It's my own fault, really, for being such an avid reader of "trend pieces." You know the kind: "Eat kale as a substitute for potato chips," "Vomit into health with CrossFit," and "Twerk your way to a happier holiday season."
A big trend you might have read about recently is how much the millennial generation sucks. Roughly categorized as people born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, millennials are carrying on the grand human tradition of annoying people slightly older than them. Frequently described as immature, entitled, overly dependent on technology and materialistic, millennials are the most hated group of young people since Gen X slacked their apathetic way into America's hearts.
This description of millennials bothers me on a very personal level. No, not the insults to our moral and ethical fortitude; it's the fact that I, a grown woman who is almost 30 years old, am lumped into the same category as people who don't even remember 9/11! Maybe it's some kind of narcissistic reverse vanity taking over — a "millennial" trait if ever there was one — but in the words of a popular film from 1987, a year I actually remember, "I'm too old for this shit."
For instance: I have a 401k, get excited about low car insurance premiums, and plan on splurging on some seasonal hand towels this year. None of these feel like particularly immature landmarks. They may not scream "LEGITIMATE ADULT" like the tag-team of marriage and kids, but frankly, to harangue a group of young people as being too young is a little unfair. I also feel this criticism assumes that the word "immature" means the same thing as "brat." Laura Ingalls is immature; Nellie Olsen is a brat. See the difference? (Millennial readers: Ask a parent or trusted adult to explain those references.)
As for being entitled, well, it depends on what one means by "entitled." I might not be 100 percent qualified to speak for or against my generation here, as I'm inclined toward socialism and the like. I genuinely believe everyone is "entitled" to a job, a fair wage, time off, health care and a good education, not to mention a strong social safety net as the first line of defense against poverty. But if you mean feeling "entitled" to a jetpack, then no, I don't think anyone is particularly "entitled" to such a thing. (Not at this moment, anyway ... but maybe when the technology advances a little further.)
Speaking of technology, the vast majority of my childhood was lived without a computer. I worry — legitimately worry — about how much information some kids put online. But we're all tech-dependent now, and by the way, it wasn't millennials who invented this technology. It was your nerdier boomers and Gen-Xers who paved the way toward our bright, shining, backlit futures. And call me old-fashioned, but it isn't exactly cool to brag about ignorance, even if that ignorance is tech-related.
I'll cop to being materialistic, though I don't think that's a generational problem so much as a human one. You shouldn't make it your religion, you shouldn't make it the sole purpose of your life, but come on. Are you telling me only people ages 15-35 want nice things? No sports car was invented before millennials learned to drive, you know. Luxury fashion didn't exist until 2005. And truly, this new millennial concept of "vacations" has swept the world by storm. Just because some fancy things are new doesn't make them inherently immoral. Are you telling me a kid from 1925 wouldn't have saved up his nickels for an iPad, if he had the chance? Come on.
Knee-jerk defensiveness aside, I still can't totally relate to my generation. Too young for Gen X, too old for Gen Y. I get weirdly angry at Buzzfeed articles that try to say The Angry Beavers was as good as, say, David the Gnome. But you know, my mom has it even worse. She qualifies as a "baby boomer" even though she was born in the early 1960s. Can she really be counted as part of a post-war sex-having "boom" if my grandparents were actual children during WWII? Can all of my generation's annoyances with boomers (and there are many annoyances) really involve someone who graduated high school when Urban Cowboy fever was sweeping the nation?
So please, give some consideration to us poor outliers. We're going to have to muddle through hundreds of think pieces and trend pieces and finger-wagging admonishments over circumstances we were either born or raised with, or that straight-up may not apply to us at all! And besides, it'll be another 10 years at least before we can write the trend pieces about how much we hate those children nowadays, flying those damn jetpacks everywhere. We didn't have jetpacks when I was their age.
Email arts@ nashvillescene.com.