Just the other day, apropos nothing in particular, my 9-year-old son declared, “All old people are crazy.” After I put down my walking stick and took a hearty sip from my glass of Metamucil, I asked my kid to elaborate.
“First, old people always talk about how great everything was in the past,” my son said. And I was all, “I guess the past was awight? We had Napster and Friendster, so ...” And my son was all, “How great could the past have been when there was no wifi or Minecraft!?!” And I was all, “True dat.”
“Second, old people always tell young people what we’re thinking and what we like, but they have no idea what we’re thinking or what we like!!!” And I was all, “My guess is that you’re thinking about wifi and that you like Minecraft.” And my son was all, “Lucky guesses.” And I was all, “I work in marketing, natch.”
While my son is a generation removed from Millennials, his Generation Z sentiments echo a growing chorus of young’uns who’ve had it—officially—with the olds. And who can blame Millennials for their fatigue of the olds and our judge-y ways? And by the olds, I mean anyone born before 1980. And by our judge-y ways, I mean old people’s seemingly insatiable appetites for dissecting, analyzing and critiquing every Millennial move and motivation.
It’s no secret that the olds simply can’t stop talking about, writing about, obsessing about Millennials. And by Millennials, I mean anyone born between 1980 and 2000. You know, young people who represent the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, whose spending power will reach $200 billion annually (starting in 2017) and peak at $10 trillion in their lifetimes. Cuz every article about Millennials requires a definition of who they are, how big they are and how scary they are. Fact.
All of this forced attention on youth and preoccupation with Millennials is enough to drive young people (and some of the olds, TBQH) to apoplexy. Like, can any single generation be so easily characterized with such broad strokes as the Millennial generation has been? It’s not as if Baby Boomers or Gen Xers were labelled as self-absorbed, directionless narcissists back in the day. Oh, wait.
Can we be totally honest for a sec? All of this Millennial Mania and the often-cartoon depictions of who they are and what they like has less to do with actual people behind the demographic trends and proclamations, and more to do with just selling lotsa stuff to yet another consumer group. Truth is, no individual in any given generation is gonna be completely in lockstep with what #ManyPeopleAreSaying about them, no matter how many people are saying it.
ICYMI, the sharpest rebuke from the “you don’t know me” fight against gross generalization of an entire generation comes courtesy of writer Amanda Rosenberg, who published a list of news headlines with the term “Millennials” replaced with “43-Year-Old White Men.” It’s totally genius.
While I don’t completely agree with my son’s declaration that all old people are crazy, I do think he’s onto something. After all, the olds’ know-it-all attitude and penchant to wax nostalgic about the great past is so totally annoying, even for some of us olds. Meanwhile, Millennials who hem and haw about not wanting to be put into such a narrowly defined box need to calm down. In a few short years, we’ll all be talking about, writing about, obsessing about Gen Z and their bothersome Gen Z ways.
Who’ll get the last laugh now, son of mine?