Schadenfreude would be more fun if it didn’t mean I am, for all intents and purposes, already dead at 44. Well, I was considered “too old” for my former industry (journalism) at 32. But also too young. It’s a long story. Short version: watching the same people who thought 30 was ancient then stagger into their 30s with the bodies of 60-year-olds amuses me beyond belief.
When I was starving half to death through the recession that ate my mid-30s, Millennials used to bug the hell out of me… not because they were on my lawn (believe me you, when I was in my mid-30s I did not have a lawn, or even access to a roof deck), but because they were suddenly being handed all the jobs for which I’d painstakingly apprenticed throughout my own 20s, on a silver platter made of bohemian Baby Boomers hanging onto their jobs and illusion of with-it-ness till the last minute and then hiring the youngest possible people, because only a really hip person could replace someone so cool. (That’s a pretty complicated platter, but what is a metaphor if not a wood chipper?)
What I didn’t think all the way through at the time was how badly they stood to get bit by the very forces that had raised them up to assistant editorships at Buzzfeed before they’d paid their dues. These were the exact same forces that have eventually conspired to dash their stupid hopes. Yup, you worked at Buzzfeed at 21. Now Buzzfeed is laying off hundreds of useless bleaters, some branches’ founding editors. Twitter was a bubble and the cracks are showing. Instagram will betray you unless you’re pretty. And your elders don’t care about you.
You shoved us onto the railroad tracks and laughed. Don’t expect much by way of compassion.
Fortunately, your juniors are a lot more fun. I recently was in a group living situation with a Gen-Z’er from Gambia who refused to learn the resident whinging Millennial’s name. He just called her “the complaining lady.”
I like these kids.
I also like “kids” in their early 30s who were raised by older people, a bit more in an old-fashioned (read: no helicopter parents, no being asked what kind of sushi they want when they’re toddlers) kind of way. They are the age of Millennials, but they’re something different. They read like Gen-Xers or Gen-Zers… or just timeless. Maybe I should stop talking about this shit.
Don’t be a walking stereotype, don’t be utterly self-centered, and the kids will be all right.