A Millennial Blog for All

Posts tagged ‘generation x’

Arrested Development: The Millennial Story

We have yet another article on the near disaster that is the Millennial economy, written adroitly by Derek Thompson. You can read it here, and I suggest that you do:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-unluckiest-generation-what-will-become-of-millennials/275336/

We’re putting it all off, folks. Marriage, kids, mortgages. All the things that were supposedly ‘The American Dream’ before now makes our skin crawl. Or, to be more egalitarian, it’s makes us nervous. Not because we hate these things, but because we are absolutely not ready for them. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have any satisfaction in our careers, should we be lucky enough to have one. (As you can likely tell from this blog and this post, I don’t have much of either.)

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A lot of us live with our parents. To quote Mr. Thompson, we are looked at as “Perma-Children,” and he makes the case for prolonged pessimism. He is correct that entertainment and other commodities have been greatly cheapened by the internet, but truthfully, who cares? It’s nice, but a good, independent, quality of life is nicer.

We are the unluckiest generation, economically speaking. We came into a workforce after the burst of the economic bubble that, in hindsight, was amazing in the sense that so few people saw it coming. Everything was either artificially too low or too high, and one day, it wouldn’t be able to maintain itself. The day has come and gone, and here we are.  

It’s the same narrative everywhere we go. Millennials are: The most educated generation. The least paid generation. We whine. We complain. We had great childhoods and our expectations were too high.

Valid points all. But no comfort is to be found. We are in the midst of a recovery, but it’s slow and anemic and one can’t help but feel as though the bottom could fall out from it at any moment. It’s tiresome.

We aren’t going to have as good as the Baby Boomers and Generation X. We know. We get. We won’t be able to make up the ratio of wealth. Perhaps it’s because the world is changing so rapidly that even we’re running to catch up.

There is, of course, optimism, but realism tends to get in the way.

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Millennials, Music, and Genesis Blue

There’s a certain sense of irony when a twenty-something feels nostalgia for his youth. But, without waxing faux-poetic about how our current mediocre economy and overall zeitgeist might contribute to my hungering for halcyon days, I still find thinking of my youth comforting. Before bills and jobs and aging came into play, we had the excitement of firsts.

Everyone remembers their first everything, usually, unless it was singularly awful, painful, or just truly unmemorable. Your first bike, first video game, first kiss, first car, first love. But what really encapsulates my youth, and by youth I mean high school-ish days, is music. Millennials are a particularly musical generation, you will find. Most of us can give you a ‘soundtrack of our lives,’ as pretentious as that sounds.

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I came to popular music later than most kids. I had never heard Pearl Jam orAce of Base when I was in grade school. (Guess my age.) Needless to say, I wasn’t the most popular kid at recess. This was mainly because my parents didn’t really want me listening to that type of music. To their credit, they acquiesced when they saw the encroaching tide wearing away at that beachhead.

But I still remember that first mix CD.

This mix CD came when I was about 15. I didn’t have a CD burner so I coaxed a friend into making it for me once day. I played it and played it and played it. There was a harmony to the selections I made; the order and the sound seemed to fit perfectly to me, and only me. Perhaps it was because 15 years worth of favorite musical taste actually became a physical playlist, but who knows? This mix CD would be, to most people (or at least, to most people above the age of 30), nonsensical in terms of taste. But Millennials are known to be eclectic in their tastes in music, predominantly because there is just so much music out there.

Even the way we receive music has changed drastically over the course of just the past twenty years.

The information age has seen a veritable glut of musical genres overwhelm our eardrums. AM and FM radio stations are the basic cable news of music, where the produced and paid go to sell oftentimes unappealing music. Millennials tend to avoid them. If they really wanted to speak to the most musically inclined generation, they would make eclectic mixes like we do on our iPods and laptops.

Like all generations, we are molded and changed by the times we live, just as much as we mold and change our times. Music is near and dear to us because it is ubiquitous. It’s on our computers, on our phones, in our cars. Technology and Millennials will be forever intertwined, much as war and Generation X were. Come to think of it, we’re the first generation in a long time to not be affected by the horrors and realities of war. But that’s another post altogether. We follow the trends of music without realizing it because long trends are typically only noticed on a subconscious level, if at all. As Millennials, we loved MTV, Nirvana, nu-metal, east vs. west coast rappers, the Beastie Boys, N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears.

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Napster came along and changed how we received our music. We could download just the songs that we liked without buying the whole crap CD! And we didn’t have to pay for it! Sure, it took an hour to download one song over a 56K modem, and God-forbid anyone call the house phone. But, once we got that taste of freedom, we never wanted to let that go.

On to the brilliance of Steve Jobs and Apple, which created the iTunes store and the iPod, and made what we’d been doing for years awfully convenient and legal. Jobs’ genius was to be able to get nearly every major music label to agree that their artists’ songs were worth $.99 a pop. This quelled our fear of being imprisoned because the music industry was mad at us for downloading “Mambo #5” without paying them tribute.

Nowadays, Millennials are often at the source of the popularity of musicians. We tweet them, they tweet back. We help them go viral, land gigs, make money. We do things like crowdsource and crowdfund. Look at Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Psy and “Gangnam Style.” Music videos have become events now, as they once were when MTV debuted. But now, we skip that middleman-ness MTV brought to the table and get these four-minute musical shows right from the artist’s YouTube page. I couldn’t possibly prognosticate where it’s going to go from here. Which makes me nostalgic for the days when there were barriers between me and my music, when I felt like I was getting away with something when I downloaded the Pink Panther theme off of Napster.

But back to my wonderful mix, which I called Genesis Blue, because it was my first mix ever (how clever of me), and it was a blue Verbatim CD. And, while the CD is now too damaged to be played, I still have the playlist. The res of what made it… it. I listen to it not just when I’m feeling nostalgic. I listen to it when I’m sad and happy. I made that CD right around the time I got my first pet – a tabby cat named Virgil. He’s passed away since then, but it makes me wistful for him every time I play it. Another part of my childhood, gone. But never forgotten.

The Genesis Blue track list:

The Best is Yet to Come (Theme from Metal Gear Solid) by Aoife Ni Fherraigh

Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby by Barry White

Just Dropped In by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

If I Were A Rich Man by Chaim Topol (sung by the character Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof)

Mast Qalandar by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Massive Attack mix)

Amistad Main Theme by John Williams

Thank You by Dido

Another One Bites the Dust by Queen

Minority by Green Day

Intergalactic by Beastie Boys

Asshole by Denis Leary

Life’s Gonna Suck by Denis Leary

Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat theme) by the Immortals

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Come As You Are by Nirvana

Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down

Enter Sandman by Metallica

Blast by Kid Rock

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck by Grinspoon

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How To Be a Millennial Without Being a Douche

Every generation has stereotypes about them that follow them wherever they go. Baby Boomers are spoiled and obtuse. Generation X is cynical and contrarian. We Millennials, and you’ve heard this in the news and online, are selfish and entitled, amongst other things. Like all stereotypes, they have a basis in reality, even if that reality is ephemeral or tritely stated.

Regardless, it is incumbent upon us to not fall into the patterns of stereotypes.

Here a few ways to confound and delight people who are not members of our generation. And yes, I am aware that this means changing your very nature, at least on the surface. And I’m also aware that this sounds pretentious. In any event, try them sparingly:

Slow down. Non-Millennials aren’t going to be able to keep up with our flittering attention spans. We’re a multi-tasking generation, and on the flip side, we are unable to keep our attentions focused on one thing for a prolonged period of time. It’s a positive development in the sense that we need to do this in order to keep up with the rest of the world, but it’s a negative one when concentration is required on something for more than a short while. Attempt to focus on something, anything. Meditate. Learn an instrument. Both will make you more interesting, too. Additionally, when explaining Foursquare and Instagram and Twitter to Octogenarians, don’t get exasperated; this is an entirely other world to them. Even the words themselves (Twitter primarily) are some type of joke to them. And honestly, can you blame them for laughing?

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Don’t be cocky. Cockiness, while undesirable, is understandable if you’ve done something impressive. Graduating from college is not impressive. Congratulations, you’re now one of hundreds of millions. It depends on how you fill your time after graduation day that will matter.

Don’t humble-brag. It’s the worst thing anyone can do, let alone a Millennial. For example, don’t say, “I’m so grateful that I went to grad school and didn’t have to straight into the work force” to a group of janitors. Don’t talk about your trips to Italy, Indonesia, or India, to a 23-year old single mother of three. I should write an entire column on humble-bragging later. Be humble, and not just fake humble. If you’re twenty, guess what, you don’t have all of life’s answers. Even if you make it to 100, you won’t have all of life’s answers. Relax.

Don’t whine. Millennials are known as whiners. Stop feeding the perception that we’re pampered and entitled. If you’re going to complain, at least make it constructive. And being constructive depends on the situation at hand.

Don’t concentrate so hard on being unique. It’s the most conformist thing you can do. Concentrate on being the best version of yourself. Always strive to be what you are, not what you think you ought to be. Be happy, but not at the expense of others, including your long-term self.

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Work hard. This is probably the broadest of the shibboleths I’m proposing, but seriously. How many times have you heard an employer say: “These young people just don’t want to work!” Or, “They’d rather just sit around and play on their phones than earn a paycheck!” I’m ad-libbing those lines, but the point is valid. I’ve known plenty of people my age who show up for a paycheck and that’s it. Show your employer that you’re not spoiled and entitled, and watch the surprise!

Plan ahead. This is one I struggle with most myself. Not just what you’re going to eat tonight, but how you’re going to eat in the future. Not just when you’re going to work, but what career you want as well. Set short- and long-term goals, and you’ll be surprised how much you find out about yourself.

Exercise good judgment. This is the very hardest thing to do, and this is something not strictly related to being a Millennial. Good judgment is something that is absolutely formulated in your twenties. It’s the difference between Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill; James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. The only way to get better at it is to practice it, whenever possible. Say that its 10PM, and you have to get up early for work. Do you have a coffee with a shot of espresso? Or do you try to sleep now, even if you’re not really tired? Start exercising good judgment now.

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