Guest column: Millennials and their morals
Where there are millennials, there must be Baby Boomers. In fact, a congregation of Baby Boomers, shaking their head censoriously, waggling disparaging fingers, muttering sibilantly and not always below their breath.
Just what is bothering all these Boomer uncles and aunties? Many things, actually; but mainly, the morals or lack thereof of the millennial, in matters of the heart.
What is interesting that the millennials do not have any discernable gatekeepers. They are their own gatekeepers. Of course, it’s still a WIP but they are doing a fairly good job of negotiating the various minefields that dot the grasslands of the heart, morals or no morals.
And how would I know this? Because I was to talk on sex, marriage and morality at a lit fest recently and so conducted a straw poll beforehand. The results were intriguing, to say the least.
Sharp and direct
The millennials have a sharply calibrated fake-meter and detest signs of anything ersatz. Friends are the new bae, woke is the new value, there is a strong streak of cynicism running in their heads and their lives. Which is why they are excellent gatekeepers of their morals, see?
Long story short, morality is really not an issue with the millennial. Falling in love is, entering a relationship is, doing the two-step of independence and intimacy is. Hacking problems like catfishing and ghosting is. Deciding whether to live with someone or not is. Deciding when to call it quits is. Dealing with ‘love failure’, a term that has its origins in the land of the Tamizhs but is user-relevant across the country, is.
Many millennial relationships start on a digital platform these days, in a chatroom or on a dating app. And here’s the thing: a whole lot of millennials are willing to brave stranger-danger and go meet a string of covert/overt losers in the quest for the right connect. They are willing to date, to go to bed with (because sexual compatibility is a thing and a major thing), to take all sorts of risks and run the relationship on the road till they know for sure if it’s heading north or south.
Check out shows like Made in Heaven and Little Things. Or watch the splendid Marriage Story. It’s really art imitating life imitating art. The blame game has given way to accepting what stares one in the face, to cutting one’s losses, to moving on. And that’s the best part of this millennial mindset: they own it all, good or bad. They own it in the mirror, at home, in the workplace, in the kitchen, in bed, in the pub, on social media. I can’t think of anything healthier than that.
Owning their lives
Of course, it’s a weird mix. Here, people are busy swiping left and right. There, a girl kills her mother so she can continue seeing an unsuitable boy. Here, couples use buzzing bands and FaceTime to deepen their relationship. There, techies in bad marriages murder or get murdered by their spouses, when divorce would have been the easier option.
And so, as a certified Baby Boomer (but not Boomer aunty), I have this to say: this slow setting morality is a far better deal than denial, whitewashing, subterfuge and pretence. Some of it is still a hot mess but the kids are basically alright.
This ran in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS of 16 February 2020.
Links to my other TNIE guest columns: