Our next coming of age generation, the millennials, have seemingly little tolerance for things they do not like. Theirs is not the way of saying, “No, thank you, I don’t like that. I’ll go on about my business” Instead, it’s all about the histrionics of feet stomping, screaming, and generally causing matters to be unpleasant until the source of their displeasure is removed from sight.
What lies behind this lack of tolerance? Why, unlike what we’ve been told over the years about things we don’t like, “Just ignore it. Live with it. Then change the channel. Then don’t read that. Then don’t listen to that,” and the catch all, “Tough noogies!” are the millennials immune?
Let’s look at childhood, specifically early childhood. As youngsters, the millennials first learned they could watch or listen to whatever they wanted whenever they wanted by way of technology. They did not have to wait a year to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer because they could simply restart and watch it again and again. Watching what you like over and over means also not watching what you don’t like.
While playing a favorite whatever multiple times is not a new phenomenon as millions of worn-out records, cassettes and yes, eight tracks in landfills can attest, for the millennials it’s been across everything in their lives. They grew up and came of age with satellite and internet radio and music services where they never have to hear what they don’t like. There weren’t TV offerings only from the major networks, but from all manner of networks with even more coming each day by way of streaming internet channels.
At the same time as specialized choices expanded, the notion of participation trophies took hold to eliminate the sting of losing or, more accurately, the feeling of supposed inferiority from seeing the winners singled out and praised. Everyone is special, the millennials were told, everyone is a winner. “Don’t feel bad, little Johnny, you’re going home from the awards banquet with an award, too. No one is a loser. That’s only said by mean people who are haters. You don’t want to be around haters. No one likes haters except other haters.”
So here we have a generation that’s accustomed to always getting its way and never losing. A generation told that things it doesn’t like don’t belong and people it doesn’t like are haters. Who told them all this and created this mess?
Look no further than the adults in the millennials’s world. They are the ones who aggressively identified new sources of potential upset, seeking at every turn to create a world for the millennials devoid of strife and unpleasantness. After all, these adults would have liked growing up in a world like that, making them terrible parents if they did not do it for their kids and other kids, the good ones, anyway. They’d be, well, they’d be haters if they didn’t do everything they could and, after all, no one likes a hater.
Yet, it’s even deeper because all of this parallels the rise in allergies among the millennials and the efforts of parents and doctors to discover and root out allergens. Somewhere over the past fifty years, for who knows what reasons, there has been a pronounced rise in allergies, specifically food allergies. The staple of baby boomer childhood lunches—the peanut butter and jelly sandwich—is now a time bomb in a lunchbox. We have warnings all over about the presence or potential presence of peanuts. It appears so bad that people with peanut allergies cannot even be in the same room as a peanut lest all manner of bad things occur.
The solution: a complete intolerance for them, that is, for allergens. The millennials have been taught to completely avoid things to which they’re allergic, meaning things that cause adverse reactions. They’ve been told that it’s their right to be free from them and therefore, allergens are aggressively policed and removed. It’s the way things are done.
Seeing the world from this perspective, the millennials don’t remove themselves, they remove what bothers them because anything that bothers them must be an allergen. So whether it’s music, bad feelings, people, and now, election results, if they don’t like it, if it bothers them, it’s an allergen that needs to be removed.
In the same way they first alerted their parents that something bothered them by crying and acting out, the millennials are alerting everyone that the election results bother them. They will keep it up, even though it seems absurd to the rest of us, until the election results allergen is removed. Good luck with that, millennials. Good luck.