It has recently come to my attention that I am a millennial. That is, apparently, anyone born between the years 1981-1996 is a millennial, and I was born at the end of 1984 so I am in that bracket.
I scoffed when I heard this. Me, a millennial? No no, that can’t be right. My image of a millennial is someone in their 20s with massive student debt, who wears skinny jeans like the cast of TOWIE, eats avocado on toast every day, and can’t afford a house. A millennial is someone who goes on Instagram, and Snapchat, and types on their phone with both thumbs.
That’s not me, I’m sure. I’m too late for Generation X – the whole Brit Pop scene was a little before my time I think, about 4 or 5 years I’d say, though I did start to listen to Oasis towards the back end of their career. But I was born too early to be a millennial. I’ve never watched an episode of TOWIE. (I did watch an episode of Made in Chelsea once and thought it was bizarre – when do they go to work?) I don’t really see the appeal of avocado on toast, I mean, it’s okay I guess. Yes I was lucky to get help from my parents to buy my first house but I reckon I could have bought one by the age of 32 if I didn’t have help.
I suppose I graduated in 2008 into a jobs market that had basically flat-lined and I struggled to find a decent job for about 3 years so maybe I’m on the edge of the millennial boundary. I graduated with about £11k of student debt, despite working part-time through university and getting help with rent from my parents. But even so, kids these days are graduating with about 4 or 5 times that amount of debt.
(Side note: Obviously I’m being quite tongue-in-cheek with my characterisation of millennials above, though it seems every week there’s another article in the Torygraph with a patronizing headline scolding the ‘snowflake’ generation such as ‘Young people think they own the future because no one has ever told them they’re useless’, and ‘Why time-poor millennials should stop spending all their money on city breaks and stay in the UK’. I mean, I guess the general readership of the Torygraph is much older and it makes them feel superior reading this stuff – personally I find it quite hard to stomach.)
Anyway, maybe I should just embrace my newfound status? Avocado is good for you after all. I could rename this blog My Millennial Life and put updates on Twitter and Instagram and stuff. I could watch TOWIE and Love Island and get a ‘fade’ haircut. I could even get my eyebrows threaded, sounds fairly painless right?
I mean, obviously that’s not all going to happen. But… I have recently been watching Love Island.
How? How did this happen? I hear you ask. How did such an intelligent young man (thanks) dumb himself down for this nonsense?
Big sigh. I made an unholy deal with my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago. She would let me watch as much football as I want, and in return I would let her watch Love Island. Every night. I’m pretty sure I got the raw end of the deal, because the World Cup will be finished in a month whereas Love Island is two months long. But, as a Millennial I have a very short time horizon and so I agreed to the deal.
Here are my initial thoughts.
The main emotion on Love Island, the emotion the producers seem to want to draw out time and time again, is jealousy. The first episode I watched, they allowed the couples time to get to know each other, time to get attached, and then they brought on a frankly ridiculously handsome guy and let him choose to ‘steal’ one of the girls. I immediately felt sorry for the poor guy who’d just had his partner stolen from him, and then I actually felt quite angry when I found out the new guy would be sleeping with this girl, in the bed right next to the other guy.
In a later episode, the girls were confined to a rooftop terrace and then could only watch from a distance as two new girls were added to the villa and spent the night getting to know (ie flirting with) the guys. Hearing the original girls talk, seeing how anxious they were getting, made me feel a bit uncomfortable to say the least. I watched an episode a few days ago in which the same thing happened, two new girls were introduced (while the original girls were away) and then told they could choose 3 guys each to go on a date with. Meanwhile the original girls had to just sit and speculate about what might be happening.
There’s a fine line, I think, between a harmless game show and something that could potentially be classed as mild psychological torture. I’m probably exaggerating here, but the way the producers manipulate the emotions of the contestants does make me think of the 1971 Standford Prison Experiment which was abandoned because of the ethical boundaries it crossed. The contestants freely entered Love Island and can leave at any time, sure, but then the same could be said of the subjects of the Stanford prison experiment.
Some of the contestants are seriously dumb. One didn’t know what Brexit was, for example. Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC tried to defend her, but come on, it’s been the main news story for about 3 years. Everyone over the age of 18 should at least have a vague understanding of what Brexit is, surely. I get that it’s confusing, especially when Theresa May says things like ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but still.
But what I find more interesting is the way the supposedly intelligent contestant on Love Island, the A&E doctor, seems to dumb himself down to fit in. In an early episode it emerged he had once had a threesome – afterwards he was quite happy this information had got out as he thought it would make him seem more ‘normal’.
When I think about it though, we all adapt to the people and situations we’re in. I’m different when I’m with my family to when I’m hanging out with my friends or when I’m at work. The way the doctor is on Love Island is a little like when I’m at the gym and some guy starts talking to me about football and I say things like ‘Yeah, what was Wenger thinking bringing Walcott on that early?’ (Okay I’ve never actually said that but you get my point.)
I’m pretty sure half the guys on Love Island are on steroids. I can’t prove that of course, but consider this, it’s estimated up to a million Britons use steroids. I myself have overheard guys at the gym talking about taking them. I know it’s a big issue in sports like rugby. And a report from Wales says it’s a ticking time bomb for the NHS, as once these guys reach their 40s and 50s their steroid abuse will catch up with them and cause significant health problems.
Maybe this is just sour grapes from me. I’ve been going to the gym for years, since I was 18 years old pretty much, and I’ve never looked even remotely like these guys do. Maybe that’s why I find it hard to believe that a guy could look like this at the age of 22 without taking some sort of drugs:
He’s a personal trainer apparently, but I’ve never seen a personal trainer look like that, especially not so young. I suppose girls have been dealing with unrealistic body expectations for years – size zero models and all that. But it’s sad that it’s now guys as well who are feeling the pressure and so many young guys are turning to drugs to get the look they think they’re expected to have. And it is shows like Love Island that are perpetuating this trend.
There are different ways of looking at this of course. You could say it’s good that young people are trying to get fit and healthy. I heard the other day alcohol intake among millennials is lower than the previous generation. So maybe it’s not all bad.
Despite everything I’ve just said, I don’t think Love Island is that bad. It’s actually quite interesting in a nature documentary kind of way, and it has made me laugh quite a lot. I guess we just need to be mindful of what we’re watching.
Am I a millennial? I’d say no, I caught an earlier train (back when trains used to run on time). I wouldn’t say I’m Generation X either though, so maybe I’m just an Inbetweener or something. Erm…
We probably shouldn’t be so concerned about millennials and their strange ways. People probably thought that flower power would make society fall apart in the 60s, and I still remember when everyone used to go on about the short attention span of the MTV generation. But the majority of people grow up into functioning adults, eventually.
Thanks for reading, and next time I promise I’ll talk about something more FIRE related.