Millennials Don't Stand A Chance

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Milennials398x239 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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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

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    • Comment Link Chris Saturday, 27 September 2014 08:52 posted by Chris

      I congrats Millennials for not putting up with as much crap like older generations. That lazy attitude doesn't go very far, though.

    • Comment Link Peter Lu Monday, 15 September 2014 17:25 posted by Peter Lu

      The quality of this debate was poor. Setting aside specific points that were and weren't addressed, the overall resonance of the arguments would have been heightened if:

      1) The motion was better defined. As another commenter wrote, "I don't understand the motion. Do millennials stand a chance at what?"

      2) There was better representation of generations, and experience, on both sides. I would have liked to have heard a Millenial debating for the motion and a Gen Xer debating against it.

    • Comment Link Brizzle Sunday, 14 September 2014 07:32 posted by Brizzle

      Does any of this really matter? Isn't there enough polarization in our country to distract us from what is really going on without turning generations against each other? Besides, we'll all be dead within the next 50 years because of the fucking Boomer's love of capitalism.

    • Comment Link k Wednesday, 27 August 2014 17:11 posted by k

      Religious extremism, economic turmoil, internet balkanization; overzealous government monitoring, and security, global climate change, annexation of post-soviet states, energy dependence, international energy conflicts, rouge stand alone complexes, overfishing, deforestation, polarized governments – all frustrated by widespread social panic which is being catalyzed with increased inter-connectivity. My generation is f***ed.

    • Comment Link Michelle Monday, 18 August 2014 21:04 posted by Michelle

      This was horribly offensive in an awful, condescending way. Even the host was talking to the young woman against the motion as if she were some kind of monkey who learned to talk. Also, if you listened to this and you think the young people arguing against the motion were talking about how great millennials are, you are mistaken. They were defending themselves using facts, figures, and personal experiences.

      Millennials face quite a few challenges, but we have the shoulders of giants to stand on to face those challenges. The odds against us aren't greater than the odds of any previous generations. Sure, we might not be able to buy a house or have a bunch of kids, but thanks to bluetooth headphones and unlimited 4G, we'll enjoy riding our bikes from our apartment to our nonprofit job dedicated to solving climate change. Don't you know that living in the suburbs is awful for your carbon footprint?

      Personally, I'm not having kids because after an education that cost more than my parents' first house, no amount of "millennial optimism" can convince me the world will be ok after 2050. Thanks, mom and dad, for teaching me the resourcefulness, perseverance, adaptability, and awareness to survive in the world you built. Sorry you aren't getting grandkids.

    • Comment Link Dude Thursday, 10 July 2014 23:44 posted by Dude

      I don't understand the motion. Do millennials stand a chance at what?

    • Comment Link JanDeDoot Tuesday, 24 June 2014 19:48 posted by JanDeDoot

      The problem isn't that people have a dim view of the millennial generation, but that they have a different view of all preceding generations.

    • Comment Link Craig Barnes Sunday, 08 June 2014 14:05 posted by Craig Barnes

      Skills? Let's talk about the most basic, critical, skills any citizen or student of the 21st Century urgently need - reading, writing, math (arithmetic!), and most of all, THINKING. How many millennials are proud of their actual, verifiable skills, in these specific areas? You can't even add 5 + 3 in your head, or speak/write as well as a sixth-grader. It hurts me to even listen to you speak or see you struggle with the most basic math.

    • Comment Link CJ Thursday, 05 June 2014 00:28 posted by CJ

      While this was definitely an interesting debate; however, I do agree with the point that has been brought up by a few comments that the opposing side could have been served better with more experienced debaters. As a fellow millennial, I sort of cringed at their weakly supported arguments. I really enjoyed the very specific data and points used by the for side. I really would like to see this debate brought up again with a strong opposing side. As it stands, I feel the supporting side is in the right.

    • Comment Link Susan Monday, 19 May 2014 14:51 posted by Susan

      Very interesting debate, although I couldn't listen to Jessica Grouse for more than a minute at a time due to the inflection of her voice (always sounded like she was asking a question at every breath). I think the side speaking against the motion would have been better served with someone of maturer years and experience to argue for them because the "greenness" of the presenters was clear to me. While they presented themselves well and had some good points, it sounded like they were straight out of debate class. I'm a young Gen Xer who lived through the self-esteem movement, but didn't experience it because I went to Catholic school. Overall, the right side won. I was highly impressed with Binta.

    • Comment Link Joel Sunday, 18 May 2014 20:42 posted by Joel

      Self-esteem. Narcissism. Neither can be measured. Neither correlate to objective physical/biological/medical phenomena. Yet they emerge in Dr. Campbell's view as measurable, verifiable diseases. What seems narcissistic to me? Campbell's presumption that his invented "diseases" measure up to the task of lampooning the millennial’s capacity to rise beyond his generation's mistakes. Because it seems to me, at least, that they most assuredly are. I applaud their initiative, their entrepreneurship, their intellectual rigor and their productive capacities.

    • Comment Link Stanley Dorn Sunday, 18 May 2014 20:25 posted by Stanley Dorn

      I just heard the opening statement of Mr. Campbell. It seems to me that the underpinning of his argument is that all future generations are in thrall to the economic 1%, rather than that millennials particularly lack requisite initiative. Let him loose his smugness and do something about the real problem.

    • Comment Link Richard Baker Sunday, 18 May 2014 13:29 posted by Richard Baker

      I think the title of the debate is a little misleading because it implies that millennials are uniquely incapable of facing the world when it seems more like its a decline of society that might be collapsing on millennials.

    • Comment Link Ranjan Thursday, 15 May 2014 13:30 posted by Ranjan

      this debate should have been far shorter. Are Millenials going to make it? Yes. Why? Because they'll live longer. Because competition against their success will decrease over time regardless of effort. Because every generation "wins" by any standard against the generation before it, over time. Considering half of the team for the motion was arguing an actual pathological problem with an entire generation of people, I don't think it's a cheap shot to counter with "I'm not sure I'm going to take advice from people who not only created most of the problems we have to deal with, but will have to die just so we can see the back of you."

    • Comment Link Samantha Tuesday, 06 May 2014 13:42 posted by Samantha

      This is not a debate it seems to be mostly conjecture and opinion on both sides.

    • Comment Link That guy over there Sunday, 04 May 2014 12:30 posted by That guy over there

      Sadly the Millennals were a bunch of know it all know nothings and hearing about how great they are and how much smarter they are was really sad .

    • Comment Link Craig Thursday, 01 May 2014 17:02 posted by Craig

      This is the most frivolous debate i2 has undertaken. Neither side was well prepared, mostly because none of them actually research this topic, they just have strong feelings on the subject. Felt like a CNN or Fox News talking-head analysis segment. I expect more from i2 and hope to get more in the future.

    • Comment Link Jillian Wednesday, 30 April 2014 02:44 posted by Jillian

      I'm disappointed in the brevity of the debate and how circumlocutions it became. As a POC (person of color) millennial, I understand the challenges that my generation faces; however, unlike the Against side, I lack the "optimism". In addition, I can see what was described as "narcissism" within my own generation, but I also see it in those before me. I wish that critique was pushed to the side as it seems to undercut the point which Binta Niambi Brown makes: There are failings in the system. Millennials aren't being prepared for jobs in a knowledge based economy. Racism and sexism are still issues to be solved. Wage inequality and mounting economic concerns are waiting ahead.

      My point: How will an average (not a recipient of higher education, middle class or below) millennial deal with the inherent insustainability of this system? How will the majority of the United States deal with the floor failing out from under them? The previous generations who have most of the control of the situation aren't offering answers and are instead critical of Millennials. I'm not here to say that we are free of our flaws. Yes, we are indulgent (I feel, a product of upbringing and culture converging with technology). But what are we facing? We aren't just going into an expanded world; we're walking onto a playing field with less tools at our disposal.

      The proposal worth more debate: Education in the United States is Failing It's Students.

    • Comment Link Max2014 Tuesday, 29 April 2014 02:14 posted by Max2014

      I am surprised that such a preposterous topic was chosen for a debate. Had the topic been "millennial are worse off than the previous generation", that would have been a sensible debate. But "millennials don't stand a chance"? It is too egregious and too immature a topic for such formal debate.

      Given the bias of the topic, I don't think Jessica and David did a good enough job. For the most part their oppositions arguments were flawed and they could have been torn apart. But instead they tried to defend themselves making the arguments of the opponents look valid. It was a wrong strategy.

    • Comment Link Richard Wednesday, 23 April 2014 15:26 posted by Richard

      The way these are scored is really infuriating. If you support a side going into the debate, the worst thing you can do for that side is vote for it at the beginning. The only way to effectively support one side is to vote for the opposing side in the pre-debate vote, and then switch your vote to your real choice for the post-debate vote. There has to be a better way to score these.

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