10 things we need to stop blaming millennials for

It's not all our fault.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Millennials catch a notoriously bum rap.

True, we pay way too much attention to the Kardashians, sext, and #YOLO unabashedly, but every generation makes mistakes. Remember shoulder pads?

In all seriousness, though, millennials get blamed for a lot more than embarrassing fashion faux pas. It would appear the one thing we're best at is being older generations' scapegoat. But one thing our critical elders seem to forget is that millennials were born into a particularly bizarre set of cultural, political, and economic circumstances that we had absolutely nothing to do with.

Here are things we need to stop blaming millennials for, right now.

1. The economy

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Oh, you mean the recession I graduated into in 2009? The one that prompted the dean of my university to send a letter of apology to his students, and warn them to learn a trade “they could do with their hands”? Right.

Fact: The Great Recession didn’t happen overnight. It started back in the mid '80s when consumer spending grew perilously high, and low interest rates and subprime mortgages created a housing bubble that was just begging to burst.  What were millennials up to at the time? Being born.

2. Hookup culture

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3. Unemployment

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4. The rise of prescription-drug abuse

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5. Still living at home

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After four years of freedom, the last thing any post-grad wants to do is boomerang back to Mom and Dad’s house. But you don’t have much of a choice if you can’t find a job, and earning your degree has put you in severe debt.

Home-cooked meals are great, but so is having sex without your parents walking in on you. Trust us when we say moving back home was not our first choice.

6. Narcissism

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7. Having a sense of entitlement

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8. Being wasteful

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Despite our inability to pay rent and the ability to turn a mason jar into just about anything, society believes millennials consume mindlessly.

So which one is it? Are we unemployed, basement-dwelling freeloaders, or are we titans of mass consumption?  While neither is entirely true, most of us simply can’t afford to waste our resources.

9. Not caring about the environment

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In one study, which compared the aspirations of baby boomers, gen-Xers, and millennials, ours was the generation found to be the most apathetic about the environment. Upon closer observation, however, the study was based on the responses of high school seniors and college freshmen—not exactly the fairest demographic on which to judge an entire generation.

It’s not that we don’t care, but we are a little burnt out. How can you expect a generation to mobilize on the issue of climate change, when we can’t even get U.S. Congress to do that?  Also, the study was based largely on participants’ self-assessment, not objective markers of environmental activism. If the study proves anything, it’s that baby boomers and gen-Xers have higher opinions of themselves.

10. Being lazy

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Social media gives some people the impression that millennials are nothing but worthless Internet trolls. And while we do spend a lot of our time online, it’s because the world has gone digital.

Social networking is an invaluable asset to getting ahead in life; we’re doing our best with the tools we have to make something of ourselves. In the absence of financial stability and a strong job market, we rely heavily on the Internet to find jobs, market ourselves as young professionals, and even start businesses.

Millennials aren’t lazy—we were born into a drought of opportunity. Success as it was prescribed by the American Dream isn’t realistic for us. Life has different rules now: Getting a degree doesn’t help you get a job, and any job you get will probably pay you relatively less than it would have 10 or 20 years ago. Millennials are expected to succeed in the way our parents did, but we’re also charged with the unique responsibility of trying to figure out how to do that ourselves.

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