I wrote this as an opinionated article for my news writing class, but I’m going to post it on this blog as well. So, here ya go //
On Tuesday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced on Facebook that he will donate 99 percent of Facebook stock that he and his wife own to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to “advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.”
This immense act of charity interests me because at 31, Zuckerberg can be classified as a millennial – an individual born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. I’m a millennial and often, I feel that we’re overly criticized and seldom praised.
We’re told that advances in technology caused us to excessively value our gadgets and forget about what really matters – generosity, family, politeness, etc. The elderly often say that we feel entitled to whatever we want without hard work.
But I don’t agree. I care about social networking as well as spending time with my parents and treating everyone with respect. Maybe I’m just great at multitasking. Also, with more and more people obtaining college degrees – the job market has grown competitive. This has led to many young Americans feeling grateful simply for having a job. Also, let’s not forget that millennials are facing much higher tuition prices than our parents did. With the increasing expense of college often leading to student loans, many twenty somethings don’t have the luxury of carefree spending after college.
Do millennials comprise the worst generation? This question will never have a concrete answer because the definition of a “good” or “bad” generation is highly subjective. Millennials have lived through the Supreme Court declaring marriage a fundamental right for same sex couples in June of 2015. They were alive to see a person of color serving as president for two terms. Many might argue these events signify increased acceptance and advancement of minority groups, but others could see them as the destruction of traditional marriage values and the election of a president on the basis of simply wanting a black president, not a qualified one.
Increased access to the Internet over time has come with its criticizers. The digital divide is decreasing, allowing more people to connect to the world wide web. Sure, the Internet can be distracting as well as time consuming. But it allows users to access a plethora of arenas. The Internet is the reason I can cook, learn about basically anything, explore gifs, read up on the debate of how gifs is pronounced (pronounce it phonetically, people), conduct extensive research on which dogs are the cutest (it’s currently a toss up between golden retrievers and huskies), and share my pieces of writing with anyone willing to read them.
Zuckerberg’s donation is selfless and shows that money is not what he values the most in his life. But despite his success in his career, he is not immune to millennial critique. People could argue that he made an ludicrous financial decision, or that he only announced the donation to appear generous in the public eye rather than out of a genuine desire to give back. Some might want to point out that although 99 percent is a significant percentage, considering Zuckerberg’s wealth, he could still give much more and be financially well off.
My advice to my fellow millennials is to not fall victim to the notion that we are all terrible. The criticism against us is often one – sided and truthfully, we could easily offer some counter arguments. I could go on about the frighteningly racist and homophobic comments I’ve heard from people older than me and how rarely I hear similar statements from individuals in my age group. I could explain that the increased prevalence of cell phones has made me feel safer, for I can walk anywhere and feel assured that if something were to happen, a number of people could quickly call 911. I could mention that the teen smoking rate, as of 2014, has dropped to its lowest point in 22 years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. I could defend my generation, and you know what? I think I will.