By Caille Millner
San Francisco Chronicle.
Yuppie is so ’80s. Millennial is quickly becoming a pejorative, but not fast enough — too many marketers are still using the term in earnest. As for “hipster,” well, it’s just too broad: Baby Boomers hear the word and get distracted by memories of Norman Mailer and 1950s New York, and the rest of us can’t decide whether it means skinny jeans, bad beards, plaid shirts or all three.
Meet the yuccie.
Someone in my life who knows me far too well forwarded me an article from Mashable this week that was meant to be an introduction to this term.
The article’s author describes himself as a “26-year-old writer who lives in a gentrifying neighborhood … with a single-speed bike and a mustache … studied liberal arts in college, and I have ideas about stuff.” He shall remain nameless because we see him at every expensive coffee shop in San Francisco and Brooklyn and Portland and Los Angeles and Austin and Berlin and Toronto and Sydney, and that’s the point, he’s everywhere (especially in his own mind).
“Yuccies,” he admits, insisting on a new term for his precise demographic group.
Because nothing upsets a yuccie, like the hipsters before them, more than being misclassified by advertisers and parents, and people who leave mean comments on the Internet.
“Young Urban Creatives,” he writes. “In a nutshell, a slice of Generation Y, borne of suburban comfort, indoctrinated with the transcendent power of education, and infected by the conviction that not only do we deserve to pursue our dreams; we should profit from them.”
A list of approved yuccie jobs includes: “social consultants coordinating #sponsored Instagram campaigns for lifestyle brands … brogrammers hawking Uber for weed and Tinder for dogs … boutique entrepreneurs shilling sustainably harvested bamboo sunglasses.”
He didn’t introduce his female counterpart (as you might guess, interest in other people is not the yuccie’s strong suit), so I made a quick list for you: She shops on Etsy, takes exercise classes involving a barre, and spends the time she should be spending working on her book or her band writing angry text messages to the emotionally stunted men in the above reference.
One more thing — none of these people are people of color.
In fact they are, by definition, terrified of people of color. They’d like to know some, but only if they’ll never make them feel in any way uncomfortable. (Born of suburbia, remember?)
Which is why I feel more than comfortable to comment on the shifting terminology of these factually dubious, advertising-driven demographic groups. The “yuccie,” like the “hipster,” is a definition that will never, ever include me.
Being unseen to large swaths of tiresome people has huge drawbacks on a group level, but as an individual, being an outsider has its privileges.
So let’s think through the term “yuccie,” and whether or not it’s a truthful, accurate description. After all, if it sticks, we’ll have to live with it for the next 10 years of Medium posts and indie movie castings and media thought pieces.
If we don’t want it, we’ve got to start lobbying for an alternative now.
“Yuccie” has something powerful going for it — by force of acronym, it’s perfectly designed to become the lazy insult for which it will be used. “Yuccies,” after all, are yucky, and the pun is already present. That also makes “Yuccie” an easy word to be used self-referentially, by those who are already thinking about themselves too much, and ironically — the default mode of humor for every upper-middle-class American under the age of 50.
On the flip side, there’s some falseness in the words that make up the acronym.
“Creatives” is neither a real word nor a real lifestyle. And if these kids keep it up, infecting every city in the world with their craft beers, their midcentury modernism fetishes and their visceral disgust with poverty, the “urban” part of their aspiration is set to become just like the rinky-dink suburbs in which they grew up.
Young Anxious Self-Referents is more accurate, but “yasers” doesn’t have quite the same ring.
That’s my contribution, and now I’ll let the trend forecasters and the brand managers finish the fight.
Like all of the cool kids, I prefer to move on before the mainstream can catch up. So I’m turning my attention to another group, one that’s more under the radar.
They grew up in cities, not gated communities. They went to community and state colleges and had to major in things like business or medical tech because they have siblings and parents to support. Many of them speak another language at home, and they work as Lyft and Uber drivers, not riders. They work — two or three jobs, likely. Oh, and there are plenty of people of color within this group.
If they don’t get a hip demographic name, it’s only because they aren’t the usual targets for advertisers and tech incubators. The funny thing is that this tends to be the group that actually sets the trends, even if they rarely get the credit for doing so.
Maybe that’s part of the name: Future Forecasters of America, or “fufas.”
Still sounds a little better than “yuccies.”