It turns out millennials are the worst generation after all. By now, we should all be well aware that social distancing is crucial if we wish to end the coronavirus pandemic anytime soon. Many of us have responded accordingly — if not already forced to close by state mandate, bars, restaurants, and other employers have determined nipping the virus in the bud outweighs the financial cost of shutting down their businesses. Events and shows have been canceled around the world, and most schools are closed through the semester. No one is thrilled about it, but there is one group that seems to be handling the disruptions to their lives with less decorum than others: millennials.
‘May as well enjoy it before everything gets shut down,’ one spring breaker told Fox News on Tuesday. Thousands of young people in Florida continued to party this week, ignoring social distancing guidelines and warnings from public health experts. ‘If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying,’ one spring breaker from Ohio told Reuters. ‘We’re just out here having a good time. Whatever happens, happens.’
A company called Student Travel Services, specializing in helping students party over spring break, posted a photo on Instagram of a packed booze cruise on Tuesday with the caption, ‘Our last booze cruise was yesterday. The Blackbeard’s Revenge Cruise took such good care of our travelers, no one had to walk the plank!’ LOL, right?
Those who have decided to follow directions to self-isolate are acting as though they are going through some kind of personal crisis. If you are healthy, have a steady income, and are not a parent, I’m afraid I have very little sympathy for the fact you have to stay home for a few weeks. I mean, really. You will live.
Nonetheless, just two days in, I witnessed numerous posts online from people complaining of having ‘symptoms’ of ‘cabin fever’. You guys know that’s not a legit condition, right? You would think that we could escape the narcissism for a moment during such challenging times, but instead we’re seeing endless whining and overdramatic posts about the how hard it is to stay home, on top of the fact that numerous young people are simply refusing to stay away from large crowds and social gatherings.
Unfortunately, the reactions of the twenty- and thirty-somethings were not particularly shocking. The most fragile generations have managed to turn a global health and economic crisis into an opportunity for online attention-seeking. Millennials have talked ad nauseum about their mental and emotional fragility, as if somehow that’s more important than the thousands of deaths due to coronavirus. One Facebook user complained that ‘statements like “our forefathers were asked to go to war, we are asked to stay on the couch” feel like an attack to those with mental illnesses or other difficulties that exacerbate the problems we will all have with self-isolation,’ adding that ‘self-isolation’ could be a ‘dangerous situation’ for these people. On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Vancouver (where I live) went mostly into lockdown, I saw people complaining online about ‘agitation’ and ‘depression’ due to social distancing. I’m sorry, but did you think this was going to be fun? Stopping life as we know it is hard on everyone, but we’re all practicing social distancing because it’s the right thing to do.
31-year-old actress Vanessa Hudgens complained about Coachella shutting down on Instagram, griping, ‘Till July sounds like a bunch of bullshit. I’m sorry, but like, it’s a virus, I get it. I respect it. But at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it, like, yeah, people are gonna die. Which is terrible, but like, inevitable?’
Another young woman tweeted:
‘Do you know what really sucks? I turn 30 in a week. For the first time in my life I was going to have a great birthday…a big birthday is one thing you can’t have another time. A wedding? You can reschedule. A gig? They’ll put it back six months. A trip? You can visit that place another time. I turn 30 once, and after having rubbish birthdays for a long time instead this one was going to be good… now everything is closed, people are socially distancing, I can’t go out for a drink or food or to the cinema, or even cook myself a nice meal. My offices are closed and everyone has to work from home indefinitely so I don’t even get to see people. At all.’
Coachella! Birthday parties! Cabin fever! It’s almost as though the most self-proclaimed oppressed generation of all time has never experienced any kind of hardship whatsoever.
Meanwhile, the hashtag, #BoomerRemover trended online. That’s right: the fact that older people are more vulnerable to dying from coronavirus was turned into a joke by the young and healthy.
The cruelty and lack of self-awareness was astounding. Even worse was the hypocrisy.
Millennials have long demanded that older generations listen to the youth, claiming it is the olds who destroyed the planet and ruined their futures and then failed to take the proper actions to change the tide. Yet now, in a time of urgency, the same youth who attempted to ‘ok, boomer’ their elders into irrelevancy are ignoring potentially life-saving measures because they are personally inconvenient.
Because the younger generations are unlikely to die from coronavirus, the prospect of staying at home and losing out on fun or income is seen as a punishment rather than a duty. On some level, I get it. When I was in my twenties, I had trouble being alone too. ‘Tis the plight of the insecure, idle mind. I am a highly social person and am not happy about having to cancel events and plans, but I understand it’s something I need to do in order to contribute to ensuring this pandemic is as short lived as possible. It’s not going to be easy for any of us — certainly it will be inconvenient — but we are doing it because we are able to think beyond ourselves and our selfish desires or preferences. Many people are losing their businesses and livelihoods due to this pandemic — others are losing their lives. I do not wish to hear about your canceled birthday party or your ‘cabin fever’ as though it is a serious matter.
By now, we should all be aware that we can kill this thing if we all collectively isolate for a few weeks. If you aren’t sick, you can still go outside and walk your dog. You can still pick up take out. You can run to the store for essentials. You just can’t go to festivals, hang out at the bar, throw a birthday party, or go to the gym. You will have to cancel your vacation. It’s not the end of the world — yet. But we need to make some sacrifices. And, for once, whether or not this makes you feel depressed and agitated really doesn’t matter. OK, kids?
Meghan Murphy is a writer in Vancouver, BC. Her website is Feminist Current.