Can the Millennials – those born between the beginning of the eighties and the year two thousand – make it in life? A good question and one that lay behind the provocative title of the Intelligence Squared debate: “Millennials Don’t Stand A Chance“. Intelligence Squared is an international talk show, organized as a debate between two opposing positions on a currently relevant topic. At the end, the team that is able to change the audience’s opinion the most, wins the debate. I was struck by the relevance of the subject to Italy, where in recent years we have heard our young people defined as “choosy”, lazy, spoiled, and good for nothing.
I admit that I was on the side of the Millennials from the beginning: I think that the older generations always have difficulty understanding the generation that is beginning to come to terms with life. It was that way in the post-war period, it was that way in ’68, and it was that way in the eighties. The clash of generations is a constant; there is nothing unusual about it. And the accusations of narcissism – made during the programme by Keith Campbell, a psychology professor – have their roots in changes in technology that we are still struggling to understand.
Today, however, it would be an exaggeration to refer without distinction to all those born after 1980 as “big babies”, to quote a term that is very widely used in Italy about Millennials. I still remember my visit to LUISS University (Guido Carli Free International University of Social Studies) in 2012: a beautiful day spent with the students of the University, who were full of energy and creative urge. And of course I do not forget, a few months later, the launch in London of the Unemployee of the Year campaign, entirely dedicated to the “under 30” generation.
Millennials cannot use their fathers’ blue-prints for life. They must invest in themselves, because the certainties of the past no longer exist. They must know how to push the boundaries of what is considered normal, because that normality can become a cage. Millennials should not expect the world to have a place ready for them: they must create that place by and for themselves. It will not be a place that we know today.
Like all generations before theirs, the Millennials will make it. I am certain of it.