Millennial Slaying: The Rebuttal
November 30, 2018 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Millennials are killing countless industries — but the Fed says it's mostly just because they're poor. The core argument is that due to the various recessions (including the Great One back in 2008), Millennials have had multiple rollbacks on their earning, and so they have less money; then they don't buy the same things, and keep them longer. When they have the money, though, they do buy similar things as to previous generations. If there's a greater economic recovery, it might result in the end to the Millennial Economic Murder Spree.
posted by mephron (103 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think of how my grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression spent money (or rather didn't spend it), and I assume that Millennials are going to be more or less the same. Not having money to spend means you don't get into the habit of it, and that habit is going to remain even if/when you have money.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:57 AM on November 30 [22 favorites]


So...millennials are killing the ways millennial are killing things?
posted by slogger at 6:01 AM on November 30 [32 favorites]


That study seems designed to reassure American businesses that things really haven't changed that much. But if millennials haven't ramped up spending after a 8-year boom cycle of the economy, when will they? We are due for a recession if we aren't in the very early stages of one already. Another down cycle will just set millennials (and everybody else) even farther back.

I'm the parent of two millennials. They and their friends look nothing like we did in our early 20s. I think this change is more permanent than the government wants to admit, which ultimately will be a good thing for the US, but the transition to an economy slightly less dependant on consumer spending will be painful.
posted by COD at 6:02 AM on November 30 [12 favorites]


Will millennials' murder spree continue?

Hilarious that an article about how it’s not millennials’ fault that they’re not spending still frames it as millennials’ fault.

Especially since there’s a link in the article to a previous article by the same author, saying the same thing, but placing the proper blame on the people who ruined the economy for the millennials in the first place.
posted by ejs at 6:06 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


There HAS been an economic recovery, the money just went to old white guys with inflamed colons.
posted by selfnoise at 6:07 AM on November 30 [62 favorites]


But if millennials haven't ramped up spending after a 8-year boom cycle of the economy, when will they?
Yes. Most of this comes back to reluctantly recognizing that the “boom” has been really unevenly distributed. Most of the businesses worried about millennials’ spending have spent decades systematically reducing their workers’ compensation and security so they know exactly why people are being careful with their money but doing anything about it would require a near-total policy reversal.
posted by adamsc at 6:13 AM on November 30 [43 favorites]


"Why aren't these stupid Millennials spending money they don't have and can't possibly earn thanks to us?"
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:13 AM on November 30 [34 favorites]


Millenials aren't spending enough money on golf equipment? How irresponsible of them!
posted by carter at 6:21 AM on November 30 [9 favorites]


Forgive. Student. Debt.
posted by Automocar at 6:21 AM on November 30 [78 favorites]


Can we kill the term 'millenial'?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:26 AM on November 30 [11 favorites]


"Forgive. Student. Debt."

100% this Automocar.
posted by narancia at 6:29 AM on November 30 [7 favorites]


Especially since there’s a link in the article to a previous article by the same author, saying the same thing, but placing the proper blame on the people who ruined the economy for the millennials in the first place.

Pretty much any time you see "millennial" in the title of an article, it's an attempt to turn a class/economic conflict into an intergenerational one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:30 AM on November 30 [60 favorites]




This shouldn't be a surprise. It's been the case for a very long time that a full-time minimum wage job puts you below the poverty line in the US. Nothing's been done about that and I doubt anything ever will.
posted by tommasz at 6:35 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


What a lot of (non-economicsy) people don't understand about certain buzzwords like 'middle class' is that outside of their dog whistles, they're largely about how well a block of people spends money aka marginal propensity to consume (MPC).

Any brief consideration of how the MPC differs between income groups very quickly shows you how hollow fiscal conservative and supply side strategies to growth really are. Eg, drop $500M on GM or a bunch of billion/millionaires and the money really doesn't go very far or do very much. It can't, they already have everything. You get a small bump in luxury goods and the rest gets financialized.

Now, take an equal amount of money and drop it on households making $20-50k (obviously a much larger number of recipients) and you'll see the wheels of the economy really start to turn.* They need stuff. And they need basic stuff and especially in this century, lots of services that are all local goods.

This is why progressive taxation, government spending (nevermind the MMT argument) and social assistance programs are all economic positives. "The poor don't know how to spend money" argument is rubbish.


*There is, per above, a big problem with debt service eating into consumption. That's because a generation has gone without sharing in the growth in productivity and had to spend beyond their means to 'keep up'. It's clearly unsustainable, but it's also a sign that the 1% class really isn't interested in a healthy economy, far from it.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:37 AM on November 30 [30 favorites]


And how should we pay for student loan debt relief, health care, and other services to save the kids and stimulate the economy? "PAY YOUR GODDAMN TAXES." ~Mark Blyth
posted by es_de_bah at 6:38 AM on November 30 [7 favorites]


Not having money to spend means you don't get into the habit of it, and that habit is going to remain even if/when you have money.

We're an older millennial family that has money; we've got a house, a kid we can afford to have in childcare, some savings, lots of family resources to fall back on, etc. I have money, so I do spend it, but graduating law school into the 2009 economy has stuck with me. I operate under an assumption that this decent paying job I have may be the last good job I ever have. I spend the money I have, but I always have a gnawing feeling that it's not going to be there in the future.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:40 AM on November 30 [44 favorites]


Pretty much any time you see "millennial" in the title of an article, it's an attempt to turn a class/economic conflict into an intergenerational one.

My more paranoid side is convinced this is intentionally ginned up as a way to undermine coalition-building.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:40 AM on November 30 [12 favorites]


I think this change is more permanent than the government wants to admit, which ultimately will be a good thing for the US

I'm not sure how it's a good thing for the US that current and future generations will be taking on lifelong debt to acquire even entry-level jobs. That they will, in general, be risk averse, turning down opportunities because they are too busy trying to make ends meet. That they will be forgoing necessary medical care because they cannot afford it. That they will lack the equity that comes with home ownership and be beholden to increasingly corporate landlords. That many will travel less and be more insular, having fewer ties to, less of an understanding of, and fewer concerns for the outside world. That they will never retire. That the stress of being economically vulnerable will run their bodies ragged over time, cutting their lives short. That all of the above will have an even greater impact on minorities and immigrants, and, in general, increase the vulnerability of people who were already most vulnerable.

There are very real consequences to all of this that have nothing to do with simply reducing consumerism.

My grandmother supported her husband and both of their families through the depression. She had to postpone having children (which involved two illegal abortions), stop going to school (while her husband continued), and develop a whole mess of survival techniques. The experience framed the rest of her life: what she ate, what concerned her, where she went, her politics. I don't think she never stopped feeling limited or boxed in. When she died, she had about 200 rolls of toilet paper crammed into a closet in her NYC apartment because she was still stealing them from public restrooms and squirreling them away.

So, yeah, maybe not such a good thing.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:44 AM on November 30 [40 favorites]


the money just went to old white guys with inflamed colons.

Where’s mine?
posted by Segundus at 6:45 AM on November 30 [12 favorites]


I spend my meager millennial money because I imagine a future that's one giant disaster movie and I want to enjoy life before climate change takes it away.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:45 AM on November 30 [34 favorites]


Eh, it feels right. I've always had a slight suspicion that one reason why no one talks about how little millennials spend overall because we're likely to have smartphones and computers. To some older people, that reads as spending a lot of money. And...like, yeah, sure. But they're fairly necessary for anyone who wants to live in a society or have a job! (And of course, phones are basically sold on an installment plan through exorbitant monthly cell phone bills).

So many of the "millennials are killing" pieces pertained to 20th century household items, too. That might be due to a combination of domestic ignorance and fear of chemicals. People who didn't learn How to Adult and were leery of say, fabric softener, could consult the internet for tips instead of relying on advertising to shame them into buying the "right" laundry products. It makes sense to me that products developed and popularized in the 1950s-1970s might not be super relevant anymore.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:49 AM on November 30 [5 favorites]


Replace "Millennials are killing..." with "Baby Boomers were poor stewards of...".
posted by lowtide at 6:56 AM on November 30 [67 favorites]


Wait, I thought the problem was avocados! Have I been misled?
posted by misterpatrick at 7:01 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


Replace "Millennials are killing..." with "Baby Boomers were poor stewards of...".

I mean, only sort of. I don't think the generational fight is useful for a couple reasons. (1) All humans are bad at hyperbolic discounting. (2) Most of the 'bad' boomers sold out for 'social' issues like abortion or race and not economics issues.

[I'm not saying #2 is really a good thing, but it's more of a gender and race issue than it is a generational one. And we haven't made up a lot of ground there with the younger crowd. Also, I'm sure we'll all be embarrassed in 40 years about whatever overton chaff we currently cling to]
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:02 AM on November 30 [5 favorites]


Favorite comment I've heard on millennials killing industries is that if millennials could kill an industry at will, why would the student load industry still be alive?
posted by tfinniga at 7:03 AM on November 30 [52 favorites]


Most of the 'bad' boomers sold out for 'social' issues like abortion or race and not economics issues.

They sold out the economics issues for those things -- it's better that no one have X rather than those people get X. For "X", read "cheap college", "pensions", "entry-level jobs that can still support a family"...
posted by Etrigan at 7:13 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


My new favorite way to explain millenial finances is that there are parking spots in Chicago who make way more than the minimum wage.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:14 AM on November 30 [49 favorites]


But if millennials haven't ramped up spending after a 8-year boom cycle of the economy, when will they?

Something I don't see talked about as much is the grim view of the future that a lot of us millennials have. It isn't just that we got burned once or twice in the past. It isn't just that we see ourselves as poorer than our parents were. It's also that a lot of us are pretty sure this is as good as it will ever get for us, and that we'll end our working days with a much lower quality of life than we have right now.

I think that's partly out of awareness of climate change, partly out of awareness that inequality is increasing and we can't stop it, and partly from the belief (accurate or not) that the US is at the end of its run as a wealthy country.

It's hard to do something like buy a house, or enjoy a consumer lifestyle, if your view of the world is "Today I'm comfortable, but in ten or twenty years I'll be starving."
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:16 AM on November 30 [67 favorites]


Casual reminder there’s an entire generation graduating college now with fewer prospects, more debt, parents more racked by the 08 crash, and very likely to experience either a massive economic crash or an asset destroying climate change event.

It’d not going to get better. The joke that my retirement plan is a revolution isn’t a joke anymore and hasn’t been for a while.
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 AM on November 30 [33 favorites]


I'm a millennial, let's take a look at the list of things I've never been able to buy new even when I've had a decent income:
A car
A washer & dryer
A TV
A nice couch
A new roof for my 100-year-old house

And here's a list of things I've had to spend that money on instead:
Rent / mortgage
Student loan payments
Credit card debt
Medical bills

My peers work just as hard as any other generation but the only ways we're able to catch up are by getting a lucrative degree (engineer, doctor, mba, etc) thus giving us huge debt...and/or having the support of our wealthy boomer parents well into our 30's or even 40's.
Our generation is at least 10 years behind and few of us will ever catch up. At this point I'm pretty much resigned to buying everything i need second-hand except for food.
posted by azuresunday at 7:21 AM on November 30 [14 favorites]


Casual reminder there’s an entire generation graduating college now with fewer prospects, more debt, parents more racked by the 08 crash, and very likely to experience either a massive economic crash or an asset destroying climate change event.

This is my kids - minus the debt part as they've managed to get through college without racking up debt, which I hope gives them a fighting chance of maintaining a reasonable standard of living for a while before it all comes crashing down.

I've been researching my expat options as it's hard to imagine I'll ever be able to retire in the US - I'm going to need a place with a lower COL and reasonable health care options.
posted by COD at 7:24 AM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I think of how my grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression spent money (or rather didn't spend it), and I assume that Millennials are going to be more or less the same. Not having money to spend means you don't get into the habit of it, and that habit is going to remain even if/when you have money.
This is about right. During periods when I'm making a reasonable amount of money, I still spend like I'm unemployed and broke. The rest goes into the bank for a rainy day. I can't be the only one who entered the job market just before the 2008 recession and spends like their current employment could be their last for a while. Our country is currently going through yet another retail crash - lots of large chain stores are closing branches, laying off staff and shutting down altogether. Amazon is the go-to scapegoat, but it's not all down to rapacious US internet companies.

There's the fact that people are spending a lot more on experiences than on stuff nowadays. Head into any major city centre on a Friday evening and the bars are full of young professional people, often those working in finance or tech, enjoying themselves with expensive food and drink. The aeroplanes aren't empty, people are heading on holiday as much as they ever were if not more. People who've got money and don't feel like it's going to come to a crashing end any time soon still aren't spending in the shops.

Businesses that were based around you owning your home and making progressive improvements to it over years or decades are struggling. You don't buy wallpaper or carpets or a new bath or a TV aerial for your rented flat, and you don't buy major furniture like sofas if you're moving every 9-12 months. Businesses based around expensive hobbies are seriously struggling - I have first-hand experience of the market for HF ham radios starting to literally die with the elderly hams who can both afford them and have access to the necessary space for antennas.

The previous generation have created a far more transient economy. You no longer feel like the place where you live is home, it's just your current address. You no longer feel like your current job is secure or stable in any way, it's just a temporary zero-hours rolling month-to-month gig. It is not surprising when the generation subjected to such a transient lifestyle is spending like it.
posted by winterhill at 7:26 AM on November 30 [28 favorites]


I find it extremly telling in my reading group, the stuff we find most relatable, in fiction or in theory, all comes from before the 1940s.
posted by The Whelk at 7:30 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


if millennials could kill an industry at will, why would the student loan industry still be alive?

Oh, just give it time.
posted by Slinga at 7:44 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


I wonder what is the perspective of the Millennial cohort in Europe? In places where health care is provided, education is cheap or free, and rent is under control. What's the perception there? I'm sure there's a taste of some of it, but ... is it so dire around the world or is it mostly just a U.S. thing?
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:47 AM on November 30 [7 favorites]


There are definitely European countries that have had some serious austerity shit going on for a while, and my perception is that it's causing similar generational economic problems there. That's not all of Europe, obviously, but it's one possible European parallel to what we've had here.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:49 AM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I've always been baffled by the near-perfect overlap of people who complain "Millennials are killing [industry]" and people who extoll the unstoppable and dispassionate wisdom of market forces. Even from a conservative viewpoint, how is the failure of industries to adapt to customers' changing needs a moral failing of the customer? It's almost as if the real problem is "I'm uncomfortable with change".

The previous generation have created a far more transient economy. You no longer feel like the place where you live is home, it's just your current address. You no longer feel like your current job is secure or stable in any way, it's just a temporary zero-hours rolling month-to-month gig.

Yes, this. I've been extremely lucky -- no extended periods of un- or even under-employment, and got out of (British) uni just before the fees started rocketing -- but it's clear when I talk to my parents that we have completely different expectations about work and conceptions of what "home" means. Neither of my parents has had a job that lasted for less than a decade (my current record is 2.5 years, thanks to fixed-term academic contracts), and I've moved more times in the last ~decade than both of them combined throughout their entire lives to date. My current (and first ever) "permanent" contract very obviously means "for as long as it's profitable to keep you" to me, but to my parents means "I've chosen a city and firm to settle into for a decade or two". Home for them is a sense of permanence and security; for me and my friends it's where our stuff is for now, nestled amongst someone else's ugly decor and IKEA furniture, that we can't change and whose wear-and-tear we'll inevitably be charged for when we move on to the next place.
posted by metaBugs at 7:59 AM on November 30 [10 favorites]


I graduated college with a four-year degree in 2008, by luck (of having chose accounting instead of a general business degree, of getting a choice internship that lead to employment) the recession did not directly impact me as it has many of my peers. I am not super consumerist, in part due to environmental reasons, but i probably spend my fair share (mostly on travel though). HOWEVER, I have an extreme distrust of the economy and whether or not i will be able to depend on a 401k or even my spouse's state pension (which is, after all, tied to the stock market) into retirement, to say nothing to social security. I have no faith that investing dollars today will be there for me tomorrow.

If we ever have the reckoning we need to have in this country, in terms of correcting our gross economic inequalities, it will hurt the upper classes, sure ("oh poor thing, you lost 50% but still have millions") but it will more greatly impact middle classes whose modest savings wont recover. We've already seen some of it. (and sadly, I just realized that my whole argument is privileged as hell, because most Americans don't have ANY retirement plan or anything to speak of).

So yeah, its no wonder that I don't feel like going on shopping sprees or eating gross restaurant foods, or whatever the hell we're "at fault" for.
posted by CPAGirl at 8:03 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


In land use and transportation planning, there's a good bit of obsession over the housing and travel mode choices by millennials. They don't buy homes! They don't own cars! They're so enlightened and focused on reducing their carbon footprints!

Too often, we planners overlook this aspect: millennials make these choices because they can't afford to live like their parents when their parents were young.

Maybe some of those choices based on limited incomes stay when young people earn enough to buy those things bt they find that they're still content to rent, or buy an apartment or condo instead of a home, and prefer to hail rides, use transit or walk and bike instead of owning a car and dealing with parking in busy areas and dealing with maintenance, but I don't think every millennial who makes more makes those decisions.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:11 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


My best friend just had her in-laws stay with her for a week and a half over Thanksgiving. The biggest complaint she had was how much they wasted. They used individual paper towels for drying the dishes (instead of the dish towels that were in the kitchen for that express purpose), they washed a load of laundry with only one or two items in it and when washing that load of laundry they used more detergent than my friend uses for an entire load! She also said they had to buy toilet paper twice, because they seemed to use a roll a day (and they had no GI issues/medical reasons why that should be the case). My parents are the same way--my mom said they generally go through a roll of paper towels a day, but now that they switched brands it lasts three days! I buy a package of paper towels about once a year. And I mostly use them up when my mom comes to visit.

Anyways, now that I'm done with grad school and making slightly more money I've been buying a lot! Want to know what I've been buying? A new pair of pants for work, new underwear and bras (because the only new ones I'd had in a 6 year period were ones my mom bought me for Christmas), a wire cooling rack for baking, and two blocks for my home yoga practice (bought from Amazon warehouse because I was worried about buying something new and this seemed like a good compromise). Also, I felt guilty as hell about the last two purchases.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 8:13 AM on November 30 [8 favorites]


Too often, we planners overlook this aspect: millennials make these choices because they can't afford to live like their parents when their parents were young.

That's because most planners only planned for one group of people - suburban upper middle class straight married homeowners who drive to their jobs in the city and commute home at night. It's fine if millennials ultimately make the same choices, but for godsake planners just remember that other freakin' types of people exist!
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:15 AM on November 30 [10 favorites]


Also, I felt guilty as hell about the last two purchases.

jeez look at the blocks like this: you bought them to do some poses without hurting yourself. no guilt seems needed!
posted by thelonius at 8:16 AM on November 30 [3 favorites]


First we kill the diamond, CD, wedding and whatever industries...

Then we move on to intermediate targets, like big tobacco, golf, payday loans...

Finally, we clear out the big game, like oil and armaments. This has only been the beginning of our spree.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 8:18 AM on November 30 [32 favorites]


My best friend just had her in-laws stay with her for a week and a half over Thanksgiving. The biggest complaint she had was how much they wasted.

I went through the same experience with my mom a couple of months back.

My partner likes cast iron cookware and hand-operated kitchen tools because they don't break down and need to be replaced (or repaired for the same cost as buying a new one). She likes using cloth dish rags and napkins instead of paper towels because they're less wasteful. She gets most of our stuff from thrift shops because she likes vintage stuff more than new stuff.

Of course my mom sees all this and assumes that we're having financial troubles. Despite the fact that I'm ridiculously overpaid for sitting at a desk writing Metafilter comments all day long. My mom just couldn't conceive of the possibility that we live the way we do by choice instead of necessity. (And I know how lucky I am there, because it's obviously true that a lot of other millennials don't have that choice.)

So, it's not just a generational thing... but there definitely is also a generational thing involved.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:31 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


My relatives, aunts and uncles, many of whom aren’t doing spectacular or are on a fixed income, will regularly buy like, whole new living rooms sets in a way I find like, last days of Rome style wasteful.
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 AM on November 30 [14 favorites]


I'm the parent of two millennials. They and their friends look nothing like we did in our early 20s

I’d love to hear details here. I’m a little isolated in this regard. I’m close friends a bunch of elder millennials and they’re honestly all doing pretty well. Way better than I was at their age. But don’t know any early 20’s folk. I’d like to hear your experience on how different they are than when you were that age.
posted by greermahoney at 8:36 AM on November 30


As a Gen Xer, I can definitely see how the boomers pretty much were the worst possible stewards for the society they were given (and they've overstayed their welcome on the political stage as well).

However. My mother, who is an early Boomer and has voted Republican all her life, isn't wasteful. Paper towels were for spill cleanup and nothing else. We used dishtowels. We got second hand cars. And not explicitly, but we were brought up anti-Walmart, anti-fast-food and pro-little-guy-grocery-store.

I don't bring this up as a "we all contain multitudes" comment; more, to point out that it is possible to be a generational fish in the generational water, and still swim against the stream sometimes. Saying "all boomers are like this" or "all millenials are like that" serves, to some extent, to absolve the individual when theyadhere to the stereotype.
posted by notsnot at 8:43 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


First we kill the diamond, CD, wedding and whatever industries...

Don't forget Applebees. Super proud of that one.
posted by cirgue at 8:57 AM on November 30 [14 favorites]


I have a toxic Trumpist relative whose (reasonable and nice) daughter had babies earlier this year, and after an extended visit, this relative sent a field report on "how millennials live" to her email list. All wide-eyed and baffled by these unusual customs. Here's what she observed:
-They are extremely thoughtful and deliberate. They look into and research everything. They do get most of their news from far leftist places, but they were curious to ask me my thoughts on things and they really listened.
-[son-in-law] has an incredible palate for tasting the nuances of whiskey and coffee. His coffee making is Rube Goldberg-like: beans, grinding, dripping, ratios!
-They do not watch TV. In fact, there is NO TV! Not one in the whole place. They do watch stuff on their computers; Netflex, Amazon Prime, and we watched some of the Olympics streaming from NBC. They get ALL of their news via the internet.
-They like books. Real books. They use the library and have their own library in their home.
She also comments on their "minimalism" and lack of carpet. Is miffed by it. And then my mom, her friend, came and stayed with us as a hurricane evacuee. Mom was concerned and upset about the lack of television in millennial homes, and wondered if we were ignorant (as she angrily scrolled through her iPad searching for videos from a local news site).

It is almost cute--if it wasn't so terrible--how far out they've gotten from the simple, frugal habits their parents had, having grown up in the Depression.
posted by witchen at 8:57 AM on November 30 [28 favorites]


Of course my mom sees all this and assumes that we're having financial troubles. Despite the fact that I'm ridiculously overpaid for sitting at a desk writing Metafilter comments all day long. My mom just couldn't conceive of the possibility that we live the way we do by choice instead of necessity. (And I know how lucky I am there, because it's obviously true that a lot of other millennials don't have that choice.)

So, it's not just a generational thing... but there definitely is also a generational thing involved.


This is my sense as well. I have no doubt that economic disadvantage has a lot to do with this. But I'm an older Millenial (just under the wire really) and I have never read one of these 'Millenials are killing x' stories where I was bummed that the thing in question was dying. Millenials are killing the diamond industy. Good. Millenials are killing the wedding industry. Good. Millenials are killing golf. Good. Hell, millenials are killing Applebee's. Good.

There is probably something of a cultural component here as well, because I have noticed that these victims of my generation never seem to be things that I think have any value.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:58 AM on November 30 [8 favorites]


Mom was concerned and upset about the lack of television in millennial homes

My parents and in-laws both have serious issues with the lack of cable and the lack of a drip coffee pot. They try to be polite about it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:59 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


The coffee thing is particularly funny to me. Coming from a house where it's, I assume, either K-cups or pre-ground Folgers in an electric drip pot with filters. I always laugh when I read this line and I can hear her Paula Deen voice:
beans, grinding, dripping, ratios!
posted by witchen at 9:03 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Mom was concerned and upset about the lack of television in millennial homes
In the UK, you have to pay a TV licence fee if you even own a television. It's not a small sum, it's £150 per year. I realised I was watching so little broadcast TV in my own home that it just wasn't worth the cost, so when the licence came up for renewal one year I put the TV away in a cupboard.

After several visits from my parents in which one of the main topics of conversation was "where's the TV? why aren't you watching the TV? what's wrong with the TV?" I just renewed the licence and got it back out.

I still watch it for about half an hour a week.
posted by winterhill at 9:04 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


My parents and in-laws both have serious issues with the lack of cable and the lack of a drip coffee pot.

We keep a drip machine in our house purely for my parents, who become confused and a little irritated if they can't consume a couple pots of coffee during dinner.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:06 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


What I notice is that a lot of habits that were bohemian among Boomers (yes, I said that Boomers had some of these habits, @me if you dare) and GenXers are relatively mainstream among millenials, for both economic and culture drift reasons. I don't think this is weird.

My parents were bohemian Boomers - not hippies, but very into, like, "culture". We didn't watch TV (except the Muppets in the early eighties and the BBC Nicholas Nickelby), although eventually we had a VCR (the streaming service of its day, so to speak) to watch artsy and classic movies). We had a drip coffee maker but special coffee. We were very picky about possessions and bought things to keep. Certainly, television news would have been deemed an utter waste of time unless there was a national emergency.

Me? I buy almost everything second hand, I have built my life around not having a car, I don't have a TV, television news is deemed utterly pernicious and vile, I grind my own coffee (but am too lazy for anything but my late nineties (vintage!) Mr Coffee and a filter), etc etc. And these were all the normal habits of my artsy/activist social circle. You would have been a real outlier had you watched a lot of TV, bought a new car (or owned a car at all if you were childless, able-bodied, living in the city and not literally driving as part of your job), bought a lot of new stuff, etc.

And look, I think that this is normal cultural drift. What was bohemian in, like, the twenties? Chin-length hair for women, obvious make-up, "living together", women drinking hard liquor, the general artsy informality of, eg, the Bloomsbury set. None of those things are shocking today - they're all so normal that we don't even really think of them as indicating anything in particular about people. If anything, you look at photos of Virginia Woolf's home and think how fancy the hand-painted walls and furniture are.

Some things are obvious improvements, some are just changes. (I don't think there's anything inherently moral about, eg, being really fussy about coffee or chocolate, and it's a real tossup whether buying nice furniture to last is better or worse than jetting all over for experiences).

A lot of it is just that the things that seemed daring and required conscious choice for one generation become more and more mainstream for the next.
posted by Frowner at 9:20 AM on November 30 [23 favorites]


Now I'm stressing out about what's considered bohemian today.

Actually, maybe socialism? That would be rad.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:21 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


I don't get the obsession with TV either. Even the local non-Fox news these days is just a parade of weather, traffic reports, gun crimes and house fires. I have a TV but it's not hooked up to anything except a PS4 that I use mostly for Netflix.
posted by azuresunday at 9:22 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


"You have to actually....MAKE...the coffee?" -- Dad. (I have a cone filter that sits on a mug.)
"Now this no TV thing...is this by choice?" -- relatively hip uncle. (I do have Netflix.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:22 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I'm the parent of two millennials. They and their friends look nothing like we did in our early 20s

I’d love to hear details here.


My wife and I graduated from college in 1989, and we never, ever doubted back then that we'd do well financially and exceed our parent standard of living because every generation has been doing that. And we graduated right into a recession. That whole 1980s conspicuous consumption thing was totally our vibe at that age.

Neither of my kids (24/22) has that kind of optimism. They both assume it's going to be a struggle, and although I don't know many of their friends well, I get that same vibe. When I graduated you were kind of a failure if you didn't go straight from college to a "career" job. Today, it's not that common at all. I see my kids and their friends getting by on retail or non-career gigs for a couple of years after graduation before finally finding something that is 40 hours a week with a 401K, if they are lucky. I also see a real difference in attitudes toward material goods. They are mostly things to do a job - your car gets you to work and back. They don't get emotionally invested like we did in our cars and stereos back in the 80s. It's a much more utilitarian approach to material possessions. They exist to do a job, not to bring you status or happiness. It's a better approach and one I've learned over the years, but I don't think my kids got it from us.
posted by COD at 9:23 AM on November 30 [10 favorites]


Not just the TV but the TV always being on even if no one is watching it is one of those big markers.
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on November 30 [19 favorites]


Not just the TV but the TV always being on even if no one is watching it is one of those big markers.

My mom even leaves the TV on when she leaves the house, "for the dog."
posted by COD at 9:26 AM on November 30 [15 favorites]


"Now this no TV thing...is this by choice?"

That’s what people say when I tell them I don’t drink. What does your uncle think the issue might be?
posted by Etrigan at 9:30 AM on November 30


I would assume my apartment situation-- it's said with the tone like "Should we be concerned...?" as though it's a minor safety issue like having poorly-functioning radiators.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:32 AM on November 30


I happened across an interesting, Boomer-adjacent fact in a book called Servants.

When I was young and punk rock, the previous punk rock generation had been very, very into detourning fifties images - the housewife vacuuming in her heels and pearls, etc. I'd always assumed that the images of nicely dressed women doing chores were purely propaganda about how women should always be dressed up no matter what they were doing.

But actually! Those ads were primarily intended to emphasize the ease of use of the implements - the vacuum was so easy to use, so much better than the carpet sweeper or rug beater of yore, that you could vacuum in your best clothes! Vacuuming in your best clothes was supposed to illustrate how much better your life was than your mother's, since she would have been hauling those rugs out to the yard and beating them in all weathers.

And consider the other technological improvements of the post-war period - better washers and dryers, the microwave, more reliable phone service (my father was telling me that when he was young, you'd routinely be unable to make a long distance call because the lines were in heavy use. And you'd just have to wait)...anyway, all kinds of things. Dishwashers, god knows! When I was little, my house still had a mangle in the basement. We had a modern washer and dryer and hardly ever used it, but I don't envy the women who did.

Another thing I took from Servants was the incredible heavy labor of maintaining older houses with older technologies. I think that a lot of Boomers grew up/became young adults during the latter part of a huge change in domestic work, de facto women's work. They themselves when young, and certainly their mothers, did very difficult, heavy domestic work that's much worse than most of what we do today.

My point in all of this is that the interest in convenience and sort of simplistic approach to technology that gets derided a lot isn't just ideological or some kind of failing; it reflects a huge technological transition in domestic life that occurred between about 1935 and 1970.
posted by Frowner at 9:36 AM on November 30 [25 favorites]


I gotta admit I'm getting tired of screwing with the Chemex every time I want coffee - thinking of buying another automatic drip machine
posted by thelonius at 9:42 AM on November 30


I gotta admit I'm getting tired of screwing with the Chemex every time I want coffee - thinking of buying another automatic drip machine

Why not both?

posted by leotrotsky at 9:55 AM on November 30


Forgive. Student. Debt.

Takes like this are honestly a tempting thing that when you look at it further, does not make sense as a way of fixing things.

It's essentially arguing that those who had the financial ability and promise of earnings should have their debt forgiven - but the structures that make that debt crippling and punishing should remain for everyone else.

The problem is not 'student debt', it's the fact that student debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy, and that 'credit scores' are used for everything from housing to the size of your electricity deposit to in some cases jobs.

The cost of college degrees is not the biggest problem - the fact that employers won't hire you for entry level positions without them is.

And, to get on my authentic 1930s era soapbox for a minute, there's a lot of talk about how boomers had it so good and they had good jobs and it assumes those jobs came like manna from heaven. No, those jobs came from unions and strikes. This can't be solved with the ballot box, where politicians beneficiently promise to make things better if only people will vote for them, while not facing any consequences if they do not. This can only be solved with mass action. Most companies operate on surgically-precise margins that computers decide for them. Fuck up their supply chains. Make companies afraid to treat their employees like serfs. Violate the fucking labor peace.
posted by corb at 10:07 AM on November 30 [50 favorites]


My wife and I graduated from college in 1989, and we never, ever doubted back then that we'd do well financially and exceed our parent standard of living because every generation has been doing that.

Damn, I graduated from college in 2010 and believed essentially the same thing up until... oh say late September 2008.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:12 AM on November 30 [3 favorites]


corb, forgiving student debt is the bandaid. Structural economic changes (ie socialism) are the cure.
posted by Automocar at 10:27 AM on November 30 [3 favorites]


Praise Gritty, corb is out here advocating that we eat the rich, what CAN'T those millennials do!!!!!
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:38 AM on November 30 [28 favorites]


Somewhat related (I almost made a FFP on this but it seems like it'd fit better here, also it'd be very thin), Payless made a fake-expensive store to try and...trick young people? Unclear. Weird and unclear.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:40 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


let's add this to the horror, shall we?

The VA basically gutting the one way a lot of people have had to get better lives and saying, "hey, fuck those promises to our veterans!" I'll bet the Creamsicle Horror is chortling about what he considers a 'win'.
posted by mephron at 11:05 AM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I suspect that the influencers were either in on the Palessi gambit from the get-go or (perhaps even more likely) Payless knew they'd go for the potential 'gram exposure whether or not it came off looking like a trick. I'm on Team No One for the whole affair, but I do find this bit of the Vox article striking:

"What’s weirder is what it tells us about how Payless thinks about the general market of people who buy shoes — namely, that most people don’t understand value and pricing and packaging and don’t think about what goes into making something cost what it costs, but just gravitate toward status symbols impulsively."

Like... that is literally how fashion works, though? And that is how Instagram influencers earn their bread and butter, and that is how people try to become influencers in the first place -- status-chasing. Plenty of #brands mark up the same cheap shoes Payless is selling, shoes produced in the same factories by the same underpaid-and-badly-treated workers. How much a person will pay in markup will depend on how much they have and how much they care, and "millennials" aren't alone in this. Nor are they immune, I suspect, in being willing to pay $5 more for shoes sold via some fly-by-night-but-looked-good-on-Insta fashion company rather than buying the functional equivalent from Payless even though everything's probably coming from the same Alibaba supplier regardless, with the same cardboard soles that will dissolve in the first hard rain. And the stinger at the end:

"And I suggest pulling up the carpets at Payless and installing some nice pine"

basically proves Palessi's point? It's the #brandstory, not the shoes.
posted by halation at 11:06 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


As a GenXer who has used TVs solely for video games and the occasional rented DVD, all the Millennialls commenting here about how they do the same thing except "streaming" instead of "renting a DVD" make me feel ahead of the curve. My Boomer mother had the TV on all the time and that always weirded me out too.

(I also have shitty internet in the living room, and live a block away from one of the Last Great Video Stores.)
posted by egypturnash at 11:16 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


My boomer mom is excruciatingly frugal in some respects. She reuses teabags and is careful to save and return deposit bottles. She sewed the curtains for the room I grew up in as well as a bunch of my childhood clothes. I still have no idea how much BPA we consumed while washing and reusing Poland Spring bottles for years on end.

Sometimes, however, she will purchase something that betrays the generational divide between us. She grew up with a lot of 1950s ideas about what a household should look like, replete with color schemes, and accent pieces, and, of course, fine china in a signature pattern.

She recently bought a full set of matching Mikasa dishes, bowls, and accessories, even though she a) is retired and b) already owns a full set of matching plates and all of the same accessory items. The new plates even have a fancy metallic rim, so they can't be used in the microwave.

Meanwhile, I have totally given up on the idea of having a home that looks design-y in any regard. My partner and I have been rocking the same trusty ol' Ikea Dinera set for over a decade. It's mixed in with gift mugs and some stuff with birds on it that belonged to my partner's deceased grandmother. If we don't break up and the world doesn't end we will probably be using the same plates in another 10 years.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:18 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I know a lot of millenials who are very into how their homes look. I know one millenial who, heartstoppingly, bought this chair. I've sat in it - it's very nice. If it didn't cost $1300, I too would like one. The millenial in question is by no means super rich, either.

I think that the degree to which people like things decorated, matchy-matchy, etc is partly generational but also very strongly class-marked.

(Also, thank god I bought furniture before thrift store prices went up. God willing and the creek don't rise, I am Furnished For Life and have been since about 2005.)
posted by Frowner at 11:31 AM on November 30 [5 favorites]


Also, thank god I bought furniture before thrift store prices went up.
I thought this was just a UK thing! When I furnished my first home, it was super easy to go to auctions or second-hand shops and pick up a perfectly serviceable TV stand for £5 or a desk for £10 or a sofa for £70. I furnished a whole house for <£500. (It doesn't match but I genuinely don't give a shit, I like it.)

Nowadays, the prices are *so high* because there's more demand - and perhaps because fewer people are buying new stuff, so there's less used stuff being thrown out and onto the second-hand market.

Our local charity furniture shop has its deliveries each Thursday and I swear there's a queue outside on Thursday mornings to snap the stuff up.
posted by winterhill at 11:46 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


She also comments on their "minimalism" and lack of carpet.

I don't know why, but I kinda like "minimalism" and multipurpose tools. My theory is simply growing up in a household full of junk, I'm tacking hard in the opposite direction. But maybe 'household full of junk' is simply the default situation for a family of four, and maybe I have a growing collection of video game junk I need to cull.

Also there were parts of the house that were Not To Be Used. We had a dining room table and a kitchen table. Typical family meals were served in the kitchen table, and the dining table was basically only ever used for holiday guests. And it sucked because the china hutch was in the dining room, with basically no room to walk. Family room was similarly only ever used for guests.

My wife and I graduated from college in 1989, and we never, ever doubted back then that we'd do well financially and exceed our parent standard of living because every generation has been doing that.

I guess as a millennial my role is to question that goal. I mean, on one dimension, I've accomplished it -- I'm supporting their retirement when at their age, I've recently learned, their parents were sending Christmas checks with commas in the amount. And I'm saving a boatload for my own retirement. But on other dimensions, it's not so clear cut. My residence is a tiny apartment that costs, on an annual basis, close to what they paid for the house they bought. No pets, no kitchen full of gadgets, no garage full of power tools, no boxes full of seasonal holiday decorations hiding under the non-existent stairs.
posted by pwnguin at 11:47 AM on November 30


The paylessi thing caused an impromptu speech by me on the world overcapacity problem, waste,, velben, and how access to easy credit (like student loans) rather than wage growth led us to this twice damned world

Debt is so great if you own it, one someone runs out of money you can mine it from thier future. Eliminate personal debt.
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 AM on November 30 [4 favorites]


Nowadays, the prices are *so high* because there's more demand - and perhaps because fewer people are buying new stuff, so there's less used stuff being thrown out and onto the second-hand market.

I totally agree, and I think there's another factor at play too - the quality has gone downhill so sharply with more recently produced stuff that when people get rid of something, it's because it's totally fallen apart and is basically unable to be donated.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:51 AM on November 30 [10 favorites]


and perhaps because fewer people are buying new stuff, so there's less used stuff being thrown out and onto the second-hand market.

Yeah, judging by the proliferation of storage units and storage "solutions" and storage books/shows, I would think that people have way too much stuff these days and that secondhand places are glutted with household items. But that's also a good point about the quality. Nobody wants a peeling particleboard desk with stripped screw holes, just like nobody wants a plastic Barbie car that's sat in a storage unit for 15 years.
posted by witchen at 11:58 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


My parents still question why my husband and I haven't bought a house yet, even after they've lost theirs around '08. Even after they looked into our area to see if they can move nearby, and ruled it out due to costs. In general there's been a lot of arguing recently about advice they try to give that just no longer applies.

Mine is a family of immigrants, but generational divides are still stark - or maybe starker because of it? One of my grandmothers had super fancy plastic wrapped furniture, and an immense number of Fine Things displayed in her house. When I was 15 my mom bought a Fancy China Set for me and kept it in her garage, until I would blossom into the dinner-hosting-housewife that was obviously my destiny. When I moved out into my first tiny apartment I was given a glass cabinet full of shiny silver and crystal and porcelain THINGS, which felt like an enormous noose around my neck until I picked up the courage to put them all in storage, 10 years later.

We live such completely and utterly different lives now that the divide becomes greater than I can put into words. Time and time again my parents have asked about or questioned the presence/lack of something they'd expect us to have, and I can do nothing but gesture around me, like... Can't you see what's been happening? Do you know what my life is now?

I have to imagine that not understanding this has been frustrating for them too, but damn. At least they've all stopped asking me to explain what my job is.
posted by erratic meatsack at 12:04 PM on November 30 [9 favorites]


I used to go to the enormous thrift store near my house about once a week. Between about 1998 and maybe 2005, I bought: vintage dishes, silver plated flatware, wacky mid-century storage items, several nice chairs, a vintage Coach handbag from before they were covered with logos, a silk-satin Dior dress from about 1958, innumerable cashmere sweaters, lots of books, lots of vintage jewelry including some really nice pieces, wool blankets, velvet pillow shams, three high-end pots, a lot of mid-century pottery, silk shirts, vintage all-wool winter coats...and of course a variety of random basic things like tee shirts and glasses. At the other large thrift store, I bought a beautiful sofa made by a now-defunct medium-sized Midwestern maker, a forties chest of drawers, several small tables, more chairs, nice vintage lamps and a couture suit with a jacquard design of tiny lit matches. The last really nice thing I bought was a lot of white Fire King (which is the less collectible kind) in fall 2008.

Seriously, I loved going thrifting.

After about 2005, though, two things happened - the prices went way, way up (from ~$4.99 for a mass market shirt to ~$9.99) and the quality went down. Suddenly, everything was, like, last year's acrylic sweater from Target. Just real junk. And they'd try to charge you $5 for a perfectly ordinary glass or mug that would have been 99cents the year before. Some of this was ebay, some of it was profit-taking, some of it was that they must have cut a bunch of deals with pickers - but a lot of it was fast fashion, a huge churn of trash clothes and household goods that people felt weird about actually trashing. Plus fast production meant that new stuff was junk too, so the difference between last year's crap sweater and this year's was small.

Such household things as I still need, I usually get on eBay now. I don't think I've set foot in a thrift store in four, five years.
posted by Frowner at 12:16 PM on November 30 [20 favorites]


Part of the thing is the destruction of the thrift store economy because it’s been taken over by Etsy and eBay, “curated vintage” and online secondhand stores for rich people. Thrift shopping went from survival strategy of the poor to a way for the downwardly mobile to cushion thier fall.

And yeah the quality of everything just went down the god damned toilet. See above speech, it’s not even worth checking to see if a blazer is fused (glued) or stitched. I feel like my thousand hours learning Goodwill CSI is all for nothing.
posted by The Whelk at 12:23 PM on November 30 [21 favorites]


that first year when the whole stupid "layer these 2 see-thru shirts which are each $5 more than regular opaque shirts were last year" became the inescapable women's fashion was the first sign of impending garbage horrors for me, which amusingly and horribly coincided with the whole stupid "instead of one normal plastic bag we will now give you two incredibly tissue-thin plastic bags bc that's cheaper for us" situation at grocery stores/rite aid/etc. "buy more because what's available is garbage" is peak america.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:47 PM on November 30 [12 favorites]


So, I guess what the report is saying is that things will bounce back, as long as no one does something stupid like perpetuating or increasing economic inequality.
posted by ckape at 12:48 PM on November 30


As far as I am concerned, the industies noted in these articles are dying from self-inflicted wounds. This so-called economic recovery is not very evenly distributed and much of the "recovered" profit is still funneled away from the employees.

For most of these industries, the population they pull their labor from is also the population that makes up their market. They're scraping discretionary income from their labor pool, and then wondering where their customer base went.

Even if one company realizes it's essentially the same pool, they can't/won't change the way they treat labor because they must remain "competitive." It's a tragedy of the corporate commons.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:48 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


Slay away, millennials. I may find some of your traits irritating, but you are still more sinned against than sinning. Slay away.
posted by praemunire at 1:28 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]



My wife and I graduated from college in 1989, and we never, ever doubted back then that we'd do well financially and exceed our parent standard of living because every generation has been doing that.


Here's the thing. My wife and I are the same, except I didn't actually go to college. Neither of us thought we'd really exceed our parents standard of living, or more accurately, the sheer opportunity as our parents, barring extreme luck and/or work. Because by '89, the writing was already on the wall. None of this is new, imo. I can say that I find little wrong with millennials in general. Frankly, I wish I could be in that cohort. As gloomy as mf likes to be, the world is better now than then.

And sure, I can humblebrag as well as anyone, but I don't see a whole lotta difference between watching TV and watching Netflix, or thrift shopping before it was cool.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:37 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Can we kill the term 'millenial'?

I modified the Cloud to Butt extension to replace "millenial" with "kids these days".
posted by solarion at 3:21 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Capitalism: Oh, if only there was a way to make people who need health care, a better job market, higher education, and debt relief deeply distrust and even hate each other!
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:25 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


After about 2005, though, two things happened - the prices went way, way up (from ~$4.99 for a mass market shirt to ~$9.99) and the quality went down. Suddenly, everything was, like, last year's acrylic sweater from Target. Just real junk.

Oh. So that happened, yes.

Around 2005, after a couple of years of scraping by on weird short-term projects, I went back to work in a real office full-time. For a couple of years, I didn't do thrift shopping because I was working when the stores were open, and because, hey, for the first time, I had money to buy new things, so we bought appliances that weren't on the edge of falling apart, and clothes that were suitable for an office.

And every once in a while, I'd have a day off that coordinated with potential shopping, and I'd visit a thrift store or two because I used to love it, and... ick. There were none of the funky or exotic clothes that I liked to wear, none of the odd-but-durable appliances (e.g. hardboiled egg cooker), no more pretty cup-and-saucer pairs that were obviously from a larger set. Instead, there were overpriced t-shirts with company logos, sports bottles (with company logos), and blenders missing lids and blades.

I thought it was me - that I had a taste of stable income and had "grown out of" thrift store shopping, that the store had always been that way and I hadn't noticed. I mourned the loss of the fun I used to have; it didn't occur to me that maybe "thrift store stuff" had changed.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:16 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


Capitalists: Millennials why cant we part you with your money? 🤗
Millennials: because we don’t have any and we’re trying to be responsible.
Capitalists: yes I see, how can we help get you to part with your money? 🤗
Millennials: pay us more?
Capitalists: No. That will never do. *demure laugh* Seriously though, how can we convince you to part with your money? 🤗
Millennials: well if you’re not going to pay higher wages, maybe if you could lower house prices or bring in universal healthcare or help subsidize childcare so we can start families or write off our student loan debt or...
Capitalists: Hmm yes okay, but alternatively what if we show you more ads and write some think pieces, would that be helpful? 🤔
Millennials: No not at all actually.
Capitalists: ...
Millennials: You’re writing a think piece right now aren’t you.
Capitalists: No I’m emailing the New York Times style section about something completely unrelated how dare you sir. 🧐
posted by supercrayon at 4:21 PM on November 30 [43 favorites]


And sure, I can humblebrag as well as anyone, but I don't see a whole lotta difference between watching TV and watching Netflix, or thrift shopping before it was cool.

The difference is that, with Netflix and thrifting, you can opt out of advertising and overconsumption. With TV, you’re beholden to whatever schedule, whatever programming, with whatever advertisements. It’s completely different from Netflix as a form of home entertainment.

I’m not trying to say that Netflix is a beacon of integrity, but it’s nice to have a quiet home until I put on a program of my choosing at the time of my choosing, and without any commercials.
posted by witchen at 5:33 PM on November 30 [13 favorites]


GenX parent here. Kids are 20 and 23. Student debt is a huge force in their lives. They are fiercely frugal and have little expectation of accessing a lavish consumer lifestyle.

And they are not happy with the generations preceding them.
posted by doctornemo at 6:21 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Look. I'm going to explain my philosophy on this in simple terms. The economy functions like Warcraft - not Wow, but the original isometric RTS where the people are resources and the companies are playing. There are finite resources on the map, and if you race to squeeze all the wealth out of the map too quickly by over-producing peons, you will find yourself with no more reserves of gold. Trees? You've got plenty of trees generally, but the consumers look like they have huge wealth and so you go at them hard - but sooner, rather than later, you bleed your first mine dey and have to go farther out... and that continues until you have bled every dollar from every consumer - unless part of your strategy is the long game. At this point the analogy breaks down...

As a company, If you aren't looking for a balance of sustainable expansion and mutual prosperity for your consumers - and instead are focused on short term market calls and profit margins, you are going to burn through all your consumer base. That isn't to say that private equity is playing the long game either... most of them just take a company, break them into pieces based on profitability, saddle debt to one that they think can cary it as a declined as long as possible (generally your retail front), squeeze out as much profit from it as long as possible and the dump the husk of the company in bankruptcy long after they've sold off the growth pieces of the company that could have prevented it.

Point being... golf. Golf??? Golf superstores are going bankrupt because millenials aren't buying them? Ha! No. Golf superstores are going bankrupt because somebody thought that a greatest generation luxury, which the boomers self subsidized by giving themselves more than living wages and preventing any subsequent generations from earning a fair living bought their products. The boomers took their wealth and then have spent the past two decades transferring all their wealth to these lost-cause bad-idea businesses leaving themselves with just enough so that when they do finally exit the planet they have nothing left for their children. The boomers would be a net neutral on the world In this way - IF they hadn't looted this every last dollar of parity and equality with other generations. All their things will become affordable in time, but that time isnt now and it isn't soon. Their oversized lifestyle will need to crumble in bank auction ten or twenty years post derelict. A time when what stays vacant will be squatted in, or decay in ruin to a point of becoming unsalvageable. But, like the boomers, eventually their legacy will crumble to the dust - very much in a David Byrne Nothing But Flowers sort of way.

If they are right and I am wrong, may their God have mercy on their souls.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:27 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


For the record there is still good stuff to be had in thrift stores, and I find it all the time-- recent scores include a ca. 1890 kingfisher-feather brooch, a 40s wool dress with heavily beaded bodice, and a boxfull of Jadite dishes. but as I own a vintage shop and go thrifting weekly I may be an outlier adn should not be counted.
posted by nonasuch at 7:45 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Millenials are killing the diamond industy. Good. Millenials are killing the wedding industry. Good. Millenials are killing golf. Good. Hell, millenials are killing Applebee's. Good.

There is probably something of a cultural component here as well, because I have noticed that these victims of my generation never seem to be things that I think have any value.


I'm Gen X, not millenial, but this is exactly my reaction. If the millenials were killing off things I enjoy, like microbreweries, I would join in the outrage. But golf? Good riddance.

But more seriously, I can see what the article is describing in younger people I know in my family and at work. They are working with genuinely constrained resources and it shows. I didn't graduate into boom times, and I'll never be rich, but opportunities have ratcheted down considerably since then.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:51 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Pretty much any time you see "millennial" in the title of an article, it's an attempt to turn a class/economic conflict into an intergenerational one.

Absolutely right. Politicians are delighted when millennials gripe about generational differences because it is a useful diversion from the real class warfare. The real enemy is the 1% or the 0.1% in every generation -- millennials, Gen-X, boomers, etc. They have been screwing everyone forever.

Zuckerberg is a millennial. Those millennial Ivy Leaguers who went to Wall Street are getting rich off your school loans. It isn't just the boomers ripping you off.

There are the rich in every generation and the poor in every generation. It's class warfare, not generation warfare. The median boomer retiree household is struggling to live off about the same income as the average millennial household -- after a lifetime of labor.

The problem is that since around 1980, the 1% and 0.1% have schemed to accumulate more and more of the national income to their own class. They are the problem, not your parents generation. The 1% and 0.1% exist in every generation. Don't fall for the generational warfare scam.
posted by JackFlash at 8:11 PM on November 30 [25 favorites]


I'm caught smack between GenX and Millennial territory. My timing was extraordinarily lucky; I graduated just before tuition fees appeared and student grants disappeared, I managed to hop on the housing ladder before the house prices went through the roof. I work a pretty well respected tech job.

Nevertheless, I feel completely precarious in my current state of financial security. It's obvious that the standard amount of pension savings for a corporate job is likely to be utterly inadequate to keep me going in retirement, especially if you include dignified non-abusive elder care for what could be two decades with dementia for all I know. There's also no safety net worth speaking of if I should become unable to work due to some kind of disability; the tech industry changes so fast that I don't really trust my ability to stay relevant in it; and the spectre of being put out of work by standard tech industry agism/sexism looms large.

So even though I am doing well enough, I'm still deliberately living on less than minimum wage and socking away the rest, in a desperate attempt to become financially self-sufficient before I end up under a bridge. I spend next to nothing. I don't buy avocado toast and I don't buy living room sets. Having the economy pick up more is not going to make me feel more comfortable spending money - what I need is some level of confidence that society won't leave me dead in a ditch if I catch a run of bad luck.
posted by quacks like a duck at 3:51 AM on December 2 [2 favorites]


It’s almost like we need some kind of collective, socialized system of government with democratic systems in power to ensure the dignity and autonomy of all people against the hoarders of wealth.
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 AM on December 2 [8 favorites]




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