Opinion » Note

Kids These Days


My inability to get with the times has been a joke for years. I didn't own a cellphone until 2010, and even then, it was one of those flip phones with a keypad suited for the large-print book set. I can count the number of texts I've sent on one hand and my parents are far superior to me with social media.

For being born in 1980, I have find myself grumbling about "kids these days," which I tend to define as anyone who can't recall the shriek-ping of a dialup modem as alien and exciting.

The so-called "millennial" generation features heavily in this edition of Boise Weekly; first, as the subject of Ted Rall's column on Page 8--in which he both celebrates the cohort and chastises it. BW News Editor George Prentice profiles a group of millennials doing what the data suggest is one of their strong suits: innovating.

Both pieces explore the complexity of the age group generally said to have been born between 1980 (I resist this) and 2000. The subject was also taken up in May by writer Joel Stein, of Time, in a piece with the subheadline: "Why Millennials Will Save Us All."

The first part of Stein's piece focuses on the generation's techno-powered narcissism. The latter half points out that if Gen Xers, or even Baby Boomers, had had access to the kinds of social media available to millennials, the culture would have been every bit as inundated by self-revelatory minutia.

The truth, Stein suggests, is that millennials are "not a new species; they've just mutated to adapt to their environments." They are self-centered and cultish about technology. They demand "self actualization" from work and crave "relationships" with celebrities. But personal exhibitionism, social extroversion and eager adoption of technology make millennials a very "nice" group of people, Stein writes.

These are not the traits of a bigot, and that may well be where this generation of selfie-takers makes its historic mark. "Millennials are more accepting of differences, not just among gays, women and minorities but in everyone," Stein writes.

Carissa Wolf's feature on Page 13, which maps the patchwork of anti-discrimination ordinances in Idaho, paints a shameful picture. Where some LGBT Idahoans have the freedom to live openly in their communities, most live in fear of eviction, job loss, violence and vandalism.

The hodgepodge of protections afforded to LGBT citizens is antithetical to the millennial spirit, which, at least in this case, can't take over soon enough.