We’ve all see the stories. Millennials are killing everything. In fact, when I went online to try and find examples, Business Insider had already compiled a list list for me. And wouldn’t you know it – napkins are on it. Now, I had already decided to talk about napkins before I saw that, but it does confirm that I’m not crazy (their conclusion for why people don’t use napkins was different anyway).

Why all this talk of napkins you ask? Because I had a revelation the other day. We have napkins in our house, but we don’t use them. I can’t recall the last time we set out napkins for a meal. I don’t even know why we have them in the house; probably for when we have company so we can look like we have it together. But here’s the thing. We do have it together, and we’re not dirty people.

When I was a kid, I remember that we always had napkins out at the table. And I think that’s where the disconnect lies. That was part of the routine of setting the table. We had napkins even though we didn’t really need them. But recent generations lived in a post-WWII peace and material bounty. And so, what millennials today perceive to be superfluous possessions, took on a sacrosanct status.

As I dwelled on this generational divide, I overheard a conversation that fit this thread. A faculty member chided a student over umbrellas. In the end, he couldn’t fathom why this student wouldn’t use an umbrella. I’m in the same boat on this. I own multiple umbrellas, but the only time I have used them in the past year was to seem courteous to our AirBnb guest.

It’s not even that napkins are a luxury item that millennials can’t afford. People today just don’t consider material goods to be as much of a priority as people did in the past. It could be napkins, umbrellas, fabric softener, or diamonds and cars. Big and small, people choose to spend their money on something they can experience and directly interact with.

It’s so funny that it’s this small, seemingly insignificant thing. Who cares? Maybe not you, but that’s just it. Why should people care if we use umbrellas – or napkins for that matter?

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