Milwaukee is one of only 11 cities with a declining millennial population. But why? We float some (perhaps dubious) ideas.
Everyone knows the best way to understand the complexities of human beings is to group them into generalized classifications based on birth date. If you were born between 1980 and 1995 (or something like that, no one really knows), then you are a Millennial, and you’re life is defined by this birth date. Don’t like avocado, spin classes, and emotional sensitivity? Too bad, being a Millennial is in your blood, and according to recent research by the Urban Land Institute, you’re probably not interested in living in Milwaukee, which is one of only 11 cities with a declining millennial population.
Why would Millennials ditch this fine city on a lake? Here are 5 possible reasons that are just as baseless and generalized as the millennial classification itself.
Not Enough Positive Reinforcement
Now Millennials, unlike those pictures of alleged human perfection born before 1980, need positive reinforcement in order to function. Being a borderline millennial myself (b. 1996), I can tell you from personal experience that if someone doesn’t tell me I’m special and smell like freshly-squeezed lemons at least five times a day, I weep uncontrollably for hours on end.
Remember that time you got a participation award in grade school? The little green ribbon reminded you that you had taken part in an event/league/contest, and while you didn’t come out on top, you had still tried. And that was worth acknowledging. Well, now you’re screwed up forever, and you’ll never fully develop as a self-sufficient adult. Back in the day they didn’t give you participation ribbons, they gave you backhands across the derriere for being a whiny brat, and you were grateful for those backhands because they made you strong.
If only I hadn’t gotten that participation ribbon back in 2nd grade, I might have turned out alright. Milwaukee lacks that kind of constant positivity. People rarely compliment your dashing good looks, athletic prowess and intellectual acumen when you’re walking down Wisconsin Ave, which is clearly a leading factor in this Millennial exodus.
The Cruelty of Aging
The older end of the Millennial generation (or, as Irish Prime Minister and denizen of Millennial political thought, Leo Varadkar, calls them, Xennials) are rapidly approaching 40—that dreaded halfway point on the rapid journey to the grave. As their faces grow wrinkly and their bodies begin to hunch with the weight of years spent toiling at the cruel mill of human industry, they might be looking for a fun change of pace. Why not leave Milwaukee and head to a farm up north to tame wild horses, explore newfound vistas and find meaning in the swirling vacuum of futility we call life? Or maybe they just want to switch things up, you know?
A Severe Lack of Artisanal Fair Trade Cold Brew Coffee
Older generations liked their coffee brewed hot, but Millennials like it brewed cold. This is an essential difference that defines the stark and impossible-to-reconcile divide between the old and young. And Milwaukee has yet to adequately address it. We may have plenty of coffee shops and carts all around the city, but it just isn’t enough. Millennials need artisanal fair trade cold brew coffee literally pouring out of fountains on every street. If the Milwaukee River isn’t running with cold brew, then this just isn’t the city for Millennials, man.
The Gig Economy
Gone are the days when you could strut out of high school ready to hop on the factory line, work 40 hours a week plus occasional overtime, buy a house, raise a family, get a dog and leave a few decades later with a secure pension. Millennials nowadays strut out of high school ready to … figure something out, I guess? College, crippling debt, a couple jobs here and there, maybe glom onto a gig that lasts a few years, think about getting married and pray for stability. That’s the new sitch (‘sitch’ is hip Millennial slang meaning ‘situation,’ for those of you who aren’t a part of the culture). Perhaps Millennials are working year-long gigs at a Milwaukee startup and then hopping over to Boston for a better opportunity and then hopping down to Austin for something else entirely. Who knows anymore? The only suggestion I have is to figure out a more efficient mode of transport than “hopping.”
Any Number of Legitimate Reasons
Jobs, family, new opportunities, literally any normal reason people leave one place and go to another. Maybe that explains Millennials leaving Milwaukee. This possibility rests on the fact that Millennials are essentially the same as other generations, what with being people and all that, and do similar things for similar reasons. I know this is a pretty crazy hypothesis, but give it a chance.