Young people are the new old people.
This guy is cool now. Stock photo via Getty
Everywhere you go, millennials are pushing the boundaries of convention and defying the rules: Almost getting people elected, riding "hoverboards" that are actually basically just Segways, writing self-congratulatory thinkpieces about ourselves. It's a busy world out there, and millennials are taking charge. For instance, this is the first generation ever to admit that going out actually sucks.
"They're the greatest generation—of couch potatoes," is how the New York Post, in one of the most amazing articles ever written, describes millennials. The case against us? We're streaming more television and spending more time on our phones than Gen X, declining to socialize in person, and maybe most damning of all, "More young people are choosing to spend a quiet evening at home." We're not even cool enough to get drunk: "A 2016 survey by Heineken found that when millennials do bother to venture outside, 75 percent drink in moderation."
The Post suggests a few reasons for millennials' lameness, including a quote from a neurologist who says that cases of exhaustion among young people are on the rise and a note that going out, especially in big cities like New York, is expensive. But even those of us who aren't perpetually broke and tired are still not embracing traditional methods of socializing, like sitting in a dark bar doing shots until something happens. This has something to do with social media, maybe? Oh, and dating! Whatever happened to dating, right?
"You know, the whole 'Netflix and chill,' whatever you think about it... it's kind of a trend," one millennial helpfully told the Post.
You could point to various generational reasons for millennials' habit of staying in—it's not surprising that a cohort that came of age between 9/11 and the worldwide financial crisis would be a little more frugal and culturally cautious than their predecessors. Remember, the previous generation was so decadent and insulated from reality that "flannel" was a fashion trend and the most popular TV show was about six people hanging out in a coffee shop and periodically fucking one another. Millennials, in contrast to the depraved hedonists of Friends, who kept exotic animals like monkeys as pets, are a frugal, risk-averse sort, traits that don't lend themselves to turning Saturday nights into Sunday mornings.
You could also note millennials' well-established money woes and conclude that there's no great mystery behind us not wanting to drop $100 on a night out that ends with you walking home shoeless and headache-y at dawn. Or maybe it's just that "millennials" is a category that now includes 30-somethings, and people old enough to know shit about 401(k)s aren't inclined to spend their weekends snorting whatever gets offered to them in unisex bathrooms, then either dancing or talking about the JFK assassination for seven hours straight.
But really, what this completely real trend the Post has identified shows is that millennials have cracked the code. For most of human history, young people have spent a good chunk of their lives going "out," which mainly meant getting fucked up on mead or some mildly poisonous herb, then having sex with a stranger, waking up in a field, or both. Youths are always derided for this by the older generations, who claim that in their day the herbs were less poisonous and the outdoor coitus less brazen. Most of these kids, of course, settle down with one another and devote themselves to not being completely crushed by whatever economic system looms over them. Occasionally, they'll walk by a field and laugh fondly, knowing that their reckless phase has passed, and that what they really want to do is just hang out in front a fire with some of their closest friends and describe episodes of premium cable shows to one another. The wildest these nights ever get is when one of them cheekily brings some poisonous herbs to spice things up.
But millennials—if you believe the Post, and why wouldn't you?—are skipping past all that bullshit, those late-20s nights where you don't even enjoy waking up in a field but feel obligated to by your fear that you will be washed up if you don't spend Saturday puking while texting your friends to remind you not to mix mead and herbs, then going to brunch. Fuck going out. Fuck "out." It's expensive, it's crowded, it smells bad, the bands are usually terrible, the clubs are usually worse.
You know what's great? Sitting around and watching TV. Have you tried it? You get to wear comfortable clothes, summon whatever food you want via phone and eat it with your hands, go to bed when you choose—for most of the humans who have ever lived, this generation's typical night in represents an impossible pinnacle of luxury. People used to worry about stuff like drought, famine, and a new band of men with swords riding into town. Don't underestimate the simple luxuries of a glass of wine, a roof overhead, and a screen that can show you anything you can imagine.
So stay in tonight. Get a decent bottle of red wine or one of those bourgeois-ass beers that's brewed with like, lemon peels. Watch an entire Prince concert or a shitload of Peep Show. Or, fuck it, go Full Old and read a book. Sleep when you're tired. Wake up feeling rested for once. Go to the park. You'd be surprised by all the places you can go when you're not going out, and how nice the people are once you're there.
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