Millennial and Proud


Millennial and Proud

Illustration: Akshita Monga

The first time I was called a millennial, was also the first time I empathised with Bengalis who have nicknames that are better suited to frogs than people. It was a good taste of the pain they, I presume, go through when they know that they are stuck for life with their embarrassing excuse for parental endearment. My generation has been branded like cows, and its first casualty are my ears.

The second casualty is my social media feeds. My (least) favourite thing about living in the age of the internet is that there’s an article on everything. Every major publication and listicle-churning website is making the M-word the flavour of the season. Most didn’t hire a millennial to do so, but instead paid a tombstone – as I now fondly refer to anyone over 35.

It’s amusing that decisions of one’s identity are hardly ever taken by the person assuming it. Our births, accidental and random, fix our fates in some ways. We are provided a context we can only pick cherries from. My lot in life is that I’m now called a “millennial” by everyone I’m supposed to respect for no reason other than their being alive longer than me. These Gen-Xers are the same people who play bully in the world’s playground, sealed by the flawed logic of “My Parents Had Sex B4 Urs :PPPPP”.

That’s all there really is to it. The timeline of our parents’ procreative sexual activities. And it is because my parents had sex a lot later than their parents that I am lumped with the M-tag. The implication is that we are lazy, entitled, arrogant, whiny narcissists who are obsessed with social media, and have the attention span of a bee.

And really, who is Gen X to go pointing fingers and naming names anyway? This was a generation that would voluntarily watch films starring Mithun and Jeetendra, without paying Krishi Kalyan Cess from a salary after TDS. We’ve been given a label that sounds like a brand of iodised protein powder that Hrithik Roshan would drink while wearing kiddie-sized clothes. And by people who’ve been denying global warming for decades, bombing countries for fuel, and whose work is as easy as replacing “influencer” with the M-word in their 300-slide PPT to sell us things we can totes do without! They won’t even do that themselves because there’s a minion from this generation to press Replace All. You guys are going to call us out for using words like “totes”?

We can’t help being narcissistic and social-media-obsessed, because it’s the world we live in.

As you can tell by now, I have absolutely zero respect for Gen X. They got early industrialisation, a society fragmented along the lines of caste, colour, and/or religion, and a chance to make everything better for tomorrow, for us. Whither that promise? What we got instead are richer rich folks, smoke in the air, and Arnab blocking out honking noises from the traffic. It’s like Gen X made Sultan from a film that could have been Dangal.

But I guess I shouldn’t be irked. It’s only fair that every older generation romanticise their own youth. Like all young peeps over the last couple of millennia, we’re disliked, told tales of a former glory, and labelled derisively. It’s a wash-rinse-repeat cycle that mankind has been following diligently every 20 years. Millennials aren’t being singled out for odium. It’s just that the channels of hate have grown explosively and we’ve had no choice but to grow with them.

We can’t help being narcissistic and social-media-obsessed, because it’s the world we live in. We know that our ancestors solved crosswords while pissing on the planet to fill up their coffers, and we thank them for it every day as we die slow deaths. What option do we have but to circumvent and evade the sorry situation you’ve left us in? We’re sorry about taking a decent picture for proof while doing so – this is our coping mechanism. Actually, we’re not sorry, and no, you can’t sit with us.

Our arrogance comes from being better educated and exposed to so many stimuli. And we feel special because, well, you’ve told us this since the time we were born. We’re the future of a planet that’s past its prime, and while the world may be a richer place now, it’s got more war, injustice, and even this Donald Trump guy. This is not the world we made, but the world we’re inheriting. You’ve pushed it on its inexorable tumble downhill, don’t go about blaming us for it.

And yet, the M-word and its pejorative allusions are everywhere I go, so I’m putting down my arms. Go ahead. Go ahead and think that you can take 20 years of birth and give it collective attributes because you feel like. Congratulations on your ability to thin slice at will. We’d love to hire you to cut onions for us. Which we’ll then feed our cats.