A Generation Of Martyrs? How Millennials Are Killing Themselves Without A Cause

by Lauren Martin

Millennials have no problem being compared to hippies. We have no problem telling ourselves, and one another, that we are a new generation, a generation of free spirits, wanderers, revolutionaries.

We are up for everything and down to try just about anything. We take drugs, drink obsessively and quit jobs we hate. We have unprotected sex, take pills from strangers and sleep on couches from Craigslist.

While I commend my peers for our ability to go "against the grain," sometimes I wonder exactly how far we might take it.

The sad distinction between hippies and Millennials: Hippies didn’t know the implications of everything they were doing, but we do. They didn’t know smoking while pregnant is bad for the unborn child.

They didn’t know unprotected sex leads to various transmitted diseases. They didn’t know pills are addictive and alcohol rots your liver.

We know that smoking will kill us, yet, we do it anyway. We know that cocaine will rot our gums and erode our nostrils, yet,  we buy it by the gram. We know that taking too much LSD will fry our brains, but can't wait to go back to Bonnaroo for the hallucinogenic trip that accompanies the music.

We know that birth control is to blame for countless infertility cases, but we continue to pop the little pill at the same time every day.

I can’t help but wonder if we’re a generation hellbent on self-destructing. We have strong stances on peace and love among one another, yet have no qualms in destroying our own selves. But why?

What’s the motive behind this inherent self-destruction? Why are we content and almost intent on not making it past 65? Most importantly, what are we dying for?

Are we dying for our rights? Are we dying for our future generations? Are we dying for a cause? I’ve spent the last few years mulling over this question, trying to figure out exactly what I’ve been fighting for, or against.

I know that a little part of me is always fighting to prove my parents wrong, to prove to them that the world can be different; we can have jobs we love and spend more time doing what makes us happy, instead of living to retire. But where does everything else come in? The drugs, the drinking, the sex? What’s the point of all that?

Maybe we’re just a hedonistic culture. We think it’s okay to indulge, to succumb to our innermost urges, because that’s what being alive is all about.

We’ve told ourselves countless times that life is for the living and we’re all going to die anyway, so we may as well enjoy ourselves. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think that there’s a deeper reason we are so intent on doing everything our parents told us not to do and living like there’s no need for tomorrow.

When I peel away at all my emotions, motives and reasoning, it all becomes very obvious: We were born into a world that doesn’t seem to have any integrity or sense of good, a world we’re ashamed to be a part of.

We’re forced into a culture of Grindr, “The Bachelorette,” Paris Hilton, strip malls, SUVs, global warming, Putin, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Israel, Guantanamo Bay, The Kardashians, plastic surgery, politicians, the one percent, performance-enhancing drugs, bikini waxes...

We spend days looking around, wondering, where is the good? Where is the unscathed, the raw beauty of the world?

We are forced to follow the trends, keep up with the pace of society. We continue to follow the masses into the dawn of the Internet and unlimited porn. We watch kids bring guns to school and bombs to marathons. We’ve seen the murder of parents, kids, roommates, neighbors and dogs.

We've seen planes fly into buildings and men carry bombs in their shoes. We’ve watched our idols fall to convictions of child molestation, heroin and steroids. We’ve seen countless nervous breakdowns and one in every two families break apart.

It seems like the world has already gone to sh*t, so why plan for some long life here? Everyone is out of control; the world is becoming a giant mess of superficiality and hostility, ready to explode under a layer of smog from global warming.

There's no dignity, no inherent goodness, no simplicity or simple understanding of how to live anymore.

This resurgence towards drugs, alcohol and the tendency for self-destruction is our way of protesting against it all. It’s our last battle, our final fight. It's the white flag, our sad surrender. We tried to protest for a few minutes.

We sat on concrete with picket signs, rallied against a few wars, and worked to get the first black president elected.

But nothing is changing and we’re ashamed.

We’re ashamed for our country, for our people and for the state of the world. We’re ready to just be over and done with it, hoping to make whatever time we have left as honest and beautiful as possible.

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