You could almost smell the smoke racing up from the wreckage of the bridge she was burning -- hear the cracking, snapping of the frolicking flames.
Well, metaphorically and dramatically speaking, anyway.
I'm talking about a certain young woman who I had the distinct (dis)pleasure of interacting with online. Here's what happened.
First, she applied for a job at my company - a modelling and event staffing agency called Femme Fatale Media. And, as it happened, we decided to go with someone else for the position.
At this point, a lot of people would carry on with their day - miffed, to be sure, but not otherwise shaken and stirred. But this particular young woman didn't see things that way, and decided to message me on Facebook to launch into a tirade about how awful my company was - a veritable tour de force of what's wrong with some of today's young, millennial women. (It was a very cruelly-worded tirade, too, so I will spare you the grisly details)
Suffice it to say that this woman thoroughly burned her bridges with us -- a palpably unsmart career move.
This kind of behavior is something I've unfortunately seen so many times over the years with young women. They're all eager to hop aboard the modish, voguish feminist train - with strident social media posts and fearlessly wearing The-Future-Is-Female t-shirts. But their day-to-day actions defeat the whole point of this, and so they fail to contribute to a meaningful feminism. They tear down other women -- with online comments, with side-glances of disdain, with an attitude toward life that's less "Winner" and more "Immature."
There are, in short, many nasty young women out there - and I don't mean it in the good, empowering, shatter-that-glass-and-rise-higher-than-they-ever-thought-possible Hillary Clinton sort of way. I mean women who are actually nasty to other women while simultaneously sporting the faddish feminist slogans and whatnot.
I'm in my 30s. I'm the CEO and founder of 3 successful companies (with more on the way!). So I've seen some of life compared to a lot of 20-year-olds - but I'm also young enough to lucidly remember my 20s - so today I'm going to offer a few pieces of advice for today's millennial girls who actually, legitimately want to make a difference in the world and aren't just playing pretend.
Don't be so damn quick to burn your bridges. It's a trait that many millennials seem fond of - flaming out because someone or some company rattled their emotions and egos. Now, at risk of pointing out the obvious: yes, there are people in every age group who lack the maturity to effectively direct and channel their emotions. But millennials in particular don't seem to see that bridge-burning is not a good idea. Like that aforementioned young woman who didn't get the job.
It doesn't make any sense; if you want a real future for yourself (and those you love), then don't let your ego get in the way. Instead, stay focused on your vision. You need to have a sharp sense of what freakin' matters in your life, and what doesn't.
Got a family who loves you unconditionally? They matter. Have ambitions and dreams that you're determined to make a part of your reality? That matters, too. Posting negative or hurtful comments on social media? It doesn't matter, and won't make a single positive impact in the world. Not one tiny bit. It's just pseudo-therapy meant to temporarily stroke the ego and make you feel good. But that feeling is fleeting and doesn't last. You know what does last? Stuff you accomplish in the real world.
Don't waste the gift of life trying to hurt other people. See, there are only about 8,760 hours in a year. It takes a lot more hours than that to create something worthwhile that'll have a lasting legacy. Do you really want to use up some of those hours in your year doing stuff that hurts other people and does not in any way, shape, or form advance you in the direction of your dearest dreams? Life is a gift. Internalize that realization and you'll see how silly it is to waste time tearing other women down and hurt people.
Don't get dragged into gossip. The woman I mentioned at the start of this article -- who I didn't end up hiring -- held an opinion of my company that was completely based on something she said she "heard." Which -- considering the actual, known facts about my company - amounts to nothing more than gossip.
Unfortunately, gossip is all the rage among those who are in my generation - largely because the advent of high-technology makes it so easy to litter social media with half-baked conclusions. As social media scholar and youth researcher danah boyd put it (perhaps more eloquently than I just did): "Social media mirror, magnify, and extend everyday social worlds" (in "Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics," 2010).
The point is this: just don't even begin to participate in gossip. Once again, you're only hurting people and you're doing nothing to advance yourself -- or to advance the crucial-and-critical causes of feminism. Instead, you're part of the problem.
Look, I know it's trendier to "Like" and "Share" a CollegeHumor clip about how unfairly hard it is for a millennial to find a decent job these days - but if you're a responsible millennial then you'll know how to spend your time -- and where. And if you're a young 20-something feminist, you should know that fostering actual social and political change requires more than posting a cool quote on intersectionality or something. It's fine to do that - as I myself do every now and then - but it's far, far more important that your day-to-day actions are in lockstep with the real changes you want to make in the world.
So -- are they?
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