Misrepresentation of Millennials on the web

I read an article on Politico last week called “Stop Talking ‘Bout My Generation” that discussed trends amongst Generation Y. According to some demographers, Generation Y is the group of Americans born between 1982 and 2004. What makes our generation unique is that we grew up during a period of astoundingly rapid technological development paired with a rapid rearrangement of the global order.

Millennials witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union and its aftermath, the invention of the internet and both Iraq Wars through the eyes of young people. According to the article, we are also generally tech-savvy, progressive and highly attuned to issues of social justice.

There is, correspondingly, an entire world of journalism and media targeted towards our generation, and one of the largest brands of this millennial-targeted media is a website called Elite Daily, which has popped up in my newsfeed consistently for the last couple of years.

For a site that claims to be the voice of Generation Y, Elite Daily’s content is race- and income-exclusive, painfully vague and preachy. Elite Daily epitomizes the failure of demographers to accurately describe a generation of individuals born 22 years apart. In this opinion, I offer my critique of an online newspaper that has failed to speak to such a broad range of individuals.

All writers need to consider their target audience. Elite Daily claims to be the voice of Generation Y. However, this is very misleading. One thing visitors to Elite Daily’s site will immediately notice is that the thumbnails for their articles feature almost exclusively white people.

We’ve grown up in a society that is much more attuned to issues of race than our parents or our grandparents. It’s a little off-putting when a site that claims to be the voice of a generation spanning 22 years is race exclusive.

Some articles such as “Thirty Places You Need to Travel to Before You Turn Thirty” may be inherently interesting, but its message really only applies to somebody with the economic privilege to travel. These types of articles, coupled with the race-exclusive visual components of the website send the message that the only people part of Generation Y that matter are well-to-do white people.

If Elite Daily claims to be the voice of millennials, then Elite Daily needs to reflect the dimensions of diversity our age demographic contains. One thing demographers seem to be right about is that social media has helped influence young people’s awareness of social issues in this country. If Elite Daily and other millennial-targeted media outlets want to get through to their readers, their content should reflect that type of awareness.

Another critique of Elite Daily is that many of their articles preach, but what they preach is not rooted in reality, empirical wisdom or the knowledge of older generations. Articles like “Maybe You’re The Problem: 8 Reasons Why Love Isn’t Working Out For You” are frustratingly vague.

In this example, the writer goes through eight very broad categories of dating related issues. The message the author sends is that your love life is failing because of these eight reasons that seem to cover almost every personality flaw known since the dawn of time. It’s so vague it borders on tautology.

Another article titled “Why We Should Actively Become the Authors of Our Own Ambitions” hardly informs the reader on what the article might be about, except that it features a photo of an exceptionally beautiful Caucasian woman riding an elephant.

The article ends with the line, “Would you choose to begin writing your own story today?” Between the title and the final line, there wasn’t really any concrete idea being conveyed, just this poorly-navigated ether of faux-intelligent philosophical musing.

Elite Daily writers come up with vague philosophies that supposedly speak to Generation Y, but fall short of conveying a specific message, other than that destiny involves being white and having the opportunity to ride an elephant.

Whether Elite Daily really is all about poorly-written, somewhat racist philosophical musings is not as important as the fact that Elite Daily epitomizes the flaws in trying to characterize Generation Y with couple of simple, comprehensive labels.

Elite Daily touches on universal themes of being young: fate, romance and entering adulthood. However, Elite Daily simply cannot reach out to every person between the ages of 10 and 32. Like Politico’s demographer that made a failed attempt to come up with a credible, unifying description of Generation Y, Elite Daily and other millennial-targeted media outlets fail to send a focused and credible message to their target audience.

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