MILLENNIALS!

THEY’RE SO DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GENERATIONS!

HANG ON WHILE I WRITE HUNDREDS OF THINKPIECES ABOUT IT!

UNLIKE OTHER GENERATIONS, MILLENNIALS ARE LIVING WITH THEIR PARENTS WHILE THEY ATTEND COLLEGE!

Millennials! They are carbon-based lifeforms! Unlike you! You were a nitrogen-based lifeform! The sooner these millennials get over the carbon thing, the better!

UNLIKE OTHER GENERATIONS, MILLENNIALS HAVE SEX! (ACTUALLY THEY HAVE LESS SEX THAN THE BOOMERS AND SURVEYS OF PRIORITIES FIND THEY PLACE A HIGH PRIORITY ON FAMILY BUT WHOOPS YOU HAVE A SWEEPING GENERALIZATION TO MAKE SO NEVER MIND.)

Gee, it’s hard to believe you share a planet with these crazy Instagrammers with their irony and their hipsters and their hookups and their Skrillexes! Fortunately, if you need to turn out a quick opinion about these dubious creatures, there is a handy formula in place that you can use.

Yes, there’s a reason every Groundbreaking New Story on Millennials always sounds like those “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us!” features you see in magazines. “Cameron Diaz — She Shops For Groceries!” “Jen Aniston Has A Face, Just As You Do!” “They Wear Ponytails!” “They Go Out Without Makeup!” “Millennials: They’re Narcissistic in Their Twenties!” “They like music that is different than the music their parents listened to and dance differently than their parents danced!”



It’s all a formula.

I was going to keep this secret, along with other newsmaker mysteries like What Makes Us So Sure Miley Cyrus Is Driving The “Miley Cyrus” Bus and Who Feeds Those Counterintuitive Opinions To Thomas Friedman’s Taxi Drivers, but after seeing this video that somehow managed to combine every possible inane Millennial trope with the facile, if not entirely inaccurate, explanation that none of this is our fault, because BOOMERS — I could no longer contain myself.

This needs to stop. All of it.

Every piece about Millennials goes one of the following ways:
1) I am Not a Millennial, and GOSH they really need to get JOBS and stop thinking they’re so SPECIAL and INSTAGRAMMING THEIR DANG SALADS!
2) I am a Millennial and NOTHING IS OUR FAULT because BOOMERS RUINED EVERYTHING.
3) I am a Millennial, BUT I am NOT LIKE OTHER MILLENNIALS, WHO MUST STOP THIS.
4) (This category is sadly underrepresented.) Things are not actually that bad. Although the Internet has shaped our lives and the way we interact in ways that seem FRIGHTENING and DIFFERENT to people accustomed to land-lines and snail mail, and although, yes, we are in our 20s so we are in many cases self-centered because statistically people in their 20s tend to be a little more self-centered than people who are, well, older, we Millennials are mostly doing the best we can in a difficult economy that is not entirely our fault and that we did not expect to have to tackle instantly upon leaving the college bubble.

Yes, the Me Me Me Entitled Trophy-Wielder Constantly Instagramming My Hookups While Having No-Strings Attached Salads is a caricature. I think we have driven that home now. We can stop. But the mere fact that it’s a caricature doesn’t mean that we can shrug and blame the boomers. Well, sure, we can shrug and blame them, because many of our problems are inherited, but pointing fingers won’t solve much. We’re a smaller generation with a high rate of unemployment expected to shoulder a pretty heaping economic burden, especially as our parents age and demand care and adulation and free hips and movies where Tommy Lee Jones has an active love life — or whatever it is that they demand. We’re going to have to deal with that at some point, whether it’s in one of our Crazy Internet Ways that doesn’t seem like a Real Solution to the boomers, or by doing something else. The more time we spend just complaining that This Isn’t Our Fault, For It was Thrust Upon Us, the more we sound like exactly the whiners their caricature suggests.

I realize that from a sheer Internet Controversy perspective, one of the least exciting arguments you can possibly make is, “The truth, in fact, lies somewhere between these extremes.” But it does.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.