Contrary to popular belief, here’s five things millennials should be proud of

By Danielle Dyal / Columnist

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Our generation does not have the best reputation. We constantly battle accusations of being unfocused — unless it’s on the latest trending hashtag — lazy, save for effort required to find the TV remote and ignorant, excluding the content of gossip-highlighted social media.

What’s worse is that it’s not only the older generations lamenting on the apparent decline of the youth but the youth itself. When you catch yourself forming preconceived notions of a girl across the street in a short dress or of the boy with blue hair, you add fuel to the stereotypes that undermine the value of the millennial generation — its unique identity, one that is distinguished from other generations by fashion, technology, media and even listicles like the one you are currently reading.

Embrace the innovative qualities, do not succumb to superficiality. Try out some of these normally scorned aspects of our generation:

 1. Smartphones. A major offense of our generation is the smartphones we have been accused of loving more than our family members. Older generations tend to scoff at millennials for “freaking out” when their phones fall or get wet, but I have yet to understand shame for this worry. Phones are expensive, and it would be frivolous not to worry if a wad of cash worth $200 was in danger of being ripped to shreds. Why should a phone worth $200 be treated any differently?

In reality, smartphones are a huge leap of technological progression. Evolution has always favored those who utilize their resources, so let’s stop shaming ourselves for being attached to one of the most remarkable tools society has developed.

 2. Social media. Accusations that our generation sees no worth in human connection and personal relationships are tiring and inaccurate. Social media is a form of cultivating connection, especially in the cases of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and dating applications, like Tinder and OkCupid. A screen can never replace face-to-face interaction, but it helps overcome common obstacles in communication. It allows for interaction at 2 a.m., across the globe, or simply when meeting in person is inconvenient. Social media does not trap us behind a screen — it expands our horizons, perspectives and access to information beyond geographic obstacles. To say we are anti-social is to ignore this innovation. 

 3. Netflix. The red screen is a millennial staple, and, although I’m not going to claim that marathoning multiple TV series will promise a successful future, the guilty pleasure has its redeemable qualities. 

Television and movies do not always rot the brain, contrary to popular accusations. In fact, they often highlight social issues in an accessible way — notably in series like “Orange Is the New Black.” This Netflix original is groundbreaking with a primarily female cast harboring plights and storylines that, refreshingly, do not revolve around men. The series is not only a triumph for feminism but also for equality in the realms of sexual orientation and sexual identity, with gay and bisexual characters whose most notable traits aren’t their sexualities. Additionally, leading actress Laverne Cox gives the transgender population both a voice and an outstanding representation in the media. “Orange Is the New Black” ridicules misogyny and social norms by highlighting diverse members of society who don’t typically get screentime.

Of course, not every Netflix watcher has seen this particular original series, but “Orange Is the New Black” stresses the possibility for entertainment to do more than entertain.

 4. Booty shorts. And crop tops, spaghetti straps, halter-tops — pretty much all clothing items banned in high schools for being “inappropriate and distracting.” Exposed bra straps have become a symbol of our generation’s decline and a permission for girls to be called derogatory sexual terms because, if anything, they’re “asking for it.”

The notion of “asking for it” is a result of the tired standards placed upon us. Our generation mocks standards and expectations by choosing self-expression and our individual comfort over others’ expectations. Rather than being selfish, this trend signifies millennial growth alongside political battles of individual human rights and strives to flaunt our ownership of these rights in the face of disapproval. Our dress, like in other generational movements, displays an overcoming of stagnant rules and conventions to distinguish a unique identity that is our own. 

5. Piercings and tattoos. It’s about time the stigma expired. The number of body piercings and tattoos is not relevant to marks on a criminal record. Our government is currently tackling issues of rape, slut shaming and abortion — it is not strange that the rights affecting our bodies are debated by politicians. According to politicans, scandal among our peers is warranted if one chooses to pierce his or her own body, depending on where and how many piercings it involves. There is something wrong and shameful in that. 

As with the way we dress, what we choose to do — or not do — to our bodies is our choice, and our generation is one of the first to proudly parade this choice with piercings and tattoos in the face of those who look at free will as a sign of rebellion, as opposed to a right. It’s something the baby boomers should know all too well. 

Overall, our generation will continue to be judged and stereotyped. Though there is no reason to redeem ourselves when we have done nothing to be ashamed of, there is also nothing keeping us from proving wrong those who look at our generation as the ruin of the nation. The signature of our generation is innovative, independent and stubborn in a refusal to follow the status quo. The answer to the problems of our generation is to refuse to acknowledge them — or ourselves — as a problem. We are something greater and we should be proud.

Write to Danielle at dnd20@pitt.edu

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