For anyone born before the year 1980, coming across the book Songs of my Selfie: An Anthology of Millennial Stories in a bookstore may be somewhat off-putting. Chances are, anyone not a millennial (or younger) will draw quick conclusions of what they might find in a book with such a title: vain rantings, complaints about the difficulties of pampered youth, and stories filled with the words “bae,” “iPhone,” “OMG,” and “hashtag.” After all, millennials are all the same and can be lumped so easily into one category, right?
Unfortunately for people who think in such a manner, they are supremely mistaken.
Songs of My Selfie: An Anthology of Millennial Stories is a series of seventeen essays, all written by people under the age of twenty-six. The book kicks itself off with an introduction by the editor, Constance Renfrow, explaining the necessity of this collection and the importance of these voices. Renfrow ends her introduction with this blurb:
Our hope is to show our fellow millennials that no one’s alone – that we’re all experiencing this together – and to clear up our hopes, fears, and real-life experiences for anyone who wants to understand what being twenty-something in 2016 is actually like.”
Songs of My Selfie does all of that and more.
The essays really hone in on the stresses and concerns, as well as the joys and delights, today’s twenty-somethings face. The idea of the quarter life crisis is examined – wherein people make the transformation from youth into adulthood and how this has become an extreme difficulty for many millennials due to the economy that has been inherited from previous generations. These essays take the concept of millennials being seen as vain, self-centered, and only doing things that benefit themselves and completely flips that on its head.
All the stories in this collection are beautifully written. The young writers who contributed their work are a diverse group – ranging in gender, race, and sexuality. There are only a couple entries that feel out of place with the lot – mostly ‘On Call’ and ‘Here In Avalon.’ Otherwise, the stories flow boisterously in their transition between one other, morphing into something beautiful, unique, and familiar. The styles of the writers may vary slightly but are each strong in their own way and make for compelling reads.
Each piece in Songs of My Selfie focuses on an element the millennial age group knows all too well. ‘Becoming John Doe’ (Stephanie Bramson) follows a young man who can’t find a job in this economy and is bogged down by student loan debt, which results in him hiding from the world in a friend’s abandoned apartment. ‘Use Without Pity’ (Jared Shaffer) examines a simple afternoon between two coworkers who call out sick from their job. ‘Small Bump’ (Mina Holmes) speaks on the implausibility for young people to have children when they are unable to financially support a family, and the necessity of having clinics that offer abortions. ‘Glitter and Glue’ (Tiffany Ferentini) expresses the difficulties of coming out of the closet that are still present in this day and age. These are just a few examples of stories that speak volumes to millennials – a generation that continually gets made fun of for being glued to their smartphones.
Look, as a millennial myself, I realize how biased I might come off as in writing this review. But these voices? In all of these stories and essays? They are important. So important. They speak to all the problems my friends and myself have faced in our lives, as well as the joys we’ve encountered. It is no understatement when I, a twenty-five year old woman, state that this collection of essays written by fellow millennials needs to have all eyes on it – especially for those who spend far too much time hating on my generation. There is more to millennials than what is seen upon first glance; we are more than vanity and smartphones.
Songs of My Selfie is an enchanting, heartrending, and utterly relatable read for any and all millennials. This is a wonderful collection of stories from some of the brightest young writers today.