Effing Millennials

Killing time before the board meeting — for Worth Repeating, a Texas Public Radio storytelling project — the twenty-something next to me explained in great detail some factoid that had caught her interest. She’d researched the shit out of it online, she explained, “because, well, I’m a millennial.”

Later, I tried to remember if I’d ever explained any action of mine by saying “because I’m a Gen-Xer.” Had anybody born between 1965 and 1980 said that?

“I maintain this annoying pose of ironic detachment because, well, I’m a Gen-Xer.”

No Country for Old Men speaks to me in a profound way because I’m Gen-Xer.”

“I robbed the Seven-Eleven because I was bored and wanted to buy weed, which is another way of saying because I’m a Gen-Xer.”

Probably not. But I don’t know. Maybe.

I remember where I was when I heard Kurt Cobain was dead. I devoured the emptiness and nihilism of Bret Easton Ellis’s all-too-often crappy writing. I would never, ever, ever presume to speak for “my generation.” In fact, I would never say “my generation,” except with a smirk and air quotation marks.

This is my favorite knock-knock joke:

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Greg who?

Greg Jefferson.

What I find most eerie about millennials is their messianic togetherness — their sense that they are part of a generation with its own values, sensibility, ethos. I’m convinced these kids have been knitted together by the Internet, like the victims in those icky Human Centipede movies.

I’m surely not the only middle-age customer who feels like they need to bring their passport to buy a latte at Local Coffee at the Pearl.

I think that’s one of the major reasons people in, you know, my age range are so down on millennials (born between 1981 and 2000). It’s true. When the conversation among Gen-Xers turns to the youngsters, you’d think their proper name is “Fucking Millennials,” and that the correct pronunciation requires an eye roll.

That’s not true of everybody in my age range, just as it’s not true that every millennial is a smiling agent of gentrification. Some Gen-Xers bought into Whitney Houston’s dangerous belief that children are our future. Others are age traitors who get super-psyched trying to figure out the best way to sell goods and services to these youngsters. Still others feed vampirically off the life force of the young. I recently saw a guy in his late-forties or early-fifties skateboarding at the Pearl. Vans, cargo shorts, tight fashionable tee, and a strong aversion to garlic and wolfsbane.

Then there are the ones who find Gen-X too barren, you know…. spiritually, I guess. Whatever.

When the conversation among Gen-Xers turns to the youngsters, you’d think their proper name is “Fucking Millennials,” and that the correct pronunciation requires an eye roll.

I assume it’s mostly Gen-Xers — the youngster wannabees, detractors, and defenders — who are commissioning and conducting the many tons of research on millennials. On their spending habits, why and how frequently they vote, their views on LGBT inclusion, their love of mass transit (of course), their rejection of organized religion and embrace of magic, etc., etc. Here’s some of the latest research.

As an aside, self-absorbed Baby Boomers didn’t want to know much about Generation X, though after we began taking over the financial markets, they probably wondered how deep our greed and selfishness ran. Answer: see The Great Recession. (Worth noting: the highest goal of the Gen-X protagonists in The Big Short, both the book and movie, was to make money off the housing bubble, not to protect ill-informed, semi-delusional homeowners.)

Anyway, I’m glad we’re learning everything we can about millennials. For their part, they’re not at all surprised the world is endlessly fascinated with them. Their parents made clear to them just how special they were. So they’re going to answer every survey question put to them, for the good of us all. Which works out beautifully. We need to know what we’re in for as they seize power in business, our civic and educational institutions, and government.

Rose was a model Gen-Xer. She could have shared the door with Jack — it was big enough — but she didn’t want to.

It’s already happening in San Antonio.

After an extensive nation-wide search for a new CEO, the directors of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation selected a 29-year-old executive from CPS Energy. Tech Bloc, which represents S.A. technology companies, which means speaking on behalf of a bunch of millennials, is establishing itself as an agenda-setter, starting with its role in bringing rideshare back to San Antonio. The youngsters are also raising their hands for appointments to government boards and commissions and nonprofits, and running for school board seats.

We’re not talking generational warfare here. People my age, by and large, never enlisted. With San Antonio’s Old Guard of business, civic, and political leaders either leaving or preparing to leave the stage, the question asked incessantly is who’s going to replace them, besides maybe Graham Weston (who technically lives in New Braunfels) and Lew Moorman?

We don’t really buy into the whole idea of “community” or believe much in the possibility of “improving” said community.

Millennials believe in both, and they feel entitled to lead.

I guess I have to resign myself to following because, well, I’m a Gen-Xer.




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