Leapfrogging off my thought earlier this week about younger generations becoming resentful of older generations. The New York Time has an interesting piece about how people really aren’t very good at predicting how much (if at all) they will change as they age.
When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same . . . .
They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement.
Basically, were really good a remembering how much we’ve changed over the years. A middle aged woman can accurately describe how she is different from her teenage self. Yet, she thinks she’s hit the apex of perfection and there is not much else that can be improved.
People remember the ways in which they’ve changed. Perhaps their working habits have gotten better, they’ve matured emotionally, and have a more robust perspective on life (the result of more experience). But they will tend to remember their youth in the context of their current situation. They have made the mistakes and can see where younger people are going wrong, but expect Millennials to act it the same way they would now.
To put it another way; just as we reject the idea of measuring Elderhood using the standards of adulthood, we should also remember that youth are being judged by other standards of adulthood. Sure, most Millennials don’t have a 401k, or a mortgage, and most won’t ever see a 20 year pension with their company. This can lead to another discussion entirely, but the point is things are different now then they were 20 years ago, and in a pretty drastic way.
The Boomers have the tendency of seeing everything they like about themselves and making that the standard of excellence. I think the root of the problem is that the criticisms levied against Millennials are based solely on the Boomer perspective of what “laziness” and “self-centeredness” mean.
The argument against Millennials really just boils down to “why aren’t you 45 with kids and a mortgage, and have a more mature outlook on life earned over several decades of experience in the real world?”