Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ciara O'Connor: 'Millennial Diary'

Millennial Diary

Beyonce and Ed Sheeran
Beyonce and Ed Sheeran

Ciara O'Connor

In this week's round-up of News That Was News To Precisely No One, it has been confirmed that there are now officially more pensioners than teenagers on Facebook in Ireland.

Facebook's advertising numbers show that the kids are all on Instagram instead, which is no bother to Facebook at all seeing as it owns them both. These days 170,000 Irish people over the age of 65 use Facebook, compared to 150,000 13 to 18-year-olds.

That's right, Facebook is now a wasteland of over 65s confusing the ''search'' bar with the status-writing box; or failing to grasp the difference between liking a post and sharing it; or believing that everything that comes up on their timeline has been written to them personally.

With Snapchat falling by the wayside after Instagram nicking its ''story'' feature, it seems the picture-sharing site's path to world domination is clear. In 30 years, when our grandparents are dead and gone, will millennials - Facebook natives who came of age at the same time as the site blew up - be the only ones left, screaming uncontroversial lefty articles about American politics into the abyss?

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And so Ed Sheeran continues his quest to reach peak mediocrity. Last week he performed with Beyonce, who was resplendent in fuchsia ruffles, couture cascades of ruffles majestically framing the holy body of the people's queen - while he wore jeans and a T-shirt. Two T-shirts, in fact. In the manner of every boy I fancied in 2002, he had nattily layered a white long-sleeve with a black logo tee. He wore runners.

Beyonce's perfectly, professionally made-up face glowed. Sheeran's hair was that of a man who has given up. But Sheeran will not give up. The sight of this scruffy little troll, beside Queen Bey, was more than millennials could handle. We've been waiting for Sheeran, that relentlessly inoffensive maneen, to trip up for ages. Our profound rage upon hearing the opening bars of Thinking out Loud had to be justified. And the time was now. It was only right that it would be Sheeran's aggressive banality that would be his undoing. Standing next to Beyonce, looking like that, was surely a breach of royal protocol.

And every woman who has waxed her legs and wrestled on Spanx and stuck on fake eyelashes for an event only for their partner to spray Lynx down yesterday's jeans and say he's ready to go, let out a primal scream. It was, of course, a feminist issue. The photos that circulated were proof of a sexist double standard; would Beyonce get away with performing in an oul' T-shirt? This was a manifestation of our unreasonable expectations of how women should present themselves in the public eye. It was a symbol of male complacency! Perhaps. Perhaps not. The gender politics are, for once, immaterial to me. I just want Ed Sheeran to stop. Stop everything, Ed Sheeran. Stop.

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For people who don't enjoy making sport of Ed Sheeran, that other favourite misanthropic pastime is always available: taunting vegans. And what a week those people had. Because it turns out avocados are as bad as battery-farmed chickens. They are, apparently, "the blood diamonds of Mexico". Chef JP McMahon, who owns two Michelin-starred restaurants, urged Irish restaurateurs to follow his lead and take avocados off their menus: "I don't use them because of the impact they have on the countries that they are coming from - deforestation in Chile, violence in Mexico." Snowflake stomachs turned as he boasted of the Jerusalem artichokes with hollandaise on his brunch menu.

With newish avocado-based eateries open in New York (Avocaderia) and London (Avobar), it's hard to believe that the avocado's time in the sun could already be over.

Other Irish chefs came out to defend their avo-menus and point out the environmental disaster of beef and almond production. Their diversion tactics made us choke on our nut-milk flat whites, which all of a sudden had the metallic tang of blood. The message seemed clear: give up, you stupid vegans, your stupid vegan food is just as bad as a Big Mac.

But we're a fickle bunch, and if 20 minutes of a Netflix documentary and a casual scroll of Instagram can turn us plant-based, then horror stories of deforestation and drug cartels could well ward us off avos.

I await the news in five years time that our obsession with Jerusalem artichokes is tearing apart the ozone layer on account of all the methane produced in their digesting. It's the circle of millennial life.

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As breathless reports abounded of Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson 'feuding', you'd have been forgiven for wondering if it was, in fact, 2005. The internet couldn't believe its luck when Portman, in an interview to discuss her film 'Vox Lux,' which is set in the music industry, named Jessica Simpson as someone who 'confused' her as a child, "on the cover of a magazine saying 'I'm a virgin' while wearing a bikini."

Natalie Portman was a huge nerd as a youth; she co-authored two research papers that were published in scientific journals. She's a Harvard graduate. A few years before Jessica Simpson's breasts were befuddling Portman, she wrote, "A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar". Some years after, she was a guest lecturer at a Columbia University course in terrorism and counterterrorism. Portman's confusion was very, very confusing.

Jessica Simpson, who up until last week was most famous for gifting the world with the line, "Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna but it says, 'Chicken By the Sea.' Is that stupid?" in her MTV reality show in 2003, shared her 'disappointment' at Portman's words in a brutally eloquent post.

"As public figures, we both know our image is not totally in our control at all times, and that the industry we work in often tries to define us and box us in.

"However, I was taught to be myself and honour the different ways all women express themselves...

"The power lies within us as individuals. I have made it my practice to not shame other women for their choices. In this era of Time's Up and all the great work you have done for women, I encourage you to do the same."

The judiciousness was devastating. But Natalie proved she's no fool. She responded by thanking Simpson for her words, apologising unreservedly, offering clarification and apologising again. And that...was that.

Two women having a public disagreement and coming to an understanding. It was the classiest thing the internet had ever seen.

And I'll tell you what: we're still reeling.

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