The other morning, I woke to a bombardment of millennial tropes. They came from my timelines and news feeds, my inbox and the small square TV that I was watching on the treadmill at the gym. Like little catapulted rocks:
- The well-groomed white male hustler, vested in more ways than one, pictured smiling with his arms crossed above a headline promising readers that if they follow his advice they’ll finally create content that other millennials will click on.
- The friendless freelancers, depicted in our broke isolation gazing sadly out the windows of our studio apartments, tilted faces lit metal blue from the gloom of our open laptops.
- Finally, the murderous among us, depicted amid a witch’s brew of vape smoke in the upper right-hand corner of a Fox News segment that itself referenced a Bloomberg article: Millennials Kill Again. The Latest Victim? American Cheese.
I stepped off the treadmill. Something about the bombardment made me feel gross. First I thought it might just feel gross being generalized. I don’t presume myself above generalization. And I know that, as a straight white man, I’ve never been generalized in a way that’s actually dangerous or harmful. But to recognize this in the moment when it’s happening to you — when you’re very clearly the subject of it — is sort of like being groped by TSA agents at the airport. A part of you understands, but you can’t help finding it offensive.
Especially when it seems ludicrous. For condemning the prospects of American cheese, millennials should actually be celebrated; there are better kinds of cheese.
I will no longer read articles that promise to unveil secrets about me or my generation or that explain why we’re so fucked up.
This led to my second hypothesis: I was just fucking sick and tired of reading, hearing, and seeing “news” about all the different things members of my generation do or have done so incorrectly to damage humanity. Such stories dominate the front pages and opening segments of nearly all the media I consume. Our likeness has been co-opted by practitioners of bullshit, producers of substanceless stories, the journalistic equivalent of cheap potato chips — read too much, and you’ll feel like you’ve violated yourself.
Something needs to be done.