Petri: Millennials will survive, even if in debt

"Frankly, I am sick of being told by people twice my age that they are screwing me over," writes Alexandra Petri. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

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'Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?" Newsweek asked recently.

It thinks we are. It has statistics. It has pictures of doleful-looking millennials.

Frankly, I am sick of being told by people twice my age that they are screwing me over. I already knew that. The boomers keep leaving me with large bills -- the kind that I am expected to pay when they die after receiving decades of the Most Expensive Care Available, because the boomers have been coddled and told over and over that they are the All-Singing, All-Dancing, Most World-Defining Generation Ever, for whom the check will never come.

"Time to pay us back for all those years of crippling helicopter parenting," they say, before darting off somewhere to rave about Meryl Streep. "You're welcome." But we are fine.

Sure, we're missing some of the things our parents had -- faith; the hope of winding up better off than our parents did; jobs, children or homes before age 30. But we have things they never did, like no recollection whatsoever of Betamax and a firm grip on how to end a text message (you do not have to sign them, Mom). And we barely remember dial-up. That has to count for something.

Look, we may not have jobs. But who needs jobs when you have student debt? We may not have families. But who needs families when you have Twitter followers? We may not have all the hope in politics that we had in 2008. And we may be footing the cost for the generations who remain more politically active than we are, but on the bright side, keeping politically active required them to pay attention when Newt Gingrich said something.

Sure, we are stuck with lots of bills. But for us, bills are still an abstract concept. The only time we paid to listen to music online was in the eighth grade. Why own when you can stream? We are used to having whatever we want, whenever we want it, so long as what we want is a shiny entertainment product available on the Internet or the kind of connection to people that is felt through the confines of a glowing screen. Within those limits, you can have it all, and you barely have to pay for it.

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In a few decades, of course, the bill comes due. We'll have to pay the piper, even though we don't remember ordering any piper. (Probably the boomers again.) But that fabled bill will be the first time many of us have actually paid for anything.

And decades -- that's a long time! In the meantime, we can complain. They say that complaining makes burdens easier to bear. And we have whole websites dedicated to exactly that.

What we lack in money we make up for in lack of money. What we lack in confidence in the future we make up for in misplaced nostalgia. (What other generation goes around dressed in clothing from the 1950s? Suspenders? Even the survivors of the era wanted to get those things off as quickly as possible.) We have things under control. We are, as Nielsen repeatedly reminds us, the only demographic that matters.

Newsweek is just pandering to sell magazines. And the joke's on them: We cannot afford to buy any.

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