You might say that I am a bit of a closet millennial and it really does not take much convincing to understand why. You all know the names: snowflake, entitled, narcissistic, oversensitive, disloyal, ignorant, emotionally fragile, triggered… do I even have to go on? The funny thing is there was a study conducted on whether millennials “reacted negatively” when called entitled, narcissistic or snowflakes and indeed millennials were offended. My question is, wouldn’t anybody?
Snowflake millennials has been a derogatory slang term since around 2010 and it is a term bantered about by a whole host of people. Boomers, Generation Y, millennials themselves, republicans, conservatives, and even democrats. And we have withstood the onslaught. Many of us concede the many examples of such behavior and are working hard to act in the exact opposite of the definitive term. But with the ’20s roaring back again, millennials have struck back with two simple words, and the generational battle cries began. It took less than two months for boomers to come out of the woodworks and say that millennials were crossing a line (us millennials who are supposed to be the oversensitive ones, right?) One misguided soul even compared it to the modern-day n-word (not even close). But the truth is these memes struck a nerve. Suddenly calling people names was thrown back in our face and our decency was challenged.
So I ask, can we call a truce? Believe it or not, people do not like being called names. This is not a generational thing or me being oversensitive. Shakespeare had the brilliance to make up his own insults and the Shakespearophiles can tell us how often those names led to an escalation of angst but my money is on almost every time. How many of us have bought a product after the salesmen said we were ignorant of how the product really works? How many spousal arguments have gotten better after calling the other too sensitive or simple-minded? How many of us voted for a politician who was called sexist, racist, or really anything? My younger brothers never got less annoying due to me pointing out that they were acting naively (the exact word may have been stupid, but I digress). So maybe after being called a snowflake, our reaction was not due to over-sensitivity but a reaction to just being called a name?
The best question to ask ourselves is what these names and labels serve to accomplish? If nobody likes being called names, then why use them? If our country is more divided than before, why create more divisions? Sure, anger and frustration are vented and sometimes called for in the heat of a moment, but the behavior has not and will not change. Has anyone ever really changed the minds and hearts of a twenty/thirty-something by beginning the conversation with “you millennial?” Perhaps we need to take some serious lessons in learning how to persuade. Instead of blithely bloviating, ask what good is going to come from a snowflake rant? Are we changing behavior and if not why say it? Use some of Aristotle’s pathos and determine how to use your audience’s emotions. Persuade others who may disagree with you how these actions need to be changed. Take a minute and listen to the other generation-believe it or not, there may be validity to both sides.
Instead of calling others ignorant, why not educate? Challenge ideas instead of attacking people; engage in conversation instead of talking at, because the last thing we as Americans, Boomers and Millennials alike, want is another person talking at us-let’s leave that to the politicians. Complaining never makes anything better, let’s adopt an attitude of change instead. I seriously doubt Aristotle would agree that name-calling is the best way to persuade.
But this is just a millennial’s opinion.
Well done Allen!