We millennials pride ourselves on being tolerant, environmentally conscious, and socially progressive.
Being a millennial, I reserve the right to make these generalizations about myself and those I surround myself with, the large majority of whom are millennials as well. So, being the progressive and socially-aware millennial that I am, I pride myself on my ability to take a joke, to know when something is satirical and when it’s not. In fact, I see a lot of millennials take any chance they get to take down a Gen-X’er or a Boomer who clearly can’t understand the satire in, say, a comedian’s stand up routine or a late night show host’s opening monologue (and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t taken that opportunity a couple times myself).
Yet, armed with our infallible ability to sniff out sarcasm, the millennial masses on social media seemed incapable of deciphering it when said sarcasm was directed right at them. L.A. Times humor columnist Chris Erskine wrote an article this past Saturday titled “Millennials, you literally cannot call yourselves adults until you take this pledge.” The responses ranged from resentful to dismissive to hilarious:
Even esteemed NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen (not a millennial) chimed in:
Now before you go tearing me down for being a bad millennial, let me defend my generation. Erskine's column sort of unnecessarily throws salt on an open wound. I hear constantly from coworkers, relatives, and even complete strangers how apathetic, disconnected, and entitled millennials are. If you listen to them, we can't hold a job, don't care about advancing professionally, and are fine living with mom and dad for as long as they'll let us. I literally (and that is the correct use of that word, by the way) hear this at least once a week and I'll bet you the job that I apparently didn't work for and the money I apparently think I'm entitled to that I'm not the only one. Can you really blame us for getting a little ticked off?
I hate when Boomers or Gen-X’ers, who often clearly don't know or talk to any millennials, make generalizations about my generation being lazy or entitled. Sure, there are those out there who fit that description. But most of us have been busting our asses to find and maintain work, learn how to be adults, pay off our student debt, and all while battling a crappy economy, a lack of jobs, and a generation of Baby Boomers and Gen-X’ers (many of whom become our bosses) who think we’re lazy, entitled robots who only care about smartphones and the latest pumpkin spice-whatever. Need proof? I can give you a list of names of kids who graduated with me who are making it on their own in their industry with dreams of advancing professionally.
But man, for a generation that claims it can take a joke, the amount of undergarments that seemed to severely bunch on social media over this column was absolutely astounding. You'd think a generation that's more likely get its news from "The Daily Show" than an actual newspaper would be able to tell a humor column from a think-piece. Of course, not everyone reacted this way, but I saw an awful lot of tweets from people who apparently took this article way too seriously.
When it comes down to it, tweeting hate back at Erskine for writing a humor column is like calling out The Onion for not embodying the same journalistic ethics as the New York Times. Erskine is a humorist, which doesn't mean you have to find him funny, but it means he's going to try to be. You're absolutely entitled to your opinion that Erskine is a curmudgeonly hermit with no real connection to millennials. I don't know the guy, maybe he is. But my gut tells me that being a columnist, he's a Baby Boomer who is probably more plugged in to millennials than most his age. Either way, in the end, it's satire. RELAX.
Look, I’ve met people who think the cilantro on their taco is a vegetable. I have friends who seem incapable of detaching themselves from Instagram when we’re out having a drink at a bar. I know people who use the word ‘literally’ more than Donald Trump uses the word ‘disgusting.’ Does it have sort of a crusty outer shell of resentment? Yes. Is that rooted in truth? Definitely. Because that’s the definition of satire. And let's be real. In 20 years, many of us will probably be the ones complaining about how the next generation is lazy and entitled. So enjoy fighting the man now, before you turn into a crusty critic of young folks yourself.
Chris Erskine, humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of “Millennials, you literally cannot call yourselves adults until you take this pledge”
Matt Dangelantonio, 'AirTalk' associate producer and resident millennial
To hear the full segment, click on the audio above.