A theatre company in London recently published a letter in which they openly questioned whether so-called millenials know anything about “the real world”.
The answer, of course, is no. But it matters to understand why.
Millenials are those who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. The term therefore denotes the proximity of this generation’s birth to the closing of the 20th century and the beginning of a new millennium. They are perceived as soft snowflakes who have grown up with a sense of entitlement and do not know the meaning of graft – hence why this letter says that “we need a grafter”.
But millennialism is also an age-old phenomenon among the true believers and religious fanaticals who believe that heaven will one day reign on earth. Christianity may be in decline in the West but that has only made the young more expectant. Jesus Christ may not come but Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker might. Eternal life is possible on earth via the good life.
Millenials thus have much in common with the so-called baby boomers who the British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan famously said had “never had it so good”. The baby boomers used their unprecedented share of wealth and education to launch the greatest counter-cultural movement in history. Why? Because they saw “the real world” and they didn’t like it: Vietnam, racial inequality and political corruption. Look at today’s millenials: they see the Middle East, economic inequality and political corruption – and turn to Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders for answers.
Both of them, by the way, are baby boomers.
So, yes, today’s youth are entitled, utopian, other-worldly creatures. But like all millenials they have grown up to believe that they will inherit the earth.