Millennials are killing everything, they say – But who is really to blame for the world’s decline?
AAPO LAAKSO, TEXT
EMMA LAAKKONEN, TRANSLATION
The Millennial Generation is accused of selfishness and excessive individualism as well as of being too hard to please and unable to commit. Still, as the amount of available options has grown since the 1990s, even the stale middle-class life has begun to seem tempting.
THE MILLENNIAL IS the apex predator of the 2010s, the killer on the top of the food chain. This could be a possible conclusion, if we took the news headlines from the past few years literally.
The Google search “millennials are killing” provides roughly 25,000 results on what the children of the new millennium have been finishing off lately.
For those less familiar with the buzzwords: the millennials are a generation born approximately between the early 1980s and the millennium.
And here, have a list of the things that the millennials have been killing according to the headlines: golf, the film industry, holiday-making, serious relationships, employer loyalty, napkins, owner-occupied housing, Harley-Davidson, the Home Depots, 9 to 5 work days, light yoghurt, diamond rings, fabric softeners, patriotism, gambling, designer handbags…
THIS LIST SEEMS quite random at first glance, but after reading it more thoroughly, the items on the list begin to resemble a cross-section of a middle-class lifestyle. Are the millennials butchering that as well?
“It might be that the middle class is becoming more fragile and breaking up. It is now easier to drop out of the middle class than before,” states Doctor of Political Science Antti Maunu, whose doctoral thesis was on sociology.
Maunu has researched vocational school students who have a working class background. According to his research material, these students, at least, find the middle class life appealing.
“They are hoping for the traditional things in life, even if it has been argued that this is something people are moving away from. They want to have an education, a profession and a job as well as a family, a home, and a car.”
According to Maunu, the middle-class life includes a steady standard of living and the things it makes possible: Nice clothes, nice values, nice hobbies. Before, these would have been associated with the petite bourgeoisie.
Maunu says that the form for this kind of life might be changing, but in a broader context, people are not attempting to get rid of it.
”Experiencing safety and certainty is a fundamental characteristic of the middle class. This cannot be eliminated by traveling in Asia for a couple of years. As the middle age draws nearer, stability becomes more valuable even for the traveller.”
THE MIDDLE CLASS MIGHT be more interesting to today’s young people than to their parents.
The road to middle class is, in fact, more difficult and the competition is more severe, and for this reason, reaching the middle class is a greater achievement than in the past.
“The young people of today have been raised in an individualistic society where everyone needs to make their own life choices. In the 1980s and 1990s, the range of possibilities was more restricted,” says Maunu.
The number of available options has increased, and so has the possibility of making missteps. The path is a minefield of wrong choices.
“There has been a great deal of media sector education, for example, but then people have been unable to find employment in that field. The individual has basically made the reasonable choice of getting an education, but only to find out that it leads nowhere.”
According to Maunu, the fact that the career path is no longer straightforward is also due to changes in the working life. The jobs are only temporary and the pay might not increase as the years go by.
SO, DID THE MILLENNIALS kill nine to five work days and employee loyalty?
“It’s hardly the job-seeker who builds the work market, but the globalisation and the capitalistic logic that are in the background. The 20- and 30-year-olds of today have not made those changes.”
It might be, in fact, that the generation before the millennials killed most of the things which it accuses millennials of killing.