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S1E1 Current headlines

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Seen any good headlines about Millennials lately? Do they seem a tiny bit slanted? Why does the entire world believe every Millennial eats avocado toast for every meal? In this episode we look at some of the wildest headlines and examine what may be behind the editorial angle and the reasons why? This leads us to think about the current trajectory of the story and how it’s changed over time.

In The Demo, a podcast about how stories of groups are created, subverted and destroyed. On the first season, we pursue the origins of the Millennial Myth. Farrah Bostic is the founder and Head of Research & Strategy of, The Difference Engine, a strategic insights consultancy focused on helping business leaders make decisions. Adam Pierno, author and brand consultant and managing director of brand strategy at Arizona State University. Our host is voiced by Eliza, a robot created by

Music by 0megaMan under the Creative Commons license. Learn more and find research and supporting materials at

Show outline (which is generated by another robot;

0:00 In the Demo: The stories that get told about groups

2:19 Why can’t we agree on the years of when a generation begins and ends? Why does it change over five years?

7:41 How do you define generations?

10:44What New York Post wants you to think of millennials

16:42What are some of the most memorable headlines from millennials?

19:27Millennials can finally afford homeownership is good news for the economy

25:34 The myth of the Millennial and how it has changed

28:56Millennials have been waiting longer to start families than boomers

35:10The knock-on effects of women getting involved in politics

38:15Millennials in the workforce and money

Full transcript: (It is generated by AI and is a bit wonky, to be honest)

Eliza T Robot 0:03
Welcome to In The Demo, a show about the stories that get told about groups, how those stories got made, what we think those stories get wrong, and why it matters you hosts. Farah Bostic is the founder and head of research and strategy of The Difference Engine, a strategic insights consultancy focused on helping business leaders make decisions. Adam Pierno author and brand consultant and Managing Director of brand strategy at Arizona State University. You are now in the demo.

A P 0:38
I’m Adam Pierno and I am Generation X.

Farrah Bostic 0:42
And I’m Farrah Bostic, and I’m Oregon Trail generation.

A P 0:46
What the hell are you talking about? That’s, that’s kind of the thing. That’s the thing.

Farrah Bostic 0:51
I was so surprised you missed this whole period. It was very popular on Buzzfeed for a while, because there was. So there’s there was a period of time where we weren’t sure where people born between like 75 and 80. Fit because it may, depending on which definition of the generations you were, and you were too young to be Gen X and too old to be Gen Y or are millennials. And so there were people who are doing like, well, it’s a cusp thing. So they’re xn anneals. I remember Danielle’s yes, that, yes. And then there were other takes on it. So it was the Oregon Trail generation, which means you were like in that age group that didn’t like second, first, second, third grade, you had a Commodore or Apple two or whatever in the classroom. And it had the one thing on it, which was, which was the Oregon Trail? Quest, everyone died of dysentery. And so I have to say, being from Oregon, originally, I did not realize that this was not just an Oregon thing. But

A P 1:55
i t’s our local game that we’ve created. Yeah.

Farrah Bostic 1:59
I think I did.And, and by the way, there was a cheat code where if you, you got your like, general store purchases at the beginning, where you bought all your supplies. If you typed in like nine nines in each one of the budget line items, you could have like Unlimited, everything.

A P 2:16
What maybe that was, that’s right. That might have been? Why can’t we agree on the years of when a generation begins and ends? How does it move? Why does it change over five years? Why are there like, why does it change from okay, you’re Gen X, and the next one is going to be millennials to actually there’s this five year gray area where they’re called something else, and we can’t decide on what that gap year group is called?

Farrah Bostic 2:45
It’s a really good question. I think like, what I’ve been noticing is, first of all, you have so many different people, or organizations or scholars or whatever, who are defining it differently. And so they all want to kind of claim their definition, and then also claim their mantle. Like, we’re calling it Gen Y, or we’re calling it echo boomers, or we’re calling it whatever. And we’ve decided that the ages are these. And we’ve picked it based on you know, I’ve seen them do it where it’s like, kind of key cultural moments or its key technological developments. And so like, you know, a generation should end before the iPhone is launched, because then the iPhone launches a new generation. And I mean, I have vague memories of that and sitting with like,

A P 3:30
comes a new epic.

Farrah Bostic 3:32
Yeah, yeah. So I think some of it’s that, that and then I think like, then then like, there’s a battle that happens for like, 10 years over, are we going to keep these weird little interregnum generations or not? And in the end, it seems like not is the answer, like in the end? No. Survey maker really wants to have an generational increments of, there’s a 15 year one here, and then a five year one here, and then another 20 year one here, and like they want it to be more standardized. And so the argument also seems to be like 20 years, or 22 years, or whatever is the reasonable length of a generation. That and that seems arbitrary to but

A P 4:14
that seems totally arbitrary, but at least I could get a standard range of years makes sense to me. Yeah. Yeah. Because at least then we all agree going forward when the next one will begin and end and we can predict two or three generations in the future, what the hell we’re talking about.

Farrah Bostic 4:29
Right, which would have been I think there was a moment. Yeah, but I think then you have this like moment with that group that I sit in, where we were expressly told we weren’t Gen X, but then we were also expressly told the Oregon Trail. So there was a third one that was popular for a hot minute and like the summer of 2009, which was the Jordan Catalano generation. You

A P 4:51
stop it right now.

Farrah Bostic 4:55
Do you know Jordan Catalano?

A P 4:57
I do because I’m Gen X I was a I was still watching linear TV when my so called wife was on of course.

Me Yeah. So then we’ve already covered quite a bit of ground here. By the logic you just laid out where you said that the thought leaders who make this decision would say that the iPhone is a is a epoch marker an epic marker.

Farrah Bostic 5:25
And it isn’t like it actually is not a break here.

A P 5:28
Yeah, but by that logic, Jordan Catalina and my so called Life is who is a Claire Danes is a is a

Farrah Bostic 5:36

A P 5:39
Okay, show what they’ve run like 2020 episodes, right?

Farrah Bostic 5:44
Yeah, I think so. Like it was it was not was not long running. It did not like that it gets run in syndication kind of breaks the rules of syndication. Yeah,

A P 5:52
it had an impact, but I don’t think it defines the generation.

Farrah Bostic 5:56
Well, yeah, no, I don’t think so either. And also, it was so kind of decidedly. Well, I think part of why people liked that was that it felt like a show about the tail end of Gen X. And, and I think the fight that was happening, and the reason that this was like popular on Buzzfeed, and that kind of thing was, there was this little generation of young internet journalist types, you know, culture reporters, and whatever, bloggers who were too young to be Gen X a tool to be Gen Y, who identified more as digital native, but had the same kind of, I don’t know, cultural cynicism, or whatever of Gen Xers are identified more with that anyway, had more of the pop cultural references of Gen X, but had the technology chops of Gen Y. And so they wanted to, like carve out their own little space for a minute, but they’ve lost that. Like, there’s no one Gen. No, no credible demographer, or a survey maker is surveying accent nails. You know,

A P 6:52
I created my own line for this, which is the Sally Ride line that millennials do not know who Sally riders at all know, if a person knows who it is, even if they are in the millennial age group, they’re Gen X. That’s wild. Yeah, do we can do some research on this, we should do research on to the MS and see if people can identify who Sally Ride is in that age group. That’s really,

Farrah Bostic 7:16
we shouldn’t have come up with a whole list of like a battery of these things and just see the sorting of like, do you? Do you know what this thing is? So yes, now

A P 7:23
we have been pulling headlines about millennials. And nobody has done this research that I’ve seen to demarcate called the idea of breaking it up by culture. And you know, something like my so called Life or Oregon Trail, are much more interesting than the way the media tends to split. And define generations, especially the millennial generation. Would you agree you’re nodding, but

Farrah Bostic 7:48
I would agree, I feel like what they kind of, here’s what I have started to think. And we’ve, I think I’ve talked about this before, but I really think that every every generation we’re talking about has an anchor point, and that is Baby Boomers. And so baby boomers as a generation are the first to be defined for the purposes of marketing and politics and culture and everything else. And so then we work forward in time after them. And we work backward in time before them. Because we’re not calling the silent generation, the silent generation. Until the 70s. Yeah, you know,

A P 8:28
and we’re not there’s the silent generation is actually a response to the baby boomer generation, that the name the silent generation.

Farrah Bostic 8:36
Yeah, well, and it was it I mean, I believe the silent generation is a reference to Nixon talking about the silent majority, which were the middle aged people in 1972, not the 20 to 20 Somethings and 1972. So that’s, that gets invented sort of after the fact. And they’re kind of defined by too young to have served in the Second World War, and too old to be protesting the Vietnam War. Like that’s more or less what you’re talking about is the big gap there. And then we don’t get the greatest generation handle until like Tom Brokaw writes his book in the 80s, or something in the 90s. So like, that generation had not been given a name, either, per se. So I think it’s all a little bit of a of a retcon. You know, like you, you start with baby boomers, and then everything emanates out from that. So that I think is is is part of how that then gets defined. And so like they get cultural markers, right? They get the end of the Second World War through basically the start of the Vietnam War. And that’s their, that’s their birth years. And so you’d think like, well, do we want to have these other kind of big global inflection points as the definitions, but that would then leave you with like weird years where nothing happened? tendons are what the people born in those years don’t belong to a generation, I guess. And so we’re just like back to Oregon Trail generation, I guess. But like, you know, what was really happening between like 75 and 80. Not much Gerald Ford was tripping on things like, you know, Saturday Night Live.

A P 10:21
Because of the weirdness of pinning down the exact years or the exact dates of of open and close of a generation. It lets media storytelling, sort of define the generation in these overarching terms versus having a real clear definition. So essentially, what the New York Post wants to say Millennials are, for example, is what readers of The New York Post will think millennials are they won’t think about the age group. They think of the the description through headlines of this large mass of people. And I want to let you know, as as googling New York Post and millennials, it is largely not flattering, as a portrait.

Farrah Bostic 11:12
Yeah, yeah, I think I think that’s right. And I also think, like, you know, as we’ve been doing this, where did any of these names come from? It’s like, it’s really complicated, which is why I think we should just settle in now and get used to each other out of because we’re going to be at this time. Because, I mean, I think we talked about this, but like, I think the New York Post’s has such a pejorative position on millennials, in part because of that book that came out in like, an hour forgotten when it came out, like 2002, or something that was like the rising Democratic majority, or the emerging Democratic majority, which is this pollster book about how, like, all young people were just going to be inexorably more liberal than everybody else and browner than everybody else. And, and, you know, we would never be able to retrieve them for the conservative cause. And so let’s just for one of a better word shit on them in the pages of the post, because it’s fun. And like, you know, it’s an it’s a long term own the LIBS as a generation, strategy, and, and dz clickbait and, you know, everybody loves to go through at least some phase of Get off my lawn and get these kids today and whatever. That I think is at least part of the reason

A P 12:34
I’ve pulled up headlines from going back only to 2020. Once

Unknown Speaker 12:38
more and more millennials are saying that having children sounds like a trap. are millennials spoiled babies do millennials stink?

Eliza T Robot 12:46
Millennials have it too easy. Millennials are the absolute cheapest now

Unknown Speaker 12:51
they are ruining Halloween. Skin generation, millennial millennials.

A P 12:56
Millennials blame it on the millennials. I’m just blown away by the recent ones. And and your point about the live baiting in 2022. In July, George Will wrote this article about it in The Washington Post wrote an op ed how millennials became aggressively illiberal censorious young adults. And his his article is all about the shift, you know, moving from this idea of techno cheerleaders through the redefinition, you know, in his estimation of the as the dumbest generation, which was another book that was written, he’s painting them into another portrait, you know, and that’s only from this summer but but I think that’s the Washington Post’s doing their best to be like, see, we’re impartial we publish claptrap like this. It’s interesting to see between the New York Post and conservative writers and thinkers, they are always pinging back to like, this group of people can’t be relied on, you know, this, people, if you are a baby boomer or conservative, they are. They’re problematic, you can’t trust them. You can’t count on them to have to support your causes. And you have to figure out how to work around them.

Farrah Bostic 14:14
Yeah, I mean, I think especially in the realm of Well, I feel like this has probably kind of happened and marketing in general, but I feel like politics in particular, over the last decade or so. And maybe some of this is like the rise of data journalism and Nate Silver and whatever. But the need to predict outcomes like to know what’s going to happen before it happens, has become like this really weird component of our public discourse. And so, yeah, there’s a lot of anxiety about somebody that might go the other way and you’re not really sure why and they’re not fitting previous patterns of like, okay, baby boomers were all burning their bras and their draft cards and, you know, whatever. And then they sold out and did a bunch of blow and then they had kids and then Republicans and greed is good, right? That’s the arc of the, of the moral universe from Baby Boomers. And now they’re like, sliding into depths of despair. And so cool, great story. That seems to be the thing that everyone’s still waiting on millennials to do is to, like suddenly make the big swing to conservatism because they have a mortgage and three kids. I mean, to be honest, that is happening, because that happens, right? People do, some people do become more conservative as they take on greater responsibilities and just age in general and become more like their parents. And that’s just natural. But like, it’s not happening in this big sea change kind of a way. And so I think that makes people like, good old George Will anxious. But also he doesn’t want them to like turn too hard. Right. Like he wants them to turn in a nice, nice, comfortable curve. Nobodies.

A P 15:58
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So if I try to understand millennials, just from headlines, that’s, that’s the audit I was trying to do is like, Okay, well, let’s say I don’t know anything about him. And I just landed from Mars. And someone says millennials, and I’m like, You sure you don’t mean the Oregon Trail generation, bro? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re talking about. Millennials. It’s another age group that’s shifting yours based on when we want to talk about, but let’s say I want to know about I want to understand that and and I until I go to the news, you know, I start looking at this, I get such a collection of weirdness. I mean, if I don’t go, I only let myself go back into 2020. I think there might be some that I have as examples. But like the avocado toast thing from 2016 2017 is a that is an extremely strange, descriptive phrase that got grouped with an entire generation. And it also that also speaks to a new political talking points approach. That was like, What is something weird and memorable that I can just pin on 70 million people? avocado toast like that, that shouldn’t have stuck or meant anything. But I still see millennials. rebutting that today proactively like, oh, and you think it’s all about? It’s like, no, let’s see, you’re you’re losing the argument, because you’re in the argument.

Farrah Bostic 17:26
Yeah. Yes, yes. But this is this is also like, a through line, because I feel like in the, what, like the night, early 90s, maybe it was or late 80s. It was the limousine, liberals. And then it was the latte sipping liberals. And now it’s the avocado toast eating millennials. But it’s shifted away from being like you’re out of touch to, you are out of touch. And all the things you complain about are wrong in the world are your fault because you’re spending your money on this and not on something else. So it’s not just the rich people anymore, right? Like the limousine liberals have the money to spend on the limousine. But the millennials are complaining they can’t afford a house. They can’t afford to move out of their parents basement. And it’s because they’re spending all their money on this out of touch dish. You know, avocado toast, which is just, yeah. First of all, I’m just going to rent for avocado toast for a minute. It’s delicious.

A P 18:23
It’s really good. And sometimes it’s overpriced. Sometimes it’s overpriced.

Farrah Bostic 18:28
I don’t eat it every day. But I’m also not a millennial.

A P 18:31
And I don’t want to talk about avocados just I can’t. I can’t I haven’t had breakfast yet, and I can’t do it. So thinking about that framing, that we’re trying to pin the problems of this generation on themselves, like God, God forbid, the system failed them. No, no, no, that they’re buying expensive coffees and avocado toast or you know overspending and they’re not following the example we set in the 80s as boomers, even Gen X’s, I was pleased to have something that point and laugh at with avocado toast. But if I’m looking at headlines from 2021 And again, this is the New York Post, I promise my research spam more broadly than the than the New York Post, April 14 2021. There’s this headline written by Hannah Forsberg, millennials can finally afford homeownership, but not full stop. That feels like oh, that’s optimistic. Millennials can finally afford homeownership comma causing a shortage. So even in the case where it’s like, Hey, here’s some good news on the horizon. Millennials being able to afford homeownership is good news for the economy. It is good news for boomers who have been sitting on homes and waiting to cash out like this is positive. And this took 10 years from the recession for people to build the wealth that they need to do this causes In a shortage, yes, it’s good, but they’re screwing it up those damn millennials. Here they go. Yeah. And then I want to talk about that. But I also want to talk about the article that is exactly the 22nd. Eight days later written by Alison hope, in the New York Post, same pub. Millennials are moving back into awkward team rooms, in record numbers. So it is both the same publication, looking to see if it’s the same section or two different sections, real estate and living. In one article, it’s saying yes, they can find they’re finally building the wealth that we need them to build for the economy to move forward. And it’s screwing us and the readers of the post, you know, primarily, and then in the other article, it’s like, oh, they’re failures, they’re all moving back into their, their rooms.

Farrah Bostic 20:51
I mean, it’s like the the trope about like, I think that this may have been something I saw in the UK more, but like The Daily Mail tells you that like coffee causes cancer on on Monday, and on Friday, they tell you the coffee cures cancer. And like what which?

A P 21:06
I believe it’s both and so I drink coffee, because I figure it’ll cause in equilibrium. Yeah, yeah. Balance.

Unknown Speaker 21:17
day, I’m causing in Kern County,

A P 21:19
if you’re trying to learn about millennials and you are in that’s your source you Google that you found both those articles. And what’s your takeaway supposed to be?

Farrah Bostic 21:28
I mean, my immediate takeaway from this is like, millennials are a pain in the ass for boomers. I bet you if we went back, even 2018 We would find articles not not on the New York Post somewhere else, where it’s Millennials blaming boomers for the shortage of affordable housing, because they’re sitting on those houses, yes, that they, you know, two of them live in and they’re, you know, 2000 square feet. And they’re not going anywhere. And so they’re there’s no no houses to buy. Of course, the real problem here is possibly that, like, we’re not building enough new housing, and we’re not building enough housing density. I don’t know. Maybe it’s not either of their fault. That sort of strictest commercial sense. But it’s, it’s very like, no, no, it’s not our fault. It’s your fault. And it’s also like comes across as like, and another thing journalists, my neighbor down the street is annoyed because her son moved back in because he lost his job or something like that. And now she’s annoyed because he still doesn’t pick up after himself. So I’m gonna write 1000 words about that. And feels like yeah, and another thing?

A P 22:31
Well, it believes in? Yes, a specific kind of grievance. Let’s pitch about our kids grievance. Yes. The point of view of a lot of these articles is, and I didn’t find all articles that are just millennials are bad. But a lot of the articles that are trying to make these millennials claims do seem to be written from this point of view of man, my kid is such a deadbeat. I kid is like, an albatross isn’t yours. They’re moving back into their teenage room. I was going to turn that into a home office, or a fitness room or whatever,

Farrah Bostic 23:08
right? Yes. Finally get the sewing room of my dreams. Yes. And then

A P 23:14
you keep looking. So I got on this track about homeownership. And I know personally, that it’s they can’t buy homes because of all the avocado toast that they sure, yes. But if I look at the hill, and if I look at the LA Times September of 2022, there’s these articles about millennials can’t afford to pay rent in these this set of California Cities. So that is local fear mongering about a huge group of people that can’t afford to pay rent. And the same article is rewritten in the hill, five cities where Millennials struggle to rent a one bedroom. So these articles are about a year after the article I shared about from the post that said they can’t afford homes, but they’re killing supply, which is true, these things. But all these stories can’t be overbuying and not able to rent a one bedroom in the hill is talking about five cities across the US. What is the overarching narrative? I know there isn’t an editor for all of media, although conspiracy theorists wish there was the Illuminati is not pulling the strings on this. But what’s the story? We’re trying to tell her? What’s the story where as a reader if I read five different pubs, which I encourage people to do? What’s the story I’m supposed to take away? I don’t know what’s up or down.

Farrah Bostic 24:39
The takeaway just is like, well, they’re there. It doesn’t matter which view you want to take on it somehow they’re just screwing it up. And the thing that’s funny about those kind of rent affordability pieces, if I had to guess what they’re doing is looking at like the average rent of a one or two bedroom or whatever in those places. And then looking at like the average incomes of voting age band of people and making some sort of calculation about, well, if you maxed out your the amount the percentage of your income that you spent on rent, then No, you wouldn’t be able to afford it in these places. But then what we do is say it’s the millennials fault, right? Like that’s, it’s it’s on them that they can’t if there’s something wrong with them that they can’t afford these rents is one take on it. The other version of it is there’s something wrong with the rents that these people can’t afford it, when neither of these things winds up being true, because in those most expensive cities, people spend more than a third of their income on rent. Right? It’s not to live somewhere.

A P 25:37
It’s not the traditional balance of that, that 20% brella that we’re used to, we used to preach. And that’s not a realistic break anymore. No. So there’s a few different there’s a few different avenues to explore. So you know, going back to the birth of the the myth of the millennial, there is this idea that, you know, this this huge group, they’re going to have this huge economic power. And we’re not seeing that now. I think when the writers write these pieces, and they use the word millennial, they are saying all 70 some odd million of these people should be the same. They should all be an avatar for this idea that we got 20 years ago about who they would be. And so everything is like, when I was just saying, you know, it’s the POV of my son is an albatross or my kid is an albatross. It’s like, almost like Millennials are one kid. They are America’s baby boomers, son, or daughter, who was a narrative Well, who’s like failing us and screwing up everything, you know, it’s the gosh, they’re, they’re at it again. They just crashed their car. And now I gotta go to the shop and bail them out. That’s kind of the tone of the piece is even though the pieces are written by Gen Z. In some cases, like the young the younger sibling, it’s like, can you believe my older brother?

Farrah Bostic 26:53
What a jerk? Oh, yes. I mean that that is what is so funny. Watching the narrative shift as millennials go from like a heading off to college, graduating from college, getting to that place where like, oh, maybe this isn’t a job anymore. It’s a career. Oh, you know, I’m thinking about getting married or having kids or wanting to climb the corporate ladder, or whatever it is. Each of those stages, there’s like a new kind of step down. In every other generation sort of estimation of the millennials. And some of it, I wonder if it isn’t just its itself, the media creation of the millennials that like they were the biggest and the most diverse and they were going to change the world, the next greatest generation, blah, blah, blah, they get all this oxygen. And so they become a big target. And so boomers, start out optimistic about them, and then get disillusion Gen X is annoyed because the millennials are getting attention and the Gen Xers are ignored, you know, the Gen Z or think that millennials are based?

A P 27:49
Well, yeah, I agree with all of what you said that like, I think, yeah, they are basic. And I do feel like nor

Farrah Bostic 27:54
the same. No, I think that’s something that’s pretty right. So when they first start writing about millennials entering the workplace, a lot of the pieces are written by like HR, consultancies, and HR, you know, service providers. And they’re talking about the multigenerational workplace as if that’s a new thing that had never happened before that people of different ages and life stages working in the same workplace, these millennials are going to need some kind of special knowledge or accommodation in order to be fully worked with that somehow they were both super ambitious and under skilled. And so you the boomer boss, we’re going to have to do something about that and deal with it in some kind of way. And so I do think there’s like this kind of, I don’t know, sense of a generation, like the narrative really is it’s a whole generation that has been utterly catered to go back to the millennials, rising book of the constant invocation of the babies on board or being in the car window. And like, How dare you put a sign in your window that says there’s an infant in the car?

A P 28:53
Yeah, just they want a firefighter to know that. Get this baby out of his seat, because they’re strapped in pretty tight. If we’re upside down, thinking about the articles about rent, and your point is about the wage gap. It’s about basic demographic math done by a reporter who’s reading one article and not doing a long journalistic exploration of the facts. So it’s Millennials median wages are 36,000, while the annual median range needed to afford a one bedroom is this, this is less than that, therefore they can’t afford the rent. The other part of the story is the assumed narrative that millennials have been waiting longer to start families, which is another thing you see headlines about that. They’re they’re delaying and delaying and delaying. And nobody asked the question like, if that’s true, and you know, I think there is proof that shows they are delaying that. Why are they delaying? You know, what’s the story there? And so there’s other headlines that go into that cities where Millennials are getting married is that is the headline from Yahoo News. And it lists you know, it has the same kind of crappy demographic By Numbers, yeah, I mean data says, I guess it is. And then, but then it’s like, here’s a list of cities. There’s no analysis for why, yeah, or what it means. It just is this crazy. X, you know, position that’s like, here’s cities where they actually are getting married because they’re so weird because they’re not getting married. You know, there is there was another article that I’m looking for that said, that looked into this. And the idea was that millennials were not getting married because they fear the outcome of a divorce. And that was an interesting, like the setback, the financial and the emotional setback of going through a divorce is an expectation they have, there’s no data to back it up. But I was like, well, at least that’s an interesting theory. If I was the child of a baby boomer, and we saw a huge divorce rates among baby boomer boomers in the 80s. You know that Kramer versus Kramer thing, like maybe that’s a real next generation knock on effect. But the article is also just an avocado toast. It’s just it just throws it out there. Like they’re not getting married. And here’s why. And there’s no doubt

Farrah Bostic 31:16
this, I think goes back, though, to the question of like, how do we frame the windows in which a generation exists because if it’s 2022 years long, the idea of at any given midpoint of of that of that window, they should have had had all their babies by now they should be married by now. They should be doing whatever by now it’s a bit like your grandmother going, why aren’t you married yet? When are you getting married? And that is, it has, like, even with like the boomers, the idea that there was this birth dearth for boomers. Turns out basically not to be true when they’re about the same number of millennials as there were boomers. So they replaced themselves like they, they produced the right number of offspring. And, and like, the differences, like the boomers who are procreating in the 70s, and the boomers who are procreating in the 80s, are different aged boomers. For one thing, they’re just different ages and stages. The same thing is happening with millennials were like some of the millennials, who are they, on the older end, have accumulated enough, you know, enough resources in order to buy homes, and some of them are on the younger end, and still trying to figure that out. It’s like, you can’t take 20 years worth of people and say, By this point, they should have completed this task. And if they haven’t, there’s something wrong with them. I think the thing that’s interesting about that, like divorce anxiety narrative is now I’m curious about like, well, when did the wave of divorces crest and then recede? Because that happened pretty early in the 80s. So if you’re born after like, 85, you have a much greater chance that your parents are still married, assuming they’re both still alive. What are we What’s this sort of general anxiety about divorce, it may just be kind of a cultural thing of like, divorce is a possibility. It’s not verboten, it’s not taboo. So I have to hold out the possibility that that’s a thing, it may actually just have to do with, like, general sense of the precarity of people’s finances, that any kind of upset to your life can really screw up everything. So a health crisis, a failed marriage, a recession, financial crisis, whatever, all of these things are causing anxiety, but it does feel like I overheard a conversation in a bar. And now I’m gonna go read a piece of

A P 33:32
that. And that’s it. Because the theory is very avocado toasty. It’s, it’s, as I was reading it, I was like, Oh, I can really sink my teeth into this idea. They’re afraid of divorce. And then I got to the end of the article, and I thought, but there’s no substance here. There’s no it’s a, it’s a, it’s thrown out as like a could be this. But with a period on it instead of ellipses. It’s it’s, it’s presented as final as if there’s been research. And I would love for that research. I would read a book about this, if someone had done the work. So I you know, that’s an area to keep exploring and seeing if that’s something that’s true. I’m not so sure that it is I agree with you that if you break down boomers into the two generations, they probably should be and you break millennials into the life stages that we should break them into to explore them. They’re gonna see a whole range of psychometric and behavioral and you know, attitudes towards money that just changed naturally as you have children or as you look to buy a home or as you earn educational credentials right to these things changes your outlook.

Farrah Bostic 34:45
Yeah, well, my my lovely English in laws are here and we were talking last night about kind of whatever the royal family and things like that, but, but one of the things that came up in the conversation that I don’t even know that I really knew Was that something like a third of English men died in the First World War? Third of them.

A P 35:10
Yeah. So that will have serious knock on effects for generally. Yeah,

Farrah Bostic 35:14
absolutely. And like one of the knock on effects is women getting involved in politics. And it’s not because there was some sudden wave of feminism, it’s that there weren’t enough adults, like you needed. If your only definition of adult was it that had to be male, then you didn’t have enough adults to govern the country. You didn’t have enough adults to make decisions about what we were going to do next. So yeah, I guess we’re gonna let some women run for office, we’re gonna appoint some women to some cabinet magistrates, we’re gonna let women do a lot of things. We’re gonna be just fine with the queen. Yeah, yes, because we have no other choice. And so they’re just these things where it’s what is the actual context here. And it’s always just sort of reporting without context. It’s literally I overheard a thing I really felt at the time of the avocado toast thing that like, it was this fad in cities where you would go to a place for breakfast, and it wasn’t a full brunch. But they wanted something kind of fancy avocados were now cheap and plentiful for a period of time. And so avocado toast That’s delicious. Everybody likes avocados. It’s healthy, blah, blah, blah. And some reporter notices that everywhere they’re going there’s avocado toast on the menu, and there didn’t used to be so thought piece like

A P 36:21
I love it. I’m sad that you probably just nailed how half of these stories get injected into culture. Fortunately, I have enough of a platform that someone thinks like oh, yeah, that’s a that is an interesting. It’s now on the menu. I’m going to also write about it or I’m going to share this on my own huge platform, because Millennials are right.

Farrah Bostic 36:45
Well, and I think the other thing is people saying kind of half baked dumb things on the internet is different. Now somebody for New York Magazine writes a thing about the five best places for avocado toast and lower Manhattan. And on a frickin Sella trip. You know, some member of Congress sees the piece and it’s like avocado toast in my day, we didn’t even like avocados. And so then injects it into a tweet or offhand remark in front of the gaggle. And now it’s a thing because Marco Rubio thinks you shouldn’t have avocado toast. Yeah, what Mark groves position on avocado toast is I bet he gets a lot of it. To be honest. He’s kind of a millennial isn’t he?

A P 37:23
Don’t say that out loud. I don’t think he’s gonna. I don’t think people want to be called millennials. I think I think it’s almost like a slur.

Farrah Bostic 37:30
I think that’s really interesting would be interesting. That’s the thing I’d like to actually survey some people about. Yeah, yeah. Oh, that’s because that was their preferred term of all the terms. Although, when they did those early surveys about what do you want to be called Eco Boomers, Gen Y, and millennials whatever the the most selected answer was none. Don’t want to be called any of these things. But then it was millennial millennial is the nicest sounding one. So

A P 37:53
we’ve talked a little bit about how they’re reflected today. Farrah, where do we go from here?

Farrah Bostic 37:58
Because I have been musing on the subject of millennials since 2000. Is like these stories also get presented as if it was ever thus, right like that millennials have always been irresponsible, or always been arrested development or always been whatever presented.

A P 38:15
It’s like now. Yes,

Farrah Bostic 38:19
exactly. But they’re like, you know, roll it back five years, roll it back another five years, roll it back another five years. And it’s this like evolving story. But we don’t have a kind of collective memory of that. And so it’s only whatever the current New York Post headline is. And I was at dinner the other night with some colleagues of mine, who are almost all in fact, all Gen Xers with Gen Z kids, and they’re doing the thing they’re doing the like, Gen Z is going to save us all. And of course, I got characteristically irritated, and was like, not their job. And no, they’re not. They feel it feels that way right now when they’re just heading off to college or whatever for you. And you’re feeling really optimistic about them, because they’re still your sweet children. And then it’s going to be like two or three years when they suddenly at the last minute change their major and annoy you because you’ve spent all this money into their job you think they should take? Yeah, exactly. Like they will inevitably complete the process of individuating from you. And you will be disappointed. And it’s yes. And this is not about generations. This is just about parenting and maturation of children. It is a known psychological thing. And yet we want to call it a generation problem. And it’s this like, building them up and building them up and then like, Oh God, I’m so disappointed. And so I think the thing I keep thinking about is like, I was doing similar things of like, well, what are we currently saying about millennials in the workforce or millennials and money? Or millennials in their kind of attitudes to government and society. And the current story was just every time I encountered like a current headline I was like, Like, well, that’s a change, right? Like, that was not where we started, you know, the, the, where it’s, you know, how it started, how it’s going slides are very, very different. And so things like, you know, the, the, the one that someone said, I think my husband sent it to me about, you know, millennials wanting us soft life was was was great, right? And, and beaches features someone who like, you know, was living in New York and working in marketing and advertising and I happen to I don’t know him but I would like know of him and he was doing a lot of like, you know, community building, but in that same kind of hustle culture vein and like that that was the big thing. But now it’s now it’s this off life now. It’s I’ve saved up a bit of money, and I can live somewhere warm and have an Instagramable lifestyle and, and be more deliberate and more choices. And some of that is probably that like, well, he’s not in his early 20s anymore. He’s in his mid 30s. Now, he’s got some more resources, he got some more experience and connections and all that he can make some more choices about how he wants to live his life. But this is like such a difference from, you know, the 2000 view of millennials were going to be which was extremely hard working always on overachievers. And that like super ambitious, wanting to leapfrog and being impatient, wanting to get promoted really quickly, sleeping with their phones, all of that kind of thing. And now it’s now it’s soft culture and the kids these days, they’re so they’re so late. I

A P 41:34
think in our next conversation, we’re gonna get into time machine. Go back to see where the articles where the headlines where the news started changing. And look at what was it like pre avocado toast and post where’s the pivot point that get us to millennials can buy houses, but that’s killing the economy because they’re bad.

Farrah Bostic 42:00
Right? I mean, I think spoiler is the financial crisis. But But, but I do like the idea of the the dividing line for the millennial narrative from going from, more or less optimistic about them to a more or less pessimistic about them, Outlook is probably avocado toast, I like that as the as the the line in the, in the sediment layers where we can say, ah, that’s when the that’s when the asteroid hit. That’s

A P 42:27
when the media turned on them. You know? Yes. And let’s for shooting, we’ll look at when did the media turn when did the narrative turn? Which might not be the same? And what’s the outcomes of that? And what are the maybe what are the reasons why? Yeah, yeah. Excellent. Awesome. Till next time.

Farrah Bostic 42:48
Keep hitting the post.

Eliza T Robot 42:52
On the next episode of, in the demo, Farrah and Adam look at the research that measured the outlook of the first class of Millennials as high school seniors, and what that meant when compared more broadly. I’m your robot host, Eliza. Please be kind. In The Demo is produced by Farrah Bostic and Adam Pierno, with support from The Difference Engine. Music by Omega Man, under the creative commons license. Go to in the demo podcast dot com for behind the scenes research and supporting information.

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