Greetings, dearest readers, and welcome back to Millennials Monthly, KQED’s regular roundup of news about Millennials, for Millennials — featuring Millennial-friendly commentary by yours truly: a living, breathing Millennial. And what a month it has been.
When all is said and done, February 2016 was one of the most Millennial-saturated months in recent memory, if one is gauging by the number of times Millennials were blamed for the failings of entire industries — or simply wedged into headlines for the sake of search engine optimization.
As we discussed last month, one of the main issues with news stories about my generational cohort is the fact that no one has decided exactly what years the word “Millennial” encompasses. By most accounts, though, it’s a much larger and more diverse group of people than any of the cutely named generations that preceded it — so most studies declaring that Millennials as a monolith do anything more or less than other generations are essentially meaningless.
But hey, I get it! The national hunger for trend stories is satiated by neither subtlety nor nuance. No, that particular stomach grumble demands approximately 4,000 different stories about breakfast cereal to quiet down.
Which is why, in February 2016, we learned that Millennials are…
Killing Toucan Sam because we can’t handle washing cereal bowls. We Millennials are busy. We like things on-the-go, you see; and that means the market must cave to our desire to mainline nutritional sustenance directly out of squeeze bottles and into our faces while we’re busy tweeting in our Lyfts. This is the entire explanation for Go-Gurt, as far as I can tell, which was born in 1999 so I’m pretty sure it’s a Millennial.
Given today’s break-neck breakfast atmosphere, who has time to wash an entire bowl after eating cereal out of it? (Other reasons for the industry’s downturn, like better education about refined sugars and the massive gluten-free movement, take a backseat to this “lazy as sh*t” explanation.) Best line: “Like many people her age, she thinks of cereal more as a creative outlet or a way to dip into the past than as breakfast.”
Actually really into bowls, though. As long as they’re “power bowls,” that is! Hot, skinny Millennials in major metropolitan places are all about eating out of bowls, apparently. They just have to be filled with the right ingredients, which according to this New York Post piece include “whole grains, lots of vegetables, some type of protein, some type of crunch, [and] a really amazing dressing.” Best line: “…hardcore health restaurants with ‘hippie vibes’ have had such offerings for years. Now bowls have gone mainstream.”
Publishing open letters faster and with less substance than ever before. In a debacle that will hopefully go down in history as the Great Millennial Open Letter Epidemic of February 2016, 25-year-old Yelp employee and certified Millennial Talia Jane published a note to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, decrying the low wages and dashed dreams that have accompanied her employment at the San Francisco company. Talia was promptly fired.
The backlash was swift, merciless and click-hungry. Business Insider published this response about work ethic from a 29-year-old who detailed her unique Millennial journey with bartending to make money before transitioning into screenwriting. Forbes published this screed for Millennials and managers, penned by a Millennial who chose to remain ageless. GQ went meta while still getting the word “Millennial” in the headline with this piece, an open letter to Millennials about open letters, written by yet another 25-year-old Millennial. Do you have a headache yet?
Really lonely, and using apps to find friends. The good news, if you lose all your friends by publishing a poorly thought-out open letter that goes viral, is that apps are here to help. “We’re the first ones to commodify friendship,” says 26-year-old and bona fide Millennial Clay Kohut, who started an app called Ameego. Cool!(??)
Threatening to kill wine corks. It’s ok! Don’t call 9-1-1 just yet! The cork industry is poised to make a comeback — no thanks to us, though: “Much of cork’s current struggle can be attributed to one group in particular: Millennial wine drinkers, a generation that has less of an allegiance to traditional cork closures.” Yeah, you heard me. We’re talking closure allegiances. Maybe get some, you spineless wino.
Dreading doing our taxes. ‘Wait, doesn’t everyone dread tax time?’ you might wonder. The answer is yes, of course, but that’s not a headline-worthy study result! Whereas this Millennial-focused outcome, based on conclusions by NerdWallet, is full of fun stats like “we like mailing in paper tax forms more than people might expect based on the fact that we know how to use the Internet.”
Best line: “In some ways, it makes sense: Millennials tend to have less experience with a deeply confusing tax code, less cash to seek professional help and less need for the more complicated returns that having children or a mortgage can bring.” (Ed. note: That is all of the ways. It makes sense in all of the ways.)
Changing jobs constantly. Which might, now that I think about it, have something to do with the whole tax process feeling overwhelming. According to Bloomberg Business, this trend should definitely not be placed in the context of the massive market crash that took place just as we came of age, nor the fact that many of the jobs we aimed for after being told we could “be anything” have dried up in the face of changing technology. Nope. We’re just “disloyal.”
To blame for the fact that Whole Foods is mulling in-store tattoo parlors. Because nothing says “I’m a hip young rebellious person who thinks for myself” like spending the rest of your life telling people you got your tattoo near the olive bar, surrounded by screaming babies and soccer moms.
So: What’d I miss? My fellow Millennials, does any of this Millennial-focused #content ring true for you? Who’s quitting their job this week? Who’s skipping that step entirely and just getting fired by publishing immediately regrettable letters on Medium? Is anyone else suddenly really craving some Frosted Flakes?
See ya next month, kiddos. Stay Millennial out there.