Making sense of the Millennials

21 03 2012

By nearly any measure, American twenty-somethings – the so-called “Millennials” –  are among the richest individuals to have ever lived. All in all, we don’t have much to complain about.

Yet rather than recognizing our remarkable fortune as a blessing to be preserved, many Millennials have come to view our relative wealth as a human right without ever having tried to understand that wealth’s root causes. We have romanticized struggle without ever having known true privation. This has lead to a never-ending series of spectacles that no doubt seems bizarre – even paradoxical – to older observers.

We inject ourselves into geopolitical dramas that most of us cannot even pretend to understand, Tweeting our solidarity to individuals in countries we could not find on a map. We organize movements against corporate greed on Facebook before showing up with an iPhone in one hand and a Starbucks in the other. We’re more eager than ever to promote a “green” lifestyle – for everyone but ourselves.

As a recent survey notes, “young Americans of today are individually less interested in the environment and in conservation than those of 40 and 20 years ago.  They are also less civic-minded in general.” You’d never know it if you believed the hype behind the social media campaign for justice du jour.

In light of this, it would be simple enough to dismiss the Millennials as a generation of spoiled, angst-ridden, hypocritical permanent adolescents. But a quick glance at the individuals we have been instructed to admire is illustrative: Billionaires who beg for higher tax rates. Far-left documentarians who live in the lap of luxury. New York Times columnists who use the free press – once the most tangible representation of our First Amendment rights – to advocate for Chinese-style totalitarianism.

For too long, the Establishment has held our Warren Buffetts, Michael Moores, and Tom Friedmans to be paragons of virtue. Using these Patrician Populists to calibrate one’s moral compass is sure to lead to the development of some twisted and nonsensical values – values that are manifest in too many of us muddle-headed Millennials. In short, it isn’t surprising that a generation that has been force-fed An Inconvenient Truth is maturing into cohort of small-time Al Gores.

Yet it may well be that the charlatans who have converted the us into a collection of walking, whining contradictions have reached their political and cultural apogee. The floundering Obama Administration, which won the support of so many Millennials just a few years ago, is the perfect embodiment of their disastrous ideas.

Thankfully, in the apparent hypocrisy of the Millennials is a sign of hope for the future. Never mind the sermonizing: we’re capitalism’s prime beneficiaries, and we’ll be damned if we have to give up the material benefits brought to us by the system we claim to despise. Give us a few years off-campus and even we won’t be able to ignore our self-righteous folly.

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