I’m not sure if I’m sick of these headlines and articles yet, or if I’m thriving off them. It seems like at least once a week, some older relative or former co-worker posts an article on Facebook about Millennials killing something followed by the usual rant.
This Generation is so spoiled! Thinking the world owes them everything on a silver platter, sitting around on their Facebooks and Twitters and burying their faces in their phones! Back in my day we woke up every day and ate our cereal, put on a suit to go to work, used bar soap to wash ourselves, golfed on the weekend, and wore whatever retailers told us to! These spoiled kids are killing [insert industry here]! Stupid younger generation with their 3 jobs and unpaid internships and beanie hats and avocados! If they just stopped buying avocado toast all the time, they’d be able to buy a house and live like we REAL grown-ups do!!!
Of course, if an entire generation DID stop buying avocado toast, then Millennials would probably get blamed for killing the avocado industry.
Basically, this younger generation, the Millenials, doesn’t like things and stuff. They’re turning their back on the tried and true pastimes and goals of the Baby Boomers, and are just ruining life as we know it for everyone. They’re sitting there in a Mr. Burns-esque pose, bent over their avocado toast, laughing maniacally as the world just falls to shit around them.
And people seriously seem to fucking believe this.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Millennials is one freaking huge generation of people born in more than a 20-year span (anywhere from 1980 to 2004, depending on who you ask). We (yes, technically I fall somewhere in that massive span) were raised riding bikes and shooting at pixelated ducks while that annoying little doggy bastard laughed every time we missed. We came in when the streetlights came on, or else our parents were blowing up our pagers, and later our massively huge cell phones. We spent our days at the mall and our nights in mIRC chats ASL-ing the night away. We were raised outside and in front of a screen at the same time.
Somehow, by learning how to fix a bike chain AND program the clock on a VCR, we’ve become Enemy #1 in the eyes of the older generations. And it’s total bullshit.
Basically, from what article after article says, Millennials aren’t spending money on the same things their parents did. Between the housing market, low-wage jobs, increased tuition rates coupled with a demand for high education for entry-level positions, and stagnant minimum wage in the face of increasing inflation, Millennials have to be so much more careful with how and where they spend their money than generations before them. You hear and see story after story of people working 2 or 3 jobs, drowning in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, having to have multiple roommates well into their 30s just to keep a roof over their head without moving back in with their parents. We simply just don’t have the disposable income generations before us had. We can’t afford vacations or new cars or houses. Many of us are trying to find a way to afford to eat every day or afford to make their loan payments AND pay rent.
So, instead of industries adapting to the current market finding a way to appeal to the Millennials they are losing, we get article after article claiming that it’s the Millennials fault that these industries are starting to lose ground. We are somehow killing industries that refuse to adapt to survive. It’s not “survival of the fittest” in the business world anymore; it’s “we want your business, you spoiled whiney fucks, why won’t you just give it to us”.
What exactly have we been accused of killing so far?
- movie theaters
- bar soap
- Home Depot
- the NFL
- the 9-5 workday
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- stiletto shoes
And that’s just the short list! Don’t believe me? Go use the Googles, as my mother would say. You’ll come up with pages and pages of articles, and articles of lists of articles (looking at you Buzzfeed). Somehow we’re killing sit-down restaurants by not wanting to dine in, while killing fast food restaurants by not wanting take-out, and also killing multiple food industries by not cooking at home. In short, we’re not eating and it’s killing everyone but us.
I think the thing on this list that really pushes my rant-basket off the cliff is Sears. We have a Sears here at our local mall, and I haven’t bought anything from there in more than 5 years. The last thing I got there was a dress for a fraternity formal back in University. I’ve gone in there, looked around at things, but there was never anything there for me.
Now, that place was THE SHIT in the 80’s! On our family outings to the mall, we’d spend half the day just in Sears. We actually have childhood stories from all of our time in Sears. Once when I was still in diapers, I decided I had to make the biggest poop any small child had ever made, so I squatted down in the middle of an aisle and filled my diaper. Another time my mum had to get me Christmas presents from Sears, so my grandparents took me off into the mall so I wouldn’t see them. When mum came looking for us where we were supposed to meet, she somehow missed me in the window of a maternity store trying to tear the clothes off a mannequin. Like, we were there a lot. Everyone was.
Sears used to be where you could buy your appliances, your suit and tie, toys for the kids, and maybe pick up some new perfume or have lunch at their tiny restaurant. But with more and more Millennials not being able to afford homes, we don’t have the need for appliances. With more people going into trades and service positions, we don’t need suits for our jobs. With more and more of us putting off having kids, there’s no need to shop for toys. There’s also more competition around. Why go to the Sears makeup counter when I can stop at Sephora? Why go to Sears when there are 7 other stores in our mall to buy a damn tie. And we don’t even have an overly big mall here!
And when it comes to clothes, there’s just nothing at Sears for me, or for anyone I know around my age for that matter. It’s almost like they stopped keeping up with current fashion somewhere around 1994. Every year I check the clothing section for their Christmas catalog just to see what they’re trying to pawn off as today’s newest trends. It always looked like a fashion spread for an article on how to dress like you’re 17 when you’re really 53, to be honest. They base their clothes on the old-time motto of “spend a bit more on something durable, it will last forever”, whereas today we’re more likely to shop thinking “I have $23 in the bank and need pants and grocery, I’m fucking screwed”.
This all leads to the biggest downfall for Sears, in my mind though. We all shop online. You go to the mall, and 99% of the stores ask for your email address when you check out. You get coupons in your email, browse the store’s website, buy crap on clearance that’s sold out at your location but available in the warehouse still. For people working multiple jobs, hopping on line and ordering your clothes for delivery is just easier a lot of the time. And most stores are all over this, pushing their website on you with more aggression than feral dog loose in a butcher’s shop. Sears never quite hit that level. I mean, they send out fucking catalogs! You can order over the phone or fill out a form to order through the mail! They kept marketing to people the same way they marketed back when I was a kid. Instead of trying to grab the younger markets, reaching out to them, begging them to come spend money on their crap like any self-respecting business would do, they stayed with the tried-and-true method their aging consumer base was used to. Instead of reaching out to Millennials with online campaigns, social media, a Kardashian or two, or anything else a younger person may take consumer influence from, they stuck with what their now 60+ crowd was used to.
Did Millennials shop at Sears en masse? Nope. But was it the fault of the Millennials not needing their products or brick and mortar stores, or of Sears for not marketing to them? Sears got lazy. They had how many years as the Big Dog, the main store in small-town malls across North America. They turned into one of those chef’s you would see on Gordon Ramsay shows who won an award in 1984 for Best Pasta in Pasadena and decided they were the best chef EVER; they would never change a dish or menu no matter how bad their business or food was, and they scream at Ramsay for even hinting that their food is less than amazing. Sears was that asshole chef, serving 1984’s pasta to the 2017 gluten-free crowd. And this is the Millennials’ fault?
Pretty much every dying industry that Millennials have been blamed for killing is just a victim of a changing economic landscape that can’t find a way to adapt. It doesn’t matter who the target market is; if something is failing, you can bet that Millennials are being blamed for it somehow. It’s not being framed as “the markets are changing: here’s the ones that can’t keep up with Millennials” though. Instead, it’s made to seem like Millennials are actively attacking industries, trying to bring about the demise of random things like napkins and beer. These articles make it seem like there is this giant Millennial conspiracy. We meet the first Thursday of every month to talk about our progress and decide what industry will be the next to crumble.
Did any of these journalists think that maybe, just maybe, things like vacations and diamonds and houses are things most Millennials just can’t afford to buy right now? Or that breakfast cereal isn’t as popular because we don’t have time to sit down to eat breakfast before running off to our first job? Maybe we’re not spending money buying beer from major brewers like Budweiser because we’re supporting more local entrepreneurs and buy craft beers from small local breweries. To save money, maybe we use towels and dish rags instead of one-use napkins. We don’t have time for golf, our jobs don’t require suits, and as renters our landlords are required to do the major repairs on our apartments and homes that would necessitate a trip to Home Hardware.
This generation is trying to do more with less: less money, less free time, fewer jobs available that pay a living wage. All the while, they’re getting shit on by people for not spending money how their parents’ generation did. Instead of industries changing to fit the market, they’re shitting all over the market for changing. Sears was just the poster child for an entire economic structure built around everyone wanting and liking what the crazy 80-year-old woman in the apartment upstairs who lives with her cat Harold wants and likes. Instead of seeing what it is Millennials want and need and either changing to fit that, or finding an unfulfilled need and creating something for that, these industries are sitting in the corner crying, “Stupid Millennials, you’re supposed to like what WE tell you to like!”
I don’t know where this rant is going, Sunshine. I’m just really getting sick of people shitting on an entire generation that is just trying to live. We’re not hurting anyone by not golfing, or not taking vacations, or not drinking Coors Light. If anything, we’re just hurting ourselves by being overworked, underpaid, and lacking basics like affordable health care that would enable us to better care for ourselves. I don’t see why we’re are constantly being shit on just because we’re not the cookie cutter image of the generations that preceded us. Why are the generations that raised us, that made us the way we are, that engineered our economy and housing market and educational system, why are they turning on us?