Are “Millennials” Necessarily White & Middle-Class?

hipster2Hooray, there’s another article out about how Millennials are kinda poor and kinda don’t know what to do about it (besides, of course, making use of the “sharing economy”). I miss the “Hustlin” column in the late Good magazine, which highlighted ways that Millennials are pushing back against the trappings of the recession. At least that journalistic approach left room for Millennials to eventually come out on top–we will have 401Ks, goddammit! We will eventually marry and have kids! We might own a home someday if we ever settle down and get good jobs, which might happen if this Kickstarter campaign takes off . . .

But the more I read about “Millennialism,” the more I think that the media has brainwashed itself with this term. Is it just me, or does the notion of a “Millennial” culture implicitly exclude all but white, middle-class people?

Look at the rhetoric used in this recent Times Magazine story about how Millennials are suffering from permanent downward mobility (which is not news, so I have no idea why this article was even published–it uses old research by Neil Howe from 1991)Quoting Howe’s book directly, the journalist writes: “[Millennials] look at the house their parents live in and say, ‘I could work for 100 years and I couldn’t afford this place.'” That’s true if you grew up in the affluent suburbs. If you hail from a housing project in the Bronx, not so much. Read more


My essay: “Consider the Tweet”

twitter birdIt seemed that, in the literary world, 2012 was the “year of the tweet.” Check out my essay on the Guernica Daily for some thoughts on what that means for writers:

“It is understandable that a writer of literature might despair over technology’s ascent in the culture. Who knows how many of the hours spent by the average person on Twitter or Gawker might have been given to a nourishing novel? Nevertheless, there are writers who have, rather than disdain technology, welcomed it into their creative repertoire and written it into their imagined worlds.”

Too Much Noise? asks Construction panel at BookCourt . . .

Gather ye round and discuss! 

Last Thursday, Construction magazine convened four writers and lots of literary folks at Brooklyn’s BookCourt to chat about the Internet and its effects on criticism and journalism. 

Good times were had by all. My reflection is up on the Construction site.

It’s nice to sit in a bookstore and talk about the Internet with live people, instead of blogging or reading a Facebook feed or looking at Twitter. As useful as social media may be, ideas are best exchanged in-person.

As I wrote: “But it was perhaps panelist Jacob Silverman’s article ‘Against Enthusiasm‘ that had convened the roundtable. The article, published in Slate Read more

October 4th: Panel discussion at BookCourt with Construction Magazine

“Follow Me!: @Journalism+Criticism_In_The_Age_Of_Cyberspace”

Once upon a time, the main tools for journalists and critics were nothing more than pen and paper, and perhaps a typewriter. Now, there are hyperlinks, Twitter, blogs, Google “hangouts,” a persistently personal online writing voice, e-books, and entirely new patterns of information consumption spawned via the Web. Our stable of production tools has greatly expanded — but what’s the qualitative result? How do social media and the blogosphere shape, improve upon, or detract from journalistic and critical work?

Join Construction magazine at BookCourt on Thursday, October 4th, from 7-9pm, to debate these matters in a panel discussion with four online writers and critics: Stephen Metcalf, Slate columnist and critic-at-large; Maud Newton, blogger and critic; Jacob Silverman, freelance writer (whose recent Slate article “Against Enthusiasm” suggests that social media’s ethos of “following” and “liking” diminishes critical capacities); and Emily Witt, former staff writer at The Observer. The panel will be moderated by Construction editor Masha Udensiva-Brenner. Read more

Unemployment Porn: How To Get Your Kicks In A Recession

There’s a new genre of online journalism. Call it “unemployment porn.” It began with Occupy Wall Street’s “We Are The 99 Percent” tumblr, last fall, where people all over America shared their images–faces often hidden–and held up signs and leaflets of paper spelling out their woes.
“My SSDI and child support come to a monthly total of $2346.00 monthly.  Our rent – we can’t afford to buy – is $1150.00 a month.  We are currently $195.00 overdrawn, and the overdraft protection has been turned off by the bank.  We have no more gas in our car.  I will get the last half of child support next week; coincidentally that is exactly $195.00.  The next SSDI check won’t be here until June 1st. “

Recently, unemployment porn has entered the blogosphere.  Read more

My essay: “What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Girls'”

a.k.a. “what I learned from Lena Dunham and a few dates with a rich Manhattan lawyer.”

a.k.a. (the real title) “Girls of the Millennials.”

My essay in Construction Magazine:

“My dates with the lawyer got me thinking about my situation, and why I’m putting myself through years of scraping by to be, ultimately, a writer—someone who will most likely never earn as much as a lawyer. At first, going out with him and hearing about his high-end lifestyle made me self-conscious about our class differences. But then I remembered something I often think whenever Read more