Have you ever heard the word Millennial used before? Has it ever been in a positive context? Have you ever heard someone say: “That’s what’s so great about about Millennials, they have such a grasp on where technology is going.” No. Of course not. At least I never have. Any time I have ever heard the word Millennial is exclusively negative. It’s the lazy generation; the dumb generation; the whiny generation; The generation that has contracted FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out); and the generation that only wants interact through the internet.
The only people I have ever even heard saying the word “Millennial” have either been over 40, or on the News (I think News outlets are very out of touch and I hope and pray that TV and Newspapers as a whole will eventually die out, which it will, I just want it to happen faster. I realize that this is very aggressive, but its a pet peeve of mine that they still exist. I don’t have a good reason for this other than a lingering notion that the things of the past are somehow holding back the things of the future in some sense.). When the word millennial is used, it is describing how negative the generation is, and to this I have two instinctual reactions.
The first thing I want to do is defend millennials. They are always condescended, even when receiving compliments. “Look at Brandon, he’s actually doing great work out there.” The key word in this sentence is “actually”. The intention of the statement is the normative state is not great, and the fact that Brandon is doing a good job should be surprising, because he’s a millennial, and we all know how lazy they are. Another common phrase I hear is, “You know how millennials are.” First, it is assumed that I am the same as the rest of the people in my age demographic, and second, it is assumed that millennials are a generation defined by their poor qualities.
The second reaction I have is quite opposite of “fight”, and instead is to respond with “flight”. I want to distance myself as much a possible from the entire generation in question. I’m not like them; I don’t desire to be associated with them; I am not a millennial. This doesn’t fly though. I am still part of that generation and out of the exposure to shear time and culture, I have the same mindset and tendencies. There are many things I don’t like with my generation, and I would remind many people that millennials are only being enabled by their preceding generation. Where do you think the media that panders to millennials comes from?
There are plenty of other terms that incite negative connotations. If I say feminist, the thought that probably comes to mind for most people is an aggressive, male-hating, female, activist. Or if I said Hippies, drugs, not working a job, and hugging trees might be associated. These clearly aren’t the case with everyone, but loud bad apples get the attention. Someone very well might be a feminist or hippie, and have none of the negative characteristics typically associated with those labels. But the negative social context is there nonetheless.
The same fight and flight response that I have when the word “Millennial” is brought up, is the same every time the word “Christian” is used. Why? Christians that are known in the world are usually the ones that come to the public eye because of their notorious actions. Every interview with a vocal Christian on a News outlet is a personal pain to me. They make us out to be fools. They make us out to be ignorant. They make us out to be of poor character. But that’s not what the idea of Christian should be. But that’s just what the majority of people believe, right? That’s not what I believe personally, right?
Bad Christians have convinced me that Christians are bad. Whenever someone asks me whether I go to church or not, or what my religious beliefs are, I come up with creative ways of saying that I believe in Christ, without saying the word “Christian”. The name of Christ has been ruined. It makes me want to shout “I’m not like them!” I sometimes sit around and think if there’s an alternative to the label of Christian. Christ-follower? Image-bearer? I still don’t have a better one, but I know I don’t want “Christian”.
On top of Christian character being of poor quality, Christian media is just as inferior. With sub-par acting, repetitive and shallow lyrics, and books that only serve to affirm beliefs already held. (This is a topic that I have wanted to expound on for years, and will write about in a later article.) The point still stands, that Christian is not synonymous with followers of Christ, but a notorious people-group. I personally find Christians to be associated to an absence of inquisition, and an closed-minded faith that will only believe in what it can hold onto in its figurative hands. It seems to me that it is stagnancy in all manners.
What would be a decent, alternative name for Christians?