“Can you believe kids these days? This millennial I work with only worked there for three months and he’s already off to a new job. Can you believe that? The rapscallion didn’t even give two weeks’ notice!”
We’ve all heard our parents have these conversations. They guffaw at the nameless office drone pulling up stakes and heading to greener pastures. This is big britches coming from the OG “Me Generation.” They most certainly don’t know the offender leaving’s name as this process takes roughly two years but will certainly complain because they were just getting comfortable with Justin. Or was it Jared? Might not even been a “J” name. And by comfortable, you know your dad meant the Millennial that was your pop’s go-to for fixing his computer.
The term “Millennial” comes from the Latin term “one who knows technology.” This is a lazy term for anyone that is “younger” as millennials are largely graduated from college and in the work force. I’m in the “not a girl yet not a woman age” category. For those missing the reference, I’m right smack in the middle of Millennialdom, at the ripe age of 30.
I’ve been recognizing more and more the generational culture war that’s been raging for quite some time. The newest generation, known as “Zoomers”, which by the way is insanely stupid and firmly in second place to worst generational names (Millennial naturally being first), is starting to come of age. This means that sometimes the metaphorical crosshairs aren’t firmly on us, as the Mike Huckabee-tier dunk attempts sometimes drift towards the Tide Pod generation.
It always seems to be mixed signals with these people. They got away with a lot before “the Facebook” was a thing. However, they never miss a chance to let you know of the various times that if there were camera phones back “when they were young” that “they’d be in a lot of trouble.” My family talks at length about the various times that they got caught doing something, like driving home drunk, or that the cop they went to high school with or knew their family would follow them home. And now with the recent string of racist yearbooks coming out of the woodworks, it makes you wonder what the fuck everyone was doing back then.
In a way, our generation is the call response to our parents. The ethos, “I got through it and I worked out fine” is as old as time. As a society, we used to subsidize education significantly more through tax dollars. The dollar went a lot further and inflation isn’t the motherfucker that it is today. One of my favorite tropes in the world is the oft parroted, “I worked through college and had no debt” like it’s some sort of badge of honor. When discussing this concept, I bring up a tidbit from, “The Myth of Working Your Way Through College.” It’s a great read but what is insane to me is that in a world where we must often “think of the children,” our very own parents decided to in fact, not think of us. Case in point:
A credit hour in 1979 at MSU (Michigan State University) was $24.50, adjusted for inflation that is 79.23 in today dollars. One credit hour there today costs 428.75.
As we watch our parents grapple with getting older and losing influence, I feel bad for them. If there’s one thing in the world that Boomers hate more than anything, it is not being in power. By this I mean they are getting old. Boomers have been at the center of the world for quite some time, as they are the majority. Like Roundup, their political capital and pure numbers overwhelmed anything that went against their Neoliberal ways. All the advantages in the world from living cannot take away that no one is getting younger and it kills them, literally and metaphorically.
As we watch boomers enter AARP kicking and screaming, I’ve made peace that they don’t hate Millennials. Their vitriol for anyone younger is not personal. They hate everything that wasn’t the heyday that they grew up in, and it’s hard to blame them. They got to have their cake and eat it too. They grew up in one of the best times to be alive. Post-World War II-America was one of the most prosperous times in history through no work of their own. By virtue of being born during a time when America’s industrial might wasn’t outsourced to slave labor in Asia, our hedonistic parents could afford McMansions. They could enjoy cheap gasoline, afford college flipping burgers and not be ashamed of disco. They could be Flower Children and then outlaw all the fun drugs in the name of public safety.
Our generation has eroded many of the tenets that made Boomers feel great. We’ve bilked from chain restaurants to eat better quality food from local places. We’ve dismantled the idea of not talking to or getting in cars with strangers thanks to the internet and Uber/Lyft. I feel like an archaeologist, giving wonder to the Boomers when they ask if I can read their cursive (I can). My cellphone doubles as the calculator I was told I’d never be able to use. The very fabric and foundation of their world is collapsing, yet we are to blame. The most ironic tenet is to “not believe everything you read on the internet,” yet they share stuff on the internet with wanton disregard. The irony is so great, it verges on satirical as is they get sooooooo close to realizing that they in fact, raised the very same generation they bemoan but that little factoid seems to always elude them.
Whether we like it or not, there’s still another few years that Boomers can cling on and hold the world hostage. I don’t hate them as they are our parents, family and coworkers, but it’s amazing how hard it is for them move aside and go hand out Werther’s Originals. I long for the days when we hear the mighty death knell tolling and while today is not that day, it’s coming. It’ll happen to us one day but I hope we can bow out with grace.
I guess no one took Roger Daltrey serious, not even himself when he sang, “I hope I die before I get old.”