I have long lamented that MEllinnals are well Baby Boomers only younger and with the confirmation that they are in fact the largest population cohort in the United States, it will go again to say "everything old is new again." And with the MeMe's I think it is an accurate assessment.
How do I see MeMe's as rebranded boomers? Well the facial hair and bizarre feminization of men's hair..recalls long haired freaky people need not apply; then we have the face piercings, tattoo wearing, underarm hair as the form of protest or contrarianism to the more Docker Button Down wearing predecessors of Gen X - the lovers of Reagan.
Their politics that is a hybrid of Libertarianism, meaning legal drugs and sexual identity merged with the faux Socialism of Bernie Sanders, which his too is well not Socialism in the conventional/traditional sense, it too is a form of re branded populism; then we have the urban dwelling, density issues in crowding of cities in an attempt to be greener, (of course liberal leaning coastal dwelling, not ones less hip or cool and in need, such as Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia); less car owning home owning suburb frequenting domestication; the ## social awareness/media campaigns marked by Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter that began online and ended in the streets.. ah yes conventional protesting still matters.
To not that they are part of the success of the Courts ruling on Gay Marriage that much can be noted but it was overlooked that it was conventional money with gray haired Lawyers with political alliances that verged conservative that accomplished this fete, but who cares as it was now time to celebrate free love or in this case conventional love for once unconventional people. But that was irrelevant for it was legal marijuana that truly mattered to the MeMe set... ah yes the drug of choice for those hippies too. See we have come full circle.
My encounters with the MeMe are largely via the service sector, the next wave of protest that began in all places that many MeMe's loathe, the fast food sector. This is provenance for largely poor, immigrants and minorities whose voices and protests brought change while MeMe's raged about college debt, an option far removed from those other service sector workers in every sense of the word.
The service sector too has its heirarchy and the idea that one is working there is a temporary setback and for many that is the reasoning they return home or marry sooner vs later, its hard out there alone and communes have been replaced with podments. Same thing only costs more... that is one the MeMe's are good at - raising prices.
And this too is another oddity how to measure the service trades and productivity as it means toward the overall GDP and financial growth. We have no idea and despite the best efforts of those STEMMERS we are still not understanding where job growth is coming from without productivity and what does it mean for the long term stability of the economy.
And despite the reality of the generation of hippies they became the most well educated and mobile of our generation at the time. From Hippies to Preppies to Yuppies, from camps to suburbia, there was an immense level of productivity that brought us here. And no few if any had STEM degrees let alone computer tech backrgrounds when the Valley was just a town called San Jose.
So when I read today two articles about the Millennials, I was not surprised. They of course reject the Republican party and embrace Socialism aka what Democrats used to be until the birth of the Technocrat, that is until they too get jobs. Oh wait, haven't I heard that before, Glenn Beck anyone.
The reality is that Millennials talk the talk, have the app but the game is the same. They are just playing it differently. The first article is by Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post with regards to their rejection of mainstream Republicanism and the other is about the idea of Socialism and its embrace and simultaneous rejection. Neither are shocking, I know!
I sometimes realize that we failed them, coddeled them to the point that they actually believe Marijuana is medicinal, that having multiple sexual identities will lead to equality or inner happiness, that having a college degree in STEM means they will have a good job and that global climate warming is killing us.. well one out four on which we agree.
I recognize the anger, the indigination and the demand and I recognize the passivity and subjugation that occurs when rejection is the end result. I see the anxiety and the passion it just comes in waves over largely money. The obsession with status is palable and largely due I believe to the widening income inequality that has put the concept of meritocracy firmly out of reach.
They and their peers have no concept of the boom years in America and for many their parents were Gen X ers or Tail end boomers who did not reap what had been sewn as the result of the New Deal or the Great Society. They got the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty, gee they have had a lot of wars, we acutally only had one Vietnam and we too fought for its end the hard way - on the streets not online.
This also may explain their bizarre version of meritocracy via the sharing economy. Part aspirational part explotative it offers the idea that someone else will loan you their home, drive you around,pick up your laundry, your groceries, run your errands and not be your paid servant or mother and do so for minimal costs and salary. Sure that is working out well. Next up do it yourself surgery and compounding to save medical and drug costs! I am not sure if it is the costs of Obamacare or the belief in invincibility that contributes to their failing to enroll? I suspect both given the weird shit that comes out of the Valley.
And that is my last comparison for at this point is where the generations do divide, the ability to access media and read, watch or listen to comprehensive competitive journalism that provided information, took risks, told stories and found truths. Today's media is a shallow trough on which to drink so the MeMe's use Gawker, Reddit, Politico, Facebook and Twitter as their source. YouTube is what they gather around versus us watching Sunday's 60 Minutes or the 6 o'clock news with ... fill in the blank.
Our talk shows had information, talk and were diverse as they were entertaining. From daytime to nightime one could feed one's head and soul to Merv, Mike, Dick, Johnny, Phil as in Donahue not the Doctor and even Oprah in her heyday was must watch TV. I was never short of Top Chef's from Julia to the Galloping Gourmet to the lighter fare that including many women - Dinah, Virginia, Joan. Talk radio was shocking with Howard Stern, he did do it first and the reality is that we had interesting smart people who were often controversial regardless of their politics they just were. I heard more writers speak in my youth and could not wait to read their books. Magazines filled our coffee tables from home making to news making. The MeMe needs to read only that which fits on their magical 3x5 card and that is texted, tweeted or liked on the pages that they use to communicate. Talking and debating not their strong suit.
Much of this is our dilapidated education system, broken thanks to the neo-liberal philosophy of the Reagan years; Note the word "neo" as the prefix to liberal as it masks what it is - conservative policies. The new branding is now charters and the push to end the last bastion of what is socialist - free public education.
And yes many MeMe's are sure that charters are better as they had horrible public education so bad they were not educated as to why. A recent study came out and found that Public Education Teachers wages have been stagnant to declining since the 90s as this study from North Carolina found and it is not just NC, ground zero for hideous in this country.
With that comes the decline in free press and affordable free television and journalism. The reality is that with the internet came a massive adjustment and "disruption" that has now enabled some of the larger dinosaurs to survive and some have become fossils. Even where magazines and journals exist online, the MeMe's who came of age in downloading, bittorrenting are loathe to pay and in turn subscribe to either a daily, weekly or monthly, let alone costly cable TV. This does bode well for the progeny of the supposed information age.
It truly bothers me to hear the level of ignorance and the obstreperousness that marks their beliefs. They are often buried in quasi fact, rumor or misguided notion with little ability to disseminate, dissect or even remotely digest larger articles, books or ideas that cannot be summarized to a blurb. It makes it difficult when I talk to anyone of any age and they are so fucking oblivious to simple events within their community, it turns the notion of living in a bubble to a new level of being an Ostrich who lives in a bubble. And that seems to cross the age spectrum regardless yet I meet Millennial after Millennial, degree no degree, who are utter idiots. And I am in the public schools everyday so I should know.
And when I look back at the boomers, I see the bad with the good, the failures and the successes but I see a broad spectrum of which to be both impressed and horrified. I am not sure I see the same with the Millennial sect. This is the new Generation Gap.