Are Millennials Actually Killing Abstract Concepts? Let’s Find Out!

“Millennials are killing” is a stupid meme, yes. But it’s also shorthand for “an industry is suddenly dying and we’ve got no idea why.” So it might be worth looking at whether or not Millennials are actually killing an industry, and if they are killing it, why.

So are Millennials killing…

Vacations!

The Case: This is the one I’m starting with because it’s kind of fascinating. People are begging Millennials to take vacation days. Which they are, but apparently people are doing it wrong.

Guilty?: Nah. This is anecdotal, but I started working when I was fourteen. At 22, I officially entered the workforce in a temp job that would surely become permanent. I wound up being a temp for nearly a decade, and then a freelancer for years, before landing a job that gave me time off for any reason, let alone pleasure. My experience, I suspect, is fairly common. Can’t kill something if you don’t have it!

Wine!

A second piece worth reading, because despite the terrible headline, Rick Vansickle points out the problem the wine industry has with Millennials is that basically, Millennials are seeing through the wine industry’s bullshit, in part because they want to get tanked more cheaply. Good work, Mr. Vansickle, and keep it up.

Banks!

A third piece worth looking at, again with an awful title, simply points out the obvious: Millennials don’t trust banks, banks are slow to accept that Millennials have different needs and thus need different products, and banks need to get with the program or they’ll be replaced by startups. I’d argue but I go inside a bank maybe twice a year and view walking to my local bank, less than ten minutes away, as an ungodly pain in the ass, so they have a point.

The European Union!

The Case: From The National Interest: Similarly, from free movement of people, to cheaper roaming charges to, these days, the European football tournament, the Erasmus generation has dignified low private interests and desires with an aura of European moralism.

Guilty?: Basically this guy is whining that younger Brits like the European Union because it means they pay less for stuff. Why, precisely, they might be interested in paying less for stuff and the free movement across borders for jobs never seems to come up. I wonder why!

Foot Races!

I won’t link to the case, because it’s behind a Wall Street Journal paywall, but Advisory Board has a smart rebuttal outlining that as costs rise, Millennials, who are broke, prefer to just not run in foot races.

Wine Corks!

The Case: From The Atlantic: Patrick Spencer, the executive director of the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, an organization working to preserve the Mediterranean cork forests and their inhabitants, believes that misinformation about cork — prevalent at a time when many Millennials came of drinking age — helped erode the material’s popularity. “At the turn of the century, probably 85 percent of all wines were still sealed with natural cork,” Spencer told me. “This is also the time when the rumors about cutting the cork trees down, cork shortage, and wine spoilage of 10 percent (due to natural corks) began to surface.”

Guilty?: See above re: Millennials and wine industry bullshit. What makes this annoying is most of the article is a quite fascinating read about how a stodgy industry slowly accepts new technology and ideas, and basically corkmakers are angry people just want to crack open a twist-off for their booze. “What about tradition!” Meh, let the trees keep their bark.

Marketing!

The most commonly shared piece is this one about focus groups, and in the interest of full disclosure, I was formerly employed in marketing at my current job and I worked in HR for Sonos before that job. But basically all these pieces share the same narrative: Millennials know how advertising works, and easily outwit marketing departments, and thus they are “dumb kids.”

Call Centers!

You know what? Nah. I’m not even linking through to this one. Anybody who has ever worked a phone job knows it sucks. Millennials don’t magically get the blame because they hate it too.

Work In General

Again, there are more thinkpieces on this than I can possibly link, ranging from how Millennials don’t like the traditional 9-to-5 workday (does anybody, though?), their bosses (I mean, I like MY bosses but I know I’m the exception here), to working from an office, and my personal response is that I’ve never worked a job where I absolutely had to ride a bus to a giant box of air to sit in a cubicle. Maybe how we work was invented before the internet and computers as necessary life appliances and it’s just kind of dumb? Have we considered that option at all?

Cereal!

Yeah, I wrote a defense of this one, but the reality is the cereal industry just said “Oh, kids today eat breakfast on the go! We’d better make something they can eat!” and columnists got pissed when they interpreted that as kids refusing to do dishes.

J. Crew

The Case: From Nylon (and a tip of the hat to Jim Avery): While there were undoubtedly many heads to the serpent which killed J. Crew, this particular hydra’s body seems to consist primarily of one thing: millennials. Comprising the largest population bloc in the U.S., and with estimable spending potential, millennials have become notorious for their ability — and willingness — to send long-established brands into an economic free fall, frequently leading to their demise. And J. Crew appears to be the latest victim.

Guilty?: As you might have guessed from the excerpt, it turns out that J. Crew is being killed by the general malaise facing retail and a refusal to update its look.

Dating!

The Case: From SheKnows: The hookup culture has been on the rise for the past several years, as more millennials come into adulthood. However, now it seems to be threatening the most basic form of commitment — the relationship.

Guilty: Hookup culture is bullshit, and the demographics straight Millennial women face suck, so no, this one’s not on Millennials. Blame the parents who didn’t make their teenage boys learn about feminism or go to college. Who can fault women who don’t want to date a dumbfuck who thinks they’re “lesser” because they’re not a “brogrammer?”

Bar Soap!

The Case: From Money-Ish: According to research firm Mintel there are a few reasons bar soap sales dropped 2.2% from 2014 to 2015. Millennials are under the impression that bar soap is covered in germs (yuck!) and it’s inconvenient to use. The firm also blames falling suds sales on the insurgence of moisturizing products on the market.

Guilty?: A 2.2% drop? Fuck off. That’s a scab, not a mortal wound.

Golf!

The Case: From Forbes: The National Golf Foundation said there were 400,000 fewer golfers in 2013, with 200,000 of the decline coming from Millennials. Since Millennials represent 25% of the nation’s population, this decline is devastating to the sport. The piece goes on to suggest that Millennials find golf boring, time-consuming, snobby, racist, expensive and too complicated.

Guilty?: “Expensive” seems to be the key word here. Also, Millennials tend to be urban, so they have to travel to golf courses. Golf seems to be dying because it was built on a vary narrow little pinnacle around a very specific set of social circumstances that are increasingly no longer true, not because Millennials want its head.

The Dinner Date!

The Case: From The New York Post: Only 7 in 10,000 messages in a recent OkCupid IAC survey suggested “grabbing some dinner” and a somewhat less scientific survey this reporter conducted of several dozen actively dating 20-somethings found that dinner has become a highly taboo first date.

Guilty?: First of all, why is the coffee date suddenly so unacceptable? I haven’t dated in a decade and the coffee date is a fine, acceptable first date. Secondly, of course people don’t go to dinner on the first date with an internet rando. Coffee is enough to know if a dinner date is worth it. Stop insisting life is like a sitcom!

Movies!

The Case: From The New York Post: The number of ticket buyers ages 12 to 17 fell to 5.3 million in 2015, down from 5.5 million in each of the two previous years. That figure is also down from 6.3 million in 2012, according to numbers from the Motion Picture Association of America.

There was an even bigger drop-off among moviegoers ages 18 to 24 years. Over the past three years, that group fell by more than one-third, to 5.7 million last year, down from 8.7 million in 2102.

Guilty?: Let’s see here, the sixth Alien movie, the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie (which Disney only made because of tax incentives anyway), the third attempt to launch a franchise from a movie before even the Boomers were born, wow, it’s almost like Hollywood is struggling to balance making a movie broad enough for the international box office while appealing to American audiences and failing, especially since there’s so much great TV and that’s cheaper! Also considering the success of Wonder Woman and Get Out, I’d argue that there’s an If You Build It They Will Come effect going on here. Make movies Millennials want to see and Millennials will watch them!

Fashion!

Again, more than I can link, but basically, we really just need to explain that most Millennials are not little Boden or little Awnsley and don’t have $10,000 to spend on a goddamn outfit. There’s a basic failure to grasp all Millennials are not, in fact, the children of affluent op-ed columnists that pervades a lot of these pieces.

Gambling!

Also not worth it. Millennials have no money and realized gambling is a scam. NEXT!

Napkins!

The Case: From The Washington Post: In a February survey, only 56 percent of consumers said they had purchased paper napkins in the past six months, while 86 percent purchased paper towels. The survey, by marketing intelligence agency Mintel, indicated that economizing consumers saw paper napkins as replaceable by other products, whether paper towels or cloth.

Guilty?: So, basically, people realized paper napkins were wasteful and a scam? And this is bad how?

Manners!

The Case: From The Unwritten: Working at Panera means I come in contact with a lot of different people, and what shocks me the most is how rude people can be. Anyone in the food industry, retail, or any customer service industry knows what I’m talking about. There is no excuse for rudeness. Even if you’ve had a horrible day, you’re in a rush, or whatever other excuse you want to justify your actions with, it does not give you the right to be rude.

Being rude is a cop-out to not take the time to have a conversation with someone.

Guilty?: There’s no data to analyze here, since it’s all anecdotal, but I will make a point here, in that I will happily say please and thank you to service industry workers, but I don’t want to get into a conversation with a total stranger. Ever. You want directions? Happy to help! You want to know if the restaurant is any good? Sure! You want to talk to me about your opinions? NOPE. That’s what Medium is for!

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