I have this friend.
A few weekends ago, her extended family dropped in unannounced. They spent three hours eating her food and harassing her about why she didn’t have ESPN. Meanwhile, she struggled to wrangle her kids and work on a project for one of her jobs. On their way out, my friend’s aunt pulled her aside and lectured her about the house. It was a mess.
“You seem kind of lazy,” she said.
Everyone I know has had an experience like this, when someone from an older generation presumed to judge us, oblivious to the myriad ways in which they were making our lives harder.
Mine involved someone’s grandma criticizing me for having a 401K instead of a pension, like I ever had a say.
Lately I’ve seen a resurgence of older, white, affluent types asking why millennials and zoomers are “so negative these days.” I could ask them to read Anne Helen Peterson or Kurt Andersen or David Wallace-Wells, but I figure they’ve had plenty of chances to do that.
So, I don’t know….
If I had a hundred acres to live on that was largely immune to ecological collapse, like they do, I’d be a tad more hopeful about my future. I would feel downright okay about everything. I’d be concerned about the next decade or two, but it wouldn’t exactly keep me up at night. I wouldn’t care about how hopeless millennials sounded.
Maybe you see where I’m going with this.
Like usual, these types don’t listen.
They don’t listen to us, and they especially don’t listen to themselves. They just go on and on about hope and positivity, and deride anything else that resonates as “popular” or “trendy.” They tell us all kinds of stories about people who’ve had it worse than us, when they don’t know anything about our lives or upbringings. If they did actually listen, they wouldn’t hear pessimism and negativity. They would hear a sense of urgency, tinged with disappointment and grief.
These are all valid emotions. They deserve air time. If they’re popular, it’s because they’re widely held. It’s because people find comfort in knowing they’re not alone.