Millennials and the new generation gap

The Millennial Generation — those 78 million Americans from 18 to 34 — is causing mayhem all across this great land of ours, especially for anyone with gray hair.

They don’t want to pay for our Social Security benefits even though they want us to retire so they can move into our jobs. They’ve turned their backs on organized religion and are part of a growing group called the “nones,” who claim no formal religious affiliation. They don’t even want to get married and have kids. Where did we — aka their parents — go wrong?

They’re also causing an upheaval in higher education because they don’t think they should be saddled with student loans if they can’t find a job when they graduate, even if their degree is in Old English literature or Ancient Greek philosophy.

And when it comes to the institution of marriage, “till death do us part” isn’t part of their vocabulary. According to one study, only a third of Millennials thought marriage should be a lifelong commitment; 43% favored a variation that gave couples the option of splitting after two years, and a third believed “marriage licenses” should be valid only for a set period — sort of like dog licenses or fishing permits.

It’s going to be difficult for Donald Trump to make America great again with all this inter-generational warfare, which back in the olden days was known as “the generation gap.” Nevertheless, I want to be understanding because I have four Millennials in my family who are always trying to tell me how to live my Baby Boomer life even though they never listen when I tell them how to live their lives.

I should add that all four are still paying college loans and are gainfully underemployed, which seems to be the sad story of this generation. On the other hand, if they hadn’t destroyed so many industries, maybe there’d be enough jobs to go around.

There’s a long list of casualties that includes the newspaper business, book publishing, apparel retailers, insurance (many of them don’t believe in it), organized religion, the soft drink industry, fast food and fraternal organizations, which are tottering because young people prefer Instagram and Facebook to genuine social interaction.

I hold a personal grudge because they’re part of the reason the newspaper business is struggling. You see, they get their news on cell phones from media “aggregators” that throw together a bunch of celebrity gossip stories and let them think that’s the most important thing going on in the world.

Everywhere you turn, there’s upheaval. The most recent victim is another iconic American industry as noble as the Fourth Estate — breakfast cereal.

Yes, the Millennials are threatening to topple Tony the Tiger, the Lucky Charms Leprechaun and Cap’n Crunch, who were revered by generations of children. How disturbing is that? Instead, they should let the Leprechaun go and take aim at Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus, which would truly make America great again.

Cereal sales have dropped 28% over the past 15 years. General Mills, which makes Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Trix and Reese’s Puffs — I’m getting cavities just thinking about them —  recently reported that sales were down eight percent in the last quarter, which is the third straight period of decreased revenue. To my thinking, the industry’s only hope is to develop a cereal named after Kim Kardashian.

A senior food analyst at market research firm Mintel told GQ magazine the Millennials are “more concerned than other groups with getting sufficient protein and fiber in the morning, and they aren’t likely to see cereal satisfying that need.”

Who wants fiber in the morning when you can have pieces of candy in your cereal? The holier than thou Millennials usually opt for yogurt and other healthful foods that don’t give you the sugar rush we were accustomed to getting as kids when we sat at the kitchen table fighting over the marshmallow bits in Lucky Charms and reading about all the chintzy toys we could order with our box tops.

What more could a kid ask for? Sugar, toys and cavities. It was a great combination. It was the perfect way to begin the day, before going off to school to make the world safe for democracy. As Tony would say, it was grrrrreat!

Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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