Is The Answer To Millennial Burnout The Getaway?

Illustration by Lindsay Hattrick

Looking for a cure to the disease of belonging to the millennial generation

As any millennial knows, being a part of their generation means being diseased, or, at least, afflicted. The symptoms of this affliction—taking baths, being tired, liking houseplants, killing J. Crew, etc.—are pored over by journalists; as if examined through a kaleidoscopic lens, they're refracted into seemingly infinite articles, all of them distinctly oriented, all of them leading to an identical conclusion: Millennials are burnt out. (And broke, which leads to being... burnt out.)

This, anyway, was the conclusion reached by BuzzFeed writer Anne-Helen Petersen in her viral article earlier this year, "How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation," which looked at all the vagaries of being a millennial—the exhaustion, the crippling anxiety, the incapacity to go to the post office—and made clear that there is a reason why millennials feel this way, there is a cause for this burnout, and it's "both more complex and far simpler" than Petersen had expected.

And that cause? To be reductive, it's capitalism and the digital world. To be expansive, it's capitalism and the digital world. The answer is both simple and comprehensive, because the answer to the question of "what is wrong with millennials" is: everything. The entire way our lives are set up in this era of life hacks and optimization and 24-hour access is designed to keep us busy, to dazzle our senses, to overwhelm us. And so the cure to this problem seems similarly simple and comprehensive: escape; get away.

It was because of this type of burnout that, in 2015, Jon Staff and Pete Davis launched Getaway, a means for people to escape their lives and unplug for a little while. Comprised of tiny cabins in rural areas just outside of major cities (New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., et al.), Getaway was not specifically designed for millennials—though both Staff and Davis are in that demographic—but it is certainly aligned with the generation's commonly accepted interests, and is self-described as being an "experience designed to bring us back to our elements, immerse us in the magic of the woods, and challenge us to rediscover the pleasure of boredom, solitude, and unstructured time."

It's also in keeping with what could roughly be called millennial aesthetics; no, there aren't pale pink walls, but the modern cabins are lined with rough-hewn pale wood beams, the beds outfitted in the kind of linens you've seen in the most compelling Instagram ads, etc. They're beautiful and simple and look like very soothing places to get away, the perfect places to disconnect, since there's a place to lock away your phone and plenty of nature around in which to wander. They also range in price between, depending on location and number of people in your cabin, $99 to 199 a night, which is a price that will be comfortably priced for many millennials and prohibitively so for others.

photo provided by Getaway

But, of course, they haven't just attracted millennials. As Staff told me over the phone not long ago: "We thought it would be all hipsters [in their 20s and 30s] who work a lot and want more work-life balance. And it's true that that's probably the majority, but the range really is everybody. We get retirees who want to get back to nature, we get cute notes from kids in high school; you have to be 18 to stay in a Getaway, and they'll write up these notes that say, 'We're 17, but we promise we'll be really good!' People go alone to read, write, and reflect." Staff said that if he were to categorize Getaway customers, it would be "more psychographic than demographic. There's a group of people who spans demographics who is eager to disconnect and recharge."

This reflects the fact that the whole concept of millennial burnout or millennials being the ones who killed J. Crew or millennials being broke is a fraught one. Burnout and the rest of the elements of the millennial condition aren't actually dependent on being millennial; they're dependent on being American or being in a capitalist society or, just, being alive right now. But, you know, mostly being in a capitalist society.

Capitalism is a system that thrives on imbalance and inequality; within it, there are clear winners and losers, haves and have-nots. It's not surprising that as we've ventured away from the labor-organizing movements of a century ago, and entered into an era of nonstop hustle that we'd be feeling the burnout. We're not supposed to work this much; we're not supposed to be this connected. It's this historical truth that's at the center of our current age of burnout, and it's one that Staff and Davis explore in their recent book, How to Get Away: Finding Balance in Our Overworked, Overcrowded, Always-On World.

Staff said to me that he and Davis wanted to write the book because launching Getaway made them realize more clearly than ever before that the need for balance in our lives is profound, telling me: "We take the view that you have to have pretty strong barriers between work and leisure, and that's what we lost in the digital age."

But while it's easy enough to say you need balance and to feel you need balance, it's another thing to understand that there's actually a biological impetus to seek it. Staff explained, "We talk about balance a lot, we try to make that real by talking about the different balances that we're trying to achieve, which is how the book is structured: city and nature, work and leisure, technology and disconnection... We also wanted to offer folks some take-home data that can validate that they're not crazy in feeling this way, can point them to some resources to use in their own life, their own organizations, arguments with folks, and that's why we took a research approach to writing the book. What I didn't expect was there to be so much scientific data to support this."

What Staff found, he said, was that "science shows us that all the stuff we're feeling has a basis in biology and in chemistry. Nature does really wonderful things to our brains; the fluttering of leaves, the flickering of the campfire, or the lapping of waves, actually do lull our brains to a place where fault mode networks are activated. Our cortisol levels do drop when we walk through forests."

These might not be earth-shattering revelations for you—Staff told me about a cynical coworker who told him, "It's nice, but you don't need a book to know nature is good. We all know it's good, we all go there, and it's nice. That's it."—but then again, they might. After all, many things we now think are intuitive bits of knowledge—like, say, that cigarettes are harmful to our health—are actually learned pieces of information. There was a really long time when the average person didn't understand that smoking was harmful, or exactly how harmful it was.

Now, many people see screen-use as being analogous to cigarettes. It's not a perfect comparison, but calling digital use an addictive behavior isn't wrong. Staff said, "The addiction thing is real. Some people say, 'Oh, I'm addicted to my phone.' I don't think they're reflecting the actual science that says, 'No, you are.' When you get that notification or see the red dot, there's a little dopamine blast in your brain that biologically makes you feel a rush. That is a biological reaction to this technology that we call addiction. It is hard to give it up."

The benefits, though, of giving it up are as immediate as the feelings of withdrawal. As with any addiction, it is necessary to retrain your brain, to conceive the world anew. This is something that becomes clear when reading Staff and Davis's book, that curing burnout means reconceptualizing how you want to live and work and being open to the fact that you don't need to be progressing all the time, you don't need to be on. (One of the chapters is titled, "You Are Not a Lightbulb," except maybe you are because if you're on all the time, you too will burn out. Anyway.)

One of the more insidious aspects of the millennial burnout conversation is the ways in which it's become another way to sell things to millennials: things like meditation apps and relaxation pods and, well, maybe cabin getaways in the woods. It's an issue because, if the problem causing millennial burnout is capitalism, how could the answer to that problem ever be to spend more money? And the answer is that it's not, of course. Neither Staff nor I am suggesting that the only way to get rid of your digital addiction or devotion to working late into the night is to spend a weekend at a beautifully appointed cabin in the woods. Though it certainly isn't a bad way to disrupt your routine; as Staff said, "Quitting cold turkey anything is really difficult, but if you can replace a bad habit with a slightly better one, then great. Getaway is one example of this. We're not telling you to move to the woods and grow your own rutabagas. Go for a weekend. We challenge you to lock up your phone, not use WiFi."

What the Getaway philosophy is more about, though, and what the book (which is a lot more affordable than a weekend away!) makes clear is that changing your life, steering clear of screens, and avoiding burnout, doesn't require you to spend any money, it just requires that you shift your perspective. One way of doing that is learning about the inherited legacy of overworked people who fought for balance, demanding things we've now let slip through our fingers—like weekends off and real vacation time. There is a tradition of structured leisure time, with proscribed days of rest being prioritized in every culture in the world, that we shouldn't now ignore just because our phones light up at all hours of the day and night. We should take back these ways of being, turn ourselves off, and be our own cure.

How? Well, start with a small escape. Get up from your desk. Leave your phone behind. And just walk away for a while. The world won't stop turning, but your restless mind might, for a minute, anyway, and maybe more.

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Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video)


This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.


Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

This cameo has the Beyhive buzzing

I went to see Men In Black: International alone. Which would have been fine if it wasn't for the shock I received when I saw two specific characters on the screen. Unable to keep it to myself, I shared a curious look with the stranger next to me, who was obviously thinking the same thing as me. "Is that them...?" I whispered first. "I think… so," she replied. Then the two men in question started to dance, and we were both sure: "Yep, that's them."

It was Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, better known as Les Twins. Fans of Beyoncé will recognize the duo as the talented brothers who often accompany her on tour and in music videos. In Men In Black: International, the two of them play shapeshifting entities—they're more like energy forces than aliens—who pursue Tessa Thompson's and Chris Hemsworth's characters throughout the duration of the film. The twins' ability to manipulate their bodies in ways that are graceful and otherworldly really helps sell them as extraterrestrials and is fun to watch.

So if Thompson in a suit or Hemsworth shirtless weren't enough motivation, here's another reason to go see it. If you look close, you can see them in the trailer below.


Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.