It’s no secret that there are disagreements between millennials and boomers. They’re mostly humorous jabs at each other, though some are taking it more seriously. Boomers think that millennials are entitled and have the wrong priorities; millennials think that boomers really need to check their privileges.
In a way, both sides have valid points, but if they go neck and neck, who will have the upper hand?
Here’s a good-natured, lighthearted showdown to find out.
Round 1: Big investments
If you’re a millennial, you’ve probably already lamented that your parents achieved far greater when they were your age. They probably had you before 30. By then, they had already purchased their second car, a house, and maybe even a cottage by the lake. Meanwhile, here you are, going through your quarter-life crisis. You’re probably never going to own a house, and buying a car is currently out of the question.
On the one hand, it may be easy to say that boomers win this round. To a certain extent, this is true if one’s measure of success and achievement is big life investments. You could, however, see it differently as well. In life, there are other indicators of success.
Even though millennials aren’t married yet, maybe this is exactly where they’re meant to be in life—exploring relationships, expanding their horizons, and meeting more people. They may have no car, but they have services such as Uber, which makes them feel like they have a personal driver. They may never own a home, but this can mean that they won’t be tethered to just one place for the rest of their lives. And even though millennials are still renting out now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to get themselves a house in the future. Their timelines are just different, and that’s okay.
Round 2: Education
This is where it gets really unfair. Adjusted for inflation, college tuition and other fees have more than doubled since the 1980s, while the federal minimum wage has stayed roughly the same. And sometimes, a bachelor’s degree isn’t even enough anymore. Some would say that you should at least get a master’s degree to really stand out.
With the exorbitant cost of a college education and the lifelong burden that a student loan can become, it’s hardly fair for boomers to expect millennials to sail on smoothly as they did. The only thing going for millennials in this round is perhaps the changing economy and workplace.
There are new jobs, new kinds of careers that didn’t exist before—some that boomers themselves would have wanted, had they known about it or had these jobs existed. Some are crafts not at all learned in school. Some can be learned through other forms of educational technology. Career growth isn’t as linear as it once was, so even if boomers have the advantage in this round, millennials may have more promise.
Round 3: Social issues
Finally! Something that millennials have an edge in. When it comes to social issues such as women’s rights and LGBTQIA+ rights, younger people, in general, have it better than their boomer counterparts. Attitudes toward marginalized and underrepresented communities have improved through the years, with better legislation and greater acceptance by society. Of course, the fight continues, especially in specific regions and communities, but we are in a better place overall.
It’s important to note, though, that we are where we are because of the work of previous generations, not just boomers, who fought for these issues. Just as we continue to move forward, we should also look back with gratitude to our predecessors.
Round 4: Travel
This category is probably a tie. On the one hand, millennials have probably traveled more than their boomers counterparts. The world is smaller in their eyes. In a post-9/11 world, however, travel isn’t as freeing as it probably was back in the day. Airport security, for one, wasn’t as tight, and while we should be grateful that things are more stringent now, one can’t help but think that this is a reflection of a more tense and dangerous world.
So as you have probably surmised by now, no generation really wins. For one, these generalizations don’t account for the unique, individual experiences that people have. Some things are really just a matter of perspective as well.
At the end of the day, regardless of your generation, life has its ups and downs and its advantages and disadvantages. The best anyone can do is to make the most out of the card they’re dealt.