Workplace Millennial 3: Millennial laziness on toast

Workplace Millennial 3: Millennial laziness on toast

We need to talk about millennial laziness. The dreadful scourge of our society - the laziness of journalists, commentators and business people regarding millennials.

That probably got you. Well, maybe not if you've read this blog before.

Australian millionaire Tim Gurner recently absolutely destroyed the Gen Y-nonsense scales by saying millennials should stop buying avocado toast so we can buy a house.

Nonsense on toast

I'm not mad at Tim Gurner. He can't help being an idiot and we should pity him.

I'm mad at everyone who reported it and everyone (and there have been loads) who has tee-d off on him for his (admittedly incredibly stupid) comments.

Look at the articles: from The Guardian to The Daily Mail has run some variant of "Man tells millennials/Gen Y to get a grip." 

The (sometimes hilarious) responses in places like The Guardian (again) and The Pool also line up the easy "you have no clue what you're talking about - even your arithmetic is shit" shot and smash it out of the park. Well done. Someone had to, I guess.

But, you know what not a single one of them can even be bothered to notice?

Tim Gurner is a millennial

That's right, as all the articles originally pointed out, without having the basic intelligence to spot its implications, good old Tim is 35 years old. He was born in either 1981 or 1982 (exact birthdate not Google-ably obvious). He's the same age as me. 

Stop being part of the problem

What's with the headlines and commentary emphasising the generational aspect here? It tells us literally sweet F.A. Here are 4 really basic reasons why:

  1. Millennial tells millennials what (not) to do is not a story about millennials, it's a story about differing attitudes. This is just basic logic - he's not talking to people as "members of the age category x." He is talking to them as "eaters of avocado toast lacking in large bank balances."  
  2. Relatedly, there are financially insecure 50 years olds who eat too much avocado toast and, I'm just spitballing here but, I'm guessing Tim Gurner probably thinks they need to get a grip too.
  3. Also relatedly, consider that a large portion of the category of "young people" Gurner is quoted as referring to won't actually be millennials at all. They will be Gen Z. Depending on how exactly you place the birth date cut off, it could be a huge proportion - mid-90s, for example, would place maybe nearing a third of his reference group in Gen Z.
  4. Fourthly, Gurner's making a "people like us" judgement. He's made assumptions from his own situation and tried to generalise from there in a really crass way. Those assumptions, if you actually read his comments, all relate to a person's socioeconomic position. So, as well as being an attitudinal critique, he is making a socioeconomic one. Again, age is actually irrelevant and his use of the words "young people" are actually window dressing you need to look past. In fairness, another commentator on The Pool picked this element up in a far more insightful piece. Shame the others didn't think of it, or its consequences for their hot-take-like pieces of "commentary."

So, in fact, you could say (and I do) that the reporters and commentators are making a worse generational assumption than Gurner. They should know better - as they point out, he's an idiot and they're smart. 

Instead, they are using their position of influence to dig the hole of intergenerational prejudice even deeper, and are doing so in a far more subtle and insidious way by reinforcing readers' stereotypes rather than challenging them.

Sorry folks, you can't hide behind the fact that Gurner dropped other clangers. That doesn't save you from the fact and consequences of your own millennial laziness.

Adam Papaphilippopoulos, Partner Reluctantly Brave; Fellow, Royal Society of Arts