‘What Happens When Millennials Run the Workplace,’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read

By Contently March 25th, 2016

Here’s what you missed while you were finding out way too much about Ted Cruz…

Facebook: Julie Rubicon

Selected by Shane Snow, chief creative officer

This anonymous story sent to writer Robin Sloan immediately went viral. It describes how a couple of Facebook employees used Facebook data to predict future events and started trading stocks based on it. The story turned out to be a hoax, but it’s a chillingly plausible work of fiction that appealed to all my paranoia about the world’s largest social network and the future of how data is controlled and dispensed. This Slate analysis sums up the brilliance of the story and why it sounded so plausible to us.

The New York TimesWhat Happens When Millennials Run the Workplace?

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

Millennials are ruining the workplace by eating tuna fish sandwiches during early meetings! So entitled, so uncouth! They just smell the place up and do whatever they want!

Does Ben Widdicombe, who wrote this contentious trend piece, believe these exclamations? I doubt it. But his article, about Mic’s millennial office, still gives off a certain patronizing vibe. And as a millennial working at a company full of millennials, reading the story made me defensive.

I have nothing against trend pieces, and millennials do plenty of weird, dumb stuff (like most people). But the biggest reason I hate-read this is because Widdicombe’s byline is the equivalent of the guy who claims to be friends with you even though he spends most of his time making fun of you. He’s “reporting” a legitimate story—and finding some great anecdotes along the way—but you can tell he wrote this entire narrative in his head before he conducted the first interview.

Essentially, the Times wants to have its tuna fish sandwich and eat it too. And that doesn’t smell right.

Slate: In Defense of the Trend Piece

Selected by Sam Slaughter, VP of content

Like my esteemed colleague Jordan, I, too, read the Times piece on millennials, but found it absurd, hilarious, and entertaining. And as a non-millennial working in a company full of millennials, I agree with Leon Nayfkh’s message on Slate to the scolds and haters: Have you no chill?

It’s kind of an accepted thing to bash the Times Styles section (@NYTOnIt, anyone)—but I think the rush to judgement misses the point, which Nayfakh does a great job elucidating: Trend pieces are about a writer finding a humorous wrinkle in the fabric of culture, and teasing out a story about it. The Times story is built around a truly amazing anecdote about a millennial who lies to his boss about a death to get out of work and go build a treehouse. I mean, as a journalist, if you’re given that kind of quotation, how could you not write about it?

Sure, the piece includes some lazy tropes about millennials (They’re needy! Sensitive! They like hoverboards!)—but then again, so does every story written about baby boomers (I’m not one, either). Neyfakh admits this, but he and I have come to the same counter-argument: “Sure, fine, probably—but really, who gives a shit?”

Fusion: A trend story about millennials, by the New York Times

Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief

Every line of this is absolutely perfect, but here are three of my favorites:

—”They have stacked up record student loan debt, and yet spend thousands on frivolous items like Beyoncé concert tickets and groceries; they yearn for more than just a paycheck, and yet continue to be employed in jobs that provide them with paychecks in return for their labor; and they enjoy watching television and movies, but also Vine.”

—”‘Broad City is on,’ he explained, removing a selfie stick from his man-purse.”

—”Delaney lives in the Empire State Building, which his parents bought for him; he often invites fellow millennials, whom he meets on relationship apps, to his bedroom, so that they can kiss. (Occasionally, they copulate.)”

Bloomberg: The War on Internet Piracy

Selected by Carly Miller, editorial intern

This BloombergGadfly article examines how the most recent incarnation of the online piracy war, waged since the days of Napster, is a power struggle between tech companies like Google and media companies in charge of policing copyright.

No one wants to be accused of censoring the Internet, especially not giants like Google. But media companies, with staffs that scour the web for copyrighted material, accuse Google of laissez-faire enforcement. While the public is certainly against any form of censorship (note the backlash against SOPA and PIPA in 2011), the U.S. Copyright Office is open to public suggestions as they evaluate the copyright-infringement system (through April 1).

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