Character

The Lie Millennials Believe That Makes Them Fearful To Speak Their Mind

lies Millennials believe

There’s a lie Millennials believe that makes them fearful to speak their mind. The evidence of it lies strewn about their social media interactions. Here’s an example written by a 20-something woman:

“Real beauty comes from the inside for sure, at least in my opinion!”

Do you see the problem? She makes a statement she’s “sure” of. Then she apologetically qualifies her statement to ensure the reader knows, that she knows, it’s only her opinion. That’s a preemptive strike on potential backlash against her previous certainty. Now on steady ground, she’s regained enough confidence to add an exclamation point.

And after all the linguistic contortions, what did she end up saying? Nothing. Because what does mere opinion count for in the marketplace of ideas? Unless you’re in a marketing focus group or a judge on a bench, no one cares about your opinion.

What the young woman has essentially done is remove her voice from society. And she’s not alone. Many of her peers do the same. That’s an unqualified shame. We cannot lose the voice of a generation.

What’s The Lie Millennials believe?

At the root of this self-imposed muting is a lie – crammed down the throats of this generation via educational indoctrination and ambient cultural narrative – and it is this: Truth is dead. There is no right or wrong, there’s only right for me and right for you. Therefore, no one is able to make an authoritative truth claim. (Ironically, a self-contradicting truth claim accepted as the single exception to the rule.)

So accepted is this societal hokum that many young adults are unwilling to risk making an emphatic statement. Their expressions are hesitant, apologetic, and weak. They whimper rather than speak.

As someone who cheers for this generation, let me kindly say “Stop it.” You don’t have to settle for this.As someone who cheers for this generation, let me kindly say “Stop it.” You don’t have to settle for this. #truthclaim Click To Tweet

Counteracting The Lie

Yes, there are competing and conflicting truth claims in the world. (Man is ultimate. God is ultimate. The Borneo Pygmy Elephant is ultimate.) The solution isn’t to deny the validity of any truth claim or proclaim them all equally valid. That’s lazy. The solution is to engage our minds and evaluate truth claims for reliability – truthfulness. If we have an intelligent understanding of our basis of authority, we can speak boldly.

The fact is, we rely on the opinions of professionals every day – medical professionals, investment professionals, plumbing professionals. We value their “opinions” because they’re based, not on a gut feeling, but on a body of knowledge they’ve acquired.  They’ve read and discussed as well as made mistakes and learned from them. They can speak with authority because they have a basis of authority. So should you.

The whole world isn’t black and white, but neither is it totally gray. Some things are right and some are wrong. Some things are true and some are false. My young friends, know what you believe. Know why you believe it. Then speak – unafraid, unwavering, and unapologetic.

[As a practical help to you, I heartily recommend reading a journalist’s (former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune) quest to evaluate a truth claim based on evidence outside of his experience. You’ll find it an invaluable model and guide for your own evaluations.]

lie millennials believe

  • I think the emergence is social media has resulted in people being more widely aware of a greater number of issues, to speak in reference to. With so much being flouted in the news and media, with discerning credibility, it is harder to pick out our genuine ‘truth’s’. I definitely agree some things we speak on, we can be sure and certain of. Other things, perhaps not. If I take a cross-section of people that speak on certain more controversial topics, how many are credibly well-versed and well-read enough to lend genuine certainty to these points, I would say a lesser number. A problem we do have is that a growing number of people have a growing number of opinions on serious topics, yet they are not armed with the facts & knowledge that is required to speak on these. For the young generation I would say, if you wish to speak on a topic that is serious (of which there are so many policitically & socially) right now, if you are going to be in discussion on these points, ensure you are well read and clearly understand what you are speaking on as we need to encourage a generation of people that are factually aware and informed, not just opinionated.

    • Alexandra T Armstrong

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Wonderling. You are a model of confidently stating your thought. ?

  • absolutely. i’m totally guilty of this. you’re right because we’re afraid of hurting people’s feelings or getting our feelings hurt. it’s like when a girlfriend of yours is asking for advice, and you give this WHOLE SPEECH and at the end of it you say “but that’s just me” so you don’t totally feel like you messed up their life if they ended up taking your advice lol. a lot of people in our generation also need to understand that just because you don’t agree on something doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with them. I have seen so many friendships end just because they don’t agree on a certain thing – you’re going to throw YEARS of friendship away for one thing that you disagree on?

    • Alexandra T Armstrong

      Justine! Love your candor and love YOU! You’re clearly a woman who wears her big girl pants. No two people alive agree on every single thing, so how did that become a requirement for friendship? That’s ANOTHER reason people don’t speak their minds anymore – too risky. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

  • This was really intersting. I love the perspective.

  • As I got deeper into reading your article, I realized that every point you’re making is true, and not only for others but for me too. We are too afraid to speak our minds with authority because we see what happens when millenials try to take a stand – we are usually skewered by people of the previous generation (who are often in positions of power or influence).

    We do have to make an effort to evaluate every proclaimed truth for ourselves and try not to fall into the hive mind.

    What a thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing your insight!

    • Alexandra T Armstrong

      “Hive mind” is a new phrase to me, but I get the concept by your context. You taught me something! Thanks. ?

  • Rachel G

    Absolutely. Our current generation has been raised in an era of ‘relative truth’ and being taught not to say anything too strongly because what’s true for you might not be true for someone else. But actually, some things are fundamentally true and some things are fundamentally false.

    • Alexandra T Armstrong

      Well said, Rachel. Spoken like a woman who knows what she believes!

  • They are so scared of trolls online that they are scared to be proud and strong enough to stand for their own opinions and fight when attack. It takes a lot of energy to fight back. “who are you to say that? What are your credentials? Where’s the statistics? Who funded the study? Show me your proof?!”

    Any opinion no matter how seemingly benign can trigger an online war these days. You can loose your job and ruin your credibility. With younger people, they still believe there is such a thing as a permanent record to help held against them for the whole of their lives.

    Great post!

    • Alexandra T Armstrong

      You bring up a good point, Kat. I’ve heard of folks losing their job for expressing a belief that wasn’t in line with our quickly shifting culture. For a society that screams for tolerance, we’re very intolerant of diverse beliefs. Tough world for Millennials. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  • such a good post! thanks for sharing!

    Sabrina | Gypsy Tan

  • Sarah Jean

    Ooh i definitely end my statements with questions. Gotta stop that!

  • I think we women become more outspoken as we age. I was totally afraid to speak up when I was a young adult. Now that I’m a little older, I’m much more outspoken. And I figure by the time I’m old, I’m be a little, outspoken old lady. I think we’re socialized when we’re young to be demure. But the great think is that, eventually, most of us break free!

    • Wife Sense

      Ha, Erica! I’d love to know you as a little old lady. Bet you’ll be a hoot! 😉

  • Thanks for this wonderful post.
    I definitely hold back and fear a lot of things when I shouldn’t.
    This is such an inspiration ♥

    http://www.petaramia.com

  • Robert Stukowski

    Nice post. Millennials do have this fear. I blame their parents though. Their parents treated their kids as special snowflakes, that they couldn’t do wrong. So now, they complain and sue when someone tells them otherwise. This makes them hold back so they come victims themselves.

  • This is going to be a long comment!

    As a millennial, I can’t say I agree 100% with this. While there are definitely things that are either true or false/right or wrong, the majority of things we deal with everyday are opinions. So while I’m all for speaking your mind about something, there is a time and place to do it. Unless it’s a proven universal fact, then it’s going to be open to debate. And even then, some facts are still argued about because some people don’t acknowledge them as being facts! (See the still-debated fact that vaccines don’t cause autism for instance).

    In this day and age, it would surprise most people how close employers and companies look into our online social media accounts. Even if it’s set to private, there are ways to see everything and interviewers and employers will gladly bring it up or throw it in your face (I’ve literally had it happen over a page I “liked” on Facebook). And it wasn’t a millennial doing the hiring, or a millennial who owned the business.

    While I hate the fact that we are referred to as “the selfie
    generation”, there is some merit in it – we are incredibly aware (almost
    overly so) of our appearance and how others see us. This could be for a million different reasons, but a big one is for job purposes. We don’t want to take a visible stand on issues so that it won’t be an issue for getting hired.

    There also is a growing mentality with people my age of “agree to disagree”- “I have my opinion and you have yours, so what?”. Because of this, we avoid arguments with people about hot issues (religion, politics, etc.), unless of course there is something inherently wrong about their stance (wrong information, incorrect facts, blatantly disrespecting or insulting, etc.). We’re fairly open about our opinions with close friends and acquaintances, because we know we won’t have to deal with defending ourselves all the time about it. It’s not worth arguing about something with stupid internet trolls, so we discuss it among our friends instead.

    My point is that we do have opinions, and we do say them – just to our close friends and acquaintances. It’s a trust issue, but also an appearance issue. Just because we don’t constantly talk about it or blast it everywhere to be seen, doesn’t mean we don’t care!

    • Wife Sense

      Cameron, that WAS a long comment, but well thought out too. I think, as you point out, that because of the availability of social media information, Millennials have it tougher in the workplace than previous generations. I’m sure that’s a big contributor to the muting of Millennials. As a parent of 6 Millennials, I know you care.

      • Thank you! I didn’t mean to get up on my soap box there, and thank you for responding in such a kind way and allowing me to share my thoughts!

  • jillconyers

    Interesting perspective. I”m curious to know what my daughter would think.

  • Hannah Palamara

    As a millennial, this drives me insane. I feel like so much of what our generation believes to be true is generated from media headlines and social media posts. Of course this does not include everyone in my generation, but a vast majority seem to speak so boldly about a topic that they have very little (if any) knowledge or understanding of.