Friday, May 31, 2013

Millennials: Are we really that terrible, and exactly how much?

"Thanks for all the deregulation, Mom and Dad. See you at home!" Via.

I was born in 1983, guys. That makes me one of these "Millennials" we've all been hearing about! Are we narcissists? Are we screwed? Are we parents' basement-dwelling trolls who are ruining society? Or are we awesomely politically engaged and progressive? These are all good questions. As one of the elder statespersons* of this generation, I have some thoughts. And since having "thoughts" about huge swaths of human beings limited only by arbitrary birthdates and the geographical limits of the United States (since most of these stories are about American youths**) seems to get people a lot of attention these days, I'm going to go ahead and jump on that bandwagon. Also, I was given too many "participation" trophies growing up and believe that my contributions are inherently unique and valuable. I'm working on being the voice of my generation. Let me confirm your previously held biases in a numbered list fashion.

1. Narcissism
It is true, we Millennials are selfish, narcissistic assholes. We feel entitled to things like "jobs" and "opportunities" and "healthcare" and "not being bullied." We post our random thoughts and pix on the Tumblrz and the Tweeteries and the QuickiGramz as if anybody cares what our cat has climbed into now or what we ate for dinner, amirite? We're the worst!

Counterpoint: Teenagers and twentysomethings are notorious assholes, so I'm not sure there is anything about being born in a post-Carter administration era that makes us any worse than anyone else. Baby Boomers thought they were so awesome as teens and twentysomethings that they won't fucking shut up about how awesome the 1960s were TO THIS DAY. That's why Community's "Baby Boomer Santa" made me LOL so hard. Look into the face of truth, olds. (Sorry that face is Chevy Chase. I hear he's a huge douche.)

2. Economic Insecurity
It is also true that the gutting of the social safety net, destruction of labor unions, general Wall Street robber baron-ing, increased class stratification, blahblahblah kind of screws us youngs a little bit. I'm not saying that I thought getting graduate degrees in cultural studies would be highly lucrative, but I am saying that right now I am a long-term part-time temp who is no longer a full-time student and will lose her student health insurance and have to start paying back student loans soon and also my husband is an adjunct-y academic who only has grocery store work during the summer. We are kind of poor. I'm not saying I don't blame myself, because I am really, really good at internalizing negative feelings, but when so many of my hardworking peers are in similar straits, I would perhaps suggest we have some structural problems that will take structural solutions. We can't all up and invent Facebook and turn into billionaires.*** And you wonder why we spend all our time there, sharing sloth gifs? The real world is a bleak, bleak place. 

Counterpoint: BOOTSTRAPS. (Never mind that some people have no boots, or the boots they were given were really shitty and the straps tore off a long time ago, or were lady boots which have silly heels that are hard to walk in, etc.) We should all be emulating Ragged Dick. (Heh.)

3. Kids! Who can understand anything they say?****
It is also true that we are destroying the fabric of this nation/economy/traditional social mores/name whatever old people like to get upset about changing. Millennials, unlike young people in the past (SARCASM), sometimes do things differently than their parents and grandparents. It's almost like emerging popular cultural trends as well as ye olde various geopolitical/socioeconomic circumstances determine both our preferences and the options available to us. So, like, maybe we can't do things the way you did, because that world doesn't exist anymore. You know?

Counterpoint: Tradition! Uphill both ways snowstorm Vietnam!

4. Standard Bearers of the Liberal Utopian Future
It is true that Millennials are into politics and are kind of liberal and shit. As we all know, I'm not personally occupying anything, but I am sympathetic. Also, sorry/not sorry so many of us are gay/don't care if you're gay/love the gays and watch too much Bravo. I'm fucking a feminist and even the women my age who reject the label believe in most of the same things I do. I'd like to believe we can usher in some kind of democratic socialist Scandinavian state, but I remain pessimistic.

Counterpoint: Get off my lawn! And get a job! But first go into tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a college degree and I will hire you to work 35 hours a week only so I don't have to give you benefits! But could you fix my computer, please?

Conclusion: Millennials are over-privileged douches who spend all their time on Farmville and don't believe in hard work and also have too many tattoos and America is going to collapse under the weight of our collective narcissism. As a 29 year-old with 2.5 advanced degrees who can't get a full-time job, I have to agree that we are all the worst, and that all link bait-y trend pieces about generational divides are true. I also texted this whole post on my iPhone that my parents pay for. While commuting on my bike.

*See: non-gendered language. FEMINIST MILLENNIAL WIN.
**Does anybody else love the word "youths"? I mean, I know Schmidt does. 
***What would poor Mark Zuckerberg have done with a Harvard degree and advanced computer programming abilities otherwise?
****I got to sing this as part of "Adult Chorus #2" in my high school production of Bye Bye Birdie. NBD.

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