Distance is a strange thing for a Millennial to visualize. We’ve grown up in a world without distance. Thousands of miles could be bridged — even when we were children — by an AIM message or an email, a single touch.
By the time I graduated college, I could Skype my girlfriend nearly a thousand miles away while we streamed the same movie online simultaneously. Flights are cheap(ish) and accessible, cities are disposable, and the world is open to us in a way that it’s never been to any other generation. Suffice it to say that, in a very real sense, the world is smaller for me than it ever was for any generation that came before.
On the other hand, death is the great leveler.
I will die in the same way that my grandparents did and — likely — not much older than they were. They say that the first person to live to be 150 is already alive; but let’s face it: it’s not going to be me, it’s not going to be you, and it’s definitely not going to be your spouse, girlfriend or loved one.
There might never really be a cure for cancer. The flu could, easily evolve to decimate a population or two any time it damn well pleases. Distance, in the way my parents know it, is impossible for me to conceptualize; but death? That I understand.
Distance is a strange thing for a Millennial to visualize.
Picture Courtesy of Pixabay
I titled this “Death: A Millennial Perspective” because that’s what it seems everyone wants. Advertisers want me to make this a listicle, filled with fucking crowd-sourced pictures that I Kickstarted with my indie-hair-folk band. The world is shivering with its excitement for the new, the now, the novel. But death is old.
Death is not something you can slap a cat photo on and pretend it’s cute and friendly.
We Millennials have valuable perspectives on certain things. If you want to talk about fads, I think we can very comfortably give unique opinions on them (Livestrong forever). If you want me to talk about the normalizing of weed or the emulsification of radical liberalism into 140-character, self-aggrandizing, self-righteous, and painfully un-self-aware anger porn—man I could rant for hours.
We’ve bathed in a sea of content our entire lives and thus we do not know boredom (or, maybe, we are perpetually bored — I honestly don’t know the difference); but we feel death with the same keen intensity as all generations since the dawn of sapience. That’s why this is of interest.
Death is the rotting tooth we all subconsciously poke at every day of our lives, like a cavity in the back of our molars we can’t stop sticking our tongue in.
We wake up, get dressed, brush our teeth, shit, eat, work, watch TV, masturbate, surf the internet, and generally live our solitary lives breath to breath with the constant subconscious awareness of our eventual and inevitable mortality.
Sure, as a twenty-something, that fear is far off. It lacks the sting it might for someone truly creeping closer to life’s great finale with each passing breath. Fifty years might seem an unimaginably long time for me (we are the generation that’s already nostalgic for its youth in its fucking youth), but that was true of every generation that came before us.
Death affects us all, constantly, ubiquitously. And you can deal with it in one of two ways. You can be Alfred Prufrock (we are also the best educated generation of all time… suck on that, Boomers), stuck in a constant state of maybes because we’re too afraid of choosing wrong; or we can laugh at it.
I choose to laugh at death, looking at it in its ugly fucking face and saying, “Yeah, you can fuck right off.” I can afford to do that because I’m young.
We lost Bowie this year, Prince, Nimoy, and a host of other luminaries the world is much poorer without. I missed the years of their preeminence — it’s true; but their work influenced me deeply. I listened to Diamond Dogs in the car with my father for almost a year straight. I think the only album I know better is Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, unh, “Ironic”-ally enough. But David Bowie lived. He was a flare burning with brilliant, jagged light. He illuminated us all.
I could break down about it, I could wallow in the loss of his brilliance, but then we’re back at the Prufrockian state I mentioned before and that’s a bad rap. Obit Magazine isn’t about eulogizing, about tear-stained dirges marching through pixels like little mourners cowled in black and grey. It’s about celebrating death, reveling in its ability to throw life into sharper focus, basking in its ambiguous grace and its absurdist quality. The macabre is sexy, has been since Byron donned a cape and fucked his sister (look it up).
Of all the Boomer icons, Hunter S. Thompson (though he was born a little early, we’ll count him for reasons of temperament and influence) has been the only one who got death right.
Hunter S. Thompson, May 1989.
Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia
For a generation that reveled in its outsider status, in its devil-may-care attitude, they’ve gone into the great beyond (thus far) in a relatively sedate manner. Thompson put his money where his mouth was. Or at least Johnny Depp put his money where the gonzo journalist’s mouth was. It’s time to shoot some ashes out of cannons, boys and girls, ‘cause Obit Magazine is here to fuck shit up. And Death be damned. Or celebrated, as the case may be.