Millennials to Boomers: Shut Up

Who are you calling lazy and self-entitled?

My car’s red gas light turned on last week on my way to work. The local radio guy says through the static that millennials don’t know the meaning of hard work—each criticism piling up as the digits on the gas dial dripped money from my bank account: self-entitled, lazy, never worked a day in our lives.

Self-entitled? This, coming from baby boomers who finally stepped out of the Greatest Generation’s shadow and what’d they do? Screwed up the economy, left us two wars and trashed the planet. Lately, boomers sound like a bunch of Hilary Rosens when talking about 20-somethings.

Sixty-nine percent of millennials believe Washington does not reflect their interests, according to a new poll from Generation Opportunity, a Washington D.C. millennial non-profit. Weren’t we the ones who got Washington elected in 2008?

“It’s unfair for people to view young adults as self-absorbed,” says Generation Opportunity president Paul T. Conway, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. “The new normal is part-time jobs and unpaid internships. That’s not fair.”

Millennial unemployment for March was 15.4 percent, a number that includes the millennials who stopped looking for work, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among millennial African-Americans, it’s 18.8 percent.

Pre-recession, girls were obsessed with Sex and the City. Now HBO puts out Girls, a series about broke chicks in the city. Guys were obsessed with Entourage. Now we’ve got nothing. Who wants to market a bro-show to broke, 20-something dudes? The same people who want to market to teenage guys: no one. Millennials are the new teenagers.

“College isn’t going to guarantee a job anymore,” says Rory Kramer, who will graduate from Penn this summer with a masters in sociology. “Jobs that once required a high-school diploma now require a B.A.”

But they’re not paying a B.A.’s salary. And as a result, millennials are stuck in limbo, fetching the boss’s coffee with a college degree. That’s not just hurting millennials’ egos. It’s hurting the economy. Seventy-seven percent of millennials say they’re delaying big life decisions (marriage, buying a house, paying off debt, starting a family) because of the economic conditions.

A Philadelphia newspaper reporter called me last week inquiring about my opinion on student debt. He heard I went to Penn State and “knows they’ve got high debt.” What I wanted to say: Um, dude, maybe if your shady editor followed through on a freelancing contract, student loans wouldn’t be a problem. But good luck with your Lazy Millenials series.

What I actually did: hung up.

Millennials are all for not burning bridges, but a bridge to nowhere? I’d douse it in diesel—if I could afford the gas.