When ‘old’ people ascribe labels such as ‘entitled’ or ‘arrogant’ to millennials, it’s because they are used to an economy where people shut-up and did what they were told, and in the pre-globalization era shutting-up and collecting your guaranteed paycheck may have been a good idea. But with the economy becoming more competitive, companies in permanent cost-cutting mode, and salaried jobs becoming obsolete, individuals – including the millennials – have to take initiative and can’t just ‘shut-up and go along’, only to find the rug pulled beneath them.
Millennials see student loan debt, living with their parents, and delaying family formation in exchange for education and fiscal-self sufficiency, as both a rite of passage and bonding experience of sorts. To earlier generations, the idea of not leaving the nest or for women to delay having kids in exchange for careers – or to not have kids at all – would have seemed aberrant, and still is to many , but millennials view it as a short-term pain/inconvenience for long-term financial security.
The era of the factory job out of high school, wedding and child by 20-25, and retirement at 50-60 is over. Now it’s stay in college until late 20’s to obtain advanced degrees, have kids at 30’s – if ever – switch jobs multiples times, live with parents until 20’s or later, but my prediction is there will be large payoff in the next few decades as millennials, due to more education and better critical thinking skills and self-sufficiency, pull ahead of earlier generations, when matched for age. This means 40-60 year-old ‘millennials’ will be doing better than 40-60 year-olds today.
On Reddit, stories of millennials having six-figure salaries (particularly in STEM), having a home mostly paid-off, having a positive monthly cash flow (even with student loans), or having large sums of money saved are not all that uncommon, in contrast to the doom repeated by the pundits in the media that attempt to generalize millennials has being in ruinous financial shape, living in destitution and squalor, when the reality is not so grim.
Instead of frittering away thousands of dollars a month to a landlord who will likely keep jacking up your rates even as the fed says inflation is non-existent, for millennials, living with their parents is cheaper and they can use the saved money and time to not only put a down-payment for a home (creating self-sufficiency and wealth), but learn high-paying, in-demand skills such as coding, further building wealth and self-sufficiency. In the post-2008 era of intellectualism and individualism, for men, (and women, too) being socially awkward and STEM is considered the new ‘cool’, and for women it’s not having kids, as shown by how this imgur post about the social awkwardness of being the only women in your 30’s without kids went viral on Redit. Thousands of millennials up-voted it, hundreds commenting that they could relate – again, the bonding experience between like-minded individuals in similar financial and social circumstances.
In our hyper-competitive economy, individualism is how you get ahead because the old rules and expectations (stable lifetime employment out of high school, generous retirement benefits, etc) are either nonexistent or dramatically diminished, forcing this generation to forge their own destinies and to stop relying on ‘faith’ – be it an ambiguous, unscientific spiritual one or the illusion of the ‘golden parachute’, which could explain the post-2008 rise of MGTOW, Red Pill, Atheist Conservatism, Internet Libertarianism, Minimalism and other niche ideologies that emphasize individualism, empiricism and rationality over the delusional collective. We’re all becoming Objectivists, wielding cold, hard logic and risk-reward analysis to solve problems, ignoring the politically correct social mores that earlier generations followed.
Republicans, who are unfairly stereotyped as being ‘behind the times’, actually understand the millennial mindset – which is a combination of Ayn Rand, John Stuart Mills and Friedrich Nietzsche – quite well. Republicans, particularly neocons, with youth appeal such as Rand Paul, know that labor market is changing, while the social democrats like Sanders and Warren want to turn back the hands of time to a simpler, less competitive era instead of confronting the implacable, unmovable reality we all find ourselves living in. We can’t let unobtainable nostalgia guide our policy. We need policy that is reality-based.
I guess this could also explain why in recent years Republicans are backtracking on the well-worn social issues such as gay marriage, preferring instead of focus on economics – a message of less class welfare and more self-sufficiency and individuality – to win over Millennials, a generation that cares more about finance than family. However, the individualistic pursuit of economic self-sufficiency may be incompatible with the nostalgia for traditional family values because to become economically self-sufficient in the cutthroat post-2008 economy, it’s every person for his or her self, making family formation difficult – if not impossible – and the GOP is waking up to this.