Why Are Older Millennial Women So Insufferable?

Millennials are a uniquely insufferable generation, as evidenced by the incessant amount of memes, think pieces, TV shows, and complaints about them, but the story behind why they are the way they are is a little bleak.

By Jaimee Marshall7 min read
Pexels/Dmitriy Zub

Generational warfare is as old as time. I’m under no illusion that the elders of the 1600s also complained about how the upcoming generation was losing its values and work ethic and becoming more entitled than their precious elite cohort of humans. That being said, we needn’t be dishonest or moral relativists. Not all generations are created equal, and not all generations reap the same amount of attention and scorn. Just ask Gen X. Yeah, you forgot about them, didn’t you? We all did. 

Likewise, Zoomers are less of a topic of conversation compared to their Boomer and millennial peers. Maybe it’s true that generational controversy skips a generation. They’re mentioned in relation to memes and TikTok, general internet culture, and changing social dynamics, but they haven’t been immortalized as the generation known for very specific and insufferable quirks like Boomers and millennials have. We’ve heard enough about Boomers over the years, and quite honestly, at this point, any further bullying and dismissive “OK, Boomer” quips might constitute elder abuse. Just let them live their lives on their retirement savings in the giant houses they paid $50 for. Must be nice. 

The Millennial Condition

I need to preface this rant with my credentials here, mostly because millennials object to the notion of “punching down,” so let me first soften the blow. As a ‘97 baby, I’m one of two things: I was born the year Titanic came out (based), and I’m a Zillenial. 1997 has now been defined by the Pew Research Center as the new definitive beginning of Gen Z. In the past, it was categorized as 1995. That makes me the eldest of all of the Zoomers. As a geriatric Zoomer so close to the dividing generational line, I feel confident I can assess the differentiating quirks that demarcate the line between millennials and Gen Z in a more meaningful sense than fashion and internet memes.

I find millennial humor cringe and balk at the Millennial Pause, but I still rock a side part, wear skinny jeans (which I should probably throw out), can only stand to wear ankle socks, and grew up on a lot of the same trailblazing early internet content they did. I even had that obligatory Tumblr-using, Harry Potter fan phase. So, you could say that I understand the enemy well. Zoomers often take great insult in being mistakenly identified as millenials. Why is that? Well, millennials are, to put it bluntly, a lot to take in. Millennial criticism as authored by Boomers (and some Gen X-ers) characterize the generation as entitled, participation trophy-wielding, hypersensitive crybabies who lack work ethic and suffer from arrested development.

Millennials are a fundamentally self-loathing generation that inspires the ire of the generations sandwiching them for their insufferability. 

Sure, those may be at least marginally true, but it’s missing a crucial piece of the puzzle — that millennials are always the butt of the joke, even their own jokes. That’s because they’re a fundamentally self-loathing generation that inspires the ire of the generations sandwiching them – Boomers and Zoomers – for their insufferability. They’re uniquely annoying, and that might be because they’re so sincere. Sincere in their love of Harry Potter, Funko Pops, unironically referring to dogs as “doggos'' or “pupperinos,” doing that weird millennial voice and facial expression thing on camera that’s like a satirization of someone forcibly trying to make themselves seem weird. There’s something to say for sincerity. It’s certainly something Gen Xers and Zoomers lack. We coat ourselves in layers of irony, feign disinterest, and have an above-it-all attitude.

The Problem with Millennials: The Abandoned Generation

Millennials are not just annoying, but infantile. This is the demographic, especially older millennial women, who live in a permanently offended state. It’s usually women around the ages of 34 to 39 who are the most easily provoked by a harmless social media post. They’re hypervigilant about being judged for what they do as a mom, feel personally slighted by ads featuring beautiful women (too skinny, too conventionally attractive, not a “real woman”), and are noticeably more prone to frustration. This group of women are trigger-happy, always on edge, and seek out relatable, life-affirming posts that validate their experiences, looks, tastes, and choices. 

Any perceived criticism of their lifestyle produces an internal identity crisis. They can’t take it in stride, instead having to form social campaigns that plea for everyone to accept some aspect of them, be it their rolls, their acne, their inability to hold it together as a mom, their disheveled appearance, or to normalize their mental health issues and disorders. Think of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Now that is millennial-coded. This need to normalize everything and yearn for acceptance transcends political ideology, too. Both conservative and liberal elder millennial women live for photos of moms with messy buns getting throw up on their shirts, having remained unshowered for four days.

It’s easy to write off these elder millennials and make fun of them for their heightened sensitivity and distinctly out-of-touch digital footprints. However, I think this goes much deeper, and when you really think about it, it’s a little sad. It’s no secret millennials got a really bad deal all the while being gaslit by Boomers who condescend to them about how easy it is to get a job, a house, a lifelong partner, financial stability, and a promotion. Of course, all of these things have been well out of reach for millennials ever since they could remember. It’s Boomers who were the last economically privileged generation. Speaking of Baby Boomers, if you’re an elder millennial in this age range, you were probably raised by one! Something else characteristic of Baby Boomers? A more self-interested, detached parenting style that left children to fend for themselves. 

Boomers raised (or at least brought into this world) an entire generation of kids known as “latchkey kids.” A latchkey kid is a kid who let themselves into an empty house after school and was left to their own devices without supervision because their parents were busy working. Gen X and older millennials raised by Baby Boomers fit into this group.

One of millennials’ distinct traits is arrested development – a preoccupation with childish things.

A lack of real presence, concern, and effort by their parents may have instilled in them a lack of self-worth and a seeking out of parental figures outside the home in society. One of millennials’ distinct traits is arrested development – a preoccupation with childish things like Harry Potter, children’s TV shows, and a clinging-on to nostalgia. Perhaps these children’s self-esteem and validation needs, which should have been met by the parents by a certain developmental stage, were neglected, leading to arrested development and low self-worth. They now look to society to meet these needs. 

More than just the aloof Boomer parenting style, the economic hurdles millennials have faced in the wake of the Great Recession – the housing crisis, soaring student debt, inflation, and a challenging job market – have delayed traditional markers of adulthood such as homeownership, marriage, and starting a family. When markers of adulthood are delayed, people cling to their childhood and become stunted in perpetual adolescence. This is only made worse by the rapid technological advances that were made as millennials came of age, as the last generation that truly grew up both offline and online in a meaningful way during their formative years. This huge shift can account for their hyper-nostalgic sensibilities.

In a sense, we can thank Boomers for why millennials aren’t having children; millennials want kids later in life because they still feel like kids themselves. They’re racked with student debt thanks to soaring college prices and a job market that requires, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree for most careers. There’s also a higher demand on parents to be hyper-involved and attached to their children in an unprecedented way compared to previous generations. According to The Economist, parents now spend twice as much time with their children as 50 years ago. Millennials who did have kids say their Boomer parents refuse to help with the grandkids. Most millennials are unmarried and are getting married later in life. This could be a result of fear of divorce after Baby Boomers skyrocketed the divorce rate in the U.S.

Culturally, American society has been very unstable as they grew up. Their defining generational moment was 9/11, a terrorist attack that launched us into several devastating wars (worsening political divides), followed by a financial crisis. School shootings became a growing societal issue since Columbine, which took place in April of 1999. The oldest millennials at the time were 18. For Gen X-ers, the Columbine shooting was an anomaly – a unique tragedy. For millennials, however, it would become part and parcel of American society. According to Pew Research, millennials were more significantly impacted by school shootings, ranking them as significant generation-defining events.

Millennials vs. Zoomers

Zoomers experience a lot of the same issues, but there are some crucial differences that have accounted for such vastly different approaches. Zoomers deal with many economic hardships, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it isn’t the same as the serious recession that took place during millennials' formative years. According to the Pew Research Center, “many millennial's life choices, future earnings and entrance to adulthood have been shaped by the recession in a way that may not be the case for their younger counterparts.” The sense of instability, coupled with other traumatic events and a distant parental generation, left them unable to grow up, a little abandoned. There’s even a term for it, known as the “slow start.”

Zoomers have largely come of age in direct proportion to the existence of the internet. Even as an elder Zoomer, I had a Myspace page when I was 9 years old. Most of my friends had iPhones in middle school. Zoomers have been constantly connected online, giving them increased exposure to communal support and easily accessible information. Huge social movements have also taken root since then as well as mental health awareness. Millennials, by and large, were made fun of for having mental health issues by Boomers, whereas it’s more normalized to speak about anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues now. 

Millennials get so easily offended because their increased sensitivity to social issues and representation was a reaction to the previous generations.

This may account for the millennial urge to participate in self-deprecating humor and to desire representation of various failures and struggles. The combination of these things has made Zoomers more pragmatic and activist-oriented rather than complainers. They’re into grassroots movements, protests, boycotts, and dominating online discourse about specific issues, sometimes even overtly bullying people who refuse to speak about it. Millennials concerned themselves with more petty issues like Buzzfeed listicles about 30 epic feminist moments in your favorite TV shows.

One of the central reasons why millennials get so easily offended is because their increased sensitivity to social issues and representation was a reaction to the previous generations, who were not only unconcerned with these things but were overtly insensitive to the genuine struggles that millennials faced, like economic hardship and an objective lack of opportunities. Millennials saw this privilege Boomers were bestowed with and how they took it for granted at every turn – lacking gratitude, refusing to acknowledge their good fortune, and unfairly holding them to the standards of a world that no longer exists. They extrapolated this sentiment onto virtually every other social cause, so they have an incessant chip on their shoulder.

Millennial Cringe

No, you’re not “adulting,” Samantha, you’re a grown woman pushing 40. I sympathize that Boomers gave you a lot of grief over things that weren’t your fault and blamed them on your enjoyment of avocado toast, but you need to chill. Some of the biggest “ick” factors of the millennial generation for digital native Zoomers are their lack of self-awareness, low social acuity online, and inexplicable need to break out into song. Seriously, what’s the deal with that? There’s a bit of a meme war taking place on TikTok between millennials and Zoomers, and it’s not looking good for the millennials. The generation responsible for such hits like safe spaces, political correctness culture, and microaggressions simultaneously likes to take credit for “offensive” figures like Eminem, even breaking out into disastrous one-sided beefs with Gen Z through cringy self-made raps that assert Gen Z is trying to cancel Eminem (narrator: Gen Z is not trying to cancel Eminem). 

Millennials are noticeably out of touch with what’s in, and consequently, any criticisms they have of Zoomers never quite land.

Millennials have a monopoly on cringe aesthetically, behaviorally, and memetically. However, it’s their digital footprint that invites the most criticism. What is it about millennials that is so cringe? They’re noticeably out of touch with what’s in, and consequently, any criticisms they have of Zoomers never hit quite the same way as Zoomer criticisms of millennials. That’s because without having your finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, your diagnosis won’t be correct. When millennials roast Boomers, they hit the nail on the head. When Boomers roast millennials, it’s giving “out of touch” with their privilege and the unique struggles millennials have faced economically. So, it’s not unique to millennials, but a generational curse we’re all destined to succumb to. One day, we wake up old, and none of our hot takes land anymore. It’s a tragic fate, but one that comes for us all. 

The thing about millennial taste is it’s so cheugy. To be cheugy means to have an out-of-date style or to be trying too hard, to be basic. It specifically references tastes of the 2010s, which are no longer trendy, but which many millennials still cling to for dear life. Think: Uggs, Deathly Hallows tattoos, graphic tees that say “Netflix and Chill,” mugs that read “But first, coffee,” and cringe sayings like “Live, Laugh, Love.” As many have noted, what is cheugy is an unspoken, intuitive, vibes-based, outdated aesthetic. You know it when you see it, and if you don’t, you’re probably cheugy yourself. And that’s okay! Some millennials cannot accept being cheugy, however, and are very intense in their need for approval from Zoomers. 

While this is mostly tongue-in-cheek banter, millennials aren’t very good at banter, and it comes off as sincere outrage and delusion. Then, there’s millennial humor, which can only be described as “too on the nose.” Take this skit from eight years ago, for example. It’s satirizing things that were legitimately out of control in the culture, like identity politics, cancel culture, political correctness, and a preoccupation with privilege. However, its attempt to satirize these topics hasn’t aged well, mostly because these talking points have been done to death at this point, but also because its humor is low-hanging fruit and not particularly clever.

Closing Thoughts

Ah, millennials. The generation everyone loves to hate. I may physically cringe every time an elder millennial opens their mouth, but I will still stand in solidarity with them against our common enemy: the Baby Boomer. No millennials were harmed in the making of this article, and if they were, you will probably hear a song and dance about it very soon. But don’t worry, millennials. You’ll get your revenge when Gen Alpha (sick name, by the way) comes for Gen Z, and judging by the cultural impact they’re already making, that clock is ticking.

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