Jeez, millennials aren’t half self-righteous at times. I should know – I’m one of them. Though increasingly, I wonder if I’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in a dodgy generational postcode. Hangovers, ill-judged hook-ups, the Walk of Shame – these things were once a rite of passage but, according to a new study by Eventbrite, abstemious Generation Y-ers deem alcohol ’embarrassing’, ‘pathetic’ and ‘belonging to an older generation’. Well, to quote an older generation, ‘Way harsh, Tai’. (Younger millennials, I refer you to Clueless. Yes, it’s on Netflix.)
At the risk of sounding like a problem drinker, some of the happiest moments of my 20s involved being carried to bed by an equally well-oiled friend. And let’s not forget all the great works conceived under the influence. Of booze and literature, French-born novelist Anais Nin said, ‘Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.’
I’m not advocating binge drinking and dig a vigorous spinning session as much the next millennial, but enough with the po-faced virtuousness. It’s not just clean-living we demand of ourselves. We expect jobs with ‘meaning’ right off the bat; we’re quick to dismiss those who aren’t up to speed with the latest gender identity terms as not being ‘woke’; we’ve stopped having sex. (Apparently, 15 per cent of 20- to 24-year-old Americans haven’t gotten busy under the sheets since the age of 18, compared to only six per cent of Generation X-ers when they were the same age.)
To be fair to my cohort, we don’t have it easy. We’ve been lumped with unaffordable housing, a lack of job security, crippling student debt and a planet on its last legs – cheers, Baby Boomers. It’s easy to see why the youth of today isn’t exactly carefree. But on the bright side, we’re more entrepreneurial than previous generations, can simultaneously start a revolution and a viral cat meme from our phones and we have cronuts. Granted, it’s not bricks and mortar, but whatever happened to youthful optimism?
I’m an older millennial straddling the Gen X and Y divide, so maybe I’ve more tolerance for bad behaviour. Much as I love yoga and kale smoothies, I’m proud to report neither featured in my university years. My first child is due in December and already, I’m worried about its future. Not only the oceans full of plastic, creeping rise of authoritarianism and the likelihood X Factor will run ad infinitum, but what if they inherit my generation’s joylessness?
On a recent visit home, I was woken by my parents blasting Van Morrison in the kitchen at 3am. On storming downstairs to ask them turn down the racket, I found my mum with her leg hoisted onto the Aga in an attempt to seduce my half-comatose dad. ‘Embarrassing’? Undoubtedly. ‘Of an older generation’? Perhaps – you don’t encounter many Agas in the millennial home. ‘Pathetic’? I don’t think so. Abstinence may well give millennials the moral high ground, but I fear we’ll ultimately be the ones to miss out.