This article was originally published by Campus Progress and is re-posted here with permission.
Poor me-me-me. Because I am a Millennial, according to Time magazine’s Joel Stein, I am a stunted, shallow narcissist who needs to have statistics mansplained to me by a Gen-Xer:
“Millennials consist, depending on whom you ask, of people born from 1980 to 2000. To put it more simply for them, since they grew up not having to do a lot of math in their heads, thanks to computers, the group is made up mostly of teens and 20-somethings.”
LOL, Joel! Sorry, you didn’t grow up with computers. In that case, let me carefully explain another Internet term that we Millennials learn while checking our phones every hour for eighty-eight daily text messages:
A troll is somebody who deliberately goads others on “Internet message boards” (you might remember these from GeoCities) just to get a reaction. And you, Joel Stein, are the perfect example of an offline troll: a journalist who riles up readers by smearing an entire generation as lazy—only to turn around and completely undermine his own half-baked shock-bait with the latter half of his article. I’m loath to feed a troll, but this particular troll, who admitted to “cozying up to the editor of the magazine” in his early career, has too wide and too credulous an audience.
“I have studies! I have statistics!” Stein crows. Actually, he has about two paragraphs of cherry-picked data! He has hand-waving generalizations! He has quotes from twenty people over age 32, and only two under age 30! (Thanks to fellow Millennial and Campus Progress alum Tyler Kingkade for the latter observation.)
Some of Stein’s mistakes may be simple carelessness. Maybe, when he wrote that Millennials “have less civic engagement and voter participation than any previous group,” he just hadn’t read that Millennials are most interested in civil service careers and volunteerism, had record levels of voter participation last year and care far more about family than fame.
Maybe it didn’t occur to him, when citing a survey of middle schoolers who want to grow up assisting famous people, that early adolescence isn’t the best time to evaluate most people’s career paths. And maybe he just hadn’t heard that the National Institutes of Health survey about Millennials’ narcissism has been called into serious question under peer review.