40 Things People Over 40 Need to Stop Blaming Millennials For
It's because of their debt, folks, not the avocado toast.
Everywhere you look, people over 40 are blaming millennials for all of the bad things happening in the country. Another restaurant is going out of business? It’s because millennials don’t eat out anymore. The diamond industry isn’t doing well? That’s because Generation Y isn’t splurging on fine jewelry. But if you dive deeper into these complex issues, you’ll find that young folks aren’t actually responsible for the things they’re condemned for—so it’s time to stop blaming them when things start to change.
The Decline of the Movie Industry
Though people as a whole don’t go to the movie theater nearly as often as they did in decades past, research from the Motion Picture Association of America has found that it’s actually people between the ages of 18 and 24—in other words, young millennials—who are seeing the most movies.
Bringing Work Home with Them
Though today’s office environment looks nothing like it did some 40 years ago, that has less to do with the millennials inhabiting the offices and everything to do with advances in technology and shifting cultural norms. Cellphones and laptops make it possible for employees to work from home or check emails after hours—and nowadays this is often necessary, seeing as in 2017, 48.3 percent of families had two working parents, compared to just 25 percent in 1960.
Demonizing the Dinner Date
Sure, most millennials might opt to grab a drink over dinner on a first date—but if there’s anyone (or anything) to blame for this change, it’s online dating platforms. As relationship expert April Masini explained to Market Watch: “Online dating creates an enormous number of first dates in a short period of time. This gives people on budgets good reasons to back away from pricey dinner dates.”
“The running boom is over. Blame millennials,” one Wall Street Journal article published in 2016, titled “How Millennials Ended the Running Boom,” began. Evidently, says the article, millennials are too busy exercising in boutique fitness classes to be bothered with running, and the older generations are mad that this is how their younger counterparts are choosing to stay healthy. Duly noted.
Killing the Game of Golf
“From the golf industry statistics, we know that rounds are down,” Matt Powell, an industry research analyst for NPD, explained in a video. “We know that millennials are not picking up the game, and boomers are aging out. The game is in decline.”
Though this all may be true, how can you really blame millennials when picking up the sport is prohibitively expensive? And in 2017, the number of students under 30 with student loan debt was around 16 million, so millennials don’t exactly have discretionary money for extracurriculars like golf.
Ridding of Relationships
According to the findings of a recent Gallup poll, just 16 percent of people aged 18 to 29 were married in 2014, and 64 percent were still flying solo. (For comparison, in 1960, 45 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 and 82 percent of adults aged 25 to 34 had already said “I do.”) But while it is true that millennials are coupling up more slowly, it is also important to consider that millennial women are getting married later because now they actually have the option of going to college and having a career.
The Demise of Cable TV
Millennials are not the only ones who are giving up their cable subscriptions, but that hasn’t stopped television companies (and even people over 40) from blaming them for killing the industry. Realistically, the people at fault for the demise of cable are the creators of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime that make paying for cable unnecessary—but then again, that’s just what happens when technology advances.
Replacing Face-to-Face Interaction with Technology
Video chatting and text messaging has largely replaced face-to-face interactions, but not just in the millennial community. One Pew Research Center survey found that one-third of adults using the internet view the platform as having improved their relationships a lot, and one-fourth feel that it has brought their family closer together.
“Refusing” to Take Time Off
When market research company GfK polled 5,641 American workers over the age of 18, they found that nearly 40 percent of all respondents wanted to be identified as a “work martyr” by their boss. Because the majority of these martyrs fell into the millennial generation, people were quick to blame young employees for a rise in “vacation shame”—though they didn’t take into consideration the fact that, thanks to outrageous student loans and other expenses, millennials can’t exactly afford to take vacation take. If you fall into this camp, though, This Is Why You Should Take All Of Your Vacation Days.
The State of the Housing Industry
Millennials aren’t buying homes as quickly as baby boomers once did—just 37 percent of millennials aged 25 to 34 own homes now, compared to 45 percent of baby boomers when they were the same age—but there’s a reason for that. When the Urban Institute looked into millennials’ purchasing habits, they found that between delayed marriages, waiting to have kids, and economic hardships (often thanks to student debts), today’s young people just have less of a need to rush to buy real estate.
And Not Buying Diamonds
If millennials can’t afford to pay off their student loans, then how are they to be expected to spend non-existent discretionary money on diamonds?
Closing Down Department Stores
Every day it feels like another department store announces store closures or cutbacks—and when execs want someone or something to blame for this, they turn to the scapegoat of all scapegoats: millennials. However, it’s more likely that these changes are a result of the rising e-commerce industry, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has been steadily growing since 2009.
Not Having Jobs
Though older generations blame millennials for not being motivated enough to find jobs, what they don’t seem to consider is that today’s young folk are facing an unemployment rate well above the national average. Though the national unemployment rate stood at just 4.9 percent in 2016, the percent of people unemployed in the 18 to 29 age group during that same time was 12.8.
Killing Casual Dining Chains
To try to explain Buffalo Wild Wing’s declining sales, the company’s CEO Sally Smith wrote in a letter to shareholders that it was millennials who were to blame. “Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants,” she said. However, what Smith failed to acknowledge is that consumers of all ages are actively trying to eat healthier, and restaurant chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee’s don’t make that aspiration any easier.
Not Using Napkins
Evidently, millennials are opting to use paper towels for all of their cleaning needs. When Mintel surveyed shoppers, they found that while 86 percent of those surveyed had purchased paper towels in the past six months, only 56 percent had bought napkins. Of course, companies that sell napkins have every reason to be upset about this, but when you factor in millennials’ limited finances into the equation, it makes sense that so many young individuals are opting to make their paper towels multipurpose.
The Demise of Cereal
“Millennials aren’t eating cereal because it’s too much work.” That was the title of an article that Business Insider published back in 2016, based on a Mintel survey that found that nearly 40 percent of millennials thought cereal was an inconvenient breakfast option. But what this article fails to mention is that millennials are more health-conscious and have more breakfast options today than people over 40 did some decades ago, which contributes just as much to the decline of the cereal industry as the generation’s apparent laziness.
Not Riding Motorcycles
In 2016, motorcycles sales at Harley-Davidson fell by 1.6 percent, and sales in the United States dropped by 3.9 percent. The problem, industry analysts claimed, was that Gen Y just wasn’t as into the idea of riding motorcycles, and it was hurting the motorcycle companies. But perhaps these industry experts and the older generations with qualms should also take in account the fact that millennials are just trying to be more sensible given all the resources they have. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, in 2015, the number of deaths on motorcycles was nearly 29 times the number of those in cars per mile traveled.
The Declining Sales of Fabric Softeners
From 2007 to 2015, sales of liquid fabric softeners fell 15 percent in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal. If you ask Procter & Gamble’s head of global fabric care why this is, he’d say that millennials “don’t even know what the product is for”—but really, fabric softeners are in the same category as napkins in the sense that they’re not an absolute necessity, and millennials don’t necessarily have the money for items like these.
Ditching the Traditional Gym
“Millennials don’t want to be tied down [to a gym],” Megan Smyth, CEO of FitReserve, a service that lets its members book individual workout classes, explained to the New York Post in their article titled “Millennials are killing gyms, too.” But really, young and athletic individuals are just following wherever the market takes them, seeing as boutique studios made up 42 percent of the fitness world in 2014—up from 100 percent compared to just one year prior. And if you want to spice up your gym regimen, then try these 30 Workouts That Burn More Than 500 Calories An Hour.
Putting Their Careers First
It’s understandable that someone from the baby boomer generation might struggle to understand how their younger counterpart could delay starting a family to advance their career. However, today’s landscape—especially for women—is much different, and potential moms actually get to choose whether they want to succeed in business before settling down and having kids.
Buying Too Many Avocados
Who can forget when millionaire Tim Gurner infamously blamed “smashed avocado” for Gen Y’s inability to afford first homes? Millennials might love their avocado toast, but it’s safe to assume that the terrible job market and crippling student debt are more to blame for the state of the housing market than a green fruit.
The Current State of the Economy
Let’s not forget that the recession began in 2007, back when most millennials were still in school and had yet to even enter into the job market. And not only that, but that very recession was thanks to the low interest rates and practically nonexistent mortgages of the mid-1980s—a time when the average millennial wasn’t even alive.
Continuing to Live at Home
In 1981, only 8 percent of people aged 25 to 35 were living at home with their parents, according to data from the Pew Research Center. In 2016, on the other hand, 15 percent of that same demographic were still at home with mom and dad. People over 40 are quick to blame this trend on laziness, dependency issues, and pure and unadulterated mooching, but the unfortunate reality is that many millennials simply can’t afford to move out, even if they do have a job. (And how could they, seeing as the average rent in New York for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,104 per month?)
“Overusing” Social Media
There’s certainly no denying that millennials are addicted to their Instagram, Twitter, and other social media accounts. However, it’s unfair for older folks to fault Gen Y for using these platforms, especially seeing as these apps and services literally didn’t exist yet when they were coming of age. If you do feel like technology is taking over your life, though, then you can use these 20 Genius Ways to Kill Time without a Smartphone.
The Rise of “P.C. Culture”
Though many people see the rise of political correctness as a positive thing, older individuals look at the phenomenon in a negative light and blame it (and thusly, the millennials who created the P.C. culture) for the majority of their problems. However, as one author at Forbes noted, millennials are simply trying to “push the culture at large in a kinder, gentler direction”—and if people over 40 are resistant to that change, it’s only because they’re so used to living in a world where anything goes.
SRSLY? People over 40 might hate how often their younger friends and family members unnecessarily shorten words and phrases, but abbreviations like LOL (for “laugh out loud”) and OMG (for “oh my god”) are simply thanks to the creation of the internet.
The Troubles of the Restaurant Industry
Though the restaurant industry isn’t doing well, that isn’t because of millennials. In fact, when Upserve did some digging, they found that millennials spend 44 percent of their food money on eating out, whereas baby boomers only spend 40 percent. Basically, millennials are making less and spending more at restaurants, and yet they are still getting blamed for the troubles of the restaurant industry.
Not Buying Enough Bars of Soap
In August 2016, CBS News published a piece about how millennials are responsible for the demise of the traditional bar of soap because they falsely believe the bars to be unsanitary. And yet later in the article, the author contradicts themselves and confirms this supposedly absurd belief, noting that the Minnesota Department of Health has stated that germs can grow on bars of soap and spread infections.
The Declining Viewership of the Olympics
A few years ago, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Burke spoke about a drop in ratings for the Olympics, saying: “If [a drop in ratings] happens, my prediction would be that millennials had been in a Facebook bubble or a Snapchat bubble and the Olympics have come, and they didn’t know it.” But given that the Olympics are publicized everywhere—including and especially on social media platforms—it’s kind of hard to blame Gen Y’s penchant for the internet on the Olympics’ declining viewership.
Understaffed Police Forces
Speaking to the city council, Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall said that millennials were to blame for the city’s shortage of officers. “We have nights, weekends, and holidays, and those are some of the things that are not necessarily attractive to millennials who want all days off and to be the chief in six months,” she explained. But millennials are actually quite hard workers, as the GfK workplace survey concluded, and so if police forces are pointing to Gen Y’s supposed entitlement as the reason that they can’t find new recruits, then they might not be looking hard enough.
Not Caring about the Environment
First of all, millennials aren’t the ones who destroyed the environment in the first place. Secondly, it’s unfair to say that young people don’t care about the environment, given that most millennials are willing to spend extra money on sustainable items even when they don’t have money to spare.
Doing Away with Corporate Dress Code
Yes, more and more companies are doing away with the traditional office dress code in favor of making their employees comfortable, but this is a product of the types of offices that are popping up, not the people working in them. Older generations seem to be so used to working in stuffy corporate offices that even the idea of a startup staffed with guys wearing ratty tees is hard for them to fathom.
Declining Beer Sales
Okay, so young adults prefer wine and spirits over beer, but so what? If anything, this is a direct result of access to information on healthy habits that past generations didn’t have, seeing as beer is chock full of calories and carbohydrates.
Loving Their Animals Too Much
When TD Ameritrade surveyed pet-owning millennials earlier this year, they found that the average dog owner spent $1,285 a year on their “babies,” and a staggering one in 10 respondents said they would pay $10,000 to take care of a sick pet. Sure, millennials care about their furry friends, but it’s unfair to say that they care too much, given that raising a pet requires a not insignificant amount of effort. Plus, as a pet owner, you get as much as you give, seeing as being a fur mom or dad has been linked to everything from decreased stress levels to increased longevity. And if you’re considering getting a dog, then check out these 10 Things You Need to Know Before Adopting a Shelter Dog.
Before you call the twenty- or thirty-something in your life entitled, remind yourself that they’re only that way because of how they were raised. If millennials are entitled, it’s at least partially because baby boomers let them be.
Taking Too Many Selfies
Selfies might be annoying, but they’re actually a pretty convenient way for anyone with a cellphone (not just millennials) to document important life events when there isn’t anyone else around to take a photo.
Being Too Sensitive
Decades ago, mental illnesses often went undiagnosed because people didn’t believe that they were actual diseases. Today, it is widely accepted in the medical community that things like depression and anxiety are caused by chemical imbalances—but despite this, many older individuals hold onto their antiquated ideas about mental illnesses being a sign of weakness and oversensitivity, and they continue to scoff at millennials who “hide” behind diagnoses.
Not Being Religious Enough
The population in general has become less religious in recent years, but this wave of spiritual apathy has hit Gen Y especially hard. However, as Michael Hout, a professor of sociology at New York University, explained to the Pew Research Center, this trend can be attributed to “the legacy of the times [that millennials] grew up in,” especially since “many millennials have parents who… expressed to their children that it’s important to think for themselves.”
The Fall of the Potato
Within the last three years, spud sales have dropped by 5.4 percent. And while this statistic is sad for the farmers who make a living off of selling these starchy vegetables, the decline in potato sales should actually be celebrated, at least in the sense that young adults are finally starting to understand the importance of eating healthy.
Ruining the Entire Country
It’s the cycle that never ends: Baby boomers blame millennials for ruining America, millennials blame baby boomers for ruining America, and so on. However, this constant blame game is helpful for no one, and it’s in the best interest of boomers and millennials alike to just agree to disagree and move forward.
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