Note from Jane Menton: The OG MC (Francis Menton) is currently recovering from Covid and will return later this week.
One of my roles here at Manhattan Contrarian is acting as the cultural correspondent and translator, giving some insight into the views and beliefs of the millennial generation and younger. Unfortunately, it gets harder every day to present those views as rational when they’re so often based on magical thinking. For example, the same people who have been haranguing us for years for not doing enough to end our dependence on fossil fuels – the same ones who cheered the shutdown of the Keystone Pipeline – now can’t believe the prices they must pay for gas. The same people who thought stimulus checks were the bare minimum the government could do for people struggling during COVID, are now shocked by surging inflation. “Buying less alcohol so that when I sell my kidneys they get a better price,” reads one quote in the article about inflation.
All the articles linked above are from Buzzfeed. For members of the older generation who may not be *in the know,* (aka, my dad the Manhattan Contrarian) Buzzfeed is the primary cultural hub for the millennial generation. It’s a one-stop shop, covering everything from pop culture to news. I sometimes doubt my generation reads anything else (forget the Wall Street Journal). I follow it too, occasionally because it’s entertaining, and mostly because I have to follow it in order to know what my peers are thinking and feeling.
One of the most useful things Buzzfeed does is collect the soundbites on current events from young “influencers”. Multiple times a week, Buzzfeed puts together twitter roundups on different subjects – e.g. gas prices, climate change, dating as a queer 20-something – that can be neatly summarized as “What the Cool Young People are Saying.”
I read these roundups at the end of every week, and every week it gets harder and harder to ignore the glaring contradictions in millennial thinking on policy. Just last week I read one such roundup of complaints about our current economy and inflation that was stunning in its complete lack of awareness. A few excerpts:
We’re all supposed to cheer along with these tweeters’ outrage, as if there’s any surprise gasoline prices are rising when, in his first few months in office in 2021, Biden pledged he would prevent oil companies from drilling on federal land, pledged to ban fracking, blocked construction of oil and gas pipelines, and so on. Or as if inflation isn’t the natural consequence of dumping $4.6 trillion of newly-printed money into a stalled economy.
Meanwhile, here are excerpts from another roundup of tweets on Buzzfeed, this one from 2017, complaining that we aren’t doing enough about climate change. Of course, this was back when gas was affordable:
It is remarkable that Buzzfeed can promote these twitter roundups without ever seeming to realize that suppressing fossil fuel production in an effort to address climate change would ultimately cause the price of gasoline to go up. How could the editors of these lists not see that raising gasoline prices, such that people are forced to use less of it, is not a policy accident. It is part of the plan. It is in fact the most important feature of the plan. A plan they have spent years advocating for.
And how could they not realize that the ramifications from rising oil and gas prices would trickle down throughout the entire economy, affecting all of our everyday expenses: the cost to grow food (using modern, fossil fuel-enabled technology), to heat a home, to drive a car, to buy a plane ticket? How could they not see that they are the source of their own problems?
We can only hope that prolonged inflation and record high fuel prices are the wakeup calls this generation needs.