.
“What’s more traumatic for your kids? Being given nice trophies or being publicly shamed on Instagram?” says Conover.
And then there’s this: “Even if, what is it, the Steelers, even if they lose every game this year he’ll still make a couple million bucks. How’s that for a participation trophy?”
What is success? What is winning? What, indeed, can you say about a league that doesn’t even let its employees freely move jobs?
Please excuse me. That was an aside.
Conover then reaches for a little more research.
What is Millennials’ biggest priority? Being a good parent. Fifty-two percent say that.
What about “having a high-paying career?” Just 15 percent.
Conover looks at a gamut of narcissism research that shows it’s at its height when you’re a student, sinks when you’re a parent, and sinks again when you become a grandparent.
You would never have imagined that.
But one thing that we can surely agree upon is that Millennials are always on their phones.
We can, as long as we can also agree that people are always on their phones.
Parents give kids iPads, just so that they can go away and stare at their phones.
“Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things,” said brilliant sci-fi writer Douglas Adams.
That’s how humans react.
What, though, do the numbers say Millennials have in common?
They’re more diverse.
So if they’re more diverse, why would we think they’re more the same?
Here’s the revolutionary conclusion: They’re people.
What a strange thought to go into work with. Especially if you’re the boss who wouldn’t let a Millennial take two hours off work to go to her graduation ceremony.
First appeared on Inc.com