please shut up about millennials, i’m begging you

It looks like we’re still doing this. Saying things about millennials. I asked us to stop, but I guess we’re not stopping. Fine.

The latest offense comes from psychotherapist Brooke Donatone writing at Slate. She thinks we “can’t grow up” and are “unable to think for [ourselves]” because of “helicopter parenting.”

I think she needs to take a statistics class.


A generation ago, my college peers and I would buy a pint of ice cream and down a shot of peach schnapps (or two) to process a breakup. Now some college students feel suicidal after the breakup of a four-month relationship. Either ice cream no longer has the same magical healing properties, or the ability to address hardships is lacking in many members of this generation.

Now, I agree that the end of a four-month relationship shouldn’t necessarily be grounds for suicidal ideation. But the writer is forgetting that she is a psychotherapist. She only talks to the people who are prone to that kind of thing. The people who cope well with breakups aren’t talking to her.

Wikipedia calls this a sampling bias, and I’m pretty sure I learned about it in 11th grade precalculus. This is basic. She presumably has an advanced degree. Come on.

Amy the millennial?

Of course, Donatone also has a case study, which she cites as evidence that all millennials suck at life. A patient named “Amy” isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. She experienced depression in college, and…

It became increasingly difficult to balance schoolsocializing, laundry, and a part-time job. She finally had to dump the part-time job, was still unable to do laundry, and often stayed up until 2 a.m. trying to complete homework because she didn’t know how to manage her time without her parents keeping track of her schedule.

Is there a college kid who doesn’t fit that description, besides the bit about depression? Yes, some students have part time jobs, but I’ve never met someone who found it easy to juggle a schedule like that. 2 a.m. is simply the hour when homework happens. And who does laundry more than once every few weeks anyways? That requires so many quarters!

But Donatone continues. Amy cannot be an adult because she is a terrible millennial with bad conflict-management skills. And there’s a shocking twist! Amy is thirty.

Which means a lot of people wouldn’t even consider Amy a millennial in the first place. Amy was born in 1983 or so, and millennials were born between the mid ’80s and the early ’00s. At best, she’s on the fringes of the millennial generation.

It has yet to be seen whether most of us will still be bad-at-adulthood when we’re thirty. We’re bad-at-adulthood now, because most of us aren’t adults yet. We’re allowed to be shaky on our feet.

Way to be ableist.

Donatone seems to want to shift the blame for my generation’s failure from our shoulders to our parents’. Far be it from me to say something isn’t my parents’ fault, but I really can’t stand her assertion that rising mental health statistics mean something is wrong with this generation.

“A 16 percent increase in [college] mental-health visits since 2000” doesn’t mean that millennials are necessarily more mentally ill than previous generations. It might mean we’re more likely to seek help. It might mean we’re more likely to make it to college, even if we’re a little bit crazy. It used to be that the mentally ill never had a chance of going to college. Now we can! And it’s awesome!

If anything, articles like this just make it harder for millennials to get by (and, for those of us with mental illnesses, get the help we actually do need). It shames us. And that’s some bullshit.

The kids are alright

Growing up in this goddamn recession, we’re already proving to be a pretty resilient generation. We take unpaid internships (that is: we work literally for free in order to do what we want to do). We move back in with our families if that’s what makes the most sense. And trust me: nobody is living with mom so they have someone to help with their homework and do their laundry. Moving home is a last resort for pretty much everyone I know.

The world is, in a lot of ways, harder to live in than it was when the baby boomers were graduating college (and in some ways easier. I’ll admit that. Technology is awesome. I can get an Uber car to pick me up at the touch of an iPhone and drive me to my therapist’s office if it’s raining).

If we lack independence, it’s because independence is genuinely out of our reach. It’s not for lack of trying. We’re kids with Ivy League degrees and insane resumés. But no one wants to pay us money to do things! What are we supposed to do?

So give us a goddamn break.

  • pedcalcat

    Thank you!