When did people my age become society’s generational piñata? When did people stop calling each other ‘dickheads’ and start calling each other ‘Gen Y’, as if the phrase holds equal venom?
When people use the words ‘Baby Boomers’ it evokes cooing affection, as if to say “Oh, aren’t they sweet with their cardigans, and their worldly advice, and their delayed retirement.” When people refer to ‘Generation X’ they’re overcome with visions of edgy cool, as if Winona Ryder invented disinterested chain smoking and that became their inheritance (they seem to be the last group of people in the world that doesn’t have to justify their nicotine addiction).
But ‘Gen Y’ is somehow shorthand for the person at your office that you can’t stand, the girl on the train holding a blackberry and an iPhone, and the barman who recently quit uni and is still living with his parents. It’s like we’re the go-to villains for daily living – if life was a movie we would be the Nazis.
For some reason it didn’t bother me when my siblings replied to any momentary indecision on my part with, “You’re so Gen Y.” But then my parents picked up the habit. Then I heard a couple of 40-year-olds mutter it when a boy skate boarded past and got in their way. For one thing, the boy was under 10, so I think the Twin Set Posse doesn’t actually know what Gen Y is. For another thing, you know who else is not Gen Y. Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods and the former Mr Sandra Bullock. So, just to be clear, being Gen Y doesn’t actually mean you’re the devil.
Sure we’re selfish and smug and generally irritating. We may think the world owes us something while being outraged we need to give anything in return. There’s the high chance that our obsession with social media will lead to the downfall of humanity, and yes, Lindsay Lohan is among our number. But we never tried to make you wear tencel jeans, just like every generation before us we to have been dragged into a war we don’t like, and as with so many people our age we are yet to come across any proof that we are actually wrong (about anything). We haven’t had our chance to stuff up the world yet.
We didn’t invent the Yuppie, we just perfected it. We didn’t create workplace ambition, we just turned having a career into a blood-sport. We’re not indecisive, we just want one of everything. Peter Pan was created long before we refused to grow up, and of course we don’t like hard work, that’s what Google was invented to get rid of. Why make plans if we intend to be late to everything?
Yes, there are plenty of Gen Y tossers out there. But there’s also Dick Cheney, Gordon Ramsay, Tori Spelling and Justin Bieber. Each generation has a lot to answer for. Unless people start sighing “Baby Boomers” every time someone offers completely unsolicited life advice, and grumbles “Gen X-ers” the minute a woman discovers botox, I think it’s time to cool it on the use of “Gen Y” as a form of abuse.
It’s the beauty of a free, civilized society. People are perfectly capable of annoying the shit out you no matter how old they are.