A few months ago, in between writing some of my navel-gazing pieces on Millennials and reading some better ones on Thought Catalog, I ended up coming across Rookie, an insanely well-made online magazine for teenage girls full of articles, photos, illustrations and videos that revolve around a monthly theme, and is edited by Tavi Gevinson, a high school student and all around badass frequently described with words like "wunderkind" by the Vanguards of Old Media, who adorably try really hard to keep up with what The Kids are doing on their lawn The Internet these days. But if you're reading this now, you probably already knew that, because Rookie is awesome. And this is coming from me, a 20-something Millennial who also happens to be a guy.
I think that how, in a lot of ways Baby Boomers and Gen Xers like to look down on Millennials for being nostalgic, narcissistic navel-gazers, Millennials quickly started doing the same thing to the following generation, going on about how kids today are growing up with Retina LTE iPads in their backpacks while we had to get by with AIM on our parents' computers, and we were thankful for that, consarn it! I know I did, at least. But upon discovering Rookie, I realized that maybe, just maybe, the kids are alright. Perhaps I'm even willing to admit a bit of jealousy at what today's teenagers have at their fingertips.
The thing about Rookie that resonates the most with me is the complete lack of snark. We're living in a time where half the Internet is constantly trying to out-sarcasm the other half. The Gawker Media Network alone is responsible for about 60% of the world's snark supply, roughly 750 million chortles per day.* But entering Rookie is like entering a new world, a world where people are still actually sincere, and not in a "my hubby is the best" Facebook post kind of way, but more of a "I legitimately love Christmas sweaters and I don't care who knows it" kind of way. There's a subsection of posts called "Literally the Best Thing Ever" and the topics range from Kate Bush to Yayoi Kusama to Adventure Time's Lumpy Space Princes. There's just something so refreshing about finding something on the Internet that's sincerely celebratory. Could this be the beginnings of a Post-Snark world?
The tone is just the surface though; posts are often written by people who remember what it was like to be a teenager, drawing on their own experiences to try and help today's youth figure these things out. It's never condescending or patronizing; the writers clearly have a lot of respect for their readers, which all contributes into Rookie being a really positive place for girls (and guys; like I said, I could definitely learn a thing or two). In a world with media and politicians sending all sorts of terrible messages to young women, that's pretty important.
And that brings us to the site's founder, Tavi, who's definitely living out a few of my dreams, like hanging out with Ira Glass and giving a TED talk and having a book published. And aside from being a pretty awesome female role model for people her age and beyond, what can Millennials learn from her?
- It's OK to be the weird kid in school, and to have your own style at a time and place where everybody else is wearing Hollister (at least when I was in school it was like that. Do kids still wear Hollister?)
- It's OK to be unsure about things. Even 16 year old magazine editors are still figuring things out.
- Celebrate those who are doing positive things in the world.
- Always be curious and on the lookout for new amazing things, from music to history to different kinds of food.
- You can be a feminist without having to follow any sort of "feminist rulebook"
- MS Paint drawings are awesome (to be fair I had already learned this from Allie Brosh and the creators of rage comics)
- And probably the thing that will warm the hearts of Millennials everywhere: you can totally find success, and more importantly a place in the world, by being yourself, and not letting others tell you who to be.
I mean, that's just a few things, written all out in an easy-for-millennials-to-digest list form. The fact is, I legitimately think a site made for and by teenage girls is awesome and I don't care who knows it.