‘It’s like watching a horror movie’
Luis Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Hello, Millennials. You may consider the following an affectionate letter — or listicle, if you prefer — from my generation (X) to yours. These statements are not meant to be sweeping generalizations; they are actually based on interactions with specific people born within the span of 1983-2000. “OMG,” one of you said, when I told her about this article. “Has this ENTIRE FRIENDSHIP just been RESEARCH?!” When you put it that way, it sounds so mercenary.

Anyway: Let me tell you about you.

1. I have a creeping suspicion that you say things like “IDK what cassettes are” or “What is a CD even” just to make me feel bad.

2. You have an astonishing capacity — and appetite — for data. Whether we’re talking about 19th century novels or the cinema of Satoshi Kon, it seems you have read and watched and listened to and absorbed at least as many things as I have, despite my head start. Meaningless expertise that took me a decade or more to accumulate, you already have in abundance. I assume it comes from growing up with the Internet.

3. Having said that, you astound me both with what you know, and what you don’t know. Amidst the vast cultural knowledge — more than I had at your age — there are surprising blind spots. We will be discussing obscure trivia and then I will realize that you are not aware of something that, to my mind, was deeply basic. This says something, perhaps, about how the way information is filtered and connected has changed. 

4. You are funny. Yes, ha-ha funny, and not weird-funny (you are only very rarely the latter, at least to my senses). Again, I point my finger at the Internet.

5. You use Internet-spawned abbreviations like LOL and OMG in casual conversation, often pronouncing them as if they were real words — and instead of punching you, I am starting to do the same, unironically. WTF.

6. You seesaw between crippling self-doubt and rampant egomania: This is a state of being that I am neither unsympathetic to nor unfamiliar with. It is, in fact, the natural state of the artist. So perhaps you are an artist. An artist given to self-deprecating humor and savage, occasionally half-blind judgments of self and others.

7. You are a romantic, in a way that is both admirable and horrifying. And by horrifying, I mean that sometimes it’s like watching a horror movie — one wants to tell the hapless teens onscreen to run in the opposite direction, instead of entering the obviously slasher-laden darkness. This is not perhaps a characteristic of your particular generation, but simply of your age. I hold my tongue and trust you to come out of your latest entanglement alive and wiser.

8. You have learned to navigate the politics of your field with a deftness that belies your youth. Even when you affect naiveté or nonchalance, you are aware of the connections, to a degree unheard of in my time. This does not necessarily mean you are not idealistic. It also does not necessarily mean you are.

9. You are competent and clueless, delightful and annoying, kind and inconsiderate, skeptical and easily impressed: in short, a mass of intriguing contradiction, a.k.a. a human being. And to your credit, you are much more often the positive adjectives in the previous sentence than the negative.

10. When you told me that you would be writing your first novel this year, I believed you. I have heard the same statement of intent from many a writer around my age and older, and it almost always turns out to be a blatant lie. But you, I believe. And also, more importantly: I believe it will be really, really good.

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