October 4, 2021

Zoomers jealous of Millennials' shut-in childhoods

In a recent viral tweet, a Zoomer girl says she wishes she could live in the era shown by a picture, which appears to be of a gamer girl circa 2000, but which is actually a dedicated LARP-er from the late 2010s. It's not important that the girl in the photo is another Zoomer who wishes she could re-live the late '90s and early 2000s, rather than a girl actually from that era. The point is that Zoomers are increasingly getting jealous of Millennial youth culture.

Millennials began chiming in with memories of how great it was back then, and aren't you Zoomers seething over the horrible childhoods you had to endure later on? The only retorts from non-nostalgic Millennials still focused on the internet as the be-all, end-all for youth culture -- omg, dial-up speeds were so slow back then, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemies!

Another recent viral tweet fondly remembers the same Y2K era for producing detailed guides, complete with ASCII art, for video games at the GameFAQs website. This one topic -- GameFAQs guides -- has been the source of recurring viral tweets for several years now, in fact.

The view from Generation X is, Why are all these people nostalgic for being locked indoors all day long for their entire youth, with only boring stuff like video games to distract themselves with? Didn't they ever roam around outside? Make any friends? Construct their own youth culture? Nope, and they don't care that they were deprived of all these natural human things -- they rejoice in having had no life as young people (and now, as adults).

I'm not even sure that "coping" is the right term here, since that would require them to feel subconscious pain about the form of child abuse known as helicopter parenting. It's more of a Plato's Cave situation, where the shut-in life and virtual activities like video games are all they've ever known, so they cling all the more forcefully to them rather than "touch grass".

I first described this Millennial tendency -- being nostalgic for having no life as kids -- in a post from 2012, when they were just in their 20s. Then in a follow-up post a few years later, I showed that it had only intensified. Now Millennials are roughly in their 30s, and they're still pining for simulated reality consumed in isolation.

It's not merely having a fondness for activities that can only take place in the home, without friends or strangers of any kind. Playing with toys, building pillow forts, learning crafts or handyman jobs around the house, would all have been cocooner-friendly. Millennials' activities were specifically virtual -- watching TV and movies, and especially playing video games, which had become less of a game (a la the original Nintendo) and more of a simulator.

So they didn't get a driver's license until they were 20, but they got to pretend to drive a car in a driving simulator. They didn't flirt, date, or make out until they were seniors in high school or later, but they got to arrange dates and more for their characters in The Sims. They didn't get to run around the woods in feral groups playing war, but they did occasionally get together to play Goldeneye 4-player splitscreen.

And to the limited extent that Millennials did actually get to take part in real life while growing up, their memories of those events have been totally overwhelmed and blocked out by the far more pervasive pattern of staying inside with eyes locked onto a screen and its simulated action.

You simply never hear them reminisce about riding their bikes to the supermarket to get free samples, or hearing a certain song during a birthday party at the roller rink, or playing games at school (kickball, Four Square, etc.), let alone inventing their own playground games (like my generation did in the late '80s and early '90s, with Butt's Up, Kooshball tag, etc.). Nothing about telling urban legends to each other, or singing naughty songs at school ("We marched downstairs and SHOT the principal..."). No memories of trading any kind of physical item around -- collector's cards, action figures, pages torn out from someone's father's Playboy, etc.

You don't even hear them get nostalgic for the IRL activities that did relate to video games, like going to the mall to play DDR, or going to a friend's house to play Guitar Hero or Rock Band, or hosting Mario Party nights at a bar. Those rhythm and party games were the most iconic genre of the late 2000s, yet they are rarely mentioned by the very Millennials who drove their mainstream popularity.

Only X-ers like me remember it like it was yesterday, despite not being into them (or video games at all) at that time. They resonated with my generation's youth -- going outside the home, having a life, being cool -- but clashed with the main tendencies of Millennial youth. So they stuck in my mind, but not in the minds of Millennials.

This whole Millennial vs. Zoomer culture war is just about whose helicopter-parent-ruined childhoods were crappier. Millennials made use of pleasing mechanical and analog devices when escaping into the virtual simulator realm, while Zoomers have had to do so via alienating digital / touchscreen devices. Zoomers are streaming full scenes of porn in HD, while Millennials had to download a 30-second clip in 144p over the course of an evening.

Sorry, but neither of you had a real life as young people, and it still shows. Millennials remain socially awkward and retarded well into their 30s, and Zoomers won't be any different about "adulting," even if they give it a generational re-branding.

The major difference between the two is the alternation between attention-seeking (Greatest Gen, Boomers, Millennials, presumably Gen Alpha) and being laid-back (Lost Gen, Silent Gen, Gen X, Gen Z). Millennials being more drama-queeny than Zoomers could count in their favor, if channeled to the proper ends. But the entertainment industry is dead, and is never coming back. So instead it's reacting avis on social media platforms thinking that it matters whose shut-in childhood was more epically shut-in.

At least Zoomers' laid-back nature only results in fleeting doomer thoughts like, "damn yo, sure wish i coulda played majora's mask on a proper crt, but those tvs are probably all in a landfill somewhere by now..." Sure, it would have sucked less. But Millennials blow up "sucking less" into a Golden Age, when they were already growing up long after The Fall of the cocooning / falling-crime / helicopter parent era (roughly the '90s through today).

If you're not actually cool or savvy, bragging about yourself just makes you annoying. Zoomers aren't very cool or socially skilled either, but they don't brag about sucking-less, and that makes them more chill and relatable.

Boomers were the last attention-seeking generation who actually accomplished and produced things that could prop up their hyped-up view of themselves. Off-putting in a way, but still cool and worthy of giving props to.

Millennial smugness is such a ridiculous joke because in typical attention-seeking fashion, they have no self-awareness, so they don't understand how boring and annoying they are as a generation, yet they behave as though they're owed the same respect (albeit grudging) that their attention-seeking predecessors the Boomers enjoyed.

Everyone else can already see that their generation is a self-appointed emperor wearing no clothes, and it's sad to think they're going to drift through old age still thinking they're the envy of others when no one cares about them at all, as a generation (only as kin, spouses, etc.).


  1. Examples of Gen-X nostalgia posting w/ pics, so you can quickly get the point (although read the post as well). From over the years here, once I got started on the whole model of cocooning vs. outgoing climate and falling-crime vs. rising-crime rates. That was around 2009-2012.

    Nothing to do with technology, let alone video games. All about material culture, and social connections. What a normal brain (not ruined by helicopter parenting, and currently uploaded onto the internet) thinks of about "how things used to be".








  2. Are there enough GenX patents who said O Hell No to make a difference in the GenZ cohort?

    My daughter's friends are all about the IRL even if they use Discord to connect to Among Us. Rebuilding classic cars. Hand designing their own patterns for clothes...

    All these kids are off Millennial (and older) social media (Twitter, FB, Insty) though I know one striver who curates an FB page to suck up to us oldies.

    Am I in a microcosm ir an exemplar!

  3. Heyo fellow Gx Navy brat. Followed the links. Pls. delete if too personal. That Mother Goose book in your Not Enculurated post is the one my grandmama read to me and I read to my little and we sang the songs in the car. We're still here, if hidden. Godspeed.

  4. There's certainly a counter-cultural trend among Zoomers for physical stuff rather than digital content. It connects sometimes, if they upload pics / videos to TikTok or YouTube to show off their sewing skills, or the item they scored at a thrift store.

    But really the online niches have mostly been filled by now, so eventually the next young generation is going to pursue status and enjoyment elsewhere.

    Facebook is for Boomers and X-ers, Instagram for X-ers and Millennials, Twitter and Tumblr and YouTube for Millennials.

    Twitch is for '90s births, so half Millennials and half Zoomers.

    The only strictly Zoomer platform is TikTok -- anyone hating on TikTok is a geriatric Millennial crying sour grapes because their butt isn't that round and bouncy anymore. Or they're a Millennial guy whose age-mates don't look like that anymore, and don't get any attention from Zoomer girlies.

    They try to rationalize it by hating on "Libs of TikTok" etc., but very little of Zoomer usage of the platform has anything to do with politics or "takes" about anything controversial. That's simply Millennials projecting their own delusions of take-meister grandeur onto Zoomers.

    It's harder and harder to make a name for yourself on successive platforms, so even if there is a platform used primarily by Gen Alpha or the one after them, diminishing returns will have set in big-time. Too much investment required for too little of a status payoff, so why bother?

  5. Who else passed the superstraight male test today? Did not even notice that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were totally down, and that Twitter was all screwed up for users (I only lurk, no account of my own).

    The Red Scare ladies said it best: social media is for girls and gays only.

    It's for emotional reactions, gossiping, and not doing the reading.

    You will never catch me on social media, ever.

  6. "So they didn't get a driver's license until they were 20, but they got to pretend to drive a car in a driving simulator. They didn't flirt, date, or make out until they were seniors in high school or later, but they got to arrange dates and more for their characters in The Sims. They didn't get to run around the woods in feral groups playing war, but they did occasionally get together to play Goldeneye 4-player splitscreen."

    Luckily got to do all of these things at a more normal age - playing war outside venturing into neighbors' yards without a care was always a blast - and later biking around in a pack just trying to go anywhere or do anything in middle school, no responsibility, good times. Goldeneye was fun too. Being raised by a Silent and an older Boomer might've been beneficial in those respects for me, notwithstanding all the other crap thrust upon us by those gens.

    Regarding social media, I always have to laugh when people my age suggest that the Chinese are somehow deeply propgandizing our youth via TikTok and that we must ban it now!!1. Get a grip lol. Some are probably just parroting their favorite Republican but I think there's an element of resentment like you say.


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