This much we know: millennials are the problem with everything. They have ruined McDonalds, bars of soap, fabric softener, gambling, marmalade, running, sex, serendipity, self pity, oil, and focus groups. Millennials have not just ruined this country, they have ruined all countries, along with politics and the economy. They have ruined things for themselves with their over-dependence on social media and underdeveloped responsibility gland, their dreaded diet of lattes and avocados and avocado lattes, and dragged everyone down with them. People can’t even enjoy bars of soap anymore, because these cronut-shagging mugs have messed it all up.
The tone with which people speak about millennials is always sneering; condescending to the point of parody. From their trickily-spelled moniker (for me, anyway: two Ls, two Ns) to their inability to look you in the eye, the millennial is the ur-bastard: a red-headed stepkid with a laptop-radiation-shrivelled nutsack. As a millennial myself, I get it – when you’re old, you hate new things: I, for one, am freaked out by the new CGI-filled episodes of Fireman Sam – but we’re not even allowed to have holidays without it being reported with the same barely disclosed disdain as would be a mother who’s left her young children at home with no dinner while she goes to the pub.
Holiday firm Contiki reported a 10% increase in the average amount of money people aged 18 to 35 are spending on trips this year compared with 2016. The Evening Standard ran with the line: ‘Millennials take expensive holidays because they know they’ll never afford a house’.
Pointing to large year-on-year increases on Gah Yah favourites like New Zealand (up 83% from 2016), South America (up 71%), Bali (up 56%), and Vietnam (up 50%), the news is snooty but not incorrect. While I’ve never felt inclined to buy a GoPro and one of those entire-person-length backpacks and head for Duong Dong like the Captain Cook of Insta-wellness, I can see why people do: with the average deposit in London sitting somewhere around £90,000, I find it much more reasonable to just fuck off all pretence of buying and head for the lush hills of fleeting satisfaction. Especially if it ends up with me getting a nice tan.
While some writers have pointed to the millennial’s overspending on sandwiches (Evening Standard again) and something called ‘affluenza’ - a term used by Republican politician and ‘data nerd’ Ben Sasse in his book The Vanishing American Adult. Jia Tolentino writes in the New Yorker that he “chastises parents for allowing their kids to succumb to the character-eroding temptations of contemporary abundance and offers suggestions for turning the school-age generation into the sort of hard-working, financially independent grown-ups that the millennials have yet to become”. It is worth remembering that we did not ask to be put in a situation that, for the vast majority of us, we absolutely cannot control, no matter how many sandwiches we bring from home or times our parents are mean to us.
I had a great conversation with my own parents quite recently about me buying a house.
“When are you going to start thinking about buying a house, Sam? You’re just paying off someone else’s mortgage with all that rent money, you know…”
“You should start saving up, Sam. It’ll be hard, but worth it in the long run. You want something to leave your kids, don’t ya? We’ll help you out as best we can, you know that.”
“What’s the average deposit now, anyway? It’s gotten a lot higher since our day, hasn’t it?”
“It’s about ninety grand, yeah.”
“Well, maybe when me and your mum die, you might be able to get a leg up on it.”
The millennial dream is for our parents to die so that we can sell all of their assets so that we can start to maybe, if we’re lucky, presuming this period of relative market chill continues, work towards a decent deposit to prop up a mortgage that will then totally inhale our earnings for the foreseeable future. (Or else, as has been explained to me countless times by people on the internet with the flag of St George as their profile picture, I should try moving out of London, since living in London, the place where I work and was born and have lived for most of my life, is a privilege.)
While it would be lovely to leave something of huge monetary value behind after I die, if the choice between never owning a house but driving all the life out of myself while I try to anyway or accepting that, barring some exceptional luck, the system is rigged eternally against me until the people I love die and are hopefully lucky enough themselves to be able to bequeath more than some old Status Quo records to their children so, fuck it, I’m going on holiday to decompress, then the choice is a simple one: see you later.
Hopefully someone will work out a way for me to leave my social media followers to my as-yet-hypothetical children.