I’m not a person who goes on many rants. You’ve probably got a friend or two who seems to have an opinion about everything and isn’t afraid to share it. While my tenure as Chimes editor certainly developed my confidence in sharing thoughts or opinions, I would still rather sit on the sidelines and hear what everyone else has to say.
I hope you’ll excuse this post. I can’t disguise it as anything other than a rant—it’s just several paragraphs of me complaining and critiquing something that bothers me.
If you’ve spent any time on social media in the past year, you have probably come across a prime example of one of the things that has begun to drive me off the wall. There’s one here. And here. And oh, look, two more.
Maybe you’re just skimming this post and didn’t have the time/energy to click those links. I get it. The internet can be exhausting. Here’s the common thread in the four articles linked above: their titles all include the term “twentysomethings.”
Now, I’m all for that term. It’s a great way to describe a large group of people. It’s linguistically interesting. Everyone who writes for this blog fits in that category. But my problem with all of those articles is that they surround the word “twentysomethings” with words like “should,” “have to,” and “must.”
I’m really not sure where this trend started, but in the past year or so, social media has been flooded with these lists of “365 things twentysomethings should know” or “1,246 places twentysomethings need to visit before they get old” or “10 types of sushi twentysomethings MUST pretend they like.”
It’s driving me crazy. Like really, where do these people get off telling us what to do?! (Okay, okay, I’m getting a little carried away with the punctuation and colloquial “likes.” I spend all day at a high school, what can I say? I’ll reign in the rant.)
I have no problem with taking advice. I love to hear what older and wiser people have to say about what really matters in life. Feedback is important as a teacher and friend and driver and conversationalist. I don’t even mind if it’s criticism or bad advice. But what really gets under my skin is that these articles are aimed at a certain demographic—one set apart by an arbitrary thing like age.
First of all, I can’t get over the fact that the people writing these articles are, I’m guessing, mostly twentysomethings themselves. Sure, maybe they’ve had different experiences than me. But do they really have the authority or insight to let me know “27 things all twentysomething girls should have by now”? No.Second, I hate the generalization. I know, I know: that’s such a millennial, twentysomething trait. We all like to be unique. It’s really inaccurate, though, to group all of these people together. You don’t know us, writers of these articles! You don’t know that some of my twenty-two year old friends would fit right in if they went back to high school, and some of my twenty-five year old friends feel like they could be my parents. There’s so much diversity in maturity and experience—can you really in good faith tell us that we all need to read this book or stop spending money on coffee? No.
Third, these articles kind of make us look bad. I feel like I’ve got enough stereotypes to fight without these articles insisting that we’re apathetic and can’t make simple decisions. We’re not all helpless lunatics who live with our parents and don’t know how to cook. This one especially kills me. I really hope thirtyandfourtysomethings don’t think I’m a promiscuous, drunk, hopelessly romantic, lazy, clueless, emotional wreck.
Fourth, all this advice really stresses me out. If only it would come one piece at a time instead of 19 pieces and pictures on one page. I don’t have time to read 20 books that will make me a better twentysomething. I could maybe read one?
Fifth (you know it’s a rant when I have five different points), I wish everyone would just let us make our own mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes. They don’t usually end up killing me, and they do often teach me something. Isn’t there a saying about learning things the hard way? If we would just be allowed to take risks and burn new recipes we’re trying and read terrible books and go to work without showering, we might be able to grow up on our own.
I know you all mean well, dear internet writers, but I wish you’d just leave me alone.
Abby Zwart (’13) teaches high school English in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She spends her free time making lists of books she should read, cooking, and managing the post calvin.