Dec 21 by Max Monday
My name is Max, I'm a 24 year-old millennial, and I am a murderer.
I confess to this crime after reading NPR reporter Alina Selyukh's piece shedding light on how millennials celebrate the holidays. In the article, results from a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed that my generation prefers to say “Happy Holidays” when spreading this season's cheer, instead of “Merry Christmas”. Of course, this isn't new information – the internet has been upset about people using “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” for years now, but this is the first year that I've seen the change attributed to millennial preference.
I won't be the first one to say that I'm bored with this type of reporting. The scapegoating of millennials in the fall of long-successful industries is ironic in our current capitalistic economy. Like, do baby boomers even understand how capitalism works? No? Let me give a quick rundown of how I understand capitalism: people work to make money, which they then can use to survive and “vote” on what goods they want in their society. The reason why certain industries are failing is because they have failed to adapt with the changing times, instead deciding to continue churning out the hot garbage they have been making since they opened up shop. So, when you think about it that way, these dying industries and olde-tyme niceties are doing it to themselves. “But Max,” you say, “how are we supposed to know what exactly failing companies are doing that makes millenials turn their back on them?” Great question. Let me give you my opinion as a millennial on a handful of the things that my generation is killing.
I grew up in a family that loosely celebrated a Christ-free Christmas. Aside from that weird point in my life where my dad would insist on attending church for midnight mass (it didn't last long and I'm still too confused to further investigate it), we strayed away from making the holiday a religious one; no prayers were recited, a star stood atop our tree in place of an angel, and I only learned what a nativity scene was when I was 19. Yes, I still do Christmassy things now that I'm on my own – I have a tree set up in my home, and I have brought my classmates together for a party at my house to exchange a gift – but removing the label of Christmas from these activities (and the rest of my festivities) kind of takes away the foreign religious overtones that go along with the season. Plus, the memories I have of the phrase “Merry Christmas” occur at my multiple retail jobs, where customers would scream that I was ruining their merriness because I couldn't give them a better discount on their goods.
Alright, reading that millennials are killing 9-to-5 jobs is a slap in the face. I once was graced with steady employment in the shape of a 9-to-5, and along with it came health benefits and a sense of security in my finances. I had it made in the sun, and I only gave it up when I was informed that the grant I was paid from wouldn't be able to fund my position for four months. Alas, permanent full-time work is increasingly harder and harder to find, as millennials find themselves in precarious work more and more. It's not that my generation doesn't care about full-time work, it's that employers aren't offering permanent employment in order to save money on things like healthcare benefits and sick days. Sorry, to be “flexible with the changing economy”.
I'm sure that I don't have to explain that my generation is more informed than most other generations about happenings around the world (thank you, internet). I know for myself that this is why I choose to purchase some products over others. So, when it comes to diamonds, other than the fact that these gems are sold at astronomically higher prices than other stones for no fucking reason, a quick google search on the ethics of diamond-mining will explain why people my age aren't buying diamonds anymore. I'm pretty sure that there's a better way to show your appreciation to loved ones than to give them jewelry encrusted with stones that fuel a murderous, racist industry.
Breastaurants and Chain Restaurants
I'm lumping these two similar industries together because they are equally terrible and can be explained side-by-side with ease. Maybe I'm spoiled because I live with a classically-trained French cook (who am I kidding, I'm definitely spoiled), but if I'm going to spend the minimal disposable income I have on a cooked meal, I want to eat food that would be hard for me to make and that challenges me to try something new. Not once have I ever thought to myself, “Gee, that Applebees just served me the most innovative bowl of mashed potatoes! I'm sure the minimum-wage cook who made them didn't just squeeze them out of a plastic bag and add butter to them, there's real love poured into this here mash.”
Bonus fact: Apparently breastaurants aren't popular anymore because millennials are more into butts, but is anyone surprised?
Ugh, even the concept of “light yogurt” sounds disgusting. I imagine it's skim milk processed into a watery milk-soup monstrosity. I don't understand how light yogurt could have thrived in the first place.
It's fun to point out the whining of dying industries, yes, but the factor that all of the votes made with millennial dollars comes down to that: money, or the lack of it. In my searches for what industries millennials have been taking a hacksaw to, I came across a lot more examples, like the housing market , designer handbags , and banks , to name a few. Honestly, I would love to be able to contribute to the housing market, but I can't. My career path pays infamously poorly, too: I've been told by industry professionals that I will be lucky to make over 25,000$ in my first year in radio. I would love to be able to create a nest-egg of savings and hold it for safe-keeping in a bank, but the reality is that I am going to be scraping by to survive in an economy where it feels like baby boomers are screaming at me for not spending money; money that I don't have anyway. It only makes sense that luxury items like handbags and houses (which I guess are a commodity now and not a human right) will be out of my reach until I am graced with more capital to distribute into the industries I so desperately want to take part in. So, if industries are dying off, maybe they should invest in the lower rungs of their company. They should understand why millennials are the poorest generation. They should think about raising wages and creating more economically-supportive work environments. That way, they can be a part of keeping the economy thriving.