Millennial Splaining

Millennial-splaining is the practice by some young adults of explaining in a pompous way how things used to be when their older listeners were around and they were not.

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17 thoughts on “Millennial Splaining

  1. As someone sitting right between the Generations Y and millenials, I have noticed an interesting if slightly disconcerting point that may shed light on this disconnect.

    In a very real sense, the “Great Communicator” [sic] persona was (re-)invented quite recently and Ted’s recollections of an actual president that this persona supposedly corresponds to may be “correctly” regarded as irrelevant.

    This may be clearer with a persona like MLK or Gandhi, who were invented out of whole cloth and exist to occupy a certain conceptual space (i.e. pacifist) in contemporary discussions. I have repeatedly tried to “reverse-millenial-splain” that if they’d tried reading about the actual life of Gandhi or his own writings, that they would find the real person to be far richer and rather different – often diametrically opposed – to the modern stereotype. In response, I’ve often encountered the sentiment that while they concede the point about the historical figure, they’re not really all that interested in history and would rather stick with the new image, since that is the one used as a figure of speech in contemporary discourse they are participating in.

    For those of you who follow Dr. Who or Star Trek, this is like saying that we don’t need to older series anymore since we have the new series / reboot to talk about. It may be sad and unsatisfactory, and those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it, etc. -> but they do have a point. Who cares whether lite used to be spelled light – who is to say what’s correct?

    Sometimes actual chronology does matter of course, a friend of mine thought it hilarious when he overheard young people watching the Lord of the Rings movies complaining that so many things were stolen from Harry Potter 😉

    It is on us to make clear exactly how actual historical understanding can contribute to contemporary debates.

    Needless to say, engaged millenials are equally at home with the new and the old, but they may be a minority (as with any generation).

    • Very true – Washington didn’t chop down that cherry tree and Marie Antoinette never suggested cake as a dietary staple.

      However those stories do serve a purpose. If I say “Let them eat cake” – everyone understands the reference. (and any who question the attribution can be safely ignored.) Call it a shared mythos or even an archetype.

      But that’s not the reason I’m posting – there is, was, and ever will be only one Star Trek rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. 😀

    • Henry Ford : «History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history that we make today.»

      Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana : «Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.»

      You pays your money and you takes your choice….

      Henri

  2. I don’t know any so-called «millennials», Ted, but while I’d probably get irritated if one were to attempt to explain to me events in which I myself participated when they occurred, I must confess that my primary feeling towards them (and their parents, for that matter) is one of guilt, for the fucked-up world which my generation left them….

    Henri

  3. “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”
    –Socrates
    Kids these days….

    • Iburanen, can you tell me where in Platon’s work, in which he uses the figure of Sokrates to put forward his own views, the above quote appears ? I’ve never seen it. On the other hand, corrupting the youth was one of the charges – in addition to belittling the gods of Athens and worshiping strange deities – were precisely the charges that his accusers brought against him – again, according to Platon….

      I suspect the quote to be spurious….

      Henri

    • «Of course it is. As though it [i e, that a quote is spurious] matters.» Sounds like just that sort of Trumpism which gets so mercilessly panned….

      Henri

      • Yes, though in this instance (the quote attributed to Socrates), it *doesn’t* matter, and in fact one could argue (not that I wish to) that the questionable attribution is part of the joke. Many quotes are either misattributed and/or attributed to several people — me, I figure anytime I’m not sure, it’s probably Wilde — and they’re typically ones that have become truisms (not Trumpisms:) or cliches.

      • «Yes, though in this instance (the quote attributed to Socrates), it *doesn’t* matter, …» One way of excusing one’s errors, but to my mind at least, not the best. Better to acknowledge them….

        Henri

      • @lburanen – please see my remark above concerning that which may be safely ignored.

  4. Heh. Heh-heh. Ted identifies as a Gen X … how does it feel to be an oldie?

    Fact is, each generation talks about the next as being self-absorbed, shallow, and lazy; even as they blast the previous one for being being stodgy, behind the times, and responsible for all of the ills in the world.

    Gen X is now a larger percentage of the workforce than boomers. How come they haven’t fixed all the problems they blame the boomers for?

    Teasing aside – I have a great deal of respect for the Millennials. They are the culmination of what the boomers have been fighting for since the 60’s. They don’t see what the big deal is about women’s rights, gay rights, or transgender rights; let alone racism. They automatically assume all “men” are created equal.

    Societal change is a generational thing. The latest generation is proof that it’s changing in the right direction.

  5. I, whom am pretty old, have never experienced a younger (< 30) person explain previous states of the society, culture, technology, and so forth to me in the flesh. I get that sort of thing only in the media, as in the cartoon above. I suspect these are fake young people. The ones I meet in real life want me to tell them how things were back in the day (whichever day) and how they got to be the way they are now. This is exactly what old people are supposed to be good for. Snotty know-it-alls tend to be a bit older. In any case, how do these fake young people serve the capitalist cause of accumulation?

  6. You have to “outrank” them somehow, either through talking about your time as a master of arcade Tetris or Tekken or the version of Afterburner that had the shaking joystick if your F-14 was hit.

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