Tag Archives: society

Can we stop saying Millennial? Please?

You know what the stupidest word in the English language is? Redonkulous. You know what the second stupidest word is? Millennial. And I’m not talking about the dictionary definition of the word, which apparently has something to do with a utopian sense of optimism. Not that you ever see or hear it used in this context. I’m talking about the way in which this word, Millennial, has been turned into a weird label for my generation.


I say my generation, like I guess I belong to a generation, or that’s what they tell me when I’m reading the newspaper, some lame article about how, “Millennials don’t like to drive cars,” or, “Millennials prefer cinnamon raison Eggos to traditional Eggos.” That’s what we do, as a society, we get together and we make up stupid brands and catchphrases for everything.

So it’s like, you’ve the Baby Boomers, right, and then you’ve got Generation X, whatever that means, and now it’s us. I remember when I first started reading stuff in the news about “our” generation, there was controversy. We weren’t yet positive that Millennial was the go-to name of everyone born in the 1980s. There was also the competing “Generation Y.”

But there must have been some sort of a secret election that nobody told me about, where everybody cast their ballots in favor of Millennial. And so that’s it. Every time you read about people in their twenties and thirties, that’s what we’re all called, Millennials.

To me anyway, it’s a whole load of nonsense. Because seriously, who is coining these dumb terms? It’s certainly not me, or anybody that I know. Yet we’re all lumped together under this lame blanket label. Is the person who came up with the name Millennial even a part of our generation?

And what good does it do to separate society into generations? It’s not like we’re all born at the same time. In trying to break off and catalog the population in regards to what year they happened to be born, aren’t we ignoring huge chunks of people living in between whichever years happen to mark the cutoff for each generation?

It just bothers me because I can already see it now, hundreds of years in the future, whoever writes textbooks will do all of their research and they’ll try to speak about life here, the life I’m living, the generation that I’m a part of. And they’ll just keep regurgitating that word, Millennial, and everybody will scratch their heads in confusion, asking themselves questions like, “Why was everybody so dumb back then? Who thought it was a good idea to nickname such a large group of people Millennials?”

Is it because we all got to collectively come of age sometime around the year 2000? I mean, I was sixteen. Did our shared sigh of relief as we realized that Y2K wasn’t going to turn our world into the dystopian wasteland of our nightmares really warrant naming our entire generation around a word that kind of sounds like millennium?

Because if that’s the case, we’ve made a huge mistake. I remember what it was like as we neared that invisible barrier that separated the 1990s from the year 2000. Everything was millennium themed. There were Gateway 2000 computers that were very popular, and they ran the Windows 2000 operating system. I remember one year for Christmas I got the Monopoly board game. Only it wasn’t regular Monopoly, it was Millennium Monopoly. I think all of the number values were multiplied by 2000. But other than that, it was basically just regular Monopoly. What does this all mean exactly?

It means exactly nothing. Because 2000 is just another number. And we’re just another generation of human beings lurching through time, making incredible technological gains, leaving further and further behind the hunter-gatherer cavemen from which we evolved, turning around and deciding to give ourselves redonkulous nicknames, like Gen-X and Millennial.

Unfortunately, it looks like this is it, it’s stuck, we’re the Millennial generation. All I can say is, if you think it’s as stupid as I do, just don’t use it. Don’t respond to it, don’t repeat it, just do your best to pretend like it doesn’t exist. Hopefully if enough people sign on, we can at least use Millennial as a dead giveaway, that anybody who uses it doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Except for this blog post. I’m using it. But that’s it, I’ve said it for the last time.

Crisis Time

I don’t believe in the crisis, in the economy, in whatever it is that’s supposed to be so bad about today, about right now, the age in which we’re living. The market tanked in 2008, everything got really bad, and we’re still trying to get out of it. That’s the narrative, right? I don’t buy it.

I think it’s all made up, a bunch of nonsense. Sure, something definitely happened. There was a housing bubble. Governments let banks do a bunch of stuff that they weren’t supposed to be doing. Lots of people lost lots of money. I’m not trying to trivialize stuff like people losing their homes of being out of work.

But crisis? Still? It’s 2013. There’s no crisis. Take two seconds out of your life and look up the Great Depression on the Internet. And then think about our “Great” recession. There weren’t any bread lines. The government didn’t have to start directly hiring its own citizens (although it should have.)

I’m just saying, this is supposedly the worst time in our nation’s history since the Great Depression. But everybody has an iPhone. Everybody’s still paying a ridiculously high monthly contract to use that iPhone. Everybody has access to the Internet. How is the crisis at all making our lives different?

Since 2008 I’ve gone to Ecuador with the Peace Corps. I came back to the US and had no trouble getting two different restaurant jobs. Things are supposed to be so bad, but there hasn’t been any decrease in the number of tourists travelling to New York to spend twenty dollars on a cheeseburger. Maybe it’s just because I live in New York, but all I see are people throwing money around, on cabs, on food, on cell phones and clothing.

By this point the crisis has to be totally manufactured. It’s good for politics. Each side came blame the other side as the reason for why things aren’t getting better. But things aren’t getting worse. I’d argue that there’s no real progress. If both sides got together and really charted a course for the future, history has shown us that there are great leaps we can take forward as a society.

And there are plenty of real problems. If we could stop fighting about how to pool our resources, we could eliminate poverty, we could commission new public works, provide higher education for everybody, even basic education. But there’s no time for that? Why? Because five years later we’re still just coming out of a recession. Right. We’re still in crisis mode. There’s no time think about anything except the immediate present.

Crisis is good for big business. Banks, conglomerates, they’re all making record profits. All while the rest of us are just kind of doing the same as we’ve always been doing. They can justify not hiring because, just like I said above, they can say, hey, things are still shaky. We’re too soon out of this mess.

I’m not going anywhere with this. I don’t like sounding preachy. I just think that the crisis is a bunch of baloney. As a species, we have the means to feed everybody on the planet, but we don’t. We have the means to help everybody get out of poverty, but we aren’t doing that. It’s too easy for us to point the finger at some imaginary mess, to say to those that aren’t doing so great, listen, you should be able to help yourself out buddy.

I’d love to see redistribution on a large scale. I’d love to see the government come in and mandate ridiculously high taxes for those hoarding all of their wealth. Because the people who have a lot, the people who have power, they aren’t using that power to make anything better for society at large. They’re stalling. They’re in the way. They cry crisis at every attempt to actually do something. Because they don’t want anything done. They have no reason to. Crisis has been good for business, great for their own bottom lines. Why change anything?

What would I do if society collapsed?

I’ve somehow managed to carve out an existence for myself. I’m alive. I’m living in a major American city. I have cash in my pocket. That’s fine. Everything’s fine. Two years ago I was waiting tables at a restaurant. One day I got bored and walked into another restaurant and now I’m waiting tables over there. Terrific. I’m in pretty good shape. I try to eat right, you know, in between binging at McDonald’s or White Castle. I run a lot. Fantastic.

But what if society were to collapse tomorrow? Let’s say zombie apocalypse. Or let’s not, because that’s kind of overdone. But imagine the same post-zombie apocalypse, just minus the zombies. Imagine no cities, no big populations of people, no societal rules, no infrastructure, no Internet. Just roving bands of human beings scavenging from site to site, occasionally coming upon another group of human beings, struggling for scarce resources, fighting for power.

All I want to do right now is to have as much of a life of leisure as possible. What would my role be in this new world? I think about this because if you look back at history, compared to the majority of homo sapiens that have walked this surface of this planet, I’m living a life of incredible luxury. Not only that, but I’m not really doing anything for it. I was born into this reality of highways and refined petroleum and microprocessors. My government sent people to the moon like twenty years before I was even born.

Here I am traipsing around, serving hamburgers to businessmen for lunch, riding my bicycle home and writing a bunch of nonsense on the Internet. If I’m hungry I go into my fridge. If I’m too lazy to put something together, I can walk down the block and buy a hot meal from like eighty-five different restaurants. If I’m even lazier I can call up any one of those eighty-five restaurants and pay somebody there to get on his bicycle and ride that food over to my place.

Boom. Nuclear war. Giant asteroid. Some sort of weird global pandemic that kills everybody shorter than six foot three. All of the sudden I’m back to my roots, back to my caveman roots. I’ll only be able to stand around in the burnt out shell of my apartment, mourning my losses, sifting through endless piles of rubble for so long before I start to get hungry. And then I’ll get really hungry. And I’ll walk through the streets and maybe I’ll run into some other people. And we’re all really hungry. And thirsty. And where do I go to the bathroom? And what do I use to clean myself off? And now I’d like to brush my teeth.

I’m not trying to make any point, except to remind myself that this humdrum life I’m living is a very pampered one. Three hundred years ago I might have been … what? What would I have been? At twenty-eight years old, I’d probably have grandkids by now. Would we all be toiling away in the fields? Constantly preparing for drought, for famine, any way to stave off the all but inevitable hunger?

Or would I even be alive? When I was a kid I had strep throat like three times. I had the chicken pox. Pink eye. In the eighth grade I had meningitis. Jesus. What about my cavities? Maybe I wouldn’t be alive. Maybe I’m not cut out for real nature, like raw pre-industrial society pre-Purell nature.

Whenever I start thinking about this, I always wind up going back even further, way back. There was definitely a time before human beings. Now there are human beings. What was the first generation of humans like? How far removed were they from the rest of the animal kingdom? What must it have been like to live as a human, as a group of human, before speech, before language was invented, before anybody had the chance to sit around and think about what’s right and what’s wrong.

No, nobody had time for reflection, because all anybody was thinking about was food, about not being hungry, about satisfying primitive needs. Was there any pleasure at all in life? What gets me crazy is that our ancestors actually had to live through that. That those experiences are all part of us, somewhere, deep down. And that if catastrophe were to strike, were somehow to erase everything that we’ve built up since then, we’d be back to some sort of a square one, a shared experience revolving around a base means of trying to stay alive.

And then I snap out of my daydream and I’m sitting here at this computer, frustrated because I can’t think of anything to write about, can’t get comfortable because the heat is too strong because it’s too cold outside. And I’m too full because I ate too big of a lunch.