Millennials, iPhones, and hygiene

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Dear Wendy,

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.

alt="IMAGE-millennials-smartphones-hygiene-after-the-kids-leave"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.

Love,

Karen

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Friday Funnies: Hey, remember the rotary phone?

Dear Wendy,

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Okay, just a bit before our time.

You and I grew up with them: the old rotary-dialed phones.

They came in one colour: black. At least until the 70s, when they started venturing into harvest gold, avocado green, red, and pink.

Tres classy indeed.

They sat on a desk or table; later models were hung on the wall, and that seemed like a huge technological leap forward.

I remember our first phone number when we lived on Agnes Street: like all phone numbers then, it started not with digits, but with a word—GRanite.

Of course, you didn’t spell out the entire word. That would have been, um, kind of ponderous, given how slow the dial was. But the GR stood for the “74″ exchange. As in “GR9-1049.”

I think it was supposed to help us remember our phone numbers or something. Who the heck knows? That’s just the way it was, okay?

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These princess phones were the height of fashion in their day. A long, long time ago. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Anyway, last week I was both delighted and horrified to watch this group of modern-day kids, all of them accustomed to mobile technology, try to figure out what to do with the kind of telephones you and I grew up with.

Delighted, because their answers were so creative. Horrified because…well, frankly, it made me feel like a bit of an antique.

While we’re on the topic of antique communications devices, for years I remember that Aunt Hope and Uncle Geoff had one of those wooden hand-cranked phones in their farm kitchen on South Pender Island, but that’s a whole other ball of wax.

Oh, and party lines! Who remembers party lines? And having to dial the long-distance operator? And making a call from a phone booth for a dime? Phone books! Who remembers them? Not me, that’s for sure.

Here are those kids.

Prepare to feel ancient.

Love,

Karen

All this aging nonsense: Nana would not have approved

Dear Karen,

Did you know that the fashion icon Kate Moss turned 40 recently?  The online papers were full of “she’s still got it at 40″ type headlines, as if, the minute the clock clicks over from 39 years to 40, sagging jowls, baldness, wrinkles and more occur in a snap.

Not quite, people.

Kate is a super-model for a reason:  she’s beautiful.  That doesn’t disappear just because she’s adding another year to her life.  Her cheekbones aren’t suddenly going to crumble just because she’s 40.  As we all found out the day we hit an unwanted number, life goes on and so do we.

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40? Does it look like she cares? (photo credit: www.flickr.com)

The average woman, and by definition that’s got to be most women, will look the same once she hits middle-age.  Her family will still recognize her, she’ll still be as smart or as dumb as she was in her youth; what might change is her confidence.

Confidence:  a positive by-product of (you guessed it) aging.

Since when did it become a dirty word?

Casting our minds back to the Victorian era, girls couldn’t wait to get older.  As a girl became a woman, her hair, which was always simply styled and flowing down her back, was allowed to be pinned up in sophisticated styles.  A girl was allowed to wear longer skirts, and she could hardly wait to grow up.

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Putting this girl’s hair up would take 3 hours a day, I’m guessing.

As a woman in that era, to be an older woman in the household was to hold a certain amount of power over the younger generations.  Look at Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith, if you need an example of this.  With age came wisdom and respect.

Now, middle- or old- age seem to have less value. It’s sad, really, because now I’m finally there, the goal posts have been moved and the rules that I was so familiar with, have been thrown out the window.

My bank teller now addresses me by my first name.  First name usage is to be earned, not grabbed and used without consent.

I neither want nor need it, but senior citizens are often seen standing on public conveyances while their younger, able-bodied companions sit.  What really annoys me is seeing parents with small children occupying those seats.  In my day (and yes I know how that makes me sound), children were considered strong and fit enough to stand.  Not anymore, obviously.

Young children (little whippersnappers!) don’t automatically move to one side when I walk on the sidewalk. I don’t demand it, but from years of constantly stepping aside to let my elders pass, I’m sad to note it’s no longer the done thing.  In fact, saying “the done thing” is no longer the done thing, either.

Drat.

Nana would not have approved.  Violet would not have approved.  I don’t approve.

Back to Kate and her Big 4-0.  Let’s welcome her and others like her, to our club of wisdom, maturity, and general coolness. Something tells me she’ll fit right in.

Love,

Wendy

A spooky, ooky video post

Dear Readers,

This week, finally, is Hallowe’en.  We love it and have such fond memories trick or treating in the neighbourhood when we were young.  First, the costume. When we were very little, we were dressed by our mother and we looked awesome.  All 3 of us dressed as pumpkins; I’m sure we were the hit of the night.

As we got older and had moved to a colder part of the country, we had to consider the weather when we got dressed up.  Whatever we made or bought, had to fit over a winter jacket.  It gets nippy in late October, but we were prepared.

We were a greedy bunch back then – no little plastic pumpkin buckets for us.  No, no, we used pillow cases, to collect the maximum amount of sugar in the minimum amount of time.  As soon as dinner was finished, we threw on our jackets, rushed out the door, pillow cases in our eager hands, March of Dimes donation boxes slung round our necks.  Leaving our parents at home, we started cruising the neighbourhood.  I can’t think of a single home that wasn’t ready for us, with either store-bought sweets (the best), homemade (sometimes good) or apples (the worst).

Our mother used to warn us to never go into anyone’s house, no matter what.  Well, we’re here to say, we disobeyed that rule and it paid off for us, big time, with the most delicious, wondrous homemade caramel popcorn balls.  Because these were handmade and therefore had to be checked by Mum for pins, razor blades or worse when we got home, we knew we had to eat them straight away or they’d be ruined.

We did and obviously lived to tell the tale.

So much has changed since then, but we still love Hallowe’en.

Here are a few videos to get you into the mood, if you aren’t already.

Happy Hallowe’en,

Karen & Wendy