Opinion

How all of you made me hate being a millennial

Thanks a lot, everyone

I don't wish I was a Baby Boomer. I don't pine to be a member of Generation X. I definitely wouldn't fit in as a Founder, mostly because I have no idea how to work Snapchat. I don't think the Silent Generation or Greatest Generation is for me, either. How about the Victorian Era? Absolutely not.

I can say this much for sure, though: Being a millennial is the worst.

Why? Because even though many of us are adults now, the world is still talking down to us.

I'm not alone. A lot of people really hate it. Three out of five Americans in my generation actually don't even want you to call them millennials, Pew Research recently found. In fact, a same-aged friend of mine wisely uses a Chrome extension to change the word "millennial" in articles to "snake person" because it's usually more honest about what the writer is trying to say.

Millennials get blamed for killing everything from napkins to movies. If you were to run a word association test with the word "millennial," you would probably hear "lazy," "spoiled," and "entitled" a lot, but also inane feel-good phrases like "tolerant" or "'90s nostalgia."

You might really hate millennials. But trust me: Being one is even worse.

Exhibit A: Mic, a "media company that targets millennials," recently launched a painfully hip website to get young people to vote. It's called 69 the Vote. The website uses a fake SMS conversation to convey information like, "Just because boomers have always been on top doesn't mean we can't turn things around and insert ourselves into this narrative. It's time to stop accepting the same old positions and try new things." If that sounds sexual, it's because it's supposed to. (Although haven't you heard? Millennials also don't have sex).

One would assume by looking at 69 the Vote that millennials can't read actual blocks of text, or anything that isn't littered with GIFs, sex jokes, or explained at a fourth-grade reading level. But it doesn't stop there; appealing to young people this election season, Hillary Clinton has invited supporters to tweet emojis to describe how their student debt makes them feel.

Being talked to this way is insulting. And it backfires. We see right through it, old people.

While advertisers and politicians awkwardly attempt to attract millennials, "talking down" extends to the brands that are a part of our everyday lives, like Seamless and Yelp. As Jesse Barron writes in a fantastic piece for Real Life:

All over the city Seamless belittles me. "Let someone who can spell baba ghanoush make it," says a billboard in Tribeca. There was a time when you moved to New York to become worldly, but Seamless doesn't think Tribeca residents can spell what they eat, nor that they can be bothered learning how. The vision of the Seamless cosmopolitan is a guy typing random consonants into his iPhone until an immigrant comes to his door with an appetizer platter.

If Seamless doesn't believe I can spell what I eat, Yelp doesn't think I know where to get it, or when I want it. Logging on at 4 p.m. to find a liquor store, I find the app suggesting an afternoon snack. Have I eaten? Maybe Yelp is my mother.

Yelp's identity is anchored by its pull-to-refresh icon, a little hamster in a rocket ship. This hamster has a name. It's Hammy. While you are refreshing a page of search results, Hammy does a side-to-side dance, and then the rocket blasts off toward the top of the screen ... Who is the person who enjoys this? [Real Life]

Yes, who? That's just it: Millennials are actually pretty grown up now. Many of us have graduated from college. Lots of us are engaged, married, or expecting a first or second child. We can drink, vote, pay off student loans, rent cars, make dinner, and manage not to kill off all our house plants. We might live at home, choose not to get married, or participate actively in the sharing economy, but none of these decisions mean a stunted state of growth or intellect — just an evolving culture and worldview.

Advertising and the so-called "millennial caricature" haven't grown up with us, which often leads to cringe-inducing moments in commercials or political campaigns. One recent ad run by the Republican National Committee meant to appeal to millennials "was, it appears, made by a madman who had once been to a Starbucks and did not like it," Esquire writes.

"Millennials ... got a reprimand in the form of an advertisement aimed at them," Esquire goes on. "Instead of getting listened to, they got caricatured. Even when the messaging is done right, [millennials are] being marketed at, not catered to."

Ultimately we are shaped by the world around us. I am a product of GIFs, Girls, and Grumpy Cat TV movies and I frequently tweet "TFW" and write long, confessional personal essays. This is the cultural currency of my generation. But at a certain point, we don't have room to grow because subway ads are still hissing "YAAAAAS" at us with no clue about what it means. Rather than wanting to fill out my ballot, the command to "69 the Vote" makes me groan and close the window.

I am proud to be a member of a generation that is going to change the world. But I want a little respect for us snake people. We know how to read. We don't need an article about Russia invading Ukraine to be translated into GIFs from The Hills in order to understand it.

Speaking to millennials is a billion-dollar business. So let me in on a little secret: We're actually pretty great.

Let's talk about it sometime. Like grown-ups.

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