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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 4 July, 2020

'Middle-aged, middle-class deriders of millennials are biggest snowflakes of all'

Millennials of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your unpaid internship, writes Paulie Doyle.

Paulie Doyle Writer

ALMOST EVERY WEEK now, millennials are targeted in the media, described as petulant, entitled, intransigent cry-babies who simply can’t handle the harsh realities of adulthood.

“Generation Snowflake”, we are told, insists on having everything these days: a secure job, a living wage, affordable housing and the removal of racist, sexist, homophobic language from public discourse.

We have a surreal situation in Ireland, in which Generation X feels aggrieved because Generation Y longs for the security their parents have always taken for granted. But by their own metric, the overwhelmingly middle-aged, middle-class deriders of millennials are the perhaps the most entitled, the most petulant, the biggest “snowflakes” of all.


Pause for moment to consider the generation which created an economy based on a housing bubble because they felt entitled to homes and luxuries they couldn’t afford, subsequently bringing the country to its knees.

Reflect upon the time they unironically tuned in to watch Eddie Hobbs gleefully tell them how to spend their SSIAs. Think about the skiing holidays, the helicopter trips, the paninis, the bourgeois revelry of Ireland in the mid-2000s. Remember how the whole sordid, unsustainable state of affairs came crashing down, the calamitous fall dragging living and working conditions into a black pit of austerity.

Fast-forward from The Crash. It’s 2017, and Gen X have long-since sold their villas in Bulgaria. Now, they fill their days going about the business of criticising their offspring for not being able afford to leave home while working an unpaid internship.

Celtic crumbs

They’re over-indulged, they’re over-entitled, over-demanding, and definitely over-educated,” opined Jackie Lavine during an appearance on Cutting Edge with Brendan O’Connor.

Completely legitimate criticisms above aside, it’s worth noting that millennials do face substantial challenges and difficulties, having been handed the leftovers of The Boom, Celtic Crumbs, like a morsel-covered plate slid under a prison door.

We’re the first generation in over half a century which will likely be poorer than the previous; house prices are increasing by €50 a day, meaning that graduates with MA and PhD qualifications can’t afford to buy homes, a rite of passage their parents took for granted; young people still emigrate in swathes; social welfare discriminates against persons under 26-years-of-age; precarious and uncertain labour is commonplace.


The legacy of the Celtic Tiger, and the greater impact of neo-liberalism have left inequality at an all time high. With the complicity of our politicians, the gaping chasm between rich and poor continues to widen.

The upside is that such uncertain times have at least fostered energy, an appetite for something different, particularly among young people: Jeremy Corbyn’s success was largely a result of the mobilisation of millennials; the hard-work of Bernie Sanders’ young supporters might have synched him the Democratic nomination were he not colluded against; and, closer to home, just last weekend, tens-of-thousands of young people turned up to support the March for Choice in Dublin.

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“There is a strand of self-absorption and fragility running through this generation; all too ready to cry “victim” at the first hint of a situation they don’t like,” says Clare Fox, author of I Find That Offensive, a predictable read about the alleged misgivings of young people:

We need a younger generation that’s prepared to grow a backbone, go out into the world, take risks and make difficult decisions. Otherwise the future doesn’t bode well for any of us.

A poll last year indicated that the majority of millennials reject capitalism, which has undoubtedly failed them miserably. The status quo certainly doesn’t bode well for anyone. If young people have a say, though, the decision that radical change is needed may not be such a difficult one – even if the generation responsible for our current economic predicament continues to accuse us of petulance.

Millennials of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your unpaid internship.

Paulie Doyle is a writer living in Dublin. Follow him on Twitter here.

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