So I’ve been finally reading The Nix, and I’ve been loving it. It’s a great book right out of the gate. The satire is entertaining and the backstory is emotional, and I’m sure it all ties together eventually.
But I’ve just read the first chapter told from Laura Pottsdam’s perspective, and my GOD is it bad. Why do writers have such a hard time capturing younger millennials? It’s always so cringey and inaccurate. I really thought Nathan Hill would be different but this was horrible.
We have this social media app called iFeel where college aged students state their feelings and their friends can set their profile to “Autocare” where it comforts their friends automatically. This is not good satire, because it just isn't authentic.
The millennials in Hill's novel clearly have zero self-awareness and this is actually quite opposite to the young generation's relationship with social media. They ARE aware of it's limitations and how it can be abused to portray yourself a certain way, and yet they still use it, in fact will often attempt to use social media in a way that expresses their contempt for social media's "fakeness," while still inherently doing a lot of the same things. This is much more complex and much more interesting than this ridiculous, cartoon-like "iFeel" app.
The prose is, of course, filled with typical over-the-top “young people words” like “ugh, whatever” and "like" and it just never stops. It's like these writers think that young people see the world through text lingo and valley girl talk.
While the other characters feel highly accurate, Laura Pottsdam makes no sense. (I should note that I thought she was great before she became a POV character).
Laura is a business student who cheats her way to a perfect GPA and is judgmental of her overweight roommate. Its also revealed that she tries to find funny internet memes before they become popular.
This makes no sense. Young people who are that heavily engaged with meme culture are more your nerdy, artsy types. Laura is not a fit. Her stated goal is to be more popular but that’s simply not what memes do in the social media world. Based on Laura’s personality and goals, it makes no sense for her to be obsessed with finding the best memes. She would be, if anything, obsessed with getting instagram followers and posting sexy pictures.
Then there’s a scene where Laura convinces the dean that she is being “oppressed” in the “abusive environment” of Professor Anderson’s class. The dean seems to be (although I havent gotten there yet) about to bend over backwards to meet the students need, at the professor’s expense.
Look, I just graduated from college. Schools are not like this. You’re lucky if they’ll even care that you missed class because of the flu.
Beyond that, Laura is suddenly using the language of a WAY over-the-top “SJW” type liberal. Yet we know from her fat shaming, her lack of interest in the humanities, and her overall sorority girl vibe, that this isn’t Laura. At this point, what is even being satirized? Laura has become this strange cosmic mash-up of several different Millenial/Zillenial/Gen Z stereotypes, none of which feel very authentic.
Nathan Hill is a great writer, but in this section of The Nix, the only thing being satirized is himself.
The reason I’m calling this out is because its not just Nathan Hill. So many writers attempt to pin down my generation, and so often it’s a complete and utter failure, often staining an otherwise-great book.
Source: reddit post