A brief note on “millennials” and their “problem”

Wired published a piece in their September 2016 issue titled “Like. Flirt. Ghost: A Journey into the Social Media Lives of Teens.” It consisted of mini-portraits of five individuals from across the country. The author, Mary H. K. Choi, writes gracefully, allowing them the flexibility and flux to be and not to be what they say they are–which is what being a teenager is about, as she notes at the end. As much as teenage radicalism annoys me–and I’m barely twenty–I must admit that the incessant apocalyptic writing about “millennials” is even more annoying. If anything, doesn’t the constant media attention reinforce precisely what experts say is wrong with them? The medium is the message, right?

The point is, I was grateful to read something that sounded like it was written by a wise, capable adult rather than a cranky or freaked-out parent. Because let’s face it, “millennials” are tired of “experts” pretending to understand “exactly” what their problem is–even if the “experts” are “on their side.” Please allow “millennials” the dignity every other generation has been granted of being confused and afraid some dark and mysterious question. Maybe it’s “relationships” for us. Maybe it’s “community.” Maybe it’s “sexuality.” The important thing is, we’re the ones tasked by God to figure it out. And it’ll probably take us our lifetime to work through it.

The historians will write about our “problem” with clarity and precision. But I will happily punch anyone in the face who claims to be able to currently.




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About the Contributor

James Ogden Sharpe

James Ogden Sharpe is a black belt from Texas pursuing a Bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies combining anthropology, psychology, and media studies. Were the world's economic, social, and political edifices not crumbling, he would study literature or photography or spend more time at the movies. His work has appeared before many professors and has been generally well-received--in the B+ to A- range. 


  1. Howard Wetzel says:

    I hope Mr Sharpe will not come punch me in the face. He is correct: this is a sympathetic article which we old ones should read. It offers insights into a world we don’t understand, and evidence of greater competence with the risks than we assume. But the world is not only the small present, and we old ones are entitled to our concern over what is lost for the whole community in the breathless race to the future. To quote the article’s conclusion: “. . .it’s our job to help our teens grow into the future. Not the other way around. Even if it’s all so agonizingly awkward.” Guiding the young has always been awkward because the young always lack the gravitas of a few more decades; and dammit, they do show the way forward to the old farts with some residual plasticity. This is tradition, the present and the past tempering each other for the future.

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