But that doesn’t mean muppies sacrifice nice things: it just means they’ve gotten wise about how to get them.
The muppie is a master at collecting loyalty points, finding designer ware at discount on sites like Asos and Gilt, looking smashing at a special occasion via Rent the Runway and affordable salon services courtesy of Groupon, and scouring great places to stay on Airbnb. Consumer consciousness: FEED and TOMS shoes made muppies aware that business can do more than just provide a product: they can give back.
And now Muppies have come to expect it: if a portion of profits isn’t going to a good cause, at the very least a company better treat the environment and workers with a genuine, not-just-as-a-marketing-ploy, consciousness or it can count on losing the muppie vote. Glocal identity: For the muppie who grew up in a time where the internet and study abroad made the world smaller than ever, identification with friends in Kazakhstan is often stronger than identification with those who share her passport. Self-improvement: For a generation that grew up perfecting its resume as it leapt from application-to-school to application-to-university to application-for-job to application-for-grad-school to application-for-this-or-that-award, self-perfecting is a drug.
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And so muppies followed that path, assuming that’s what adulthood was, and accepted the trade-offs necessary for a solid career.
But when 2008 wiped out jobs and savings and the security of that path that required such sacrifice, muppies took a step back and asked why am I doing this?
At the point, experiences took priority over possessions: a fun working environment was as important as a paycheck; a great trip was worth more than a nice piece of furniture; time to enjoy a city was more than owning a home within it. Passion: There is nothing hipper for a muppie than finding and pursuing passion.
Again, cue the financial crisis, when bosses confessed in hushed voices to the lower ranks who still-had-a-chance-to-get-out: Get out of here and go do what you love and so set off a surge of banking/consulting/law firm drop outs on a quest to find what really matters to them, and build a career and life around it.
Older generations love to roll their eyes at muppies, calling them frivolous and entitled and self-absorbed.
The more I listen to those gripes, though, the more they feel like they come from a place of regret: like they come from grown-up yuppies who resent that muppies don’t want what they have, and that the path they thought was right didn’t work out as planned. But there are also leaders in every generation, and the fact they follow the tenants means that, over time, paradigms have the possibility of shifting away from short-term hyper-growth to sustainability; to shift individual lives from work-hard-and-then-retire to work-long-but-live-life-while-you-do-it; it will restore “profitable business” to something that isn’t a dirty phrase.
Are there people in this group who are lazy and talkers-not-doers and following the path for a reason no more substantive than it is presently en vogue? And it might actually do the most muppie thing of all and….y’know…change the world.
Michelle Miller is author of The Underwriting, a book which began online as twelve instalments of episodic fiction about an online dating start-up.
You can spot her at the juice bar, the custom-salad shop, or checking Whatsapp on her i Phone while waiting for an Uber outside the big name law/consulting/finance firm where she’s been working since she graduated from a prestigious university with a liberal arts degree, en route to a start-up mixer where she is exploring ideas for the venture she intends to pursue as soon as her next bonus cycle ends.
You may recognise her by the designer kit she wears to Bikram yoga.
Like the yuppie of the 1980s, the muppie is educated, independently-minded, confident, and capable of extraordinary achievement - when it suits her.