I’m sick and tired of people shitting on my generation. I’m a Millennial. I’m up at 4:53 in the morning. I’d normally be working on my novel, Farisa’s Crossing, by this time– currently, I’m writing this. That’s not a story that ever gets told. According to the trope dictionary, we’re lazy, shiftless, and jobless. This is the gist of the (well-made, I’ll admit) Youtube video, “Sponsor a Millennial“.
Let’s level on this topic. Yes, there are a few insufferable hipsters who run around eating avocado brioche and doing stupid shit “for the [Insta]gram [post]”. No question. You’re going to find an insufferable 1 percent within any generation. At the upper end of the socioeconomic spectrum, you’ll find a disproportionate number of parentally-funded legacy kids with no work ethic. This isn’t new. It goes back millennia.
What has changed? In general, the Millennials got fucked. Yes, fucked. If you look at the top 1 percent of our generation, then you wouldn’t think so, because indeed there are pampered brats among us. Even if you compare the 99th percentile of our generation to that of the Boomers, then you might see disparity and it’s not in our favor, but you wouldn’t shed a tear. If you compare the 50th percentiles… don’t even get me started. If you really think that the median Millennial is sitting in a cafe munching avocado toast at 11:00 on a Tuesday morning on his parents’ dime, you’re nuts. The median Millennial is the one cleaning up the table for $10 an hour.
Everything bad that can be said about Millennials, the first post-apocalyptic generation in the U.S., can be turned around on the Boomers. Let’s take the hipster “gluten free” fetishism. Yes, it smacks of disability appropriation, which I’m generally not a fan of– you’re not “OMG soooo bipolar” because you lost your car keys. People without celiac disease have no reason not to eat gluten, but what’s the harm in this? As far as I can tell, this gluten-free craze makes life easier for people with legitimate celiac disease, who cannot eat gluten without getting very sick, and need gluten-free products. Okay, maybe you don’t like when healthy 30-year-olds claim to be “gluten-free” based on a fad, but as I said, there’s little harm in that. On the other hand, their Boomer counterparts in the Bay Area fucking kill kids by not vaccinating them. What’s worse, fake celiac or real measles?
We have Spotify Premium and kombucha; they got to buy houses in California for $80,000 that now cost $2 million, and don’t even have to pay proper taxes. I know, it’s weird. All that land that no one can afford unless they already have overpriced land… we must still deduce that it must have once been affordable, because it’s owned by someone. Crazy, right?
Really, who are the entitled assholes here?
Let’s talk about the lazy hipsters, though. They certainly exist, right? There are wealthy shirkers in every generation. Here’s the difference. In our generation, they sit in cafes and eat brioche and call themselves “artists” but don’t really have the work ethic necessary to make actual art. Yeah, I find them annoying, too. They’re apathetic and hedonistic, and they’re not even any good at the hedonism part. What about their shirker counterparts, in the Baby Boomer generation? They went to work. They had corporate jobs.
See, a Boomer could be tripping balls at Woodstock in 1969 and be a CEO’s protege in 1970 and a CEO himself in 1981. They could meander into their 30s and 40s and get their shit together in a week and have executive jobs. Meanwhile, a Millennial who doesn’t have a prestigious internship in his freshman summer in college is fucked for life. How is that fair?
Here’s what corporate life looked like for white-collar Boomers, back in the era of the three-martini lunch. You showed up at 9:45 in the morning, 10:00 if there was traffic. You worked till lunch. Your boss was your friend and he took you out for steak on the corporate account. You’d try not to drink too much, because your boss actually mentored you (he was upwardly mobile, too) and those sessions were usually in the early afternoon. If you were still actually working at 3:30, you were a real go-getter. If you were working at 6:00, executives talked about you in glowing terms and you’d be running the company one day. If you went to work and actually worked, you’d rise up the ladder, no problem. Doing any work at all was pretty much optional. You could hide in your office and do nothing for years on end. It would be noticed; you would be held accountable: you’d make Senior Vice President at 40 instead of 35. Gasp! What would happen if your friends in the Hamptons found out that you were still a VP (no S) at 38? Your kids might have to go to Princeton instead of Harvard, if you didn’t clean that up. That was Boomer corporate life.
In the Boomers’ era, you could actually live that snoozy, brunch-eating life and climb the corporate ladder. You didn’t have to choose.
One could argue that I’m being unfair. The portrait above ignores black Boomers, it ignores Boomers who died in Vietnam, it ignores working-class Boomers, it ignores immigrant Boomers, and it ignores the Boomers today who never grabbed a spot on the corporate jet and are now dying of opioid addiction in West Virginia. Fair. I don’t actually think that all Boomers are entitled assholes who had it easy, because that’s not true. My parents: great people, happened to be Boomers. You can’t paint a whole generation with one brush. That life was only available to the top 15%. Still, you’ve got to compare like against like, and if you think that bottom-85% Millennials today are sitting around in Portland drinking artisanal coffee on parental funds, then you’re a fucking idiot. What are they actually doing? Bagging your groceries, until computer programmers like me figure out a way to automate that job into oblivion, too. (Sorry! Hey, most programmers would rather be curing cancer too, but most programming jobs are just helping businessmen unemploy people.) If you compare like against like, the Boomers had it better and the Millennials got fucked.
To be honest about it, I’d rather have idle rich than any other kind of rich in the world. I think we should encourage idleness in the wealthy; as a mechanism of rotating out legacy and rotating in quality, peaceful aristocratic decline is better than violent overthrow. Let’s be honest: in the corporate world, connections trump knowledge, work ethic, talent and especially integrity (which might be a fetter). Corporate America isn’t a meritocracy; it exists to ratify an existing hereditary hierarchy. If those insufferable decliningly rich hipsters actually had the attention span necessary to sit down and work, they’d push us all down one more peg. I can ignore Instagram. Force those shitty brats to work, and they’ll become bosses. Trust me; that isn’t good for anyone.
On this topic, I should get back to work myself. Putting the “Fuck Off, World” headphones back on in 3… 2… 1….