Dr. Mark Bauerlein, professor emeritus of English at Emory University, went against the prevailing winds in 2008 when he proclaimed in print that the first digital age generation — Millennials — may turn out to be America’s “Dumbest Generation.”
In his latest book, "The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupefied Youth to Dangerous Adults," Bauerlein updates his previous tome on Millennials "not-so-quiet desperation, and more important, the threat their ignorance poses to the rest of us."
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are a self-absorbed, self-centered generation.
Growing up, they were not judged or evaluated, never learned to live with disappointment and became accustomed to receiving praise regardless of their efforts.
Feeling good or being happy mattered more than performance or achievement.
Competition was not emphasized because if one was not always the top performer, one’s self-respect might be diminished.
There were no losers, everyone was a winner, everyone received a trophy for participating.
Maintaining the self-esteem of these "trophy kids" at all costs impacted primary and secondary school curriculums. Standards declined and little homework was required.
All opinions were treated equally. The Millennials were equal to their teachers and, therefore, free to express themselves at any time in the classrooms.
America’s universities were also impacted by the attitudes of the coddled Millennial generation.
Standards were been dropped to maintain students’ self-esteem. The grading curve was no longer a range from A to F, but A to B. Some higher learning institutions dropped the “F” grade because to receive it is demeaning.
The real problem began, however, when Millennials completed their schooling.
Having been pampered all their lives and having received inflated feedback and excessive praise, their confidence bordered on arrogance and they expected to instantly achieve status, security and all the material comforts to which they had been accustomed.
The days of the employer determining if the prospective employee is suitable for the corporation or firm was over. Millennials determined if the company was suitable for them.
They expected an entry level job to pay lots of money, have flexible hours, casual dress codes, plenty of vacation, perks, and to be secure and fulfilling.
Millennials became an employer’s nightmare.
These over-indulgent, cocky children rejected command management. They considered themselves colleagues of bosses, not subordinates, and assumed everyone can be addressed by their first names.
They had trouble adjusting to the work world because they expected to get immediately whatever they wanted. Since they were not accustomed to being held personally responsible for their actions, job setbacks were, therefore, the fault of others, never themselves.
For many Millennials, life has not turned out the way they expected.
Their belief that they have a natural right to be happy has been shattered by reality.
The 2008-2009 Great Recession, and later the COVID-19 pandemic economic shutdown, severely disrupted the lives of Millennials. The ones who were underperforming and constantly complaining were the first ones booted out the door of struggling companies.
Many moved back with their parents, hanging out in the basement feeling sorry for themselves. These lonely, burnt-out, fragile, angry, self-righteous young adults subsist "gaming, chatting, texting, tweeting, photoshopping."
They are devoted, Dr. Bauerlein suggests, "to superficial ventures" and are "unable to dive beneath the surface."
Millennials, who believe they are the most tolerant generation in human history, are actually shallow, sanctimonious, ignoramuses.
They are a mess, Bauerlein argues, because "they were never handed something that everybody needs: the religious and historical and cultural equipment to manage a busy world."
Bauerlein places the blame for this phenomenon squarely on the heads of professional educators who “primed them to flee from history, religion, great literature, and art, from music and ethics and American civics, into the fantasy of a society that would replace the teenage bedroom, where freedom and friends predominated, games and photos and chats never stopped.”
The British journalist, G.K. Chesterton, once quipped that people who do not believe in God will believe in anything.
And that’s exactly what happened to Millennials. Lacking theological and philosophical gravitas, many have attached themselves to secular religions that demand "Social Justice," "Racial Justice," "Democratic Socialism," "LGBTQ Rights," etc.
They are attracted to these fashionable movements "not by a process of study and reason, but by the opposite, for emotional and psychological reasons, and out of a lack of understanding."
Ignorance, plus self-righteousness, Bauerlein writes, "is a dangerous mix that will affect all our lives." It leads to intolerance in the name of tolerance. Hence, it should come as no surprise that 40% of Millennials approve of limiting speech found offensive.
"Abdicating elders, multi-cultural relativism, and superficial diversity" have malformed Millennials.
"And," Bauerlein sadly concludes in "The Dumbest Generation," " . . . there is no answer for it now. The Millennials have exited young adulthood forever; their intellectual habits are formed for life. They’re lost, they’re gone, it’s over for them. They won’t regret their youth; they won’t look in the mirror. No matter how punishing life feels, they won’t change their expectations, their beliefs, or their behavior. They don’t believe their habits are the problem. It's the world that must change. They will ‘keep waiting/Waiting on the world to change,’ as the song says. It’s going to be a long wait."
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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