I always have the same response: “That’s Generation Z. That’s not us.”
I’ve heard tell that Generation Z feels vilified by this, and all I can say to that is “tough luck.” Baby boomers and Gen-Xers have already pinned the downfall of the government, the economy, the diamond industry, and big-box department stores on millennials. I’m not about to let us take the fall for the detergent-eating, too.
Gen Z, however, has been largely exempt from the rampant millennial-hate on the internet, and they’re confused by millennials taking to cyberspace to order them to quit putting Tide Pods in their mouths. Some of the Gen Z kids are just savvy enough to take the irritation millennials have always blasted at baby boomers and repurpose it to launch at millennials instead. I’ve seen this phrased a couple ways, but the most common one is this. “You always complain about how Baby Boomers treat you, and now you’re treating us the same way!” (Only add a lot more gifs and emojis to the end of that sentence.)
We, the millennials, have not systematically wrecked the political climate and the environment and then demanded to know why you all, Generation Z, feel so hopeless.
We, the millennials, haven’t led the country into two unwinnable wars in our lifetime, Gen Z, and then wondered loudly and at length why you, Generation Z, aren’t all rabid, foam-at-the-mouth, bleed-red-white-and-blue patriots.
We didn’t destroy student aid programs and then bemoan the trend of college graduates moving back in with their parents.
We didn’t run the economy into the ground and then complain that you aren’t buying enough things. All of the stuff baby boomers and Gen-Xers have done to us?
We didn’t do any of that sh*t to you.
Instead, we the millennials have humbly asked that you quit filming yourselves eating Tide Pods and putting it on the internet. We have asked that you stop taking our peaceful, harmless memes about things that look like food but aren’t and ruining them by taking them too literally. We have, with all faith and good will, asked that you stop being so goddamn weird that the baby boomers and Gen-Xers start trying to pin your weirdness on us.
I can’t believe this has to be said, but no, telling you not to eat detergent is not ageism and generational cluelessness. It’s just common sense.
As a writer, I really prioritize feeling bad. I prioritize sadness and melancholy and loneliness because it is at our lowest that we seek sympathy from others. In order to resonate with readers, a writer has to be able to fiercely connect with human emotion at its worst, and often that’s where it’s easiest to find a human connection.
On occasion though, good feelings trigger that connection too. It’s alright to take smaller good things for granted; we don’t need to be ridiculously appreciative of the first sip of morning coffee or whatever. It’s enough to recognize overwhelmingly good emotions, the kinds that recognize themselves. When an emotion is overwhelmingly good, we don’t need to tune into the moment to fully appreciate it; the feeling is so all-encompassing that it lets itself be known full well without your help.
1. Crisp fall air, sweet spring air.
This one comes just when the season is ushered in. One night you’re walking home from the station and you breathe in and you know it’s coming.
2. Windows down, music up.
When your favorite artists release a new album just as summer comes around and your whole squad is feeling it, so you drive around screaming the lyrics until you wear them out.
3. Finally eating when you’ve been hungry.
When you haven’t eaten since yesterday’s breakfast and the only thing you can think about on the ride home is cutting up some tomatoes and shoving salami in your sandwich.
4. Being on the same wavelength with somebody.
Always a best friend type feeling where they know what song to play and what to tell you to comfort you. Sometimes you get stressed because you forget to tell them you didn’t want queso in the burrito that they’re picking up for you and then you realize they probably know anyway.
5. Fast food after a night out.
McDonald’s fries or artichoke pizza will save your drunken ass tonight.
6. Doing what you’re good at.
Sitting in class and understanding everything your professor is saying, catching it beat by beat, pride swelling in your chest.
7. Waking up on a day off.
Sometimes you won’t be able to catch a day to relax between classes and work and personal goals and then there it is- the shining one day off. You wake up at 12 and suddenly get worried because you’re sure you have an evening shift or at least some research to do but no, your to-do list is clear. You relax.
8. Grandma’s cooking.
You wave her off when she’s appalled at how little you’ve been eating recently, but sit down to gorge yourself on the meal she made you anyway. Screw chicken nuggets and pasta sometimes.