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Today in Solidarity: Ferguson Women on the Frontlines: Our Voices, Our Stories

Millenial Activists United (@MillenialAU) has been leading from the frontlines in Ferguson and the Twitter-verse, proving once again that our generation is ready to take charge and forge a more just, equal, and fair future for the world. Too much pride and respect for what this group is doing. #staywoke #farfromover

Something I realize today: Baby Boomers and GenX-ers like pointing at Millennials and saying “look at them! everyone thinks they’re so special! Everyone tries so hard to stand out! everyone thinks they deserve attention!!!”

But what does that really say about them, that they demonize individuality so greatly? Sure, there’s the “a man is an island” mentality, that everyone has to be self-sufficient, but under that all, Boomers and GenXs were raised on one thing: conformity. Be like everyone else in the group of your choice, adhere to the plans set before you by media and authority figures, don’t stand out too much, live a step-by-step life.

How are we the weird generation? 

November 19th, 2013,
‘Selfie’ was named the Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionary
Pseudo-intellectuals everywhere cried about the ‘death of the English language’
Because God forbid modern colloquial speech be recognised as valid.
Time Magazine refers to ‘millenials’ as the ‘me me me generation’
Selfish, all we care about is personal gratification
Lazy, entitled, shallow narcissists.
A picture of a girl taking a selfie on her phone is used for the cover
Because our selfishness can be summed up in the fact that we like how we look enough to document it.
We are consumed, they tell us, with our self image.
Everything is about us.
Me-me-me.
With the addition of every word to the dictionary,
‘Hashtag’. ‘Perf’. ‘Sexting’. ‘Totes’. ‘Selfie’,
The ‘me-me-me’ generation continues to make it all about ourselves,
And we should, they tell us, weep,
We should weep because we are entitled,
Because all we care about are selfies and parties and Instagram,
Because this is the generation that will one day run the world,
And for that, we should weep,
Because all we are is ‘me-me-me’.
Let me tell you something.
Every year, university tuition will be 2.3% more expensive for MY GENERATION,
MY GENERATION reports higher levels of anxiety and depression than ANY other generation,
15% more of US than YOU will go to university,
But 46% of MY GENERATION won’t find a job until over a year after law school,
MY GENERATION, on average, is $47,628 in debt.
58% of girls in MY GENERATION feels like they are the wrong weight,
95% of people with eating disorders are part of MY GENERATION,
And MY GENERATION has a million dollar industry telling us that we are not good enough,
That we are ugly, lazy, and entitled,
And anything we do to be financially successful,
Or less stressed,
Or beautiful, god dammit,
Is in vain.
So pick up your phone,
Pick your favourite filter,
And take a goddamn selfie.
You deserve it for having to grow up in these times.
—  My poem, ‘Hashtag Selfie’.

We have been called “a lost generation…[not] giving birth to anything new” and “too quiet, too online.” In fact the opposite is true. There is a deafening roar in cyberspace. If a presidential election can be won through the support of an online movement, if articles and ideas can reach tens of millions of people overnight, and create a four-thousand person discussion, if YouTube can receive 200,000 new videos a day, then being “too quiet” and “too online” is the opinion of someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be online. Not creating anything new and not being loud enough are not our problems. So why the disrespect from the famous 60s generation? Because we aren’t doing what they want us to do.

Most of us were born after the end of the Cold War or were too young to remember it. The political climate we grew up in was one of supreme hypocrisy. One President nearly got impeached for a superficial sex scandal and then another later broke international laws to preemptively start a war without UN support and was re-elected to serve 2 full terms without so much as a breath of legal retribution.

The problem my generation faces is inheriting a world that baffles us: a world of hypocrisy and crisis; a world on the brink of collapse yet at the height of human civilization.

Imagine for a moment being one of us. Taught in school that all people are created equal, that all countries are sovereign, that freedom, democracy, and capitalism are embraced by all people and nations because they are ultimate ideals that allow us to prosper and live as we choose in the pursuit of happiness. Old enough to read the New York Times online and blog on Huffington Post, we see a very different world. Equality? Not for the poor, not for LGBT. Capitalism? It appears to have been a house of cards recklessly constructed by greed for the benefit of a few. Sovereignty? Not for resource-poor or oil-rich countries. Ideals? Not for the media or our political and business leaders.

Now we must navigate a world where a concentration of power, wealth, and media often conflicts with every ideal the Western world is supposed to stand for. If you think we are too quiet and too online you should consider that we have two choices. One, to accept the values we were taught to believe in and totally redefine and reconstruct the way our government/economy/society works so that these ideals match reality. Or two, to accept the world we live in and think up a new set of values to justify our lives.

[Bill] Cosby got that the privilege of childhood is bumbling your way through bad ideas until your brain starts to straighten things out for you. But unless you got really unlucky in the gene department, your parents are three steps ahead of what you’re thinking, because they’ve already been there. The Cosby Show didn’t have the nerdy genius child character because kids are almost never smarter than their parents. They didn’t have the stock dumb kid character because real people are more interesting and complicated than what they get on their report cards. After eight seasons, none of the Huxtable children lived up to the expectations and hopes that their hardworking middle-class parents had for them. In fact, it was a running joke that every one of them would end up back in their parents’ home as moochers for the rest of their lives. … That’s the lesson of The Cosby Show: No one gets to micromanage their kids toward success. In other words, Bill Cosby nailed the central millennial problem even as millennials were getting born.”

(via The 5 Most Realistic TV Show Families of All Time)

Although nearly every American under 30 uses the Internet in some capacity (a whopping 98 percent of millennials are online), younger people are more likely to believe that there’s useful information that’s only available offline. While 62 percent of citizens under 30 ascribe to this belief, only 53 percent of those 30 and older agree.

This and other information revealed by a recent PewResearch project could begin to explain why millennials are actually more likely to have picked up a book in the past year than their older peers. According to the study:

Some 43 percent report reading a book — in any format — on a daily basis, a rate similar to older adults. Overall, 88 percent of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79 percent of those age 30 and older.

Millennials are far less likely to own a car, or to even make that a priority. Instead, we tend to opt for public transit, biking, or car sharing. While millennials don’t identify as vegetarians, either, we actually trend towards eating less meat – and we value the eating experience, which means that, though we tend to make less for our work (or sometimes nothing at all), a lot of us are still willing to spend a little more to go organic and local. Heck, even the fact that so many of us still live at home, or choose to live in shared houses or dorms rather than getting a place of our own, translates to a more efficient use of household water, electricity, and gas.

Which isn’t to say that millennials are making these choices exactly for the purpose of being green. We do it because it makes sense: Green living is more affordable, more enjoyable, and thus perhaps makes us more able to deal with the messes we’ve been left with. But, as long as things are starting to change, does it really matter what the motivation is? And can’t there be more than one motivation? Millennials seem more likely to recognize that the environment doesn’t exist in a glass bubble, that it’s tied in with business, technology, and what’s on your plate. Protecting the environment is not something out there and far away, but something right here that needs to be intelligently incorporated into our day-to-day.

You are of the test taking generation. You were taught that there were correct answers and that you only had to learn them and memorize them in order to succeed. This has bled over into your everyday life and made you think that everything you say and do has either a right answer or wrong answer and that’s just not true.
—  something one of my teachers said to me that I can’t seem to forget
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