Don’t Tell Me How To Be Twentysomething

There isn’t one definitive set of rules articulating how a particular age group should act or think. I’ve experienced enough in the past nineteen years to know better than believe lifestyle advice from anyone: not movies, magazines, and especially not from my family. Yet the catchy titles on all of the “twentysomething” articles circulating Buzzfeed recently have attracted my curiosity. What is waiting after my next birthday?

These articles, slang-filled and gif-ridden, seem at first to be helpful and slightly entertaining. Articles such as "20 Things Every Twentysomething Is Tired Of Hearing," "27 Everyday Decisions That Twentysomethings Are Really Bad At Making," and countless others list generalizations about current young adulthood. By expelling our generation’s common hopes and fantasies for the future or perhaps by summarizing our new ultra-laid back lifestyle through witty comparisons, these articles intend for readers to relate and be aware of our occasionally careless second nature. Our traits of irresponsibility, laziness, and poor budgeting skills are reduced merely to something to poke fun at. 

Most of these listed remarks hit home: I’m a broke college student with no job lined up after graduation and would rather sit in pajamas all day watching Netflix. I read these Buzzfeed lists, each frankly depicting my lazy lifestyle and unpromising future, and relate exactly.

There are a few problems with this, though, and it’s mainly worth noting that not every college student is irresponsible and lazy without a promising future. Buzzfeed doesn’t characterize our age group through this context explicitly, but it’s implied—even if the articles serve no purpose other than to induce an understanding laugh, their extremely subjective assumptions can’t be overlooked. So I’m lazy. I know that, and most lazy twentysomethings also know that. But lazy in comparison to what? Those terms are relative; my definition of “lazy” differs from yours. Is it to other twentysomethings? Past generations?

Also, not every twenty something went to college and faces these particular challenges or possesses this day-to-day mentality. As these articles narrow their audience to a type of person most likely to click on them, the lists imply generalizations about our entire age group, when, really, they only apply to certain demographics and socioeconomic groups.

Are these points even worth talking about? So what if in the next few years I’m lonely and fall for the wrong guys and just want a drink? I don’t think Buzzfeed needs to point that out using pop culture gifs. These articles only depict the twentysomething at their worst, never suggesting that these “negative” traits aren’t even so bad. I’ll just call it independence. The very same traits the articles satirize could easily have a positive spin and attributing any trait to an entire age group should be done with more caution and cultural sensitivity.

Call me lonely and critique my splurges on items I totally don’t need; Hell, even poke fun at my preference to scroll Buzzfeed for hours than to wash my dishes. Tell me you’re helping “because no one really warns [us] how hard it’s going to be.” Just because the latest Breaking Bad episode breaches my priority list over paying my credit card bill doesn’t mean I’m wrong. And if my future sucks like many other twentysomethings, a measly list won’t help me very much.

Maybe the articles even glamorize this flawed lifestyle. Twentysomethings don’t need sympathy reminders that “When in doubt, #DGAF. Obviously. You’re only young once.” My life twentysomething life, according to Buzzfeed, will either pathetically revolve around my procrastinating ways or, on the opposite spectrum, embrace “YOLO”. I think, at the very least, the middle ground between those extremes, which is reality, is a bit more individualized, complicated, and a product of the day and age we live in, not by our choices.

After reading multiple Buzzfeed articles, I’m still not sure if their intentions are sarcastic or not. Are they just written to have some twentysomethings relate or to point out our flaws, instigating newfound awareness or change? Regardless of motive, they don’t apply to every single twentysomething; Buzzfeed warning me or entertaining me works for about an instant before I realize that these generalizations are just as bad as my family’s lifestyle advice.


Articles Referenced: "20 Things Every Twentysomething Is Tired of Hearing," "27 Everyday Decisions That Twentysomethings Are Really Bad At Making," "What It's Like To Be A Twentysomething, As Told By 'Mean Girls,' "Bridesmaids,' And 'Girls'"

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