Millennials, let’s skip brunch a while longer
Stephanie Hayes | With coronavirus veering younger, don’t offer more reasons to pile on this generation.
People hang out on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg on May 8, during Phase One of reopening.
People hang out on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg on May 8, during Phase One of reopening. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jun. 11, 2020
Updated Jun. 11, 2020

It’s rough out there. In the words of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, what would your mother think?

Throughout the pandemic, the coronavirus has primarily targeted older people and spread viciously through senior care facilities. Now, as experts watch closely for a second wave, data shows COVID-19 patients are starting to trend younger.

While addressing it Tuesday, the mayor actually said: “All of you millennials who thought you were immune to this virus … you were wrong. And it’s time that your generation started taking this more seriously.”

This is a good chance to revisit the American tradition of inter-generational skirmish.

I turn 37 this weekend (send birthday checks to my offshore accounts), which makes me an old millennial. I approach as an elder statesman, free to rant with impunity before setting off into the horizon via ride-share.

It’s hard to say if youthful (?) invincibility is at the root of the spike. There’s a lot to account for, as the mayor noted, including a rise in testing and Florida’s phased reopening. And it’s not like there aren’t older folks out without masks or sneezing with abandon at the local lobster joint. Young adults make up a strong hospitality workforce.

Meanwhile, it’s too soon to tell how protests will affect COVID numbers, but it’s hard to imagine that any group scenario with deployed chemical agents ends well. Some health experts are concerned about a protest-related spike. Some protesters have said the cause outweighs the dangers.

So... it’s complicated. Every decision requires some risk mitigation. But millennials have been on the receiving end of the lecture circuit for years. All I’m saying is, let’s not add to it with Sunday Funday.

People already perceive millennials as teenagers, even though some of us have great-great-grandchildren. I, for example, invented the phonograph in 1877. Those born in the ’80s and ’90s have been blamed for everything from the death of malls to the irresponsible proliferation of a certain toast.

At the same time, we are more educated than our parents and grandparents, according to the Pew Research Center. And yet, saddled with student debt and the perils of entering the workforce during the Great Recession, we are earning less than generations before.

That doesn’t mean we won’t pay. Corporations have spent a decade trying to get that money, a.k.a. why everything comes in a bowl. And the standard marketing line is that millennials love experiences, which only intensifies after being cooped up. On Memorial Day weekend, people of all ages were out partying in force.

But it’s still imperative to pause our desires, lean toward takeout, keep our distance, hang out at home when possible. No one wants this crisis to go on longer, and the local business community may not withstand another full shutdown.

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Here are some ideas for summer fun: knitting; pruning basil; washing baseboards with a toothbrush; eating a whole pizza during Shark Tank; painting rocks with your kids until they lose their temper and spill the paint and then you lose your temper and everyone has to walk away; writing letters to local representatives; channeling fun money into important causes; puzzles; reboxing puzzles when you remember puzzles aren’t fun; making masks; wearing masks.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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