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A good writer sits at her laptop, her hair still dripping from her luke-warm shower and accounts for her audience.
She opens her laptop.
“Who is going to read this?” She asks and is fully prepared for the most likely outcome: no one. This particular piece will be lost to the digital horizon, but that’s alright. She’ll only spend an hour or two on it, with the occasional coffee break.
This writer is a part of the feeling generation. Taught to speak in “I feel” phrases, that cleanup duty is for “everybody everywhere” and that communication is the key to solving all of their problems. She is part of a generation with a full library but an empty pocketbook. They are a generation of lessons learned:
- Taught by the Greatest that pain, poverty, and cruelty can be fought through grit, hard work, and collaboration.
Taught by the Baby Boomer that anarchy works, tastes of flowers, and can achieve great things in your 20s but it has an aftertaste that lasts through your 60s.
Taught by the X that everything is meaningless and instead of anarchy, art is a potential outlet, and the consumption thereof can be the mask you hang by your bed every night.
So where does that leave them? The Y and the Z, caught between memories of MTV and the horrific experience of early 2000s YouTube. Do they choose pain, grit, hard work and collaboration? Anarchy? Art? All of those things? They were raised to appease the previous generation, but how do they appease the last three? More importantly, how do they prepare for the coming few?
There is a void in the pit of their stomachs as they glide through social media and click share on a story about the infinite cruelties and wonders of this vast and terrible universe. Like the boomer they each have a cause: social, scientific, educational — some of them would simply like to provide a distraction from it all. They laugh a lot. Like lunatics, they sit in front of their computers and laugh and laugh and laugh because the task they have been assigned is impossible.
The writer stops, takes a sip of her coffee, and considers this for a moment before typing her next sentence with an amused smile on her face because: This. Is. It. The one or two readers who made it to this part are finally going to understand the thought that propelled her to start this long and rambling piece. The sentence is simple:
How the fuck are we supposed to clean up this mess?
(Insert reaction gif here)
It’s been left for us to do, so how are we going to do it?
(Something here too)
The most educated, entertained, and empathetic generation to walk the face of the planet.
(Maybe, like, a dog here)
How are we going to communicate our way out of climate change, racism, sexism, and the fact that there is no feasibly permanent economic system to support a global economy because capitalism, although currently functioning, is inherently flawed and we learned that it simply doesn’t work?
She accounts for her audience.
The writer erases this last paragraph.
She puts in its place a few sentences about how Millennials are misunderstood and really doing their best. She publishes it. This skyrockets her estimate of potential readers. She finishes her coffee, takes a picture of her cup and her open laptop, posts it to Facebook and Instagram before captioning it:
Really proud of myself today — despite crippling depression, anxiety, and constant set backs, I just wrote and submitted my first article.
Every word of it is true, but hollow. She’ll get 30 notifications.
The good writer closes her laptop.