If you were born in the 1980s, you’re an “Older Millennial.” (If that title makes you feel ancient, believe me, I’m right there with you). We’re supposed to be in the same generation as ‘90s babies, but there are a lot of questions older Millennials have for younger Millennials — things we don’t understand about our younger brethren, and hugely different memories of the ‘90s and aughts.
“Millennial” refers to the generation of people born roughly between 1980 and 2000, a 20-year period that saw major transformations in culture and technology. Sometimes the term “Millennial” feels really arbitrary to me, and I have mixed feelings about being lumped together with people born 15 years after me. On the one hand, I do feel a kinship with younger Millennials, as they are the last generation who will remember, even in a small way, life in the pre-Internet age. On the other hand, the divide between older and younger Millennials is wide; there have been so many fundamental changes in the way we communicate, store information, buy things, and consume media since the early ‘90s that, as someone born in the early ‘80s, I often feel like I have more in common with Generation X than I do with someone born in 1997.
We older Millennials should do our part to understand our younger comrades, if only because we’ll all eventually have to band together when Generation Z grows up and takes over. Therefore, my younger Millennial friends, I have some serious questions for you, on behalf of my fellow olds:
1. “What is a ‘CatDog’?”
The ‘90s gave us a lot of great television aimed at kids, but when certain beloved children’s shows came out in the late ‘90s, older Millennials had already moved away from kids TV and on to shows like Dawson’s Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So when younger Millennials get all nostalgic for shows like CatDog, my first two thoughts are “What?” and “How does that even work?”
2. “Why are you taking photos of your lunch and filtering them to look like it’s 1977?”
I know you’re putting them on Instagram, but … why? And who’s looking at them?
3. “What do you mean, ‘You don’t remember pagers’?”
Pagers seemed really, really cool when they first became popular, but it’s hard to explain why to people who grew up after cell phones hit the scene. After all, to someone who never knew a world without mobile communication, “a clip-on device that can transmit a phone number or short message” sounds less like an amazing technological advancement and more like really slow, inconvenient texting.
4. “Who is Gigi Hadid?”
As you get older, you start having this shredding experience more and more often: You think you’re all caught up on what the young people are into because, after all, you are a young person, and then you go on the Internet and realize that you have no idea who the hell anybody is anymore. Suddenly there are all these articles about “Gigi Hadid,” and your first thought is, “Wait, who? Is she somehow related to the Kardashians?” And then it dawns on you that you are succumbing to the inexorable ravages of time, and that death is just around the corner. No big.
5. “Can you tell me how to activate the emojis on my phone? I’m so confused.”
Not gonna lie, I just figured out how to turn on my emoji keyboard, like, a week ago. Don’t judge.
6. “How could anyone possibly consider Twilight the best vampire series when there is Buffy??”
A lot of younger Millennials were at just the right age for Twilight madness when the series debuted in 2005. Plenty of older Millennials got into the Twilight craze, too, of course — but they were well aware that Buffy covered that ground first (and better, IMHO).
7. “Are you wearing that flannel dress with a choker and combat boots ironically? Because that’s what I actually wore in the seventh grade.”
Most younger Millennials were too young in the ‘90s to wear the iconic teen fashions typified in shows like My So Called Life and films like The Craft. Fashion always comes back around, of course, so all the things that were trendy in 1996 — like loose dresses with tiny flower prints, chokers, Doc Martens, and crops tops — are trendy again now. I have nothing against it; I just wish I’d had the forethought to save all of my clothes from ninth grade.
8. “Dawson or Pacey?”
Be careful — your answer to this question says something fundamental about who you are.* If you’re response is “Who?,” then, friend, I don’t even know.
* The answer is Pacey. Always Pacey.
9. “What is Snapchat actually for?”
I mean, I understand how it works and what it does. But I just don’t get it.
10. “‘Turnt’? That’s basically the same as ‘crunk,’ right?”
11. “Have you ever had a landline number?”
I still remember my home phone number from when I was growing up, and probably will until the day I die, but is that the case for younger Millennials? Do they even remember having landlines?
12. “Can I use ‘vine’ as a verb?”
I know that a “vine” is a noun, but when I making a vine, am I “vining”? Does one “vine a vine”? Please make me a dictionary for this stuff.
13. “Why would I bother downloading all those apps when I can just keeping looking things up on Safari?”
So much media is now focused on apps, and a lot of younger Millennials spend way more time playing with apps on their phones than using their laptops to surf the Internet (Is “surfing” still even a thing people do on the Internet?). Many older Millennials, in contrast, still hit Safari (or Mozilla Firefox, etc) for their media consumption.
14. “Can you show me how to send an email to my friend’s Twitter?”
That’s how it works, right?
Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (14)