THE MYTH OF THE MILLENNIAL

by Jonathan Lee

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The Five Worst Millennial Clickbait Headlines That You Just Won’t Believe.

Horrific isn’t it.

I was recently asked what my biggest pet peeve is about the way people talk about my generation. Perhaps the phrase pet peeve is one of my pet peeves. Maybe the fact that even the words – pet peeve – make me cringe, may say something about me and my reluctant membership of Generation Y.

I’m aware that I’m writing in the first person, the calling card of the millennial. (I’ve also become hyper aware of the words pet peeve, to the point where they have lost all meaning).

Let me state early on that I don’t mean to personally unfriend myself from the millennial generation in writing this article. Nobody loves millennials more than I do, believe me, I have many millennial friends. Also, being born roughly in the middle of the 1980 – 2000 date range for Generation Y, I am in some sense, as millennial as they come.

So my credentials aside (I wouldn’t want to steal voice from anyone), what is my biggest pet peeve about the way people talk about my generation?

Most people I know around my age will go to considerable lengths to distance themselves from the millennial label.

I could write an embittered and sarcastic piece about the way my generation is mocked and satired by the previous one. About how the boomers are always telling millennials how work-shy, entitled and pretentious we are with our avocado toast, crippling student debt, curated Instagram feeds and third jobs. But honestly, this isn’t my biggest pet peeve about the way people write about my generation… plus I could just put all that in a meme.

No, what irritates me more is the idea that my generation exists in the first place. I dislike the grouping of my generation with one wide brush stroke into the category: millennial.

No one likes labels. Most people I know around my age will go to considerable lengths to distance themselves from the millennial label. Because if we’re honest, not many of us millennials particularly identify with many of the traits ascribed to us. In a wonderfully millennially ironic way, everyone wants to not be associated with any of the epitomizing attributes of our generation. It’s true this could be said of most groups – no one likes a stereotype – especially if they see a glimpse of themselves in it. In the case of millennials however, I think the reluctance to identify is more than this. I believe it’s because there is no such thing as a millennial.

My generation is more polarized, more disparate, and more fragmented than perhaps any other in the last fifty years.

Not in the sense of a generational identity anyway. My generation is more polarized, more disparate, and more fragmented than perhaps any other in the last fifty years. Our single generation has seen the mainstreaming of feminism, alongside Red Pill normalised “Men’s Rights” groups. The rise of genuine protest against institutional racism, while neo-Nazis and far-right paramilitaries march on our streets. The growth of the Alt-Right, the counter-surge for Antifa. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage. Wars on drugs and blanket legalization. Brexit. Immigration, refugees. Unionists, separatists.

If you Google “millennials are more”, it will suggest: educated, conservative, liberal, racist, diverse, narcissistic, socialist, open minded. To say that we are some sort of amorphous, homogenized group, blindly following trends, retreating into our safe spaces, and hypocritically shutting down dissenting opinions in the name of our one true religion – ‘political correctness’ – only describes a fraction of us. My generation are also partly responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, for the rise of nationalism across Europe, and for the securitisation of the internet.

The millennial is a myth. My generation have nothing in common with each other.

Featured image: Blogtrepeneur / Flickr (Creative Commons License). Attribution.


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