In Defense of Those “Indolent” antifragile Millenials

Last week, the WSJ’s intrepid Rachel Bachman penned a story about the shift away from race participation toward experiential runs/walks and other activities. We must say we were amused by the comments section which rather epitomized the difference between Millenials and Generation X. For while Millenials were almost frustratingly “chill” and made arguably gratuitous efforts to reconcile differences, the X-ers clung to the stereotypes that have been popularized by much of the press.

So, in the spirit of setting the record straight, we have decided to step into the ring.

First, there is a line of thinking that Millenials are not competitive because they are afraid to lose:

Millennials want to be told their special and unique and coming in 6894th place out of 9700 runners does not translate into that.  They become defeated, not encouraged to push harder.  It’s a tremendous blight on how people in the first third of their years approach that life.  It’s the same reason people are heading into this populist form of politics.  They want more for what little they do.

Honestly, this doesn’t make much sense at all. The “Millenials” have started more new companies than any other generation on the planet. X-ers are the ones who have worked one job for forty years that supplies them with a pension. They are jaded because the security they had for so long was wiped out in 2008. The system that had seemed safe and secure ultimately proved to be fragile. And out of frustration these X-ers lash out:

SAMUEL BAKER6 days ago

theyre lazy, fat, and smoke e cigs…thats how it ended

Indeed, we would propose that the antifragile goal popularized by Nassim Taleb in his manifesto is actually the very same objective to which Millenials strive. Rather than become immunized to the same stimulus over and over and over again, they are a diverse people with a diverse set of interests. To be sure, this makes for a longer learning curve and one wonders whether they will ever figure things out. Nevertheless, the potential to jolt the status quo is exciting.

Our associate Ahva had a great post on CrossFit earlier this week. This is certainly an antifragile activity. We stress our bodies in new ways each time we meet and over the long term, this is actually a good thing. Miles Collins writes about this in the Comments section (please excuse his misuse of the word “insures”…it is of course “ensures”…not all of us write like this, however…):

As a millennial, I can say my reason for not running is that it all but insures knee problems down the road — I’d like to continue to be active in my old age. Other millennials I’ve spoken to have the same reason. There are plenty of ways to get your heart pumping — it’s no surprise that running is becoming less popular due to the emergence of cross-fit, and other higher yielding fitness trends.

One commentator suggests we are obese…

Gary Russell5 days ago

Sounds like a bunch of wusses to me. Have you noticed how many millenials are overweight to obese to grossly obese?

Which is not really accurate. There is not a great deal of data here but what data we do have suggest that the rate of obesity is actually decelerating among Millenials relative to other age cohorts. Here is a Gallup chart comparing the obesity rates at certain ages between 2008 and 2012:


And this generalization about delayed gratification…


@Christopher La Mendola I very much agree on the time efficiency of running as an aerobic activity.  After reading this, I’m even happier that each of my millennial sons completed a full marathon with me.  Those will forever be my two favorite marathons.

Distance running also teaches life lessons about delayed gratification and the link between hard work and accomplishment.

We give kudos to Daniel and his two sons. I, too have run a couple marathons with my father. But the insipid point about delayed gratification is false. The savings rate for people below the age of 35 is actually higher than any time since the 1990s. In fact, if there is a problem with Millenial spending habits vis-a-vis the economic machine, it’s that they don’t seek material goods enough (source: Moody’s Analytics, the Washington Post).


So, have hope mom and dad. We may not go about things the way you would. But, with love and all due respect, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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