I have a deep personal interest in Millennials, as my four children were born from 1980 through 1990, nicely fitting within the definition. Tuesday, I introduced ScreenFish readers to the six-part documentary Millennials, which premieres on the cable network Ovation this evening. I hope you will take time to watch.
The three episodes I previewed begin with interview clips from when the children where about ten to thirteen years old. Have you been around any ten-year olds lately? For the most part, they usually have an idealistic view of life, thinking they have figured out what it is all about. It is compelling to follow their lives as they progress through adolescence and young adulthood, as life gets “real” and begins to unsettle their quixotic vision of the world.
Most Millennials in America were at a very impressionable age when 9/11 happened, and have lived through upheavals which rival the experiences of their Baby Boomer parents. Born at the tail end of the Boom, I witnessed the social upheavals of the 60s and 70s, which were followed by a pendulum swing to the political and social conservatism of the 80s and 90s. Just as many Boomers were put off by the mores of their parents, so the typical Millennial questions the society in which they were raised.
In my first Star Wars review, I mentioned “many millennials are having a hard time reconciling their sense of right and wrong with what is happening in their local religious assembly – and in Christianity as a whole.” What they have experienced in a world where access to the knowledge (and misinformation) of the world is at their fingertips makes the cock-sure, simplistic answers ring hollow. As in every generation, our young people are being wounded and damaged as they seek answers they have not found from us, often looking in the wrong direction.
That is part of what you will see as you peer into the lives of the “subjects” in the documentary series. But it does not end there. All of the millennials, to one degree or another, learn to deal with what life has thrown at them, and come out with knowledge about themselves which help them become stable adults. As Greg Wright put it in Tuesday’s interview, they come to realize “they’re not weird… they’re not alone… there’s a hope and a future.”
Millennials are the future. If there is any hope for the decades to come, it will be found in them as they put their unique stamp on the world, rejecting what they find objectionable, and creating new traditions and standards (for better or worse) as they see fit. I hope you will keep that in mind as you watch. It will not be pleasant to see some of the things this generation is going through, and it is easy to view them with a critical eye, as our parent’s generation did with us. What they need is people who genuinely care about them. I can’t say it any better than Greg already did in his interview:
“While we’re worrying about digging in or casting stones, the kids right next to us are dying on the vine—and what they need is an ear that listens and a heart that feels. And a lot of patience and prayer.”
If we watch with open hearts, Millennials can help us view the first generation of this century with a new appreciation for what they are going through, and maybe help us glimpse a bit of the potential they have to change the world for the better.