In the recent New York Times article titled Generation Nice, author Sam Tanenhaus talks about how nice the Millennial generation is. While I agree, I simultaneously wonder if we all might suffer from the Millennials being too nice. In other words, might we be better off if they toughened up a bit?
ANTI-BULLYING TO THE RESCUE
The movement to use culturally inclusive and gender-neutral language (a.k.a. “PC movement”) started at about the time of the Millennials. A huge amount of good has come out of being inclusive. But, like so many trends in the U.S., people seem to think “if a little is good, a lot must be better.” We’ve gone from avoiding discrimination to encouraging fragility.
Banning words like “stupid” at school, including gossip as a bullying behavior that can result in a call to Child Protective Services, and suspension for pointing a finger like a gun are, well, stupid.
I in no way condone hurtful behaviors and am in complete agreement that action needs to be taken when life threatening or extreme cases occur. But mild bullying starts right at home—with siblings—and continues through school to work, to international politics. Recent accounts of Putin and Kim Jong-un’s bullying are prime examples. If we protect our kids by banning any and all bullyish behaviors entirely in schools, our kids will grow into fragile, helpless adults. And where does that leave our nation in a few years? Do we really want softies competing for global market share and standing up to nuclear threats?
DO-GOODERS: ANOTHER NICE MILLENNIAL BEHAVIOR
Obviously, we want a nation full of do-gooders. But people don’t always have the opportunity to reject corporate life and “riskily pursue their own ventures” by “working out of their parents’ basement.” The Millennials—or more precisely the middle class Millennials—choose where to shop and work because they can. They have cushions (i.e. parents) to fall back on if they opt out of a job offer from a profitable enterprise. They have parents to subsidize their sustainable, organic, local vegetarian eating habits. It’s great to force business in America to be socially responsible. I am all for that. But I wonder if allowing the Millennials to choose to be socially responsible by living off their parents is the right way to go. I mean, how socially responsible is that really?
It’s great to be nice, but too nice can be a detriment. It may hinder not only the Millennials, but also the rest of our society as Millennials move into leadership positions. It might be better for Millennials to strive to be a strong and compassionate generation.