They’re often referred to as the “Boomerang Generation” or “The Peter Pan Generation,” “Gen Y,” or “Generation WE.” They’ve been called lazy, entitled, self-obsessed, narcissists. On the other hand, they’re often described as resourceful, tech-savvy, open-minded, and passionate.
Where does the truth lie? Probably someplace in the middle.
Whatever shortcomings millennials may have, it’s fair to say they’ve got their share of virtues too. I’ll leave the ultimate balance of the scale for those more qualified to determine. For now, let’s focus on one malignant shortcoming, in particular.
Many have noted that, when it comes to wild snakes, millennials, more so than Generation X or the Baby Boomers, are likely to let many of the pervasive misconceptions, shall we say, slither through the cracks. Let’s correct a few of these.
1. Snakes are NOT slimy.
People born after 1980 tend to be multi-taskers, used to juggling many responsibilities at once. The flip side is that the temptation of social media and smartphone games looms heavy. Does this mean millennials are entirely uninformed when it comes to snakes? Of course not.
What it does mean is that hands-on experience is often tossed aside in lieu of a quick Google search. Though millennials are more likely to encounter images of snakes online than their more senior counterparts, they are far less likely to touch one with their own hands. Thus, a millennial may not know what those of older generations don’t find at all surprising – snakes are not slimy. A snake’s skin is generally smooth and dry.
2. Snakes do not ALL carry Salmonella.
Millennials are prone to generalization. Though, it may not be entirely their fault. Helicopter parenting, coupled with the “safe space” mentality, abundant on college campuses have, no doubt, contributed to the insular thinking that plagues the millennial generation. Look no further than their insistence on lumping all PC computers together as shoddy and disreputable. It’s as if they’ve never used a Dell Inspiron 3000. Those things are decent.
The point is this: do all snakes carry Salmonella? No. Somewhere around 92% of snakes carry Salmonella. A little nuance never hurt anybody.
3. Snakes ARE NOT naturally aggressive.
It’s no secret that the rate of student loan debt shouldered by millennial-age college graduates is astronomical. With an increase of nearly 58% since 2003, bringing the average balance owed to $25,000 per college graduate, dwarfing that of their parents and grandparents, it’s no wonder millennials are inclined to see the world as a hostile place.
But while large sums of student debt is certainly worth being concerned about, snake aggression towards humans is not.
Wild snakes are both predator and prey. Their reluctance to encounter hawks and weasels means they are far more likely to flee than fight, upon detection of a larger animal.
4. Female snakes DO NOT protect their young by putting them in their mouths.
More so than their elders, millennials crave security. Yet, increasingly, traditional notions of security seem hard to come by. With woeful economic prospects, coupled with rising living costs and insurmountable chasms of debt, a millennial may, understandably, succumb to feelings of vulnerability and fear, and project those fears onto their understanding of snake behavior.
Pejoratives like the “Gold Star Generation” or the “Participation Trophy Generation,” probably go too far, but are symptomatic of an increase in parental over-involvement and paternalistic college administrative policies, which effectively seal millennials into self-affirming, protective bubbles.
Unfortunately for snakes, there are no safe spaces in the animal kingdom. Not even their mother’s mouth. Occasionally, a mother snake will eat one of her own if it is stillborn (possibly the source of this myth), but, contrary to popular belief, snake babies will not rush into their mother’s mouth for protection in the presence of a predator.
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Millennials are smart. They’re savvy, ingenious, and receptive to change. Having come of age in an era of unprecedented worldwide connectivity via the internet, millennials are equipped with the tools to change the world in ways their forbears could only have dreamt.
Is there room for improvement? Sure.
Are they up to the task? Call it optimistic, but I say yes. It’s a matter of focus.
Ask a millennial about the behavioral traits of a particular Pokémon or YouTube celebrity and this will become abundantly clear to you. Perhaps these, the transitory flailings of a fledgling generation, reflect the inevitable growing pains of a technological society, struggling to maintain equilibrium against the intimidating backdrop of seemingly exponential social and industrial upheaval. Perhaps it’s all but a foregone conclusion that snakes will take a back seat in this brave new world.
All that’s certain is this: the future belongs to millennials. The fate of life on Earth, human and snake alike, will one day be in their soft, capable hands.