Lighterside - Paul Bianchina
Millenials Are The Most Stressed-Out Generation, read the article’s headline. OMG, thought I! That’s terrible. I didn’t know that! As an intrepid journalist, I wanted to know exactly why that was the case.
First though, I wanted to know what in the world a “millennial” was.
Turns out that was the easy part. A bit of Googling - much preferred over Binging, which I swear I’ll never get used to - led me to discover that a millennial is someone born between 1980 and 2000.
Okay, so that’s what a millennial is - a Baby Boomer’s Baby Boom. But why would they be stressed? They basically have everything. One article said it’s because they’ve been too shielded, have poor coping skills, are used to instant gratification and were raised in a society where you get a trophy just for showing up.
But I thought that might be a tad unfair, and I wanted to delve deeper. Here’s what I discovered:
-Millenials have to try and track which Kardashian is engaged, which Kardashian is pregnant, which Kardashian is getting a divorce, which Kardashian is having a lavish million-dollar wedding, which Kardashian is having an affair and which Kardashian is currently overweight and shouldn’t be wearing a bikini but is anyway and was just photographed on her private island by 12,000 photographers while consoling the pregnant Kardashian sister who’s having a million-dollar prenuptial divorce baby shower. And - they have to do all that while simultaneously tracking which DUI/accident/theft/fight Lindsay Lohan is appearing in court for this time! It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!
-Recent DNA testing has shown that Millenials have blood which is 93.7 percent Red Bull.
-After studying 793 episodes of House Hunters on TV, it’s become clear that no self-respecting Millennial can live without granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors, and this is adding substantially to their stress levels. This has grown to such epidemic proportions that auto manufacturers had reported a serious slump in new car sales to Millenials until they began installing granite dashboards, stainless steel glove compartments and hardwood floor mats.
-According to my exhaustive research, Millenials now spend 22.67 hours out of each day researching new electronic products. Tops among those are smart-phones, smart-tablets, smart phone-tablets, smart tablet-phones, smart-tables, smart-chairs, smart-belts, smart-shoelaces and smart-condoms. Stress levels have been shown to ratchet up to almost unbearable levels every time Apple introduces an upgrade to one of their products, which it does every eight seconds. Some 397,000 Millenials had to be hospitalized for stress-related medical conditions recently when one electronics manufacturer moved the headphone jack from the top of their music player to the side.
-Doctors have recently identified a malady that’s come to be known as “Restless Thumb Syndrome,” or RTS. RTS manifests itself whenever a Millennial is deprived of the opportunity to text. In a double-blind study, doctors surgically removed the cell phones from the hands of 1,100 Millenials. As soon as they came out of the anesthesia, their thumbs began to move over the keyboards that were no longer there. Therapists and psychologists were called in to help reprogram the Millenials to regain their ability to communicate through the use of speech, but it was hopeless. Again, stress levels were extremely high until the ability to text instead of talk was regained.
-But stressful as all those things are, they pale in comparison to the ultimate stress-inducer. It’s estimated that at some point in time, every Millennial will move back home. Think about the horror of waking up one morning and realizing that it’s time to pack up your dirty socks and your 12 cases of electronics and head for Mom and Dad’s house, with its Formica counters, white appliances and - gasp - carpeting!
Wait. Is that right? Give me just a second to go back through my notes……
Oh yeah, I thought I had that last part wrong. Moving back home isn’t the ultimate stress-inducer for Millenials.
It’s the ultimate stress-inducer for Mom and Dad.
Times are tough right now, and I’ve been looking for ways to pick up a little extra cash. And that’s when it dawned on me. I’ve got this column to sell - maybe all I need is an infomercial!
Scene One: Faded black and white, slightly blurred. An obese man in a torn bathrobe, sitting at a beat-up table in a run-down kitchen. The remains of some congealed oatmeal is in a bowl at his side. He’s reading a humor column in a newspaper. His face is scrunched up, and he obviously doesn’t find it funny. His expression goes from bewildered, to disgusted, to angered. He rises abruptly, knocking over his cheap chair, which shatters on the worn linoleum floor. He grabs the newspaper, spreads it on the counter and pointedly dumps the day’s trash on the humor column before wadding it up and tossing it toward the trash bin. He misses, and coffee grounds and old grease splatter the wall.
Voice-over announcer: “Are you sick and tired of humor columns that aren’t funny? Is the one in your local paper not even good enough to hold coffee grounds?”
Scene Two: Full, vibrant color, crisp focus. A beautiful young couple is sitting at a poolside table under a warm sun. The table is spread with a lush array of fresh juices, pastries and tropical fruits. The man is reading The Lighter Side aloud from the paper. The couple laughs continuously, pausing here and there to catch their breath before continuing.
Voice-over announcer: “Isn’t this more of what you want from your humor column?”
Scene Three: Full, vibrant color, crisp focus. The beautiful young couple steps inside from the patio and spreads the newspaper out on an expensive granite countertop. The woman bends forward, scissors in hand, showing ample cleavage. She begins to carefully cut the column out of the paper.
“This is another one we just have to cut out and have framed,” she purrs.
The year is 1961. Thanks to Joseph Heller, the term Catch-22 first enters the American lexicon, and becomes firmly embedded there. The entrapment of its circular logic was a thing of pure beauty.
A character in the book - an Army airman during World War II - would be crazy if he continues flying any more highly dangerous missions. To stop flying them, all he has to do is ask to be grounded, under that obvious mental health pretext. Ah, but therein lies the rub. To ask would be the action of a rational mind, therefore proving he’s really not crazy at all, and is indeed fit to fly. But if he flies, he’s crazy, and can ask to be grounded. Catch-22. As I say, a thing of pure beauty, never to be equaled.
Fast forward to 2013.
Step into a world of computers, websites and 12-year-old code writers and customer service reps that Mr. Heller in his worst nightmares could never have conjured up.
I had signed up for a year of on-line service with a particular company that shall remain nameless - nameless, that is, except to Griselda, my Voodoo High Priestess, who is at this very moment fabricating life-size, anatomically-correct dolls of everyone who works there. I’ve ordered 12,000 boxes of two-foot pins, and we’re planning a rousing game of jam-the-pin-up-the- oh, but I digress. Sorry.
Apparently, this company took it upon themselves to enroll me in “auto-renewal,” so that they could keep me and my credit card captive forever. They notified me the service was about to renew - no doubt by accident - so I immediately went on their website to cancel it.
“Please enter your User ID and Password.” I dutifully type that in.
“Invalid entry. Please enter your User ID and Password.” Okay. It’s possible I made a mistake. I carefully type it in again.
I don’t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing, but 2013 opened in rather dramatic fashion when a camera crew rolled up to our door shortly after the first of the year. Apparently one of the reality networks had been monitoring us, and my wife had been selected for the premier episode of the new reality show, Email Hoarders…
Roll intro. Pictures of heavily distorted computers under dark, brooding clouds. Thunder rolls. Lightning crackles. Dramatic music builds in the background. The deep yet quietly sympathetic tones of the voice-over announcer begins:
“Welcome. This……. is Email Hoarders. Please join us as we take you on a journey, a real-life look behind the curtain at the chaos of the stress-filled lives of the people that society has forgotten. We’ll wander along the cluttered pathways trodden by these lost souls who’ve been abandoned in today’s paperless world. We’ll watch as their fingers tremble helplessly above the “delete” button, living in constant fear of pressing it and removing some vital joke or kitten picture from their hard drive forever. This is the hopeless and cluttered world……. of Email Hoarders.
“Viewer discretion is advised.”
I slowly approached the temporary table that had been set up under the big RETURNS signs. There were lots of holiday traditions to be savored, but the after-Christmas gift return definitely wasn’t one of them.
“Yes?” said the Evil Gift Return Lady.
“Uh, hi. I’d like to return this item. It was a Christmas gift.”
“Well no. As I said, it was a gift.”
“Can’t very well take it back without a receipt now, can I? Don’t know how much you paid for it.”
“I didn’t pay anything for it. I told you - it was a gift!”