Uncool and nowhere to scroll: The internet has become hostile to millennials like me

wAs I scrolled through a long collection of photos from a friend’s recent paddleboarding excursion in Cornwall, a wave of existentialism hit me. The toxic dopamine spikes from social media that once rocked my soul were now gone. In its place was a heavy shame. This place was sexy and fun, I thought, as I opened, closed, and then reopened the Instagram app. How pathetic it is to be a millennial addicted to social media.

Given that the definition of a millennial includes both a 28-year-old Gigi Hadid and a 42-year-old Pit Bull, it would be ill-advised for me to generalize the status to an entire generation. However, due to painstaking research (that runs until my eyes bleed) and the supposed predisposition of my age groups to turn literally every passing thought into a narcissistic and melodramatic state of the nation essay, I can officially declare that millennials they are finished. Thrown into the sea. We have no place online in 2023.

I felt the first pains of this digital shift during the pandemic when I gave in and synced my soul to TikTok. I’d abstained for a while, believing it might just be a blip, a temporary platform for dancing teens and sexual predators. While I wasn’t entirely wrong, it turns out the Chinese app had longevity and a much more sophisticated algorithm than anything I’d encountered before. Within hours she knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want, from niche music preferences to dietary needs and advice for incredibly specific physical and emotional ailments. I was amazed by it as a thriving ecosystem led and cared for by the generation following mine.

However, while my fringe interests were catered for, I quickly realized that this app was too hostile to someone in my demographic. Millennials have been mocked by its younger users for using the laughing emoji or zooming abnormally, liking Harry Potter or being addicted to caffeine. Even the experience of being on the app felt out of my comfort zone like walking into Vegas for a bachelor party, no sense of time passing, of how to get out, the lights glaring or flashing sinister, drugs too hardcore for on a Tuesday night.

Millennials didn’t invent the internet. That was the Tim Berners-Lee boom. But millennials have created and curated much of the Web 2.0 and platforms that have dominated the last 20 years: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder and Bumble. Though I rarely post, I’ve been a staunch lurker, quietly evolving as the Internet does too: from early romantic escapades forged on MSN and music forums, to craving hipster hairdos on MySpace, fanatically following x-rated bloggers on Tumblr and not only.

There has been so much creative and subversive content made by Millennials over the past two decades, yet we are widely remembered for spearheading much-maligned modes of communication: like punctuating tweets with This., Thats it. This is the tweet., or Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. Our loyalty to Pepto Bismol’s Millennial Pink, or duck-lip pout, for example, was even aesthetically affiliated with a kind of air head numbness. Because our voice and style were so dominant for such a stretch of digital history, it was difficult for us to subtly assimilate into a new domain.

Social media no longer holds that voyeuristic thrill that initially lured me into one that made me feel excited, intrigued, as if I could see another’s life in an unfiltered, unedited way

This dilemma, however, isn’t simply a matter of aging off the internet: social media isn’t a house party you’re shunned the moment you start considering orthopedic shoes or linger too long in front of boxes of Tena Lady. Instead, it’s a very specific millennial conundrum. TikTok continues to be the fastest growing platform, pioneering absurdist humor and tongue-in-cheek Gen Z. Facebook has become a safe haven for Boomers and Gen X, with its users having a 19% probability in more to share content than any other generation. They are active: engaged, creating community and conversations. The once college-focused networking website remains the UK’s biggest social media platform, led, at least from my feed, by 58-year-olds broadcasting their political grievances, nostalgic photos and warm renditions of new album Orbital. I visited Facebook with a sort of arrogance, assuming everyone was a Luddite who was missing out on the fun. Now I visit Facebook and feel a pang of jealousy that there are so many socially active friends, welcoming kind users who eagerly post, often to Orbital.

Twitter, meanwhile, once our networking event, our speed dating space, our standup special, is now our apocalyptic wasteland. I still see us hanging around, as if a funny joke could give us that validation we need to work our way up our professional quagmire or help us meet the love of our lives, but it’s no use. Since Elon Musk is in charge, I walk in and am immediately confused by his algorithm; I’m not sure why I can only see tweets from people I’ve never heard of, posting about heartbreaking topics I’ve never engaged with before. It’s the antithesis of TikTok; so lacking in insight that I feel like touching his hand and suggesting we leave it and watch Netflix instead.

So where are millennials headed to go? Instagram may have supportive communities (particularly when it comes to parenting), but in general, the platform feels like a strange artificial universe. There’s a tragic feeling that everyone is still playing a game that ended a long time ago, one where we all pretended that our lives were relentlessly fabulous and our skin was naturally so smooth. All the hot old girls I obsessed with had babies or became doulas or businesswomen and their brands are too curated to reveal grit or grime. Sometimes they’ll make a post about their cellulite and tell you they can’t believe everything you see on the internet, but a few hours later they’re back to bikini shots and sunset handstands. Zoomers see right through it. Boomers couldn’t care less. It’s just us, millennials staring at distant photos of bike rides or some kind of new tame boredom involving homemade chips or the aforementioned paddleboarding, and craving the adrenaline rush of access in 2006.

The internet was once an illicit porthole into someone else’s life, rather than a proud declaration of one’s existence that could fuel enough engagement to secure an endorsement deal.


Is it substack? Do I launch a Substack on my shed renovation? Or different ways to make tofu fun? Desperately Devoted Tofu? I didn’t have enough interesting footage for Twitter, let alone 800 words a week for six subscribers, four of whom will never open the email. Reddit is a viable option in fact millennials are its biggest users in the UK however the interface makes me anxious and I go online to stare at people I vaguely know rather than want to Dead Pool cat spoilers and memes.

As I gamble on the Internet, unable to satiate my need for a peak of that annoying digital buzz, I realize that maybe I’m not the problem. The social media I grew up with is not what it used to be. It no longer holds that voyeuristic thrill that initially drew me into one that made me feel excited, intrigued, as if I could see another’s life in an unfiltered, uncurated way. I don’t want content creators showing me their Arket hauls. I want uploads of 58 photos from a house party revealing the unflattering profile of a popular person I’ve always been jealous of. The internet was once an illicit porthole into someone else’s life, rather than a proud declaration of their existence that could fuel enough engagement to land an endorsement deal.

Beyond the easy millennial ridicule and lack of community, it’s clear that I’m no longer compatible with how these platforms and its users now operate. If so, perhaps it’s time for me and the rest of my anxious and confused Internet generation to do the most believable thing we’ve ever done: log off for good.

At least until we were ready to upgrade to Facebook. O Tena Lady.

Okay?: A Woman’s Search for Online Connection by Harriet Gibsone it’s in stores now

#Uncool #scroll #internet #hostile #millennials

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