By Ann Arnof Fishman, President, Generational Targeted Marketing
From Bernie Sanders to Black Lives Matter, Millennials (born from 1982 to 2000) are just doing what their history has programmed them to do—react as a group. The major weakness of this generation is they feel peer pressure so intensely, they have lost much of their ability to think for themselves, to analyze a situation on its individual merits, and to have the guts to step apart from the group.
Millennials have been carefully taught to react this way. As children, they were team-taught, team-graded, and presented with trophies, not for achievement, but for participating in team sports, by simply being a part of something. The three support systems that society offers its young—family, religion, and government programs—were so strong during millennials’ formative years, it has given them a feeling of empowerment and a sense of entitlement.
At college, consideration of their feelings affects everything. Triggers have become de riguer. Triggers are phrases posted at the beginning of articles or blog entries warning the reader something in what follows might cause offense or hurt their feelings. Speakers at universities have been canceled due to the fact their opinions differ from those who might attend. Yale is considering changing its long-standing Major English Poets class because its subject matter is about too many white men such as Shakespeare and Chaucer. Food from other cultures served in the dining halls is deemed offensive if not cooked authentically. From Ivy League schools to the inner city, millennials are getting the message. Their demands will be met if their cries and actions are strong enough. This generation intends to make a grand statement with their lives—and they are succeeding.
So, what we have here is the Baby Boom generation (born from 1943 to 1960) meets “Lord of the Flies.” Many Baby Boomers, known as “The ME Generation,” feel a bit of pride that their little darlings are extensions of themselves in their youth, picking up the fallen banner of protesting, calling the police “pigs,” planning to demonstrate at the Democratic and Republican Conventions, and not trusting anyone over 30 (except for Bernie Sanders). Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blames the Dallas disaster on white people and the police. The DNC issued a five-paragraph statement after Dallas that highlighted offenses to African Americans and only referenced the shooting and killing of police as “tonight’s shooting of officers in Dallas is unacceptable.” President Obama, an attorney and law professor, rushed to judging of police without waiting for facts to come in. Newt Gingrich remarked that no white person in America could understand what it is like to be an African American. You don’t have to experience incest to know that it’s wrong. And, then, there’s the constant drumbeat of the ratings-seeking media, seeing the truth as they choose to see the truth.
Millennials hold in their hands the promise of what teamwork can accomplish. The World War II Generation (born from 1901 to 1924) saved the world by working together. Many millennials want to work together to save the world, not with force, but with good deeds. But, team spirit can become a perversion when it is combined with empowerment and entitlement.
When Ronald Reagan was governor of California, protesters at the University of California at Berkeley took over a plot of land owned by the university. UC-Berkeley wanted to build a parking lot and other facilities for the university. Students, professors and outsiders claimed the land as “the people’s park” and threatened to destroy the campus if they did not get their way. Reagan called on the university police and the California Highway Patrol with orders to do whatever was necessary to quill anarchy. One student died, 128 ended up in the hospital. Order was restored and UC-Berkeley was not physically destroyed. When asked by a reporter why he didn’t spend time negotiating with the students, Reagan’s reply was, “What is to negotiate….All of it began the first time some of you who know better and are old enough to know better let young people think that they had the right to choose the laws they would obey as long as they were doing it in the name of social protest.” Messing with millennials’ minds, especially in this election year, can yield terrible results.
Killing police is not open to negotiation. Police who kill unnecessarily must and do stand trial. That’s not up for negotiation either. Turning incidents involving guns into calls to do away with the Second Amendment is not up for negotiation. Do you really think the lone gunman with his well-planned attack could not have bought a gun under any conditions? And, not mentioned until now, is the question of who is pulling the strings of Black Lives Matter and the occupy movement and what is their agenda.
The major danger at this time in our history is we are losing much of our ability to think for ourselves, to analyze a situation on its individual merits, and to have the guts to step apart from group thinking. Adults in power are patterning after millennials to further their own agenda. That’s not leadership. It’s as if the youngster has gotten a learner’s permit and is driving the car. The adult sitting beside that millennial is yelling “faster, faster” instead of “slow down.”
There’s bound to be a terrible collision.