Millennials Are the Greatest Generation That Ever Lived

How’s that for click-bait title? Isn’t that the purpose of articles with grandiose titles making claims about millennials or baby boomers? Did he really just start a blog post with three questions?

It seems like every day a different blog is publishing an article making absurd statements about millennials or baby boomers. While I do think some bloggers and journalists are taking the high road and trying to bridge the generational divide, individuals are still turning to click-bait titles and content criticizing one generation or another.

Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed are stealing Internet eyeballs because the current system ties ad dollars to clicks. Traditional news organizations and blogs shouldn’t stoop to this level.

This happened in a recent blog post from Forbes. In the post, the author discusses the retirement of NFL running back Rashard Mendenhall, age 26, and uses his story as anecdotal evidence to draw conclusions about millennials as a whole. The author says that Mendenhall retiring is “stereotypically millennial.” Mendenhall was a professional athlete who accomplished all of his athletic goals; his decision to retire cannot and should not be applied to an entire generation.

I applaud Mendenhall for hanging up his cleats. He’s already won a Super Bowl and has unfortunately seen his fair share of injuries and controversies. The author says that Mendenhall walking away can be compared to millennials giving up on careers because they butt heads with their older colleagues and the traditional work environment. If you read Mendenhall’s retirement post he says that football has changed for the worst and become overly flashy and individualistic.

The author argues that Mendenhall is similar to millennials because he is restless early in his career and elected to walk away. I’d argue that as an athlete, Mendenhall’s career has already likely peaked. He already won a Super Bowl and signed lucrative contracts and sponsorships. His recent injuries and the potential for concussions and other chronic, debilitating injuries are valid reasons to jump ship. The author states that Mendenhall’s pursuit of his dreams should be treated as an “aberration,” not “inspiration” for millennials.

I vehemently disagree. Mendenhall has spent the last six years earning enough money (if invested and spent responsibly) to potentially last until retirement, especially if he continues to work and earn even modest income. I think people of all generations should commend Mendenhall for seeing an opportunity to make a change and live his dream. Americans are often labeled as people who live to work rather than work to live, and Mendenhall is a prime example of an individual who has worked and is now choosing to live. Very few athletes are drafted and even fewer athletes are able to play professional sports for an extended period of time – he has earned the right to retire.

I think society would be better served if the media didn’t try to make broad generalizations about groups of people and attribute the choices of a single public figure to the greater majority. I realize this post did not deliver on why millennials are the greatest generation that ever lived but hey, I’m just a blogger trying to get clicks.