What do millennials and sunflower seeds have in common?
My grandmother has always been kind of obssessed with cleanliness. She used to wake up at 4am, wash the windows, dust the furniture, iron every piece of cloth she could find in the house, from sheets to handkerchiefs and socks. And when she was done, she started washing and sweeping the stairs and the whole building’s hallway.
In her youth, before Communists moved everyone to crowded blocks of flats, she lived in the countryside, where women finished their chores before noon to avoid the burning sun.
There wasn’t the case anymore, but there she was: all chores done and heavy eyelids by 12pm, wishing for a well-deserved nap. And unfortunately enough, she couldn’t ever find a worse timing.
In the afternoon, 90s kids returned from school and went out to play Hide and Seek in the neighborhood, screaming and cracking sunflower seeds, all over the place.
That of course, resulted in two of the things grandma hated the most: noise and garbage, right under her window — her whole morning effort ruined in an instant. The right thing to do, she thought, was to scare children away and throw cold water over the balcony. Yes, that’s the kind of Grinch my grandma could be sometimes:
Go play in your own yard, crack seeds somewhere else!
Years have passed and, at my colorful office, in a big advertising agency, I think of briefs for teenagers nowadays. I always imagine them spending most of their time indoors: spending hours and hours playing on their brand new Playstations, devouring 9gag and Buzzfeed and Youtube and wishing to become vloggers themselves one day.
And then, going back to my hometown, I found the entrance to our building paved with sunflower seed hulls. And I was struck.
It’s like someone made a sunflower seed hulls carpet over here! mom said.
Apparently, a gang of four or five teens lingers in front of our building everyday. They sit on their phones and giggle at videos they watch together, while cracking seeds and drinking cola, as they can’t afford going to a pub.
Why are you always in front of our building? mom went on and asked them one day.
Oh, we cracked the nearby pharmacy’s wi-fi password, madam. In case you ever need it: it’s PHARMACY.
So, after all, technology didn’t change much in people in the last twenty years. Back in the real world, things are almost the same. Teens are still teens and need social interaction, even though mediated through a phone. And grinches are still grinches, even though cold water was now replaced with milder kind of threats:
Do you know what? I’m going right to that pharmacist and suggest a more complex wi-fi password! 10 characters, numbers plus capital letters! mom concluded triumphantly.