Shut Up and Leave Millennials (and Our Safe Spaces) Alone

For whatever reason, people love to pick on millennials. And these people aren’t limited to one generation: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Z, people old enough to be our grandparents and great grandparents, and even some fellow millennials who refuse to embrace the title love to condemn our dependence on technology, critique our work ethic, and call us everything from “entitled” to “self-absorbed” to “crybabies.”

This hatred directed at millennials, or people born in the 1980s and early 90s, is completely unfounded and inexplicable, and has only increased since the presidential election. It’s safe to say many millennials feel scared to live under a Trump/Pence administration because their beliefs actually threaten the health and safety of women (especially sexual violence survivors), LGBTQIA+ individuals, and the immigrant community, to name a few. Conversations surrounding the election and the future of our country have allowed me to see a spike in other generations attacking millennials, particularly in three categories: our support of trigger warnings, our demand to have access to “safe spaces,” and the accusation that we complain too much.

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(Image Credit: Media Venue)
  1. Trigger Warnings. This is the silliest argument against millennials of all. How dare we be aware that people have experienced horrific things in their life, and that some images, videos, or phrases resurface those traumatic experiences? How dare we take into consideration the emotions of others? As for the argument that “Back in my day, we didn’t have trigger warnings”: you did. They just look different than a sentence above a post on Facebook. For example, movie ratings. Moving ratings have been around for years and years and years. Anytime you see a rating, there will be text below it describing why the movie was rated what it was. Even going back to the early 2000s, I can remember my parents using a website to screen movies before allowing my brother and I to go see them. These websites would list everything about a movie that made it rated PG, PG-13, or R. These descriptions included every from cursing to drug/alcohol use to sexual situations to scenes of abuse. I bet no one complained about that website, and that’s a trigger warning right there.

    Honestly (and be honest with me), how long does it take to either write “Trigger Warning: ______” above a post or to say something like “Just to let you know, the subject matter in this movie/TV show/lecture/book/etc. contains x/y/z. Please practice self-care in whatever way that looks for you.” It took me less than one minute to say that phrase and less than one minute to type a long list of potential triggers. Why would I not sacrifice one out of 1,440 minutes of my day to prevent someone from re-experiencing trauma? You’d have to be terribly selfish to not sacrifice that minute.

  2. Safe Spaces. While different definitions exist for different people/communities, I tend to define “safe space” as a place in which individuals can gather to freely express themselves, their ideas, and their opinions in a judgment-free zone without fear of being attacked, made fun of, or retaliated against. And I think a big component of safe spaces are that they’re meant for marginalized folks. These are places for people who normally can’t express themselves, their emotions, or their opinions, not for people who already have a platform to do so. I think safe spaces are usually thought of existing at universities, although they can exist elsewhere.

    Now, what about this is so horrible? What is so terrible about providing people (especially marginalized people) a space to simply be? No one is forcing you to attend a safe space and no one is forcing you to create one (although you should want to). Other generations, especially older ones, are obsessed with making fun of safe spaces, saying we’re being “coddled” and that there are no safe spaces “in the real world.” But guess what…there are! If you look, there are tons of places out there that host lectures/forums, community healing events, or other events that promote learning and listening. And college is very much “the real world,” thank you very much.

  3. Complaining/crying/moaning/etc. Yeah, we do complain a lot. Because we refuse to settle. Because we don’t accept what we’re given when we know we deserve more. Because as for as wonderful as life can be, it can be as equally harsh. And when that harshness comes from the hands of our government and society, it’s something that can be fixed. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and countless other unarmed Black men were murdered at the hands of police, and that makes us mad. People are killed every day for being gay or transgender, and that makes us mad. Rapists like Brock Turner serve minimal (if any) jail time before being rereleased into the world, a world that doesn’t condemn their actions, and that makes us mad. Women are still treated subpar to men, and that makes us mad. The government wants to run a pipeline to transport oil through sacred Native American grounds, thus poisoning the tribes who live there, and that makes us mad. Our new president is on trial for child rape, and that makes us mad. His vice president believes in conversion therapy, which leads to a higher rate of suicides among LGBTQIA+ youth, and that makes us mad. He also wants to defund an organization that provides cancer screenings and other life-saving amenities to women, and that makes us mad.

    So we will complain. We will protest in the streets, we will write and call our senators and representatives, we will draft petitions, we will circulate posts on social media regarding things we’re passionate about, and we won’t stop until these issues are addressed. Forgive us for being mad when we are not treated as human. I’m not sure when demanding to be given basic human rights, rights to food and clean water and a healthy body and equal treatment and simply to live a life of peace and happiness, became equated to being a “crybaby,” but it’s absolutely absurd.

Of course millennials aren’t perfect. There are bad apples in my generation just like there are bad apples in my parents’ generation and in my younger brother’s generation. But we definitely take more heat, and the vast majority of this heat is coming from grown adults. Grown adults are sitting behind their keyboards hurling insults at teenagers and college students who just want to discuss their thoughts and opinions about the world. You can’t read a single article about Hillary Clinton, #BlackLivesMatter, or any other social justice initiative without people harassing us in the comments section for stupid and insignificant things.

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(Image Credit: Grrrlpower Tumblr)

I love technology, I love safe spaces, I love protests, I love discussing the ways in which our world sucks and what we can do to make it better, I love feeling that I don’t owe anything to anyone, I love being a millennial.

If you don’t like what we do, say, think, and feel, then block us from social media, don’t engage with us when you see us at the supermarket, and don’t consume any media produced by us. Or better yet, you could recognize that the world is changing, critically think about how the shortcomings of your own generation has contributed to the messy world in which we all live, and, above all, consider who raised us.

This post was originally featured on OnMogul.com.

 

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