Millennials Don't Stand A Chance

Next Debate Previous Debate

Illustration by Thomas James

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Millennials—growing up with revolutionary technology and entering adulthood in a time of recession—have recently been much maligned. Are their critics right? Is this generation uniquely coddled, narcissistic, and lazy? Or have we let conventional wisdom blind us to their openness to change and innovation, and optimism in the face of uncertainty, which, in any generation, are qualities to be admired?

  • Brown90


    Binta Niambi Brown

    Lawyer, Startup Advisor & Human Rights Advocate

  • Campbell90


    W. Keith Campbell

    Professor of Psychology, University of Georgia &Co-Author, The Narcissism Epidemic

  • Burstein90


    David D. Burstein

    Author, Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World & Founder, Generation18

  • Grose90


    Jessica Grose

    Journalist & Author, Sad Desk Salad

    • Moderator Image


      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

See Results See Full Debate Video Purchase DVD

Read Transcript

Listen to the edited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to the unedited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Subscribe to the Podcast

For The Motion

Binta Niambi Brown

Lawyer, Startup Advisor & Human Rights Advocate

Binta Niambi Brown is a corporate/tech lawyer, startup advisor, human rights advocate, nascent angel investor, and bass player. After working for a technology startup, she worked exclusively on technology and internet IPOs and transactions at Cravath. She also advised senior management and corporate boards of media, technology, telecom and entertainment companies on corporate governance matters and special situations, and was a partner in Kirkland & Ellis, before taking a break to undertake innovation research at Harvard, while advising 12 different early stage technology companies. Brown has been recognized as one of The Root's 100 Most Influential African-Americans, Fortune Magazine's 40 under 40 business leaders, Crain's New York 40 under 40, and by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. She has been featured in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and on CNN, sits on a handful of advisory and philanthropic boards, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Learn more


For The Motion

W. Keith Campbell

Professor of Psychology, University of Georgia &Co-Author, The Narcissism Epidemic

W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia. He has authored more than 100 scientific articles and chapters, in addition to several books, including The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2010) with Jean Twenge and The Handbook of Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Theoretical Approaches, Empirical Findings, and Treatments (2011) with Josh Miller. His work on narcissism has appeared in USA Today, Time, and The New York Times, and he has made numerous radio and television appearances, including on The Today Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, and The Glenn Beck Show. Campbell holds a BA from UC Berkeley, an MA from San Diego State University, and a PhD from UNC Chapel Hill, and he did his postdoctoral work at Case Western Reserve University.

Learn more


Against The Motion

David D. Burstein

Author, Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World & Founder, Generation18

David D. Burstein is a millennial writer, filmmaker, and storyteller. He is the author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World (2013) and the founder of Generation18, a nonpartisan young voter engagement organization. The organization grew out of the documentary film, 18 in '08, which he directed and produced about young voters in the 2008 election. From 2007 to 2008, Generation18 registered over 25,000 new voters and held over 1,000 events in 35 states. A frequent commentator on millennials, social innovation and politics, Burstein has appeared on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, NPR, ABC Evening News, and C-SPAN, and in The New York Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, Politico, Salon, and The Huffington Post. He is a contributor to Fast Company, where he writes about disruptive innovation, social entrepreneurship, entertainment, and creativity. He regularly consults for not-for-profits and companies on how to understand and engage millennials.

Learn more


Against The Motion

Jessica Grose

Journalist & Author, Sad Desk Salad

Jessica Grose, a self-identified “ancient millennial,” is a journalist and novelist whose work focuses on women’s issues, family, and culture. She is a frequent contributor to Slate and Bloomberg Businessweek, in addition to writing about culture and creativity for Fast Company’s Co.Create. Previously she was a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The New Republic, Cosmopolitan and several other publications. Her debut novel, Sad Desk Salad, was released by William Morrow/Harper Collins in 2012.

Learn more

Declared Winner: For The Motion

Online Voting

Voting Breakdown:

48% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (10% voted FOR twice, 29% voted AGAINST twice, 9% voted UNDECIDED twice). 52% changed their minds (5% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 0% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 11% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 5% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 16% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 16% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST) | Breakdown Graphic

About This Event

Event Photos

PrevNext Arrows
    PrevNext Arrows


    • Comment Link Jon Wednesday, 16 April 2014 10:20 posted by Jon

      What I didn't see addressed is the following: "what is the alternative"? If millenials don't succeed, what will happen? I don't think the 'for' side is saying millenials are going to bring about then end of the Union. I think that millenials, like every generation before them, will find their way.

    • Comment Link Fabian Saturday, 12 April 2014 21:39 posted by Fabian

      A lot of the counter-argument sounds to me just like: "Millennials are leftist, therefore they're not doomed."

      Well, if that is true, I think they ARE doomed...

    • Comment Link Miles Kelley Saturday, 12 April 2014 11:29 posted by Miles Kelley

      This debate was on one hand not so high quality as prior debates, but on the other hand, much more though provoking, for me. It was frustrating, but very intriguing.

      I felt the quality of debate was diminished most by W. Keith Campbell's inability to bring intellectually or scientifically rigorous information to the table. Perhaps the provable data and well-illustrated trends are there to support his stance, but Prof. Campbells presentation did not possess it. Instead, I saw anecdotes and bias that seemed to be emanating straight from the Colbert-esque gut. This greatly disappointed me, as I felt that granite-solid data was supposed to be his niche in the debate, as the specialist scholar. I was greatly looking forward to what I thought he could bring to the table - compelling, study-backed illustrations of the Millennial identity - but I saw him present vanishingly few.

      His closing statements were so poor in presentation and content that I literally yelled at the screen in incredulity, disappointment and dismay.

      On the other hand, there were so many half-baked anecdotes and bare assertions flying between the four of them that Prof. Campbell couldn't possibly take sole blame for the end result.

      Besides the overall deficit of rigorous data, however, I have to give credit for the other three panelists. The Against side surprised me with their fairly clear and mostly professional communication and quality of responses(anecdotes aside). Burstein's skill shocked me - he did not speak like a 25 year old - while Grose didn't disappoint(I'm a fan of her Slate writings). Binta Niambi Brown's overall stance(that Millennials are not significantly different from their predecessors) was very level and reasonable, while she practically supported her side alone. In fact, her burden may have been been greater, as it did not jive at all with her debating partner's stance. She was effectively a third faction, and she won.

      Despite the debate's faults, there was something big in there to chew on, even if I'm not wholly sure what it was. At 32, I'm barely a Millennial technically, but certainly am culturally. Some of the ideas and observations I heard felt like iceberg tips - perceived, but not easy to fully appreciate, at least not yet. I hope greatly to see this IQ^2 debate prompt more conversations on this topic, as I am sure that something significant is hidden within.

    • Comment Link zscores Saturday, 12 April 2014 01:25 posted by zscores

      EQ is the harbinger of success before IQ. Today's Pathos is demonstrated by the lousy ginormous growth of the administrative state and coincidental absence of Ethos AND Logos, especially by the Progressively Fascist Liberals embrace and vocalization for communism like IRS plank 2, Central Bank plank 5, government as largest employer planks 6,7 8 - Fed Dept of Education plank 10 and common core rewriting history. I wager our millennial's seek the ethical path, but I am curious is they will be hypnotized by the Pathos of IQ before EQ.

    • Comment Link 50crowley Wednesday, 09 April 2014 21:38 posted by 50crowley

      @Daniel - The Baby Boomers were born between 1946-1964, and as such didn't fight in WWII. You're thinking of the "Greatest Generation", which would have been the parents of the Baby Boomers.

    • Comment Link irene gottesman Wednesday, 09 April 2014 19:34 posted by irene gottesman

      I am a college professor in a business department. I find that this generation is eager for help and guidance from the generation above and the Boomer generation. I believe that asking for help is being confused with being weak and incapable. The Boomers need to develop a better spirit of generosity.

    • Comment Link Daniel Wednesday, 09 April 2014 19:30 posted by Daniel

      Binta mentioned that the boomers were among the most well-educated, at the same time extolling it's economic independence relative to Millennials. Unfortunately, this is misleading, since many of the Boomer generation, just coming home from World War 2, were recipients of generous subsidies for higher education, as were many Boomers residents of new, subsidized developments all across the US.

    • Comment Link Murphy Wednesday, 09 April 2014 19:13 posted by Murphy

      Amazing, For the Motion presents facts, Against presents anecdotes. How Millennial!

    • Comment Link Justin Wednesday, 09 April 2014 19:03 posted by Justin

      You're all narcissistic, my generation is better than your's!
      Is this guy for real?

    • Comment Link Tony Wednesday, 09 April 2014 18:54 posted by Tony

      Raised by day care centers and spoiled by parents who feel guilty for not spending more time with them. Gifts can't make up for lost interaction.

    • Comment Link vonBreukelen Wednesday, 09 April 2014 11:30 posted by vonBreukelen

      The entitled, rude, sullen, ghastly aura of some Millennials, rudely overshadows all those 'millennials' who live as young people have lived forever, with zest for life and great challenge before them.

    • Comment Link talking saint Tuesday, 08 April 2014 21:25 posted by talking saint

      Counter prop.
      This generation faces a two fold problem the economy it grew up in and the huge student debit faces. Second the attitude that prevails in our society today, one that is negative and does not promote the values or attitudes necessary to overcome the two stated problems.
      Resolved, This generation is full of talented individuals as well as one filled with slackers and narcissistic individuals. Yes we face unprecedented student debt and a week economy, but we are not deterred! Rather we as a generation as the ones before it were condemned by the previous generation as this, that and the other, but this condemnation has not stopped the progress of each subsequent generation to overcome great odds. So let the ney sayers come, for this generation does stand a chance. Because all it will take for us to succeed is for us not to listen to those who have come before us and supplied us with this mess, and who whisper to you that you can't do it, because you are all lazy and entitled! No! that is not true for us a whole. And because its that sort of talk that allows for apathy to thrive. So my fellow millennials realize the situation we are in and understand that it will be hard and we will have to work nights,weekends and holidays for years to get out of this, but we have no other choice but to do so.

      the reason I propose this counter proposition is to provide a REAL motion that counters the overtly pessimistic case leveled against us. And counters the one that sugarcoats the situation of this generation. For a real debate to occur, yes a proper opposition like the current motion should stand, but the "Against the Motion," motion is just a sugarcoated opposite of the first motion. As a so called "Millennial" I stand to offer this counter proposition motion, in the place of the current one. In order that a realistic representation of the generation is presented.

    • Comment Link batnib Monday, 07 April 2014 14:22 posted by batnib

      KATE! There will be no millennial bashing; quite the contrary. Millennials have been supported, loved, wanted and encouraged their entire lives! You're all winners! Everyone loves you! Unlike, you know, Gen X, which most people seem to have forgotten about completely since it is incapable for them to out consume their parents or millennial siblings. Take your pick--a little gentle prodding (necessary to help you achieve your potential, which society needs to experience given your size), or complete irrelevance... #justsaying

    • Comment Link Kate Thursday, 27 March 2014 16:47 posted by Kate

      I am so sick of this millennial bashing. Yeah sure we're entitled or whatever - it's not like we fought two wars for you.

    • Comment Link ben Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:37 posted by ben

      I am so excited. this seems to be a sociological debate for my generation. I am the epitome of a millennial .lets get it on

    • Comment Link Deb Monday, 24 February 2014 17:57 posted by Deb

      Follow @katieglassST. She is a London Times columnist who writes intelligently about the millennials and their collective desire to do things not own them etc 49

    Leave a comment

    Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.