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Crashing and Burning: The Descent of the Millennial Cool

August is a quiet month for people like me who call the South home but opted against going to college in the South. Our friends, long gone by August 15th to pledge for Kappa-Gamma-Delta-Zeta-Zenon-or-Zeus, leave our social calendars high and dry. Visiting them sounds marvelous until we’re deterred by tweets and Snapchats of them drunkenly throwing Xi signs and blabbing on and on about how much they love KD. So, naturally, we stay home, saddened by the realization that even our parents have more friends than we do.

0This was the bane of my existence until Nelly, Chingy and T-Pain circa 2006 came back into my life. They made me dance and sing and feel whole again, though they wore one pants leg up and the one down. They reassured me that I was saner than most because I have yet to fall in love with a stripper. And reignited in me a sense of community by showing me that when it’s hot in here, they will join in taking off all their clothes.

So, though August is my quietest month, thanks to these guys it has to be my greatest—because I am a millennial. I don’t use the time on my hands foolishly; I fill it with Lizzie McGuire marathons and ordering hair crimpers from Amazon. I attempt to be a decent human being by baking chocolate-chip cookies in my Easy Bake oven but then forget about them because I start watching Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. That is how my August is spent—in solitude made blissful by blasts from the past.

01_britney_justinI could say that I’m nostalgic for the decade that, amongst other things, brought us All That, The Thong Song, clear lip gloss and the saddest break up of the century—Britney and JT. Then again, saying I’m nostalgic would be saying that I yearn to be 10 again, which just sounds a lot like not going to BC and having to listen to some middle-aged black people who claim that I share like 99% of their DNA. So, yearn for the glory years I do not, however, I do miss the things that constituted as cool during the 2000s and have since gone stale as us millennials have grown up.

While I am not hoping to resurrect the thong-over-jeans trend, I do miss the boldness that once was. Not to say that it has completely disappeared or that everyone was completely open to the bizarre trends that took hold back then but as a whole, the period was far more creatively laissez-faire than the present one.

Instead of the being known as the kids we once were, who felt no shame in wearing gauchos and dipping our hair in glitter, we’re known as the adults who post selfies with vapid captions on Instagram in search of validation.

The change is not that people craved assertion of power or importance any less in the 2000s, but that the manner in which we search for it has. Whereas cool was achievable simply back then, through bonding over episodes of The Wild Thornberrys, today cool is much more time-consuming and less authentic.

Nelly achieved cool with his under-eye stitch, N*SYNC with their over-gelled, sometimes even braided, hair and T-Pain with his auto tune. Each artist aimed to set their signature look apart from the rest—an element of cool that has not just gone rotten in today’s day and age but has been completely thrown out.

Dirrty-christina-aguilera-22810182-459-459I won’t go as far to say that Christina Aguilera writhing on the floor in the “Dirrty” video is any better than girls making twerk videos, because it’s not. However, love it or hate it, Aguilera’s rebellion against the squeaky-clean image expected of her (and attempt to out-do the queen of the 2000s, Britney Spears), is a creative statement—a hypersexual one, but a statement nonetheless.

I have yet to come to a conclusion about what kind of statement millennials are making by hosting Vine meet-ups and posting scandalous videos for likes. But whatever we’re doing reeks of desperation and insecurity.

The millennial cool we once had is more than six feet under, right next to our ability to hold conversations off of our cell phones. It’s a fact that the technologies at our fingertips have made our world smaller and more tolerant, to the extent that authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, who coined the term millennial, have called us civic-minded, but they’ve also made us more narcissistic.

Care to disagree? Fine—just don’t be offended when your complaints about why you didn’t get 100 likes on your Instagram post are returned with a dirty glare and interjections of “zetus lapetus!”

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