By Olivia Libowitz
Elm Staff Writer
Sex. Breasts. Football. The housing market. The American Dream. What do these things have in common? They’re all dead, and millennials killed them. At least, depending on who you ask. If you’re reading this, chances are you yourself are a murderous millennial, which is ironic seeing as, according to a recent Forbes article, millennials are also killing the print newspaper. No doubt you’ve heard the expression thrown around in the past couple years, but what does “millennials are killing the…” really mean?
Millennials is a term that describes the generation born somewhere between the late 1980s and early 2000s. This includes all the students currently at Washington College. Millennials follow Generation X, and we are, for the most part, the children of the baby boomer generation. The generation which follows us, born between the late 1990s with no end date yet, is Generation Z. Alphabetically speaking, that would also make us Generation Y, as in “Why are we being blamed for the natural decline of various negative institutions?” Let’s look again at some of the things millennials have allegedly killed. According to Business Insider, we’ve killed homeownership, diamonds, oil, and football. MarketWatch put marriage, sex (in and of itself neither an institution nor inherently negative), and napkins on their list. Maybe worst of all, several sources cite millennials as the cause of death of Breastaurants, or breast themed food chains like Hooters and Twin Peaks.
How did we kill all these industries? As far as I can recall, I never set out to take down the napkin industry, nor does anyone I know purposefully resist the temptation to buy diamonds. According to the 86 percent of millennials who reported buying paper towels over napkins, however, there does seem to be a clear shift in priority. If you ask me, all of these killings seem to indicate less about our generation and more about the generation above us.
It’s the old adage: We’re a generation of participation trophy kids—but who was buying us the trophies? That’s the focal point for me. The baby boomers set up a world and we’re working our way through it, making adjustments to match the terrain. We’re killing the housing market? Since our parents began buying homes, the cost of owning property has gone up exponentially, and renting isn’t much better. According to MarketWatch, millennials spent $478.5 million on rent in 2016, with many opting to live with roommates rather than living alone. We’re spending up to 53 percent of our income on rent, and with all the costs of maintenance, paying off back breaking student loans, and the other variety of living costs (WiFi and phone bills, car payments, and, oh yeah—food) it becomes nearly impossible to save up the type of money it takes to buy a home.
This is the pattern with so many things Millennials are killing. Diamonds? Who can afford a diamond? They may be forever, but so will be the debt you’ll collect buying one. Why buy napkins when paper towels are all-purpose? Why go out to restaurants for dinner and a movie when ordering pizza and watching Netflix saves gas and money? Millennials have been put in a financial stranglehold, and are simply coping with it by finding life-hacks to be more successful.
There are several morality issues as well, which are driving millennials to kill. Big oil, for example, has been on the decline since millennials entered the workforce. Pollsters EY did a survey recently in which 62 percent of teens ages 16 to 19 feel the oil industry is harmful to the environment, and only two percent of college students list the oil industry as high up on their potential job list. Diamonds, as I mentioned before, are unappealing due to prices, but are also harvested through violence and exploitation of workers (I’d search “blood diamonds” if you’re unfamiliar with the diamond industry in Africa). Simply put, there has been a generational shift in ideals, and our generation just isn’t for hurting the earth.
Sex and marriage are on the decline as well, and this is one I can honestly say I support—at least marriage wise. To begin with, the marriage industry is incredibly overpriced, with everything from cakes to bridesmaids’ dresses setting married couples back by tens of thousands of dollars. That aside, many members of our generation are simply being encouraged to put off marriage and children—two time consuming and expensive endeavors—in favor of pursuing careers or personal goals instead. To revisit the earlier point, if I can’t afford napkins, I certainly can’t afford a baby.
All in all, we’re being accused of killing The American Dream, and that may be the most problematic implication. The American Dream consisted of two parts. One: Anyone can come to America from anywhere and have an opportunity at a good life. (This is a fallacy, of course, one that can be debunked fully another day.) Two: In America, you can build a better life for your children. Well, here we are, the children of the generation who made us, who now condemn us for working through the world around us. The idea of millennials killing the world is just a tool to silence a large majority of the population, to cover up the ways the world goes through natural change. All in all, millennials can just keep doing what we’re doing. Buy your avocado toast, rent your studio apartments, and live your life. By the way, we’re killing Buffalo Wild Wings apparently, so here’s hoping for half-off spicy wings soon.