Millennial Translation

| illustration by Charles Marsh |

Although I’ve heard the term for years, I was never really clear on who was included in the segment of the population known as “millennials.”  But because this month’s issue of the magazine is featuring an article on some local ones, I decided to take a look at our newest generation and do a little research.

Millennials are often referred to as Generation Y or Generation Me, and depending on which vegan you talk with at Whole Foods, their birth years range anywhere from 1980 to the early 2000s. Currently they are about 85 million strong, which makes them the largest age grouping in American history. We all have our perception of the average millennial, but the truth is, most are over-educated, under-employed, drowning in student debt and addicted to smartphones. In addition, they are deathly afraid of Zika, identity theft, creepy clowns and accidentally “liking” a picture of their ex on Facebook. They’ve gotten a rap of being the most self-absorbed generation; however, that’s exactly how those of us who are baby boomers were described years ago. We’re just jealous because we never got any participation trophies.

But there are some major differences between my generation and the millennials. For starters, we had much more face-to-face contact. They interact with others almost entirely through a screen. Millennials also seem to want to delay the transition to adulthood. They’re waiting much longer before they have to get married. That’s why when you finally get the chance to throw some rice at the wedding, you must be careful not to hit the baby.

Our sources for entertainment are also quite different. For instance, an enjoyable evening for me might be dinner and a movie. On the other hand, millennials are totally content with cooking and eating alone. A typical meal would probably be a grass-fed beef burger complemented with a side of high-potassium sweet potato wedges. After Snapchatting it to friends, they will then proceed to binge-watch a complete season of their favorite cable series on Netflix. Older millennials have been rumored to have binge-watched the entire Star Trek franchise, completely disregarding the possibility of growing their virginity back.

Granted, millennials are far more tech-savvy and educated than my generation. However, there are some life lessons that many of them never had the chance to experience. Growing up, millennials generally had all their conflicts with each other settled by the nearest adult. We settled them ourselves. I’ll never forget taking down that 11-year-old bully one afternoon. My dad was so proud. Gosh, I wish I was 30 again.

Also, because most of their work and correspondence is done on a keyboard, handwritten communication is a thing of the past. In fact, most millennials never learned cursive. This is extremely sad because they may never be able to read a neck tattoo.

And since they’ve been around, we’ve seen the gradual disappearance of main staples such as VCRs, bookstores, maps, yellow pages and encyclopedias. I’ve left out the main one because these days nothing good can come out of answering a landline.

But we can thank millennials for the development of their own language. Let me interpret some examples.

  1. Bae - refers to your significant other. Actually, a misspelling of the word “babe.”
  2. No chill - the lost ability to think or act rationally. Happens most often when voting.
  3. Break the internet - Just another Kardashian selfie.
  4. I’ll look for a job next week, Dad - Has no meaning whatsoever.

These words and phrases have gradually become an integral part of the English language. So the next time you see a millennial drinking a craft beer or heading to a core power yoga class, thank them. Catch you next month, Bro.