The Struggle of a Millennial Writer in an Era of Listicles

The $40,000 I pay per year and the long hours I spend studying all amount to listicles and open letters.

Media have changed from providing consistent, informative substance to circulating “click-worthy” content written by millennials.

And I am guilty of providing this fodder.

I spend hours coming up with clever lists that feature the most relatable gifs and writing heartfelt letters to anyone that ever had a sliver of meaning in my life.

At this point I want to write an open letter to thank everyone for reading all the crappy open letters I’ve ever written. Throw in a listicle naming off everyone that hid their cringes whenever I wrote a cliché “20 things all college students understand” list.

Why do I continue to join the millennial bandwagon?

Let’s face it – listicles get the most shares, and therefore the most recognition for the author.

For the same reason, we give our best content away for free to websites like The Odyssey and Elite Daily. And by best content, I mean both well-written content and the content most likely to go viral.

We all sit around and write blog posts each week about different nail art designs or ways to get over a breakup and come graduation, we wonder why we can’t get hired at the job of our dreams.

In a world where social media circulates thousands of articles per day, why don’t more aspiring magazine journalists or bloggers get offered jobs?

We lack originality.

Try articulating to a potential employer why your nail art listicle that got 21.4K shares is different from any other nail art listicle.

Then there’s the pressure of a deadline – it’s hard to have a grand revelation about your life every single week by Friday at 5 p.m. Some of these websites have a strike system too, which means if you don’t produce content when you’re supposed to, you can’t be a contributing writer.

And so we succumb to the listicle or the open letter that takes 30 minutes at most to type up. It’s likely to go viral, please our editing team and it doesn’t take up too much time.

Isn’t it ironic that with so much information at our fingertips, we choose reduce our knowledge and entertainment to the simplicity of a list?

We live in a world where time is of the essence for both our readers and ourselves. The shorter the article, the more it’s shared. The shorter the time it takes to write, the more time we have to contribute content to more digital media platforms.

The endless cycle continues. The listicles live on. The open letters never close.

At what cost?

Just the small price of tuition and our creativity.

I’m Concerned About My Privacy, And You Should Be Too.

I read an article on Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Snapchat feature today that presented a girl who gave up her iPhone for a flip phone.

My first reaction was astonishment. I was amazed that someone from my generation was able to experience the convenience of an iPhone and willingly give it and all of its features up for a simple flip phone.

A flip phone doesn’t have the Facebook app signed in and waiting to be used while waiting in line for coffee. It doesn’t have the Snapchat app to send hysterical pictures to friends throughout the day. It doesn’t have group messaging to coordinate who’s eating lunch in the dining hall at 11:30 so you don’t have to eat alone.

My second reaction was embarrassment – not for this girl, but for myself. How have I let a piece of technology control my daily habits so much that I couldn’t imagine life without it? I’ve become unable to stand in a line for coffee without clutching it as a safety net to avoid talking to strangers. I can’t even read 10 pages of a homework assignment without checking Instagram at least once.

My iPhone is the first thing I see when I wake up every morning because it’s my alarm. That puts the phone in my hand. It doesn’t leave my hand until after I’ve checked my notifications and I’m forced to put it down to get dressed.

My iPhone is the last thing I see before I close my eyes for the night and the last thing I hold. I have more physical contact with my iPhone than I do with other human beings.

And I know I’m not alone. Surely not everyone is as attached to their phone as I am, which I partly blame on being a journalism major and habitually checking my email for appointments.

Surely I’m not the only one that doesn’t even remember their passwords for said social media accounts because I stay permanently logged in on my phone.

And when those who aren’t millennials see our obsession with what has become similar to an external organ, they wonder why. Why can’t we put our phones down? Why aren’t we more concerned about our privacy? Why do we let an object control our emotions, thoughts and actions?

Between photos we’ve posted on Facebook and tweets we wrote in the last 5 years that are rumored to be recorded by the government, I don’t feel as though I own the right to my privacy anymore and it’s too late to get it back.

So maybe the girl with the flip phone has the right idea – maybe if we all stepped back instead of obsessing over advancing technology further, we’d regain control of our lives and our privacy.

But when children are growing up playing Candy Crush on mommy’s iPhone instead of playing with Legos, I don’t know how feasible going back in time would be.

Technology expands each day, and many of us worry that if we don’t adapt to the advances, we’ll fall behind.

I don’t know which is worse – being a step behind everyone else, or someone having knowledge of every step you take.