There are so many woeful articles littering the internet today about the ‘Problem of Millennials.’ In short, Millennials don’t buy enough cars… their ‘purchasing habits’ are too hard to predict… they complain about everything… they’re so entitled… they do inscrutable things… they are using paper towels for napkins and are thereby absolutely killing the paper napkin industry, oh the horror!
As a Millenial with an interest in being understood by the prior generation, I offer this hyper-extended metaphor by way of explanation. I hope you find it illuminating, or at least amusing.
Spring training is over at Comcast-NBC-TimeWarner Field in Monopolis, and the city’s premier big-league soccer club, the Boomers, are gearing up for another big match. They’ll be facing off against their own farm team, the Mills from Stockington, if only they can round up enough game opponents. The shiny Boom Busses roam the outskirts of town looking for hapless souls to recruit for the game… most have heard less than good things from returning players…still there are always a few ready to try if it means a shot at the big time.
Eventually, the Mills, having been bussed in from their bedgraggled home stadium on the outskirts, take the field down one man (he’s sitting out the game for personal reasons)… Trouble is, he’s the goalie. 2 of the other players have never played the game before and are just here for the fanfare & promised free food. Nevertheless, the team jogs onto the pitch undaunted, wearing the shiny, brand-new jerseys donated by the home team… each one with a big red bullseye on the back.
The Boomers, meanwhile, are stretching, chugging enriched protein shakes & taking any last-minute performance enhancers as provided by their personal trainers. As they take the field, CNTW Field erupts in cheers for the home team. The players wave languidly to the stands as the kickoff begins. 5 minutes in, the highly-trained, seasoned pros of Monopolis have scored 6 goals against a groaning, sweating farm team that can’t seem to keep up with even their most modest striker. One kicker for the Booms in particular, with his state-of-the-art zero-g footwear and aerodyne propulsion jersey skits past the entire line of Mills defense to score a 7th, 8th, and 9th goal before the 10 minute mark when the Boomers sub out for fresh players.
By halftime, the score is 42 – Nil. One of the Mills is simply sitting down on the center pitch, plucking at the grass & staring at the stands as they boo him. Epithets are hurled at him. His skin is darker, his accent funny, and he doesn’t seem to fully understand the rules. Time outs are called by the Boomers. There are heated discussions with the referees. The Boomers are charging that this type of play constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct, and demanding action be taken.
Handicapped by naivete, their poor understanding of the game and desire for fairness, the Mills’ captain agrees to conference with the Boomers and referees on ways to improve the game in a manner consistent and fair. The offending pitch-sitter is removed from the game and the Mills take the second half down 2 men. Meanwhile, after a few generous donations from hometeam sponsors, the referees have begun to cast an increasingly critical eye on the Mills and their ‘unsophisticated’ playing style. 13 cards are thrown in the 3rd quarter of the game alone, all against Mills players. Facing ejection of their final players, and with the score now 73 – Nil, the desperate Mills appeal to the refs that some consideration should be made to the conduct of the other side. One Mills player points to his bloody nose after being viciously elbowed by a Boomer. The ref simply shakes his head… adding a threat of ejection if he should continue his complaint. The Mills’ captain jogs out to talk with the ref. The entire stadium is booing him and his poor conduct. He pleas for some reprieve… a red card on the offending player? The ref refuses dryly, winking at the elbow-thrower – his old college roommate.
Having reached his limit for abuse, the Mills’ captain begins shouting at the refs and gesturing wildly. He’s escorted off the field by a team of 34 riot police and a hum-vee. The Boomers file official complaint that the Mill’s disruption has caused undue interruption of the game, and that the ruts left by the hum-vee are a tripping hazard to players. The game is postponed while Mills players frantically try to patch and fill the blemishes in the playing field under threat of forfeit. As the game at last resumes, many of the stands have emptied and the Boomers file a motion saying that their attendance and financial well-being has been unduly hurt by the poor conduct displayed by these whiny, impossible Mills…
“How can we be expected to conduct a proper game under these conditions?”
“We built this stadium and funded this game… they should be thankful they even get to play.”
“Our fans can’t be expected to put up with this.”
“We demand they finish the game in the manner consistent with our league’s bylaws…”
“I had it rough on a farm team when I was younger and I never saw anyone act this way, it’s pathetic.”
…and so on, go the complaints of the Boomers’ management.
The Mills players stand exhausted on the field, jeered and heckled by the remaining fans. The score climbs to 93 – Nil as they wonder if they should bother to continue playing at all, or just wait for the game to end.
Yes, I’ve stretched the metaphor so far past its breaking point I might have sprained something… but my point is, you boomers who might read this:
We get it, you win. The ideological generation gap may be as wide as its ever been, never mind the income gap, gender gap or race gap. You have all the advantages, you’re holding all the cards. Your salaries, pensions, stock options, lavish retirements, assets… we have none of these. You were overwhelmingly likely to out-earn your parents, while we have basically a coin-flip’s chance, and now all your buddies run the world’s corporations, banks, pharma firms, lobbying firms, law firms. We bounce job to job looking for stability in an increasingly unstable world. Along the way we’re gaslighted and scapegoated because we’re too brown, too foreign, too poor, too young, or maybe just too ‘entitled’ to expect certain things. Now that you’ve won a(nother) big flush of political victories worldwide, do you really feel the need to keep rubbing our face in the dirt? Is that really what you need? To complain about us? What exactly is it you want us to do?