Who here is a millennial? There are a few cheers in response to Dian Cathal’s opening question, and some uncertain murmurs too. I'm Gen Z, I wonder if this is why I find myself on the fringes of our journey through the collective, unprocessed trauma of the millennial generation. But as every punchline draws a new dividing line in the room, between those who remember and those who don’t, I can’t help feeling that the concept of the collective is decidedly wobbly.
It’s inevitable, I suppose, that not everyone will connect with every trauma-related anecdote. My biggest laugh comes at Dian’s memory of a 90s TV show in which a group of children were given responsibility for solving climate change. The strength of this is the time he takes to tell the story in more detail, letting me in on the joke despite having never watched the show.
In most cases Dian moves a little too quickly to provide this context, and I’m caught up in the sensation of attempting to remember something I’ve never actually experienced. I don’t mind, weirdly, because there’s a compelling vulnerability in his willingness to acknowledge these moments of disconnection.
Generation Why seems to be a series of attempts to find something that holds our audience together. My experience of continually finding and losing common ground doesn’t create anything stable enough to look like collectivity, but this process does form its own connections, fleeting, in the breaths between each trial and error.