Dear boomers, Stop shaming Millennials and fix the mess you’ve created

Justin Mutch,

Older generation blames young people for the failing economy, It’s time for that to change

Have you heard? Millennials are bloodthirsty “killers” because we are “slaughtering” countless industries by not spending money on certain products. Our bloodlust knows no bounds and we will continue the merciless executions until all corporate revenue runs dry.

It’s completely ridiculous, but a good portion of baby boomers and even some Generation Xers, actually believe this nonsense. If you type “millennials are killing” into Google, you’ll be met with a myriad of search results about dozens of industries and companies that are failing because millennials are not buying what they’re selling. Business Insider even compiled a list in an article written last year.

According to this list, millennials aren’t buying diamonds and it’s killing the fine jewelry business. We allegedly prefer to purchase paper towels and it’s destroying the napkin industry. We aren’t buying houses and now the real estate industry is rapidly declining. We don’t drink as much beer as the previous generations, so the beer industry lost a whopping 1 percent of revenue in 2016. We don’t eat at casual dining restaurants like Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings and these establishments are hemorrhaging profits. MarketWatch has reported that car sales are down because young people are opting for ride sharing services instead of applying for car loans. Worst of all, we don’t use fabric softener.

Truly horrific. When will the senseless “slaughter” end?

It won’t. And these industries seriously need to stop blaming us for their failures. Millennials don’t buy diamonds because we don’t have thousands of dollars to waste on a shiny rock that was gathered through slave labor. We don’t buy houses because according to real estate analysis website CoreLogic, the median house in the Bay Area costs $825,000, and AOL finance reports that the average salary among millennials nationwide is around $35,500 per year. Do the math.

Not only are Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings disgusting, but those of us who work full time while taking a full load of classes don’t exactly have time to go out. And let’s be honest, does anyone actually use fabric softener?

The reason we don’t support these industries is easy to understand, yet we continue to be shamed for how we choose to spend our money. This is ironic, because we’re constantly shamed by news outlets for not saving money. The Atlantic published an article in 2014 about how young people weren’t saving money. It was met with a scathing backlash from millennials across the internet, who responded with poignant refutations such as “I work at Pizza Hut” and “I’m too busy applying for an entry-level job that requires five years of experience.”

We 20-something year olds are being told to save money and spend money to support obsolete industries at the same time. I call this the Millennial’s Money Paradox. I try to explain this to some boomers, but every time I do, their eyes roll back in their heads, then they convulse and mumble words like “snowflake” and “entitled.”

Also, why is no one focusing on the industries that we’re helping? Gyms are seeing an influx of millennial customers. The New York Post reported last year that 60 percent of millennials told researchers that they regularly spend at least $4 on coffee, while only 29 percent of boomers admitted to it. Ticket service Eventbrite reported that 80 percent of users from our generation used the app to attend concerts and live sports events in 2017. Public libraries have become a popular hang-out spot for young people, as well as used bookstores and thrift shops.

Aside from being hassled over how we spend or don’t spend our money, another issue that needs to be addressed for our generation is college. Tuition is completely out of control and nothing is being done to stop its constant increase. A college degree is now a necessity for millennials who want to make more than minimum wage, but the cost of education is completely out of reach.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 1970s, the average tuition at a public in-state university for one year, including books and boarding was about $1,250. Now, it’s closer to $15,000. Business Insider reports that the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation and it would be about $20 per hour if it did.

This means that back in the ‘70s, the boomers would be able to work about 14 hours per week at a minimum wage job to pay their tuition. Now, a millennial has to work at least 35 hours a week to afford yearly tuition. Tack on other bills like rent, cell phone, internet, car payments and groceries?

Financial aid only goes so far and many of us don’t even qualify for it. When we ask for free college, or at least more affordable options, we are told to quit whining and stop being so entitled. We’re forced to take on student loans and this only leads to us having even more bills and a mountain of debt. If you still don’t see the problem here, you are most likely a part of it.

Baby boomers were given a lot more opportunities than we were. When they were young, a college degree wasn’t required to land a good job with steady wages. Now, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement. Once we graduate, we’re forced to work unpaid internships because employers don’t think we have enough experience.

In sum, the American Dream is dead. The only way our situation can improve is if the older generations acknowledge the problems that exist and work with us to find solutions. Until that happens, well, expect a lot more articles from The Wall Street Journal about how our generation is killing industries that are already doomed and a lot more of us moving back in with our parents.