My post on “‘21 Jump Street shows how Millennials are different” didn’t generate a lot of comments, but it did spark some thoughtful emails and tweets about one part of my thesis (the notion that until recently, it was seen as “uncool” for young people to be too smart or to look like they were trying.)
One Gen. Y college student agreed with my take, writing,
Not trying is not an option. It’s a point of pride to be in the library when it opens and when it closes. When 24 hour library access starts during finals, things grow even more intense. There’s a constant competition of who stayed up the latest, who wrote the longest paper, and who’s major is toughest. It plays into the idea of geek chic, or as FOX put it with its New Girl marketing campaign, “Adorkable.” When I was in elementary school, a teacher had a poster that said, “It’s ok to be smart.” I don’t think anyone of my generation needs to be told that.
Beyond academics though, it’s “not cool” to stay hidden away in your room. Your peers expect you to be running at least one club, be a member of three more, and have an on-campus job. It’s cool to the president of student government or an editor on the newspaper. To have no extracurricular activities is considered strange. Apathy isn’t respected.
Much of the criticism of Millennials I received seemed to come from Gen. Xers, and the biggest criticism seemed to be that that they are entitled — that they received too many participation trophies, etc.
No generation is perfect, but the noxious notion that being stupid or apathetic was “cool” needed to go. If Millennials have truly made open intellectual ambition vogue for young people, then that is a significant contribution to society.