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Burg: Tinder, midterm elections aren’t mutually exclusive

Madeline Burg, Columnist

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Once again I’m here to draw your attention to the unique phenomenon that is the millennial generation. Being part of it, I find it hard to move within the world and not feel like the experience is defined quite a bit by society’s perception of my peer group. Think pieces pile up about how to relate to millennials, what being a millennial means, how to understand these alien beings that communicate with emojis and seem to subsist on a diet of full seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” and whatever GrubHub can provide. Some pieces mercilessly pick out our worst attributes to demonstrate why we’re undoubtedly the end of civilization —Vanity Fair’s “How to Deal with Millennials in the Workplace” video, played for comedy, comes to mind.

But some pieces are genuine explorations of a new type of person growing up in a new type of world. Not that every generation isn’t unique or unquestionably shaped by the shifting currents of life. Baby boomers had the Vietnam War and The Beatles. We just have Vine celebrities and the concept of live tweeting.

I really do believe that technology has shaped millennials in a way that no other thing has shaped any other generation. We are different, not necessarily better or worse. Never before has crafting a mask to show to the public been so easy as in the age of social media. We can easily live two intertwined lives, one of them on the Internet, a virtual space where real interactions happen, where real connections can be made. Tailor your life to appear any way you want it. Instagram only the most aesthetically pleasing cookies you ever make, because if you’re not Martha Stewart in real life, on social media you can make yourself look like you are. It’s strange and cool and very new and no wonder those who came before Grindr and Yik Yak are confused and possibly a little scared.

So when I watched that clip of Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle telling me, a 21-year-old female, to kindly move away from those voting booths and get back to my social media, I felt sad for her. After my initial reaction of fury tempered with derision at general narrow-mindedness, of course. Nobody tells me what to do, Kimberly. Also, when is it ever a good idea to tell any group of Americans not to exercise their constitutional rights? But it’s been a few days (Guilfoyle’s appearance on Fox News’ “The Five” was last Tuesday) and I’ve weathered my rage storm. On a segment about the turnout of women in this season’s midterm elections, the panel discussed the age range of women that vote in the polls. Guilfoyle’s own opinion is that young twenty-something women, “healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world,” do not have enough life experience to be able to vote. “They don’t get it;” they should be “excused” so that “they can go back on Tinder or Match.com,” Guilfoyle said. Match.com? Really, Kimberly? Tinder is to Match.com what Facebook is to Myspace, and if you don’t get what I mean then you only confirm your low level of cultural awareness.

But this is my point: Non-millennials do not care to know millennials because of the image of ourselves we project into the Internet. This is an essential — but not sole — aspect of our identity. To know a millennial is to understand the part of us that gleefully swipes right can coexist comfortably with the part of us that cares to exercise our right to vote. It’s possible to be a person who obsesses over their follower-to-following ratio on Twitter as well as someone who cares about human rights, or clean energy or what’s going on in Gaza. My generation is in the process of perfecting a mix of studied vapidity and an actual interest in the world around us. Sure, we can believe we’re being ironic when we declare pumpkin spice lattes to be the mark of a basic bitch and then turn around and order one at Starbucks. Because we can like pumpkin spice lattes and not be basic. We can tweet about the Kardashians and enjoy it, but also enjoy our political science classes. This is allowed. We are large; we contain multitudes.

I’m not saying our way of living is the best way. But people like Kimberly Guilfoyle would benefit from just thinking about where we’re coming from. A world where Tinder and midterm elections are not mutually exclusive is more interesting, anyway.

Madeline Burg is a Weinberg senior. She can be reached at madelineburg2015@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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