Millennials are not treehouses and hoverboards

The latest story that allows people to make sweeping generalizations about the Millennial generation comes from the New York Times. It’s a profile of Mic, one of the content websites about Millennials for Millennials, looking closely at its freewheeling newsroom where hoverboards roam free and people shout fake announcements on megaphones.

The newsroom as described is pretty eye rolling. Along with the hoverboards you have Nerf guns and behavior that borders, as the article notes, on subordination.

The top example is the treehouse story. The article references a former Mic director of programming who lied about why he was taking a week off. He said he had a family funeral to attend; instead, he went away and built a treehouse. Because he was stressed.

Somehow he wasn’t fired, but the chief executive of Mic was “taken aback” by the behavior.

Meanwhile, another employee said in a public setting that the chief executive should’ve apologized for not considering religious beliefs when concerning an employee’s request for time off.

That also took him aback. As if these things were somehow equal.

Meanwhile an employee talks about how she worked at a place that had a fax machine and phones, and it was weird. It’s written as if the employee had a real problem with working in an outdated setting.

Luckily the article includes Joan Kuhl of Why Millennials Matter, who is trying to show that most Millennials aren’t as oddly freewheeling as the folks at Mic. She did reference one story of a Millennial who brought a tuna sandwich to a meeting with senior colleagues.

Anyway, there are a lot of entitled Millennials out there needing to be reigned in. And it’s probably likely that, where wealthy Millennials are in charge (you know, those who haven’t needed to answer to senior management in an office setting), the other workers can have more freedom, and do things like ride around on Hoverboards and fire Nerf guns.

But this newsroom depiction, and the treehouse story certainly, will serve as major examples of a generation too entitled and too vain. These are the reasons the word “Millennial” has a bad rap.

Here’s the bigger problem: When we talk about Millennials, it seems we’re talking about these middle- to wealthy-class white people in co-working spaces in industrial pockets of New York City.

The Millennial generation is 80 million deep. Mic itself even says it caters to “the 40 that went to college,” so it’s already showing a bias toward some popular idea of what a Millennial is supposed to be. And that means uneducated, maybe with fewer resources and a tougher upbringing, maybe in neglected parts of the country.

You know what happens when you ignore that many people for so long? We’re living in it right now.

The New York Times article is troublesome because it allows for people to form an opinion on an entire generation based on one glimpse into a seemingly entitled newsroom of white people in New York City. Mic is troublesome because it’s part of this niche content universe that segments populations and further separates people from another.

And we’re in trouble if we buy into all this.

Millennials are 80 million strong, a generation of thinkers and doers who are coming of age in a technologically superior but economically challenging time. Some have mounting debt. But some are trying to disrupt and change the world in small ways. Still some are joining in to keep the false promises of our past humming right along.

Whatever the case, we’re a huge generation capable of many things. We’re not a group of co-workers alone. Don’t let one story define the world. Let your own story define your world.

And please, if you want to build a treehouse, go ahead. Nobody’s stopping you. But tell the damn truth and respect your friends and co-workers.