In the coming of age film “The Edge of Seventeen,” Hailee Steinfeld plays main character Nadine, who is experiencing a chain reaction of bad happenings and inner turmoil after finding out that her best friend has started dating her brother. In one scene, Nadine eats lunch in her history teacher’s classroom and decides to rant to him. She says that she’s an “old soul, who likes old music,” and hates the way that no one in her generation can have a face to face conversation anymore because they are all addicted to their phones.
This particular scene struck a chord with me because it’s not uncommon to hear some upset millennials say something along these lines. Some complain that music nowadays isn’t “real music” and that this generation should listen to The Beatles or The Rolling Stones instead of rap or pop. Others say that they wish they could go on a 50’s-style date and share a milkshake with a sharp dressed boy rather than just “Netflix and chill.” It’s also very common to hear that phones are ruining this generation; some people will gloat about not having social media and choosing to read books instead.
These people will say that they were born in the wrong generation. But what exactly is so bad about this one?
Often people forget that it is possible to enjoy the products of past eras without bashing the current era. If you like the Beatles? Go ahead! Jam out to them every day. But there’s no reason to devalue the passion that today’s musical artists put into their work. If you want to go on a milkshake date? No one is stopping you! Sure, you might have to specifically request it from your significant other, but who would say no to milkshakes? (Besides, some people prefer to just lay around and watch Netflix–especially after a hard day at work or school.) And it might be hard to accept, but phones aren’t going to just disappear. The world is more connected than ever. No one is losing their social skills, they’re just socializing in a different way! That doesn’t make anyone less intelligent.
I find that it is mostly insecure, out of touch millennials who want to belittle their own generation. In “The Edge of Seventeen,” Nadine was inherently obnoxious. She had very few friends, and not because she was an “old soul,” but because she was quite introverted and had a personality that clashed with many people. When she ranted about not fitting in, it was only after she had watched her closest friend become part of a posse of popular girls that she felt alone and embarrassed. It seems a bit misguided to feel distanced from her whole generation because of a singular incident, but that’s just her personality, and unfortunately, the personality of many others too.
So to millennials who have ever trivialized their own generation, I say this: there is always a place and a friend group for everyone. Yes, there are millennials who are antisocial, idiotic assholes, but not every millennial is one.
If you look hard enough, you’ll find that the people of today are just as smart and creative, if not more, than thirty/forty/fifty years ago.
Things may be different now, but “different” isn’t bad. There have been plenty of adaptions in music, art, and culture, and it can only bring about improvement.