The problem with us millennials isn’t that we’re materialistic, or narcissistic, or falsely confident, or under-ambitious. I mean, we are those things, but not, I’d argue, to a greater extent than our forebears.
The problem is that we’re flakes.
Here are some of the things I did last week: rescheduled a doctor’s appointment (Zocdoc makes it so easy!), skipped a meetup (did I really want to learn about Scala?), drank one, okay two bottles of wine with a friend while we waited for another friend to join us before she texted to say she was running super late, and we should probably just go ahead without her. We went ahead without her.
"I’m sick of flakiness,” my friend said, and finished the last of the second bottle.
I’m sick of it too, but I’m also a contributor. Here’s the thing: my generation isn’t really Generation Me; it’s Generation Everything’s So Close to Me. And when everything’s close, I can always come by later.
Later takes up a heckuva lot of real estate in the millennial mind. Later is a nice place, a hopeful place, a safe haven for tentative plans. Later isn’t new, but its ubiquity is. And whence this ubiquity? Pardon me while I fish out my daggum cranky coot card. Aha! The ubiquity of later stems directly from that hunk of metal I clutch in my hand, and the bars and rainbows that enable it to tell other hunks of metal where I am, where I’ll be, and where I won’t be because the 4/5 is express from 14th to 125th and my chicken won’t roast and the goddamn Time Warner guy still hasn’t come by (the Time Warner guy is the one thing that we think can’t come by later, but always does).
Our ability to constantly push and revise status updates, and our knowledge of that ability, bequeaths to us a world of Motel 6's, lights a’blazing. McLuhan imagined the global village would intensify our awareness of responsibility. Instead, hyper-connectivity fosters a languid semi-independence, semi because the independence depends on others’ tacit acceptance. Millenial flakiness is driven by the lure of later and requires the acceptance of the possibility of later by the flaked upon.
On paper, the cure for flakiness is simple: don’t accept it. But if, say, Meetup started suspending or banning people who didn’t show up to sold out meet ups, another meet up platform with laxer requirements could overtake it. Recently, the restaurant Red Medicine tweeted the names of guests who failed to honor their reservations. Though the public’s reception to their ploy was mostly positive, only one of the outed responded.
Still, I can at least make nonacceptance of later a personal goal. I think I will. I just have to get around to vacuuming and see about rescheduling that hair appointment first.