Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people poking fun at the fragility of millennials. According to Merriam-Webster, a person born in the 1980s or 1990s belong to the millennial generation. Google defines a millennial as a person who “reached young adulthood around the year 2000.” Most of us roll our eyes at this term, as it is usually used to highlight our numerous flaws and weaknesses compared to past generations. One of the most popular is that we are too offended by everything. I’m the first person to call something “offensive” or “problematic” when I truly think it is, but it wasn’t until I saw a Halloween costume of millennial fragility did I decide to pen this. You may take this as proving their point: being offended once again, but if anyone chooses to see this as a complaint rather than a call for dialogue, then that’s their problem.
I want to start by saying that I know us millennials are hilarious. We do some pretty weird things and it is funny to laugh about us every now and then if it’s because we seem to be attached at the hip with our smartphones or because we are making our “youth” longer than ever. And it’s only a matter of time before every generation is made fun of to some extent. I know I laugh when I realize a fifteen-year-old has never used a CD player or had a cell phone without an Internet connection. It’s not the fact that our generation is being laughed at but the reason for it. I can’t digest this millennial fragility discourse. According to those who uphold it, we simply need to toughen up and stop being offended by everything. So, are we being asked to turn a blind eye to injustices or simply let things be? Do these people suggest accepting sexism, racism, transphobia, etc. like previous generations have done, business like usual? Isn’t the beauty of the 21st century that people are aware of prejudice and can fight back against it more and more? Apparently, no. We should stop being offended by everything and worry about more important things (or that’s what I’ve gathered from reading around the Internet a bit).
“The problem isn’t that we’re offended but that offensive material exists.”
I think the problem isn’t that we’re offended but that offensive material exists. Is it really so hard to make jokes without trivializing rape? Why do sports teams still have racist mascots when an infinity of non-offensive characters could be used? Are there not thousands of interesting Halloween costumes to choose from besides one involving blackface? So, as you see, all kinds of prejudice are so deeply embedded into so many parts of our culture that, if one goes about their daily life, they will encounter many, and it’s only logical to call them out. Where would we be if past activists hadn’t denounced unfair treatment? Personally, I think the courage to challenge traditional power structures is one of the strengths of my generation.
Sure, I’ll admit that some people might take things too far, going off the rails for what might seem like a small thing. It always happens and they shouldn’t be mistaken for the majority. Still, it never hurts to try to understand the reasoning behind their offense. Perhaps it only seemed small and insignificant to you from your standpoint, but stepping in their shoes might shed a new light on the situation.
“The courage to challenge traditional power structures is one of the strengths of the millennial generation.”
My advice for the next time you come across someone you think is too easily offended is to do your research: ask the person why they are offended, do a quick Google search for some historical background information, engage in a debate… Maybe if you take the time to hear other opinions, yours might change. It is only through education that the complexity of prejudices can be understood and combated. Remember: just because something doesn’t offend you, doesn’t mean your opinion is universal. Words aren’t just pieces of language that can be void of meaning; they carry cultural baggage and deep connotations. And if you benefit from any sort of privilege, you’re not entitled to telling oppressed groups what is offensive.
“Next time you come across someone you think is too easily offended, do your research: ask the person why they are offended, do a quick Google search for some historical background information, engage in a debate…”
If you’d like to discuss this topic, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment because, like I said, dialogue is important and we can always learn from others (including me, of course).
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