By Erin Goldman
Generation Y. Generation Me. Millennials. These are just a few of the delineations that, according to the Pew Research Center, apply to the newest, current generation — the oldest are approaching 30; the youngest are approaching adolescence. However, the one term that makes me cringe the most is “20-somethings.” For me, “20-somethings” are those of us who collected pogs, blew on their Super Mario cartridge harmonicas to make them work, had to wait through AOL’s hissing dial-up connection, took our Tamagotchis far too seriously and had constant ankle burns from Skip-It.
Now why do I abhor the term “20-somethings”? It has to do with how every time I scan through my Facebook news feed, there is some article or “Top 20 list” posted about being in your 20s. I realize that the pieces I find obnoxious, such as “Why You Should Stay Single in Your 20s” and “Things Every Girl in Her 20s Should Know,” were written by authors in their 20s, so I can’t blame them for writing what they know.
But in the past few months, I’ve noticed these lists posted on sites such as BuzzFeed and Tumblr as well as diatribes about the woes of being a “20-something.” The worst perpetrator of them all: Thought Catalog — a digital magazine, which publishes article submissions online.
On Oct. 15, 2013, I clicked on David Ludwig’s piece titled “10 Questions 20-Somethings Hate Hearing From Their Parents.” Among questions he complained about: “Are you dating anyone?” and “Have you ever considered moving back home?” BuzzFeed also posted a similar list, called “20 Things Every Twenty something Is Tired Of Hearing,” which was far more amusing than Ludwig’s, with “Your clock is ticking …” followed by, “Or you could always consider freezing your eggs …”
Nevertheless, all these articles that devour my newsfeed not only make me want to toss my laptop out my window, but also, they reiterate the entitled, lazy, social-media-obsessed stereotypes about which they are whining. Turn on HBO’s “Girls” and you’ll get the exact same thing.
Clive Thompson’s “Wired” piece, “Congrats, Millennials. Now It’s Your Turn to Be Vilified,” says it all. “Back in the early ’90s, boomer pundits across America declared Generation X a group of apathetic, coddled, entitled slackers,” Thompson wrote. “Even Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons … complained that ‘there’s no intellectual pride or content to this generation. The dominant pop culture is MTV and the Walkman.’” Update MTV and the Walkman to YouTube and an iAnything, and it’s the exact same story.
Don’t get me wrong. I, too, get asked these same questions. And so have my peers. “I get asked all the time about relationships. I think my mom wants grandkids,” 28-year-old Brookhaven student Marcus Ramsey said. While he finds the questions annoying, he is focused on his future. Ramsey said after receiving an associate degree this semester, he plans to attend Michigan State University. “When I was younger, I didn’t take class seriously, and I really regret that. Now school is my number one priority. I want to complete it and have my career.”
I spoke with Joan McMahon Flatt, who is doing a review of her book “Powerful Political Women” for Brookhaven’s 50+ Group March 21. As a member of an older generation and grandmother to 16, ages 11 to 30, she understands some of these concerns. While she doesn’t agree with the lazy stereotype, “Maybe [20-somethings] don’t have as much hope for the future as older generations had,” she said.
Maybe at only two years into my 20s, I’m just naïve. Maybe when I hit 23 in a couple of months, I’ll become filled with the angst and anguish I thought I had rid myself of in high school. I, too, worry about finding work in the current economic state. But being annoyed about others asking me about marriage and SnapChat is trivial in comparison.
For now, I just want to use these years to explore, experiment and hang out with my friends before my newsfeed is consumed, not by the “woe is me” 20-somethings, but by new moms with hundreds of baby photos and play-by-play status updates like “Turns out Cooper is over strained peas and is strictly a strained peaches man now! #theygrowupsofast.”