I went the the movies last Sunday (Oh Captain Jack Sparrow, I love you so). As I watched the previews I thought, "Lately my country seems to have almost an endless appetite for apocalyptic stuff." The apocalypse movies appear to be about some kind of mass anxiety about the future. I could be wrong (but I'm a woman so that seems unlikely!)
The thing is, I think that's nonsense. Call me Polly Anna (OK, don't. It's a weird name). I think in all times in human history things have seemed bad to someone. I take the long view in these matters, but not because I'm a Historian, or a particular Optimist or a Dumb Ass (don't say it!). I think everything will be all right because I spend a lot of time with Young Adults. The Next Generation. The . . . wait for it . . . Millenials. Gasp! The Horror!
Before you fall back on this tired old B. S. about how the generation in college now is lazy, entitled and got too many soccer trophies, Stop and Think (it's still legal). They have a larger student debt loan than in any student group in world history, they work more hours while going to school than any other generation, they volunteer more hours than any other age group. I know. I have the great privilege of spending my work life with them.
Take for example my student Daniel Aley. He's a Senior in Graphic Design at Cal Poly. He likes to sit in my office and talk to me about ideas and values (real values, not that political clap trap values). I advised him on his capstone paper (kinda like a senior thesis) and he was excited to learn his topic, concerned about good writing and really enthusiastic about visually representing the paper with a virtual design project. In fact, I enjoyed working with Daniel so much that last year I asked him if he'd like to design the book covers for a series of novels I'm writing.
Yep, a Millennial, designed my book cover. And it's gorgeous. And it wasn't easy. Neither of us had ever done anything like it before. He'd give me a sample, I'd send him long emails, he'd try again. One set of changes I suggested took his perfectly good cover and made it BAD. But he did what I asked and let me see it myself. And don't get me started on resolution specs and 'bleed.' Every obstacle, every change, Daniel met the problem and fixed it. I'm exceedingly proud of him and so very happy that I went with a student instead of a 'professional' cover designer.
I've got another student designing a cover for a different series I'm writing (one with parasols and bustles and vampires and unicorns, oh my!). She's going to be great too. I just know it. I'll show you her samples to you when we get that far.
My point is this. The generation of Americans coming to maturity right now is pretty great. If you've got older children you don't need me to tell you this. The next time you hear someone bash the Millennials know it for what it is: The equivalent of a Cranky Old Man yelling "You kids get off my lawn!" Or go look at the Cover for The Lincoln Special and see how pretty it is.
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