Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Living with millennials

Living with millennials can be tough. I think I count as a millennial too, but I think my upbringing disabused me of a lot of the sense of entitlement I see underlying millennials' conduct in Australia. 

Allow me to generalise. 

First, they are quite unreliable when it comes to confirming meetings and timings. I remember receiving texts from a number of people when I was looking for housemates earlier this year - texts confirming meetings with them - only to have no notification (or only last-minute notification) of their intention to cancel. The fact that this inconveniences the person you're supposed to meet - that they, in fact, absolutely need to be told that you can (or intend to) no longer meet them - does not seem to occur to some people. 

I suspect this is partly because of the sheer volume of communication that millennials habitually engage in. They are constantly on their phones, texting out hundreds of messages daily, and it does not occur to them that some texts and some messages are more significant than others. For example, informing someone (even if a contact you made while searching for a house) that you are no longer able to meet them, and that they can then do something else with their time - this is essential. Instead, everything is treated with a kind of bland indifference: 'Oh, I can't make it anymore. Meh, forget it.' 

Then, millennials have very little appreciation of the expectations and norms of house-sharing arrangements in Australia. For example, houses are usually rented out for six months or a year or so -  and there is usually, if not always, a contract involved, with a contract period stipulated in it. Therefore, it is necessary, even for later housemates (or housemates joining the original lease-holder), to commit to or stipulate a minimum length of time for their stay. It is quite essential that you commit to something. Yes, I must admit that most people know and understand this intuitively, and respect that custom. However, I have encountered some people who do not seem to comprehend the need for commitment. Instead, their approach is essentially - 'I like this house. Can we do, like, a trial period of a few weeks, and then decide?' This may be a reasonable approach in other areas of life, but housemate-searches involve time, effort and money. Why would I be interested in wasting my time doing so-called trial periods if I can't have some kind of a minimum commitment from you? Such ditzy behaviour reflects naivety and poor judgment, and a lack of appreciation of the norms of house-sharing. 

Finally, when you do end up living with millennials, you are very likely to experience behaviour such as: leaving dishes to pile up in the sink; leaving dirty dishes in the room because they're too lazy to wash them or to even take them to the sink; leaving clothes on racks for days on end even after they have dried; having their friend/date/what-have-you stay for days and days on end, etc. Conversations about house etiquette do not go down well with millennials. They don't know how to respond when concerns are raised with them, which I attribute to a lack of experience of communicating, listening to and resolving concerns. Instead, they prefer to skip the conversation altogether, and offer perfunctory (and perhaps empty) assurances. Further, although this is nobody's business but their own, they eat poorly, and they stuff the fridge with a carton-worth of bottles of Coke. 

To summarise, living with millennials is hard because: 1) they don't respect your time, or do not know how to communicate responsibly - for them, leaving people hanging is OK; 2) they don't appreciate the norms of house-sharing; and 3) they have poor house ettiequte. The first reflects a self-centred approach to communication, where all that matters is that you get what you want, bugger everyone else. The second can be put down to a lack of experience of life outside their parental home perhaps, or a lack of awareness of how things are done in the share-housing scene. The third is due to laziness and, again, self-centredness, where you do not care how your actions affect others. For example, if you pile up dirty dishes in your room for days on end, you prevent others from using the same cutlery for their needs. This is discourteous and irresponsible. 

Of course all of us have our idiosyncrasies and bad habits. Far be it from me to tell anyone to be perfect, and to behave wonderfully at all times. But some things - some qualities, some values, some forms of decorum - are foundational, and essential for harmonious living. And you cannot do without them. Unfortunately, my experience of sharing houses with millennials in Australia - and I specify millennials because, in my experience, older folks have a better sense of these requirements and qualities - has led me to believe that, as in other areas of life, there's a selfishness that pervades millennials' conduct in relation to their housemates. 

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