Side Parts and Skinny Jeans Are Nice, but Have You Tried Total Irrelevance?

By Stephanie Hayes

March 6, 2021 4 min read

It's a rite of passage for any new generation to fight with the one before. Just imagine the ruthless barbs traded between 15th-century serfs over tunic length!

Right now that whole thing is playing out between Gen Z and millennials. Let's review: Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 and have been blamed for everything since, primarily food in bowls. Gen Z was born after 1996, ready to assume the mantle of misdirected vitriol.

According to Gen Z users on TikTok, there are ways to tell if someone is irreparably old. These include but are not limited to: parting your hair on the side; wearing skinny jeans; using the laugh-cry emoji; sorting yourself into a Harry Potter house; drinking wine; eating avocado toast; and using a fanny pack. Meanwhile, Generation X is somewhere ordering craft bourbon and quitting smoking, fully self-actualized.

Because they have not previously experienced being uncool, millennials are upset. They are retorting, sharing photos to claim the styles of the era, such as platform sandals, patchwork denim and impractically tiny purses. On a related note, I'd like to enter my microscopic Canal Street "Louis Vuitton" cherry-blossom bag from 2002 as evidence, Your Honor.

As an older millennial on the cusp of Gen X — a Xennial, if you will — I have not been cool for some time (Ravenclaw). Compatriots, there is no point in antagonizing the younger set. We are professionals with families and bills and impending existential crises. We had our time. The next generations deserve a chance to wear things they will later regret, too.

There is only one thing left to do: Slip into obsolescence.

No, no, it's not as scary as it sounds. Come, sit down. It's lovely here. What's that over there? It might be a new social media platform, but it's probably just a shadow, or some kind of fire. Don't worry.

Do not learn the new music. Listen to the old stations on the satellite radio that came when you bought the car, letting early Kanye warm you like a blanket. Does Gen Z have satellite radio? Do they drive cars?

Perhaps you are disoriented after finding out an actor you've never heard of has 5 million followers on Instagram. That's because that actor is not for you. No, you do not have to binge the show he is in. You may rewatch "Gossip Girl."

Nor must you post three consecutive photos of yourself in negligibly different poses, with a nonsense caption that says something like, "humpty dumpty" or, "fruit salad." Pick one photo. Caption it: "This is me at the beach. I had a great time, but it was a little cold." Feel the freedom.

Did someone say "yeet" or "simp"? It's fine to ask what it means, but do not start using it yourself. That would be a tragic error you could not come back from.

Here, drink from this chalice. It's full of a wine you love, because you have done the necessary aging to develop your palate. Yes, your habits are questionable, your fashion rooted in the unattainable beauty standards of the early 2000s, your tiny purse full of baggage. But it's your baggage.

I will leave the final word on this matter to our mother, Dionne Warwick, the only person on Twitter worth following:

"Do you think I care what younger generations say about me? I will wear this fanny pack. Who cares."

Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her at @stephhayes on Twitter or @stephrhayes on Instagram.

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