The old woman closed her computer on another article about Vine, or perhaps Vine Stars, shaking her fist at the sky. “You silly millennials," she said. "With your wishful memories of Delia’s catalogs and your Netflix television reunions!”
The old woman, in this case, is me.
I am a millennial, in the way that I was born in 1988, but I like to think it is by definition only. I try to distance myself from the word, the very same way I tried to distance myself from the word hipster when I moved to (non-colonial) Williamsburg. And it worked. Now, only people who are shockingly unaware call themselves hipsters, or they are being funny, or they are old people describing young people who wear hats indoors.
I think the same needs to be done to the word millennial. It feels about time we all throw it in a trash can. The word millennial doesn’t just mean that you were born at a time that makes The People v OJ Simpson a relevant television series for you. It’s a way for older people to lump us younger people together so they can talk about how horrible we are at doing everything. I know this because people say it to my face: Millenials have a terrible reputation. They don’t work hard. Do you? Yes. I don’t know. Sometimes, I want to sit in bed all day. I promise you, I do not speak for my entire generation, in the same way that the show Girls isn't about all girls.
When you see the word millennial, what do you think about? People who make it work in an economy that was awful and is now getting a little better? Young people who have made their own way? Cool kids who know how to code and are outspoken about political and social issues? No way. It mostly signifies you are about to read the following think pieces: something on the awful work ethic of anyone in their twenties, something about wine or Starbucks, something about laziness, something about the way we consume technology, something awful that beats the nostalgia of 2002 with a broom until Britney Spears cries.
We’ve had enough. We’ve ruined the word. You can’t just be 26 anymore. You have to be 26 with an opinion about whether or not to travel before 30. You have to have the word “connectivity” and “social media” engraved on your arm. You have to know how to code, or backpack, or comment on the way people date and meet on the Internet. It's awful.
Most of the "millenials" I know are a variety of different personalities, and aren't indicative of what's written about them. Cue the listicle about the millennial that is so far removed from reality that I wonder if the person who wrote it has time traveled from 1863 and just read about 20-somethings online. Tinder! Startups! Oh my!
So what if we just threw the word out? What if we stopped saying it? Would business magazines have to scrap their upcoming issues about Millennials in Silicon Valley? Would lists about M&M’s that you could buy in 2004 disappear? Would you be able to be 25 and live without people asking you if you’re having some kind of crisis? Would you be able to just get a damn job and work to get some paper without people accosting you?
Yes. And frankly, that is just the way I want it to be.