The media’s inter-generational clickbait war

I am a millennial. I am lazy, stupid, screwed for the future and killing off pretty much every industry.

Millennials

Google predictive search for “millennials are”.

Leslie is a baby boomer. She is selfish, racist, entitled and part of the worst generation in history.

bboomers

Google predictive search for “baby boomers are”.

That is, if google predictive search is to be believed.

These statements should obviously be taken with a grain of salt. I’d like to think they don’t describe me accurately, and they certainly don’t describe Leslie accurately.

Leslie Carnus is the coordinator of the refugee language program at Sydney University, and has been for almost fifteen years. She’s fed up with hearing generalisations about her generation and her daughter’s generation in the media.

According to articles just from this month millennials are bad with money, unwilling to work their way up and don’t know how to communicate effectively. With a lot of these statements being made by older generations it’s no surprise that millennials lash back with equally scathing criticisms of their generation.

We’re amid an inter-generational clickbait war, played out by the media.

Articles slamming millennials attract clicks on platforms with an older audience, and articles hitting back at baby boomers attract clicks on platforms with a younger audience.

“There’s this entire agenda of one group against another,” says Leslie “I think it’s what newspapers think will sell newspapers, to have this sort of constant conflict going on. When, that’s just not the case in our lives.”

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The high housing prices in Sydney have led to inter-generational conflict in the media.

Undoubtedly, the biggest battleground of this inter-generational media war is housing prices. And with the median Sydney house price being $1.15 million it’s no surprise people are fired up about it.

Leslie lives in Chippendale in inner city Sydney, where the current median house price there is $1.5 million and over half the population are classified as “independent youth”. She has owned a house there for twenty years, but when she bought her house it had a completely different feel to the trendy vibe it has now.

“It was certainly dangerous. It was almost like a slum” she says. “And now I find the comments that most people make when I say I live in Chippendale is how lucky I am and how much my house must be worth and it really pisses me off.”

“People who go and buy $2 million apartments at Central Park are coming into the suburb when the suburb is at its peak and they haven’t done the 25 years of hard slog of watching their suburb change”

The inter-generational arguments about home ownership also ignore the elephant in the room, class.

As a counter to the argument that buying a house is becoming harder, we often see articles come out, like this one on News.com.au, about young people who’ve “knuckled down” and earned themselves a “healthy property portfolio” instead of “spending almost every dollar they earn from their first full time job at the pub every weekend”.

The fine print to most of these stories is that they came from a well off, business savvy, family.

“If you own a number of houses you can only be described as wealthy. It’s a situation where, let’s say the real “villains”, are again the wealthy and the working class and middle class are all fighting each other,” says Leslie.

The other important issue that Leslie feels the media’s focus on generation is missing is government policy.

“The government did nothing in the last budget about capital gains tax. And then they’re saying to young people to use their super when super should be for your future. It’s a difficult thing for young people, and it’s difficult for their parents to see them in that situation.”

As fun as it is for young people to have a go at older people, and blame them for our issues, and vice versa, it doesn’t really achieve anything in terms of change.

But in the end, I’ll probably still be baited into clicking the next “10 REASONS BABY BOOMERS ARE DESTROYING SYDNEY” article to pass my facebook news feed.

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