The British Army has launched a new recruitment campaign calling on “snowflakes, selfie addicts, class clowns, phone zombies, and me, me, millennials” to join its ranks. The campaign, entitled Your Army Needs You, suggests that negative millennial stereotypes have a positive flipside: the army values ‘snowflakes’ for their ‘compassion’, ‘selfie-takers’ for their ‘confidence’, and ‘phone zombies’ for their ‘focus’.
It all feels a bit like an overly charitable school report for a struggling student, whose latest drawing of a cock and balls on their maths homework showed ‘personality’ and ‘a vibrant imagination’. Likewise, where the army got the idea that selfie-takers are confident I don’t know, seeing as most of them have the self-esteem of Eeyore and spend the majority of their time trying to find the one angle of their face that doesn’t make them want to cry.
Now, I should make clear, I’m not really a fan of the army. It would take a while for me to fully explain my objections but if I had to sum them up, it’s the shooting and the killing that I’m not keen on. Yet, despite this, I really like the new campaign. In fact, I think it’s genius.
You see, it’s quite rare that young people are made to feel anything other than a useless, dribbling mess of a generation. As a word, ‘millennial’ now has the same euphemistic relationship with ‘prick’ that ‘freelance’ has with ‘unemployed’. Googling it retrieves countless Financial Times articles about how we’ve destroyed the mop industry by being too lazy to vomit or how we won’t buy Yakult because the tiny bottles make our hands feel big and ungainly (that’s my guess anyway – most of the article was behind a paywall). According to the web we’re narcissistic, stupid and entitled, and no-one wants to touch us. Not even paedophiles, now that we’re all over eighteen. It’s depressing.
Sadly, arguing with this rock-bottom reputation is rather tricky, especially when I spend my evenings slumped on my bedroom floor clumsily swiping at my phone like a teenage boy encountering the clitoris for the first time (only to feel my leg vibrate, grab at my pocket, realise my phone is in my hand and that my leg is just spasming because I haven’t moved in two hours, burst into tears, then watch hardcore pornography to try and relax).
That’s why a bit of sympathy, even if it is from the army, comes as a pleasant surprise. Sure, it’s a cynical marketing campaign devised to lure disillusioned young people into a convoluted Middle-Eastern proxy war that no-one understands, but who cares? They’ve been nice to us. They’ve made us feel good about ourselves. And I’m personally happy to help bomb Mosul in return.
Right after I’ve finished scrolling.