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Resisting the ‘Surrender to the Boring’

A few weeks ago, the Guardian ran an article in praise of ‘becoming boring’. It suggested that the nation’s youth are abandoning, en masse, the pleasures of binge drinking in the Balearics, replacing it with a newfound love for crafts and bridge.

‘This surrender to the Boring is largely understandable, and perhaps even inevitable,’ claimed the journalist. ‘There is comfort in the homely, no matter how contrived this iteration of it might be.’

She arrived at this conclusion through splicing together several sources – a film about hipsters, the fact that 200 young people recently joined the English Bridge Union, and her most recent holiday to the Peak District. After all, in the world of newspaper trend pieces this is how evidence works: throw in a few half-baked statistics, and your personal opinion automatically becomes a commentary on your entire generation.

Now I have nothing against the journalist’s lifestyle choices, obviously, but I’m not a fan of this kind of extrapolation. If you don’t like parties or pubs, then it’s fine just to stay away from parties and pubs without having to drag the rest of us into it.

What bugs me more, though, is that she seems to think this ‘surrender to the Boring’ is somehow subversive, as opposed to being exactly what every media source wants people in their late twenties to do. Yep, despite the tut-tutting around the term ‘extended adolescence’; despite the recent scaremongering about how women should have babies before they’re 30; despite the much-mocked Amigo Loans chart that suggested getting married at 27 ‘should define every person’s life’; despite the lists on Buzzfeed entitled ‘We are all a little bit boring’ and the articles on Vice vetoing hedonism past 25; she somehow thinks that embracing quiet pleasures is a really radical thing to do.

Last time I checked, the pressure runs overwhelmingly the other way.

Speaking as someone who, at 29, is more hedonistic now than I was at 21 (by which I mostly just mean ‘happy’), I can testify to the avalanche of messages that tell me I’m doing something wrong. According to most sources, I should by now have outgrown all the things I once considered fun, putting away childish things in the pursuit of more notionally adult pastimes. I should be spending my days sofa shopping with my husband – before plumping myself down on said sofa to watch the Great British Bake Off – as opposed to attempting amateur mixology with my housemates.

House parties, festivals and big nights out are supposed to be the province of a very particular stage of life (student days), which you’re secretly quite happy to surrender. By the time you’re pushing 30, the cultural mandate is quite the opposite – thou shalt start loving Netflix and takeaways, and when you do go out you’ll bond over your prematurely creaky joints and your inability to stay up past 11pm.

The penalties for non-compliance? Well, you risk being viewed as somewhat sad. Never mind if you’re naturally outgoing, or place a strong priority on your social life, you’re part of a Daily Mail scare story: a symptom of a jejune generation that refuses to grow up.

So I couldn’t help but read the Guardian piece as yet another bit of thinly-veiled prescriptivism, adding to the masses of pressure already out there. ‘Surrender to the Boring’ whispers the Amigo Loans chart. ‘Surrender to the Boring’ seethe a thousand innocuous-looking Buzzfeed lists. ‘Surrender to the Boring’, hisses the wedding-baby industrial complex that tells me I don’t have much time left before my ovaries shrivel and I become repellent to all men, and thus I need to settle down right away.

‘Surrender to the Boring’, echoes Guardian Comment is Free.

To which I say a nonchalant ‘nah’, while thumbing my ticket to Glastonbury.


Categories: Media fails

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Abi Millar

British freelance journalist living in the Netherlands

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