Millennials So Shiny, Happy, It Makes Everyone Else Ill

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

The New York Times has published its latest Thought Catalog piece about millennials. Yes, it’s an intriguing, trolling list that contains vaguely observed descriptions seen from a very specific viewpoint, while attempting to find some archetypal truths at the same time.

The focus of this nebulous, dubious article is how younger millennials are pissing off older millennials with their outrageous, obnoxious cheerfulness. It’s an all-out imaginary war of smiles and sneers. The piece cites Jack MacKenzie, president of a company that analyzes generational trends for corporations, who says that young millennials are particularly marked by “a level of optimism that most people think is almost silly.”

Yes, the happiness of life has not yet been sucked from their pretty faces. It’s because this whole generation has never lost a soccer game once! Jeez, has anyone told these kids how The Yearling ends, or did their coddling parents tell them that the deer grew up to be the king of a beautiful, peaceful forest? Happy dumbos.

And, reportedly, this blithe jubilance has pitted younger and older millennials against each other:

Overwhelming self-confidence and joie de vivre are the kinds of things that rub older millennials the wrong way. 

Wipe that smile off your face, kids. Get into the real world.

Truly, though, the best parts of the article are the many quotes that suggest that articles of this sort shouldn’t exist, and the distinct leave-me-alone vibe from nearly every quote from a millennial. Tavi Gevinson says of the term:

It’s like an adult term for teenagers. I feel condescending if I use it around people my age and like I’m trying too hard, like a kid who swears a lot around older people, if I use it around adults.

Noted, it’s a foolish word. Perhaps the best sort of intra-millennial divide is between the millennials who always remember to spell millennial with two ns, and those who don’t. 

Millennials: So Shiny, Happy, Optimistic