I’ve waxed poetic before about how I feel the media is pitting generations against one another—baby boomer versus millennial, Generation X versus pretty much everyone. But an article I saw this week really takes the cake.
News flash: Millennials value their smartphones!
Here’s the scoop: some bright lights decided to figure out whether millennials are attached to their smartphones (duh) and if so, exactly how much:
A survey of smartphone owners conducted by Braun Research on behalf of Bank of America found that 96 percent of respondents ages 18 to 24 consider their phones very important, versus 93 percent for toothbrushes and 90 percent for deodorant.
I could have saved them some money.
Armed with the brilliant research questions, “Which is more important, your iPhone or your toothbrush? Your iPhone or deodorant?” I set forth yesterday to investigate the question with my own carefully selected group of millennials, who happened to be gathered in our dining room playing a board game called Eldritch Horror.
Respondent 1 considered the questions carefully. “Well,” he said, “from a purely value-based perspective, I’d have to say my iPhone is more important, in the sense that its replacement cost would be so much higher. It costs almost nothing to replace a toothbrush, so its value is much less. Then again, if you’re talking about a desert island hypothesis, obviously the phone would be useless, and I would opt for the toothbrush. Assuming it had infinite replicating powers, because toothbrushes do get old and wear out.”
Good answer, Respondent 1. You get a cookie.
Respondent 2 said, “WTF, Mum? What kind of question is that?”
I repeated the question, adding, “It’s for science. You have to answer.”
She looked unconvinced, but said, “As in, if the house was on fire, which would I grab? Smartphone. I’m a bad person. Besides, I can always get a new toothbrush.”
Respondent 3 had fallen asleep by the time I thought to ask him, and Respondent 4 was at work (having bathed and brushed her teeth, I am 100% positive), so I suspended my scientific inquiry at that point.
Millennial hygiene and unemployment?
I’d let it rest there, if it weren’t for the odious and ridiculous conclusions that are being drawn from the Bank of America study.
Apparently no less a news outlet than CNBC has picked up on it, and has drawn the conclusion that the reason so many millennials face unemployment isn’t that the job market pretty much sucks dead donkeys—it’s that millennials are showing up for job interviews without having attended to basic hygiene.
The sweet smell of success is something many job-seeking millennials are missing out on.
Older members of the generation born between 1980 and the new millennium have discovered unemployment and underemployment, but the reason may not entirely be the so-so job market. Or gaps in their college education.
It could be their body odor.
In other words, millennials are losing out on jobs because they stink.
How shall I deconstruct this? Let me count the ways.
First, did the original study delve into the respondents’ reasons for answering the way they did? My mini-study indicated that the decision was a practical one, as respondents demonstrated a firm grasp on the relative monetary value of toothbrushes and deodorant (x<$5) versus smartphones (x>$400). Considering that I’ve heard millennials slagged for “not knowing the value of a dollar,” I’m thinking this might merit some examination of assumptions.
Second, it seems a bit of a stretch to extrapolate the results of one study and turn it into an excuse for millennial underemployment. The original survey said nothing about “would you brush your teeth and use deodorant prior to a job interview?” It asked “how much value do you place on your mobile phone?”
In fact, I think what we have here is a flagrant case of millennial-bashing.
And just like any other kind of bashing, whether it’s based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or skin colour, it’s not okay.
It’s the same crap we boomers had to deal with when we were in our early 20s: we were described as “dirty hippies,” and whenever there was a slow news-week, you could count on the media to come up with yet another story about how “kids these days” were the authors of their own misfortune—we were unemployed because we were dirty, long-haired, undisciplined, more interested in rock music than debentures, and too full of weird radical ideas like “equality” and “justice” to bother hiring.
And so it goes.
The wheel comes full circle, and now we have a whole new generation to pick on, blame, scapegoat, and denigrate. In the process, we reveal ourselves as the fearful, narrow-minded creatures we’ve become.
If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny.