Tuesday 17 September 2019

Ciara O'Connor: Millennial Diary


Dolls kissing
Dolls kissing

Ciara O'Connor

There is nothing that millennials love more than systematically and unceasingly destroying beloved institutions - marriage, golf, racism, blood diamonds. Show us a thing our parents love and we will find a way to ruin it for everyone.

So it's no surprise that for us, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. We get the gift of laying waste to traditions spanning generations; we get to weaponise the festive season against our parents and grandparents, to punish them for failing to solve the wage/orgasm gap. A recent survey of ungrateful little snowflakes revealed that we have all but done away with a number of cosy Christmas traditions including:

1) Carol singing.

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The real news here is that a whopping 6pc of us are actually planning on doing some carol singing this Christmas. That's one in 20 millennials. I've become very preoccupied with this fact; does it mean that we all must know at least one person who will be going to door to door roaring 'REJOICE'? Or is there just one significant pocket of carol-happy millennials somewhere in the country, all friends with each other and no one else? Insight appreciated.

2) Roasting chestnuts.

Are chestnuts even real? What are chestnuts? 9pc of millennials obviously misunderstood the question and said that they were going to roast some, which can't be true. 100pc of millennials (my own projection) believe that chestnuts are fictional/a metaphor, like Jack Frost and 'a quick Christmas drink'.

3) Kissing under the mistletoe.

16pc planned on doing this, presumably having gotten clear and enthusiastic consent from a partner with whom there are no potentially compromising power dynamics. The rest of us will be sending our crushes memes, in the traditional way.

4) Setting food on fire.

Only 12pc will be lighting a brandy-soaked Christmas pudding. Because - if we are all very honest with ourselves - both Christmas pudding and brandy are disgusting (see also: Making a Christmas cake - 19pc) And the pyrotechnics are less exciting in a time when flaming cocktails in a teacup are as easy to find as pints of lager. Try harder, Christmas.

5) Tipping binmen or postmen.

Less than one in 10 of us are giving gifts to the postman; why we would reward the bringer of bills and catalogues addressed to previous tenants? The postal service, to us, is a dark and threatening phenomenon: postmen come unannounced to your door and demand to see you, regardless of your anti-social self-care plans for the day. The only thing worse than them bringing bills is bringing actual cards or letters which will send us into a spiral of anxiety as we contemplate having to respond, wondering whether we actually own a pen and where one buys a 'stamp'.


All millennials wanted for Christmas was good content for their WhatsApp groups, which had become deathly boring threads of other people's crappy roast dinners and hilarious Christmas jumpers. And so ITV gave unto us a Love Island reunion Christmas special, to reinvigorate our festive conversations and remind us of the inexorable cyclical nature of time: this too will pass, and then it will be the summer and Love Island will be back and we will be happy again.

The Christmas special involved ITV renting the biggest house they could find on Airbnb, filling it with Christmas trees and shady presents and inviting a load of people who should not be in the same room, ever, to be in the same room.

Jack and Dani pretended to cook, marvelling together over stuffing a turkey, gazing into the abyss of its behind with such quiet wonder as if it was a lost masterpiece of Michelangelo.

It was a similar vibe to a 20-year school reunion, in that the participants' lives move approximately 40 times faster than the lives of ordinary-looking civilians.

Ellie, for example, reflects on her failed relationship thus: "For a good two weeks, things were really good. I really hold on to those two weeks and think what did I do for that to go so wrong. I don't know. I don't think I'll ever understand it."

In the six months since Love Island wrapped, relationships have ended, started and ended, continued. Lives have changed beyond recognition. There was much to catch up on.

The reunion shed some light on the success of Love Island, which enjoyed near universal appeal this year while other 'reality' programmes based around sexy people snogging (Geordie Shore, Made in Chelsea) have stayed with their more niche audiences. Here's the difference: clothes. Swimwear (even the ridiculous strap-fests that became synonymous with LI) allows us to fancy people we would never fancy in clothes.

Case in point: contestant Charlie Brake in trunks is a fairly inoffensive sight. He has a hot bod. He has a nice face. Sure, he's an intolerable asshat; but we could project whatever we wanted onto him in his togs. Seeing him at the reunion all gussied up in the skinniest jeans (leggings? tights?) and a flat cap, like a Healy-Rae at an LA sex-party, was a stark reminder of the grim little man-boy he truly is. All of the LI kids were in their finest knitwear, a porn parody of Love Actually. It was alienating, uncanny; seeing Meghan in an enormous fur coat was like watching a dog walking on its hind legs.

The contestants were older, wiser: Samira had learnt that she should learn to be happy in herself instead of searching for happiness with others. Kendall went on Love Island to find someone, but ended up finding herself. These lessons were communicated gravely, sincerely. They could also afford much better hair extensions and make-up; the girls and boys alike seemed smoother, shinier gleaming show-ponies. These were the semi-paralysed faces of the 21st Century rags-to-riches Instagram dream.

In true Love Island form, it managed to squeeze out a couple of kernels of universal truth and insight: after being faced with the brick wall of her (allegedly) cheating ex, Ellie muses: "I didn't get a sorry from Charlie, but I did get a Merry Christmas; sometimes you've just got to take what you can get."

Quite. Merry Christmas.

Sunday Independent

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