Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Finally something is not the millennials fault ;)

Written by: on May 16, 2019

I want to start this with a simple question, raise your hand if in the past 5 years, you have seen some ugly trend and not blamed the group known as millennials. My guess is most of us have done this with some sort of eye roll and derisive statement. In their book The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt lay out a heartbreaking look into what is happening with American youth (College and younger) and how we have brought this on ourselves.

Howard Doughty states “Lukianoff and Haidt make a sincere effort to untangle the story of the enormous growth of mental torments and clinical disorders on campus, and to make what connections they can to the overall political culture of the United States. To these ends, they take note of political polarization, the routinization of children’s play and the regimentation of recreational activities, the much discussed phenomenon (sometimes labelled the “addiction”) of social media, the plethora of rules of respectful speech and codes of proper conduct, and the overall corporatization in both theory and practice of the contemporary academy.”[1] The idea of just weak mindedness of the students is to surface level of an accusation. The blame is laid at the feet of parents who have, for lack of a better word, blanketed their children and not allowed them to form a hard outer shell. So when they arrive at a campus, they do not know how to react when something does not go their way.  Devon Frye also sees the book as hitting the mark, “In the The Coddling of the American Mind, he and psychologist Jonathan Haidt argue that in urging colleges to turn away polarizing speakers or shaming others for ill-considered words, many students treat emotional safety as an absolute right-to the detriment of their own well-being.”[2] 

As someone who leans to the right politically (fyi I do not watch Fox or any mainstream media channels, as they all are interested in making money and fostering anger to the other side), I have been swayed into thinking the left leaning professors were to blame. Haidt and Lukianoff argue for a different place for the blame to lay. First, as we have read in other books during our course the rise of social media and our attachment to our phones has some blame. They give a quote from Sean Parker explaining the early years of Facebook, “The thought process that went into building these applications…was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’…And that means we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit”[3] 

I actually got to experience this on a smaller scale in the last two weeks. The school my sons go to is a small Christian school with 225 kids. The school recently decided to use Yondr. Yondr is a pouch that you put your cell in and it is then locked with a magnetic lock. It blocks all signals and does not allow you to get the dopamine hits Sean Parker spoke of above. The product was originally designed to be used in the entertainment industry. Graham Dugoni started the company after he was at a festival and in his words, “In 2012, at a music festival in San Francisco, he witnessed a pair of strangers film a drunken guy obliviously dancing; they then posted the video to YouTube. Appalled, Dugoni started thinking about how he could have prevented these strangers from making a public spectacle out of someone else’s private moment.” [4] The first day of usage for the school was also the day a rep from the company came to answer any questions parents might have. There were parents who said their child literally came home from school “bawling their eyes out” because they did not have their phones all day. When I got home and told my boys that I was ll for Yondr, the anger that flashed in their eyes told me it was the right thing to do. As Parker also said, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brain”[5] 

The authors tell us that “when members of iGen arrived on campus, beginning in the fall of 2013, they had accumulated less unsupervised time and fewer offline life experiences than had any previous generation.” [6] The inability for them to be able to focus on anything other than their screen has hampered their ability to cope. Added to this was the fact they are blanketed by their parents against anything they might disagree with and this continues on campus and you get the perfect storm. 

I am grateful this book has laid this problem out for the world to see. I have already suggested it to several parents and educators I know. I also am grateful I have allowed my boys to be confronted with ideas that are not just mine, and we can discuss where we can find common ground. This book is well worth the time.


[1] Doughty, Howard. “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” The Innovation Journal 23, no. 3 (2018): 1-14.

[2] Frye, Devon. “PLAYING IT SAFE.” Psychology Today 51, no. 5 (2018): 18-4.

[3] Haidt, Jonathan, and Greg Lukianoff. Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting up a Generation for Failure. Penguin Publishing Group, 2018. 147.

[4] Gregory, Alice. “This Startup Wants to Neutralize Your Phone-and Un-Change the World.” Wired, Conde Nast, 15 Feb. 2018, www.wired.com/story/free-speech-issue-yondr-smartphones/.

[5] Haidt, Jonathan, and Greg Lukianoff. Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting up a Generation for Failure. Penguin Publishing Group, 2018. 147.

[6] Ibid. 148.

About the Author

Jason Turbeville

A pastor, husband and father who loves to be around others. These are the things that describe me. I was a youth minister for 15 years but God changed the calling on my life. I love to travel and see where God takes me in my life.

12 responses to “Finally something is not the millennials fault ;)”

  1. Your title captured my attention right away, Jason!

    Yes. I have definitely heard this narrative over-and-over. As I read this week’s text, I was reminded of an older song from Bye Bye Birdie. The scene focuses on two sets of parents who are complaining about the younger generation and asking the question, “What’s the matter with kids today?” History repeats itself. There’s always a gap in understanding and perspective within each generation.

    You mention, “So when they arrive at a campus, they do not know how to react when something does not go their way.” Do you think that this statement is true of most generations when faced with diversified thought? Safe spaces and intolerance can take the form of authoritative leadership and conformist mentality within groups. For instance, how many churches identify with a certain political party and vilify those who differ from the pulpit? The assumption is that the church, or safe space, is made up of clones who think the same, vote the same, and perceive the same. I’ve seen this occur in conservative and liberal churches.

    What’s been your experience?

    • Jason Turbeville says:

      Two things, one yes I do believe that all generations tend to think those who follow are not as “strong” as they were it is what I like to call “good ole days syndrome” (obviously I did not come up with that) but something has happened over the past 10 years that seems to be pushing the safety narrative, thus this book. Two you wrote “how many churches identify with a certain political party and vilify those who differ from the pulpit?” I actually have never heard this from a pulpit, ever. I know there are those who do it, but generally speaking those whose mouth I have heard it from are TV preachers and I have very low tolerance for those charlatans. That does not mean it does not happen, I just have never heard it. Most churches I am familiar with do not even get into political discussions or diatribes because all it generally does is divide.


  2. Jay Forseth says:


    You taught me something new this week. I had not heard of Yondr before. Very interesting!

    • Jason Turbeville says:

      I think it probably came about as backlash to over saturation of phone, but in my opinion it is a good thing. One of the article I read talked about having a roped off section for phone use but that every one else who was standing around waiting for the show to start looked a lot like heroin addicts needing a fix. It was a sad commentary.


  3. Mike says:

    I raised my hand! I blame principalities and powers….not millennials, even if they seemed to be willing victims and participants to evil schemes and influences!
    I think the accompanying book for The Coddling of the American Mind is going to be Unfreedom of the Press by Mark R. Levin. I think the Untruths and Safetyism has rubbed off so much on the progressives that even the older generations are falling victim to these manipulating wiles of the devil.
    This is a good book to keep a birds-eye view on because it has a shelf-life that will be replaced with the next variant that promotes untruths, immorality, and temptation to sin.
    What’s the fix? Christ in their lives. That would get a “trigger warning” in a secular college, or maybe even a microaggression or hate crime allegation. I think you said, God knows. Amen, He does!

    Stand firm,
    Mike w

  4. Dan Kreiss says:


    I liked it better when we could blame Obama, Trump and Millennials. I don’t like that now we are blaming parents for our fragile kids. It is tough sometimes to recognize that we have played a significant part in the challenges our own children will face. But at least we haven’t yet cheated to get them into a prestigious school. I think I’m gonna give myself a pass on the parenting, or at least try to, and blame the problems with the iGens on wealthy, cheating parents which we in this cohort are not. How do you feel about that?

  5. Kyle Chalko says:

    Great post Jason. Thanks for pointing out that trend that we us millennials get blamed for tons of stuff. Now of course its a joke, at least among us. We are responsible for killing chili’s/napkins and whole bunch of other stuff.

    That Yondr idea sounds great. I had not heard of it yet.

  6. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks for this post, Jason! I definitely think you’re right about how we blame millennials for so much of what is going on. When you examine it the way you have, it seems like their parents (ie: a generation or two ahead of them) probably have more “blame” than anybody… Interesting.

    • Jason Turbeville says:

      If we are going to blame a group of people for how they were raised then there is something wrong with us, as a youth pastor I had so many conversations with parents about why their child did this or that the hardest thing for them to hear was there was blame to lay at their own feet…


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