Here is a letter written by the illustrious Q. Scott. If you like lists, then you might decide to write a letter like this. Amongst a seemingly playful approach, Q. shares a vulnerable glimpse into his perspective.
Lists. Millennials love lists. Millennials are entitled, so you must order things for them. Millennials have limited attention spans, so you have to break information into small, digestible pieces if you want them to understand anything. Buzzfeed gets it. Buzzfeed is, also, fake news.
A short attention span could also be a natural response to an increasingly fragmented world where information is disseminated in flurries, expanding and shattering, blossoming, into new shapes and permutations. Sometimes, to make sense of them, you can put them in lists.
I love Vines.
I hate the term “millennials.”
I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “millennial” without chasing it immediately with an ironic joke. I don’t know if that is due to a reflexive distaste for taking things seriously, or a reflexive distaste for being labeled. It is likely both and it is likely neither.
If I were to try and make an overarching statement on what a millennial movement could stand for, I would first state that I don’t want to make an overarching statement on what a millennial movement could stand for. With that being said, I hope that our generation can push for radical freedom, for radical compassion. But that’s sort of a tricky thing, right? To create a unifying movement in the name of complete individual rights and freedoms? How can we fight in the name of not naming? How do we gather under a blank banner? How do we form a radically inclusive community? This, of course, could also be another way of discussing the American experiment. The USA, as most of us millennials have been told, is the land of the free, a melting pot where everyone is welcome and everyone can succeed. That definition dissolves pretty quickly when you grow up and realize “everyone” doesn’t mean “everyone.” But I’m a millennial who believes in success without work, because I got participation trophies as a kid.
- If there’s a positive side to the unequivocal disaster that is the Trump presidency, it is that we have a clear figure against which we can resist. Donald Trump is a wrinkled orange avatar, an amalgam of the worst in politics and privilege that have long existed in America. His toupee is woven with the strands of power and hatred as intrinsic to our country as freedom and diversity and being good at sports.
This is all to say that there is an opportunity here. Fighting for radical freedom and compassion is something worth fighting for all the time, but can become easier when done in resistance to such an obvious enemy.
It is also extremely important to recognize the privilege in discussing the Trump presidency as an opportunity. For many people targeted by Trump’s policies and rhetoric (Muslims, Jews, black people, the LGBTQ community, Mexicans, etc.) this is less an opportunity than a direct threat on their safety and humanity. I hope that any sort of “Millennial movement” will be less about seizing the opportunity afforded to each generation, and more about protecting and empowering oppressed people, not that those two ideas are necessarily separate.
In every country and city I’ve visited, people have asked me about Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not only about our generation, nor is it only about our country. The world is affected, the world is watching.
I traveled through Indonesia, and got to interact with hundreds of teachers and students. Literally everyone I met was Muslim. I’ve never been met with so much generosity and kindness. That seems relevant to this discussion.
I never thought I would grow up to be politically active. I’ve never been very confrontational or radical in any respect, mostly because I’ve had the luxury of most institutions working in my favor. I’m a financially secure half-white man. I can get away with a lot of stuff. Lucky me.
I remember my sister voted for Obama his first time around. My mom, who never really discusses politics, said to me that people generally are Democrats when they’re young and become Republicans when they’re old.
I wonder if liberalism and/or political activism are cyclical things? That you age in and out? And if so, I wonder why older generations are not more sympathetic to the political efforts of the younger generation, if they themselves once held similar beliefs and motivations?
Regardless of how successful millennials may be in enacting meaningful change in the coming years, I hope we’ll be supportive when the next generation attempts to do the same.
I also hope the next generation doesn’t inherit a half-molten, hate-filled hellscape as a planet. But it’s sort of a toss-up at this juncture.
I remember my dad getting mad at the minimum wage in Washington state being raised. He was irritated because this proved people could just “vote things for themselves.” I didn’t really know what to say at the time because what he just described sounded like a pretty good thing.
Another time he sadly noted that this is “the era of outrage.” And as much as I felt that this was a very wrong way to read this era’s protests from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter to the Women’s March, I confess that I often feel uncomfortable watching protests, even when I agree with its aims. Perhaps I’m too passive, perhaps I was told too often that change can come without conflict, perhaps I get scared and ashamed that I don’t really know the amount of pain and anger some people feel in this country. It’s probably a combination of those things, but mostly the third.
Millennials sure do like to talk about themselves, huh.
I live in China right now, near Hong Kong, where I teach English. One of the reasons I took this job was to be near the Philippines. My mom’s family moved to the US from the Philippines when she was 9, and while my grandma goes back regularly, my mom has never gone back. I was hoping that my being so close would give her and my family the chance to visit.
That was before Duterte’s drug campaign blossomed fully into a reign of terror. I asked my mom a couple weeks ago if it was safe enough for me to go, and she said no. “It’s just not safe. I know how quickly things can get out of hand there.”
I don’t know exactly why my mom’s family immigrated. Something to do with an uncle, who was a judge, being assassinated.
Things can get out of hand quickly in a country led by a dictator. Take it from an immigrant.
“But it makes an immigrant laugh to hear the fears of the nationalist, scared of infection, of penetration, of miscegenation, when this is small fry to what the immigrant fears—dissolution, disappearance.” –Zadie Smith, White Teeth
“I used to rebel by destroying myself,but realized that’s awfully convenient to the world.for some of us our best revolt is self-preservation. –Mistki, @mistkileaks
“We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last.” –Olivia Laing, The Lonely City
The revolution will not be televised, but, Lord willing, it will be on Vine.