Shout out to the generation before us who could manage to touch actual symbols of success like a house (LOL!). We don’t have that. But we have garlic aioli on our grass-fed beef. We have to one-up you at something to feel superior: we can distract ourselves with food and drink.
In fact, we’re experts.
Snobbery in food and drink is all we can afford. It’s the symbol of the life we took for granted from participation trophies (which, by the way, we never asked for: don’t put that excess on us.)
We can’t afford stocks or a mortgage, but we cling to our hopes. So we consume them instead.
How’s that for a symbol?
Why do you think we like craft beer? Because we can afford tossing $6 for a beer? Or because $6 is all we have to put an entire identity on. If we drink a pricier, fancier IPA then that is our identity. The lack of money, the bad job, the crappy apartment – why, we’re doing that ironically! By choice! We’re hipsters!
I mean, come on: would a desperate, fearful twenty-something throw money at a symbol for comfort? Probably. It’s cheaper than therapy and easier than investing it. It’s easier than budgeting. To take a gourmet item – a beer, a burger, or any other fancied comfort-classic made with truffle oil – you suddenly make the vision of success accessible and blessedly tangible.
In that moment of consumption it doesn’t matter that we’ll never be gainfully employed. It’s fine that, programmers aside, we’ll all be devoured by a consumptive economy designed to chew all but the richest into a fine gruel paste. As long as we exist as rich in that moment – pampered, snobby, experts – we’re doing well. Is it any wonder we Instagram it? Search for it?
We brand ourselves with snapshots of a better life in the hopes we can create something just by wanting it.
Good taste is a funny thing. It speaks of wealth but, in the internet age, it’s easier than ever to make bad choices with it. It’s a consumer world we’ve been brought up in to. I’m in a Starbucks to type this. It’s a small price to type in a new environment and it comes with coffee. I have no regrets for it.
But it is strange that at a cup or two a day, I don’t own a coffee-maker.
It’s that sort of hypocrisy, made apparent in virtual print, that drives the generation above us crazy. It’s irresponsible, entitled, and lazy. I should make my coffee. I should make it in the house I own at 24. I should make it and take it to my 40-hour a week job I could afford to live on.
I’ll trade when society does.
But it’s equally interesting how basic Starbucks is. In a world of cold-brew shops, I’m not even a coffee snob. My snobbery here doesn’t even brush against the trend of my generation.
When you have nothing, no future or prospects or present, you have to find something to anchor you to the world. To anchor you to hope. To anchor you to the therapeutic benefits of false hope that you participate in this culture, that you aren’t used and consumed by it.
So we have artisan coffee and fancy three-buck sodas and gluten free cupcakes and truffle fries. And they rock. I love them.
But they’re all I can afford to love.