Tom Wolfe on Millennials: ‘They no longer read. Their minds have changed’

I think I’ve only read one Tom Wolfe book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I read it several times, because it’s one of those books that teenagers read several times, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, On the Road and Catcher in the Rye. Those rite-of-passage books that speak to you at a specific time, the books that glamourize outsiders and rule-breakers. At my age right now, I’d like to re-read the book to see what I think of it now. I suspect I would still like it, because it’s an interesting piece of long-read journalism about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Anyway, Tom Wolfe is still around. He’s 86 years old and he’s at the point where he doesn’t really get the whole social media thing, nor does he understand the fundamental changes in the younger generations.

Tom Wolfe — the visionary author of “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” “The Right Stuff” and “The Bonfire of the Vanities” — says millennials are wasting their time on social media instead of reading.

“So much of what we consume today in communication is really very much like knitting used to be for women,” Wolfe, 86, told the crowd at Doubles on Thursday night at the annual Writing Center at Hunter College dinner. “It’s a time killer.”

Nodding in agreement were Gay Talese, Liz Smith, Enid Nemy, Daphne Merkin, Meg Wolitzer, double helix discoverer James Watson and painter Everett Raymond Kinstler, who has three portraits hanging in the White House. Wolfe, in his trademark white suit, said Marshall McLuhan noted in 1968 that the baby boomers were the first generation to be brought up on television. Today’s millennials have far more distractions with YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.

“They no longer read. Their minds have changed. They will only believe what the next person says to them in the ear,” Wolfe said. “They are people who are ripe for whispering.”

Wolfe said when he came to New York to write for the Herald Tribune, there were seven daily newspapers: “I wouldn’t write print off yet, but it’s in trouble.” Noting that the average print newspaper reader is 59 years old, and that “everyone else is getting their news on the Internet,” Wolfe said, “When I go out to buy a newspaper, I always go out at night so no one can see me doing it.”

Some guests had noticed that a list of Wolfe’s books on a giant cake made for the occasion erroneously listed “Look Homeward, Angel” by Thomas Wolfe. Writing Center director Lewis Frumkes quipped, “We wanted to see who was alert, and who was not.”

[From Page Six]

Part of this is just the typical old-person “get off my lawn!” stuff with kids-todaying and respect-your-elderisms. I tend to think that if Wolfe was a younger man, he would be embedding himself with the youths to write a great analysis of why they do what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, like he did with his research for Charlotte Simmons. But mostly… yeah, I kind of think he’s right. While I’m not a Millennial, I don’t read newspapers, I read news online. And I barely read books anymore because I’m reading sh-t online all day. And I too have noticed that there’s a fundamental shift in how younger people consume information and what they trust and the conspiracies they believe. One might even say that’s part of the reason why Donald Trump got elected – the way Americans consume news is fundamentally different, and Trump is The Twitter President now.

Photos courtesy of Getty.

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74 Responses to “Tom Wolfe on Millennials: ‘They no longer read. Their minds have changed’”

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  1. jess1632 says:

    I just follow all the newspapers in my city on their facebook pages. The pages are usually up to date so you’re not missing anything. And google news for more international coverage on events and things.

  2. Nina says:

    Haha, it takes all kinds. I’m 25 and read books like it’s my day job. My goal this year is not to read any books by white men – and I’ve finished over 20 so far, by the likes of Roxane Gay, Ta Nehisi Coates, Celeste Ng, Mindy Kaling, Margaret Atwood, and Audre Lorde. Most of my friends are big readers as well, but I do know a few people who aren’t.

    Also, it’s possible to read newspapers online. Most people do these days.

    • bluhare says:

      But the crossword is absolutely no fun online. That’s why I still get a paper newspaper. I sit and do them in pen and then write over the answers when I get one wrong. It’s one of those simple pleasures that just doesn’t translate online to me. And I have every crossword app I can find on my tablet!

      • LA Elle says:

        Same here, bluhare! Online crosswords are just a weak imitation of ones online.

      • Megan says:

        @bluhare – we tried to go paper-free but I could not stand doing the crossword and soduku online. Soduku is especially unsatisfying online.

      • G says:

        I’m 23 and I read constantly. I know more people who are older than me not reading tha I do in my generation but maybe that’s my friends.

  3. bluhare says:

    I am a voracious reader. I have a Kindle but I still prefer paper books unless I’m travelling, and then you can’t beat a Kindle. And in the day and age of instant information, I do think people are less likely to take the time to sit down and read a book. I also will write letters sometimes. Who doesn’t like getting something in the post? But that’s truly becoming a lost art. Sometimes I think I should singlehandly try to bring back the letter. But then email and DM’ing people have got me down to two or three sentences. An actual letter would require effort!

  4. Miss Kittles says:

    I barely consider myself a millennial. I took a test in a generations workshop at my work. It showed I don’t technically fall in that category but my DOB does. So I’m a millennial by birth but not mindset. But I frequently catch myself strongly disagreeing with comments like this. Millennials are just keeping up with technology. Schools use computers & tablets for a large part of their curriculum. Kids have cells phones b/c many households no longer have landlines. It’s also a better way to stay in touch with her children when they are w/ friends, etc. This is the world we are in! Millennials did not create it. It was created for us by the previous generation. So blame them gramps….

    • Esmom says:

      I don’t think he’s blaming them for creating or using the technology…just that they’re using it too much as a time waster when they could be actually reading a book instead of consuming little bites of insubstantial info.

      My teens are really busy with schoolwork and extracurriculars so they don’t read as much for fun as they did when they were younger. I get it, but I still find it a shame so I keep reminding them that their moods are generally better when they are in the midst of a good book. Mine, too! Books are a big part of keeping myself sane.

    • tmot says:

      Wolfe is old and out of touch. It has been years since he wrote anything good or relevant. Some of his later books are just embarrassing. I read one which was not only wanky with a weak plot, but had the wrong “their” in it. A hardcover book! I wanted to fling it out the window. Fortunately there is no window in the bathroom.

  5. third ginger says:

    Sorry. I hope I never get this attitude no matter how long I live. Millennials are wrongly vilified and stereotyped just the way Baby boomers were by the WW II generation. It all depends on the young people you are looking at. Our 24 year old daughter and her friends are among the most politically aware and educated people I know. Millennials are also the most active in social causes of any generation.
    Also, there’s nothing wrong with getting news online. I Read the following each day CB [LOL]

  6. Taiss says:

    I’m tired of all these old people complaining about millennials.

    • lunchcoma says:

      I am too. Millenials are fine. It seems as if every generation, the youngest adult one is vilified by the one or two above it as being promiscuous, vacuous, and self-centered. And it always turns out that it’s just young people behaving like young people, finding their own causes, and making their own art rather than being content to exactly follow their parents’ ideals and tastes.

    • Kasia says:


    • Shix says:

      Came here to say exactly this. The stereotyping is annoying.

    • Megan says:

      My nieces are millennials and they are all readers. They love books, magazines, blogs, etc.

  7. QueenB says:

    For a generation that does not really have any big political influence Millennials sure ruin lots of stuff…

    It seriously pisses me off. Most of the criticisms about that generation is misdirected. When they talk about “participation trophies” do you think it was the kids or their parents? Do you think kids want helicopter parents or is it the parents?
    Did Millenmials screw up the housing market or was it their parents?
    “Millennials dont want to get married” Who do you think made a mockery out of marriage?

    • me says:

      I agree with the marriage thing. With the divorce rate so high, and so many bad marriages, why would a young person want to get married? If you grew up seeing your parents fight non-stop and complain about their lives, why on earth would you want to follow in those footsteps?

    • Wurstbonbon says:

      Good points you have there!

    • Gezebel says:


  8. eggyweggs says:

    Old Man Yells at Cloud

  9. lunchcoma says:

    Nah, I’m not here for it. Younger people do spend more time online and are more likely to get their news that way. That’s led to a decline in newspaper circulation, which seems like a bad thing as newspapers generally have high standards of ethics and accuracy. It’s also led to a decline in the viewing rates of TV news, which is a good or at least an equal thing to the rise of internet-based information. Fox News is the outlet of the Baby Boomers, not the Millenials.

    As for the rest of it, I do not think that Millenials read novels one bit less than their Gen X or Baby Boomer family members. It’s not a new thing for people to start reading less as they reach adulthood, have more responsibilities, and sometimes want other forms of diversion. Before the internet, it was television. Before television, it was radio and card games. Millenials might be a great deal less interested in reading Tom Wolfe than their parents were, but that doesn’t mean they’re not reading at all!

  10. LA Elle says:

    So two points of rebuttal (from someone who is not a fan of our wired world and does worry about how it’s affecting our brains):

    1. I know plenty of millennials who are voracious readers. And I’ve talked to a couple of teenagers recently whom gave me hope, as they’ve noticed how our culture is all about quick sound bytes, and they’re intentionally disconnecting and reading as a way to work on their own attention span.

    2. I know quite a few Gen Xers, Boomers, etc. who rarely read and cite “distraction” as their reason.

    So I partially agree with Mr. Wolfe, but I think he’s carelessly pinning all the blame on one generation when it’s a problem with society as a whole.

  11. Lolo86lf says:

    I can’t be bothered reading hundreds of pages at a time. Let someone else read books and then tell me what the book is all about. Who has time to read long tedious books anyway. Some of us here sometimes post extensive sentences and it can be hard to follow the threads, just my opinion.

    • graymatters says:

      Imagine people describing your life as something that could be summed up with a synopsis. It wouldn’t be accurate. It wouldn’t take into account the myriad of connections, hopes, fears, failures and successes that make you an individual. That’s what you miss out on when you skip the book for the movie trailer.

    • Esmom says:


  12. LA Elle says:

    Also, I have to add a second comment: I don’t care where people read news so long as they are somehow and someway financially supporting journalism. Subscribe to your local paper. Get an online subscription with the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Guardian.

    To me, it’s not that people are reading news online that’s the primary problem (although it does have its drawbacks). It’s that people are expecting journalism for free, and actual journalism costs money.

  13. Ayra. says:

    Sucks because I love reading physical copies of books. Unfortunately it can difficult getting a select book on my budget and in the language that I want (I mostly read English books for example, but I live in France where most of them are translated), but most of my legit reading is done by book. I just love the feeling of having a book in my hand.
    For the news, I admit that reading it online is faster, but my dad was a newspaper lover through and through, so that was kind of instilled into me as well.

  14. me says:

    I read newspapers on-line…because it’s convenient and FREE. Why would I want to pay a monthly bill for a newspaper that will be delivered to my house (usually sitting on the edge of my driveway all day, soggy from rain or snow). Why? I pay a monthly fee for the internet so I can read all sorts of things and newspapers from all around the world. We do read. We read all day long. We read more than any previous generation if you ask me. Also, my niece is 10 years old. I take her to the bookstore all the time. She loves reading. The problem is books are so expensive. I try to get her to choose from the bargain bin but she always wants the books that cost over 30 bucks !

    • LA Elle says:

      Books are expensive, but libraries are free. I buy at least one book a month (from a local bookstore) but most of my reading material comes from my local public libraries. A lot of public libraries also have great book sales, which is a great place to get super cheap books and support the library.

      As for news sites: ad revenue doesn’t adequately compensate from lost subscription revenue. Online subscriptions are relatively cheap, and newspapers and other sites don’t see a dime of what you pay for your internet.

      For both libraries and news sites, yes, there is a flow of revenue, but it’s not enough to sustain them. To make sure they’re strong institutions, they need additional support. I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but for slightly less than 100 bucks a year, I support both the Guardian and my local public library.

      • me says:

        Our local library was on strike for a year. I do love libraries and have used them frequently. They are a great resource.

      • Veronica says:

        Well, libraries are free until you forget to return them in a timely manner, and then you have a ton of back debt to them, lol. After I switched to Kindle and Nook, I rarely went to the library anymore. With how busy (and forgetful) I am, it’s actually cheaper in the long run to outright buy a book than deal with the late fees.

        This being said, they are still an excellent resource for the people who don’t have my kind of financial access, so I do try to donate when I remember to stop by.

    • bluhare says:

      We have a fabulous used bookstore in our town which has a great children’s section. I can get four or five paperbacks for $10 or less.

      And Goodwill/thrift stores have books. Selection varies widely of course, but you can get books there too.

  15. lower-case deb says:

    i think the biggest misconception by people over a certain age is that when a child or young adult of a certain age is seen holding a cellphone they are playing phone games or facebooking.

    my niece writes entire novels on her cellphone. and i learned that even though it is not a norm in my country, she was inspired by keitai shousetsu in Japan, where whole novelas/stories are written on a cellphone, and often times cellphones with no qwerty keyboard either. she started writing short stories on her Nokia candybar phone. we used to think she’s furiously playing Snake; but she’s just furiously typing out stories.

    it was interesting to see the thought process of writing novels on a candybar phone. how they learn to write succintly, plan ahead, etc.

    and of course nowadays books fit in your iphone. or an online book club which is really interesting and interactive.

    i think the younger generation or the not-so-young-but-connected generation who wants to read and/or write now even enjoy greater choice and variety. books from around the world, online borrowing, online publishing, interactions with readers all over the world.

    i also enjoy reading long articles from all over the world, thanks to Feedly and Pocket, that i may not have access to at my local library.

    those who do not like to read, actually get their daily dose of reading as well. video games are interactive now, and they chat and play video games and they get information that way. my boy would often pop in at odd times to mention this and that book or piece of news he learned from his online gamer friends.

    he has also found that although he hates reading, he likes being read to. there are now many fiction and nonfiction books that he absolutely fell in love with because they come in interestingly narrated audio. so i think he is “well-read” in a sense.

    i think if you do narrow things down to printed newspaper it feels like all doom and gloom but i think it’s too simplistic to say that way.

    • Lisa says:

      Yeah, I would never assume that someone is just playing games on their phone. Writing on your phone offers a lot of advantages. I still like to write longhand, and when I was drafting essays, I’d always start on paper then move to typing. But moving your ideas around and editing yourself is a lot easier on a computer than scratching everything out and drawing arrows everywhere on your paper. I do it, haha, but when you’re far into a brainstorm, you appreciate the ease of point and click.

  16. S says:

    Old man thinks younger generation not as good as his was … Film at 11.

    Remember that apocryphal, but not altogether inaccurate, story about ancient Sanskrit writings bemoaning the next generation’s lack of focus, work ethic and reliance on new technology like papyrus? That’s this.

    Every generation, bar none, in human history, has, at one point, complained that the younger folks have it too easy and aren’t as dedicated/smart/hard working/moral/innovative/brave/etc. as they were.

    If there’s one rally cry that supersedes race, religion and socioeconomic status it’s … “These kids today (insert harrumph here)”

    And it is, by and large, “the olds,” who elected Donald Trump. White, Baby Boomer and beyond, Fox News-watching Middle America … AKA: the demographic also most likely to still get a print newspaper.

    I’m a voracious reader, personally, so I have no idea if actual reading-for-entertainment has declined or not, but I haven’t seen any studies that have concluded that. As far as I know, publishing is still booming and expanding into new markets, like eReaders. Independent, as well as major, publishing is THRIVING in the Internet age, where print-on-demand and online destinations like Amazon have lowered the cost threshold and increased the access for reading material.

    Yes, PRINT newspapers and magazines are on a steep decline, but that’s only because the information has gone online; not because it’s gone away. Some of it has condensed — as we gain ever greater worldwide access to news, small outlets have folded — but much of it has also expanded, with hundreds of online outlets popping up for every dead tree edition that died out. There’s an online home, usually dozens, for every single possible niche hobby, interest or fetish. That’s what the Internet is AWESOME at.

    I’m outside the Millennial demo — Gen X-er here — and, even when I was a kid, sure, my GRANDPA read the newspaper, but I never did. Heck, most Mills are WAAYY more tuned into the news cycle than I ever was as a teen/20-something, thanks to always-available smart phones, social media, etc.

    • lunchcoma says:


    • me says:

      Baby boomers for the most part did have it easier though. They had good jobs straight out of high school. Now a days you need two or three degrees for just an entry level position. If you’re spending so much time reading text books, the last thing you want to do is pick up a thick novel to read lol.

      • lower-case deb says:

        a friend’s son is trying to look for a part time job for when he’s got free time off college and his other part time job. we used to be able to get dawn janitorial duty at a nearby store (i did it, even my sisters did it when we were younger, to help with finances).

        we were surprised to see that “applicants need to have a senior college credential” clause on it. (meaning at least 3rd year in a higher ed institution).

        same with working perfume counters or MickeyDs nowadays.

  17. Veronica says:

    I’d actually love to see verifiable studies done on this issue. If we have lower reading rates, I suspect technology contributes to it – we have instant access to tons of information, so I would imagine the sheer amount of input is exhausting. Millenials also live in the age of “downsizing,” which means we’re working more for less with less vacation time. I’m sure stress has a lot to do with it, not to mention the tendency of American culture to focus on utilitarian productivity over intellectual pursuit.

    • LA Elle says:

      The time crunch has been mentioned elsewhere: not just with work but also with keeping up-to-date on social media, which wasn’t an issue 20 years ago, as well as longer commute times, and access to more information. You used to get one, maybe two papers a day: now it’s constant.

      One somewhat related study that has been done is that we don’t retain information as well when read on a screen versus on paper.

      • Veronica says:

        Yes to the latter point – I think they also found that typing notes is less useful in a class settings than writing them. It’s the physical act of copying them down that makes you retain it better. I suppose the real challenge of our generation isn’t lack of information but the ability to distinguish information from knowledge.

        I’m a pretty voracious reader, but it also depends on what my interests are at the time. Sometimes, I feel like I’m falling behind on my book reading, and then I remember than I’m visiting blogs and/or fanfiction (shameless) sites more than usual, so I’m just overfilling the tank, so to speak, on less traditional forms of literature.

    • detritus says:

      they’ve actually done studies that show that the advent of texting has actually improved written communication skills of youth. now cursive skills different story.

  18. Lady Rain says:

    I’m a Gen X-er and agree certain forms of media seem so outdated now. I barely watch local news anymore because some of the content seems irrelevant. Why do they still do the daily weather report when you can easily check this information on your phone? It seems print and televised news are endangered.

    • me says:

      I think local news (weather mostly) is for older people who don’t use the internet. They still want to know the weather and what’s going on in their communities. Also, believe it or not, there are still families that don’t have the internet at home.

      • Lady Rain says:

        Yes, I’m aware of the data divide and how it tends to impact certain communities – people who can’t afford expensive internet services, etc. Thank goodness for some libraries and other places that offer free/low-cost Wifi.

        I agree, TV news is likely consumed by those without access to online platforms to get news updates or older generations.

        The data divide is still a significant issue and it’ll be interesting to see if this gap can be “closed” so more communities are able to keep up with the times technologically.

    • Lisa says:

      Idk, I’m 28 and still watch the news and weather networks. I use my phone for that info too, but I’m still in the habit of flicking over to check the temp if I’m right by the TV.

      • Meghan K says:

        I work with a laptop and a cell phone all day and really enjoy watching the news and the weather report on my oldfashioned TV in the evening.

  19. adastraperaspera says:

    I see it differently than he does. I think social media has made the reading/writing tent bigger, and that’s good. I have 20-something family members who showed zero interest in reading a book or writing an editorial letter (and weren’t “into school”), but they’re now online tapping away brief missives, scanning newsfeeds and posting opinions. I also have 20-something family members, some in grad school and some not, all of whom love reading fiction and non-fiction, are in book clubs and publish scholarly and/or policy analysis papers. Social media gives people of all ages access to what are basically just big, mostly unmoderated, online discussion groups. And lots of newspapers–more than they would have been reading before (unless they’d had all day to go to a library and read newspapers off the big wooden poles–remember those?). I think he’s trying to blame social media for anti-intellectualism, which was a cog in the wheel of our national discourse long before now.

  20. YourPedanticFriend says:

    I’ll personally never forgive Tom Wolfe for the trainwreck that was “I Am Charlotte Simmons” which was also him trying to understand young people at the time.

    • nem says:

      it’s a shame because it could have been a chef d’oeuvre.
      his reflexions on class war among young adults,female rivalry, the desillusion about the dream finding a knowledge shelter and adult behavior and peers for the protagonist rings true to me even in work places.
      but too much crap in between.

  21. ell says:

    ‘One might even say that’s part of the reason why Donald Trump got elected – the way Americans consume news is fundamentally different, and Trump is The Twitter President now.’

    but trump wasn’t voted by mostly millennials, older generations voted for trump and young people for clinton. at least, for the most part.

    nothing more to add, everyone else pointed out that older generations always complain about the younger lot. in this case, i don’t even think he got it right, since i’m a millennial and most of my friends are too, and we all read actual books all the time. i also knit and have tons of fun with it, time killer my arse.

    • bluhare says:

      Good point about who voted for Trump.

      But everyone’s always slammed other generations. It’s the way it is. Older people are old and stuck, and younger people don’t know how good they have it. (bluhare condensed version of the old trope)

      Same old song, different tune.

    • Veronica says:

      But a lot of those older people also use social media now, and many of them aren’t as aware of the fickle and fallacious nature of many Internet news stories. I can definitely see how that’s influenced the election when you’re talking about a society bombarded with information with no checks in place.

  22. TyrantDestroyed says:

    I completely agree about Tom Wolfe not getting the younger generations. I am a first generation millennial and his book Charlotte Simmons was very difficult to digest. Oh and I love to read online and I am an avid user of our excellent public library system.

    • KiddVicious says:

      Charlotte Simmons is the first book I’ve never finished. I just couldn’t get through it. I had a rule that I HAD to finish one book before I could start another, that’s the book that broke that rule. I had the feeling that at that point in his life he was too in love with his own voice/writing to get to the point. Painful.

      Loved The Bonfire of the Vanities though.

    • Cee says:

      I’ve just finished As I Lay Dying and The Sound and The Fury by Faulker. That’s difficult to read but not impossible. Henry James is another one with really dense paragraphs that make my eyes cry and brain freeze.

  23. Heather says:

    I think he greatly over-estimates how many people used to read.

    Cliff Notes became an American institution for a reason.

  24. Anon says:

    “They no longer read. Their minds have changed. They will only believe what the next person says to them in the ear,” Wolfe said. “They are people who are ripe for whispering.” Yeah, well Guy Talese could take a lesson or two from that remark. At best he was taken for a ride by the subject of the Voyeur’s Motel, who sold him a made up tale. At worst he failed as an investigative journalist when he wrote that book, the credibility of which he later accepted was “down the toilet.”

  25. Cee says:

    I am a stressed out and anxious millenial who reads so much I have to donate books every year to school programs because I don’t have room.

    We still read. We just have more material to choose from and different platforms.

  26. hannah89 says:

    breaking news: older generation dislikes younger generation.
    non-breaking eternal news: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    tom wolfe was once young and obnoxious to his elders. and now, he’s the elder. the cycle of life.

  27. Puff says:

    Sure, knitting used to be a “time killer” and not a necessity bc the family needed clothes.
    Such a stupid comment. The invisible, unpaid work of women without which the world would come to a standstill.

  28. Bonehead says:

    Everyone hates on us millennials, but that’s a broad grouping. I have over 9000 books in my kindle, I own a multimillion dollar company and am raising two kids. Not very typical.

  29. Jasmine says:

    Not true in my case or my friends. We became friends and bonded over books when we were 13. We have been friends now for 13 years and still trade author names. I have a very active Kindle and library card. My daughter is one but she already has a book case in her room that is quickly getting filled up. Growing up with social media adapting to technology doesn’t mean we’ve become dumbed down.

  30. alternative fact says:

    tl;dr #NotAllMillenials and some of us know what a book looks like

    I don’t want to sound too #NotAllMillenials but yeah I second what people have said here about being tired of “Millenial” being code for “something/someone I don’t like”. There’s a local anchor where I live who loves to rag on millenials and half the time he’s actually talking about the generation below millenials but won’t take the time to look up the fact that they’re referred to as “generation z”.

    I’m an avid reader, as are many of my friends. I can appreciate what Wolfe has to say about attention spans and social media being a “time killer” (it often is), but the fact is, contrary to popular belief, millenials did not come out of the womb attached to a cell phone or refusing to buy houses and cooperate with corporate CEOs. We did have parents who made decisions about how to raise us. Of course my generation has problems, but we also did not ask to be given said “trophies” (plus, even stupid kids know the difference between “you’re the winner” and “thanks for showing up I guess” so I don’t know where that “millenials are entitled because they were tricked by participation trophies” storyline even comes from). People only a few years older than me lost YEARS in the workforce due to a recession that we did not cause. We also did not ask to be born into a world where it’s acceptable for colleges to charge predatory rates for an education that is often necessary for entry positions, where it’s totally cool for banks to allow 18 year olds to sign up for student debt many will never be able to pay off because of obscene interest rates, where employers are by and large hiring contract workers so they don’t have to provide benefits and instead of firing someone and having to give them severance pay they can simply decline to renew someone’s contract (often with very little notice). I think one of the best “millenials are the woooorst” articles was one complaining that millenials aren’t buying houses because lazy or can’t hold a job or something. PLEASE. Like I said, many of us lost years in the workforce due to the recession or had to take on student debt that we wouldn’t have had otherwise because the recession wiped out college funds. Mix that with employers who don’t want to pay us or provide benefits and want to be able to let us go at the end of the week if they feel like it and YEAH fewer people are buying houses after watching the market crash. From what I have seen from my generation, we are also, often, very politically aware and active and willing to work on our prejudices which is something I can’t say of a number of baby boomers (although I don’t want to lump everyone in a generation together especially the lovely CB baby boomers!).

    Like so many things in the age of Trump, it is much easier to make sweeping generalizations than to examine nuance, but I would have hoped for better from Wolfe, who is a writer I respect. I certainly have my issues with the generation below me (I was born a bit of a cranky old man) but I try to reign it in because I know how crappy it is to have everyone think you’re the worst because of the year you were born. I hope this didn’t come across as too “Millenials are such victims” because there are definitely issues within my generation, but I also think certain generations tend to come down on us a little too hard.

    • Lisa says:

      Good point about it not being a from-birth thing, although a lot of young kids now, like Gen Z, ARE being raised with screens from an early age. I see kids out grocery shopping with their parents but instead of talking about what they’re doing and connecting, the kid’s trailing behind them with a phone in their face or sitting in the cart looking at their Ipad. When I was a kid, going to the store with my mom was one of my favourite things to do! These kids are missing out on some basic interaction with the world around them learning how to communicate that.

      I know you were talking about Millenials, but I think that tech reliance from a super young age is a new reality. I hate that this asshat took a kernel of truth and blew it up to slam an entire generation.

  31. Jetblack says:

    It’s shocking to me that there are commenters on sites who actually believe NYTimes and CNN are fake news sites.

  32. Lisa says:

    I’m 28, so an older Millenial. My instinct when I read this headline was to say, “get the f outta here!” But I think there’s some truth to what he says.

    I love to read and I even set aside time for it at night. I journal frequently and comment on blogs like this every day, to flex that communication muscle. I also know that left to my own devices, I could waste HOURS online. It’s amazing how time slips away when you’re mindlessly surfing. You start to sound like Columbo because it’s like, oh, just one other thing. Just one more link and then I’ll totally be finished. Three hours later, I’m still there!

    We do spend a lot of time on our phones. ALL of us, but Millenials especially. We do so much online that things that keep certain pathways in our brain active, like printing and handwriting, are no longer getting the stimulation they need because we just type. It does make me wonder what my generation is going to be like when we get older. We’re developing other skillsets by going digital, and I agree that “adapt or die” is a good rule to follow (I hate when people refuse to learn, at any age) but I can’t help but think that some things are geting lost, and I don’t think we’ll be able to see that until it’s too late.

  33. HKK says:

    Meh. I am almost 35, mother of two, work full time and have a business. A bunch of millenials are working and raising children at this point. I read lots of books to my 9 year old and 1.5 yr old and i just finished reading Jewel in Her Navel. I read mostly non-fiction. I am a right brainer maker, doer but I am trying to read more novels. I might be out of touch with my generation but seems to me lots of successful bloggers with a niche have gone on to write books. I think we have less fairy tale stories and are more focused on improving our circumstances , the pla et, the environment . .. getting back in touch with natural rhythms of life that have been lost post industrial age.

  34. Stephanie says:

    The majority of what was online about Trump was negative, so how did social media get him elected?