In 2019, it’s old news that we love a good scamming story. But among the “stars” of this year’s scamming news cycle—Anna Delvey, Billy McFarland, and Elizabeth Holmes, to name a few—there’s one clear similarity. They’re all millennial scammers. Now, our generation has been accused of a lot of things: we’re lazy and entitled, we ruin whole industries, and we simply cannot get enough of avocado toast. But maybe we’ve been dancing around the most damning accusation of all. As stories pile up of outrageous con artists born between 1981 and 1996, I have to ask: are millennials the scammer generation?
If we are, I can hardly say it’s surprising. Growing up, I saw a lot of promises about “the right path” be shattered. Our parents told us that college degrees were non-negotiable if we wanted to get ahead in life (no matter how much debt we incurred), while dropouts like Zuckerberg, Spiegel, and Holmes dominated the landscape of professional success. Then Instagram, and the subsequent world of influencers was born, and the idea of blindly taking the expected steps through life began to seem not just uninspired, but downright stupid. Both types of self-made success—from Silicon Valley CEO to future Bachelor contestants—preached the same ethos. If you work 20 hours a day, abandon everything else in your life, and operate with complete confidence in yourself and your ideas, you will find success.
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I was told by a former business partner that I “lacked work ethic and didn’t know the good opportunity I had in front of me.’ I left anyways because I knew deep down in my heart that SERVITUDE NOT MONEY needed to be my sole focus. Under my breath I said, “WATCH ME.” I logged onto FB to find that I was accidentally included on a group message that a former client (whom I REALLY LIKED) wrote to her husband and son saying,“ OMG Paradise?!!! Hasn’t she taken enough of a beating already? ?” It HURT to know that my co-workers, clients, “friends”, OH AND ENTIRE FUCKING NATION judged me. But I knew that one moment in my life wasn’t going to define me nor keep me from the bright future and impact I was going to make in this world. I thought to myself, “WATCH ME GET THROUGH THIS.” My family was worried, my friends were concerned. I was even hospitalized last November because of the DEBILITATING EFFECTS OF ANXIETY AND FEAR I was facing with the upcoming season of The Bachelor. I had zero income, zero savings and now a $12,000 hospital bill that I chose to ignore because I couldn’t emotionally “deal” and it was sent to collections DAMAGING my credit. No money, no savings, no more good credit. Fear crept it and emotionally I was breaking under the pressure. I wrote down affirmations all over my house on post-it notes that when read made me focus on the SUCCESS I WOULD EARN by focusing on language and actions that made me feel empowered. And then I applied them. See, when others were talking and judging I was working because I knew the bigger picture. So, the next time someone tries to cast doubt on your dreams. Smile to them and think to yourself, “Watch me Mother Fucker.” And then go and get to work. xx
Of course, the path of betting on yourself and taking risks is made a lot easier if you have a trust fund to fall back on—and many millennial success stories did. For those of us too stupid to invent our own companies, too ugly to make it on Instagram, or too poor to consider either option, there was the post-recession job market. There, the cutthroat competition (even for internships!) and the increasingly insane demands of office jobs (be available on Slack 24/7! Be prepared to take over anyone else’s job at any time!) made the glittering vision of those “working for themselves” all the more appealing. And when we’re treated to a constant feed of photos of their glamorous lives, and Twitter updates on their successes, frustration builds.
Enter: the scammer. Like every millennial, they were inundated with images of extraordinary success and luxury, and the message that if they just worked hard enough or really believed in themselves, anything was possible. So, our millennial scammers said to themselves: why couldn’t that be me? They dreamed big: McFarland pitched Fyre Fest; Holmes pitched Theranos; and Delvey pitched, well, herself, as a larger-than-life heiress, and to a lesser degree, a $50m private club on Park Avenue. They ensured that the idea looked good: McFarland unrolled his Insta-model ad campaign; Holmes filled her board with incredibly high-profile businessmen; and Delvey lived in designer clothes and luxury hotels. And whenever they were questioned on details, they pivoted the conversation back to the big picture: an end game so attractive that listeners wanted, desperately, to believe it.
While scammers have always existed, what’s really striking about millennial scammers is how grandiose their visions are, and the extent to which they seem to believe their own lies. If people continue to make millions off Instagram—even though we’ve been shown time and time again how much of Instagram is fake—then it makes sense that millennial scammers assume they can cash in big, even if there’s no reality to back up their vision. People are uninterested in, say, the actual science behind improved diagnostic testing, or the exact location of a music festival’s toilets. Those details would never have attracted the millions they raised—only the fully-formed, visually appealing outcome would. In our image-obsessed culture, with the constant refrain of “if you didn’t post a picture, did it even really happen,” we’re essentially begging to be scammed by grifters like these.
Until we begin to mend the rift between image and reality that social media has created, and the concept of the self-made billionaire is unpacked, we should expect more millennial con artists pitching us beautiful lies. Because we grew up in such a broken economic system, where following the expected steps didn’t get us the results we were promised, it was attractive to believe that anyone could transform into an overnight success. But these millennial scammers have proven that until we start valuing expertise and honesty at the same level as we do a good aesthetic, we’re not providing new opportunities to anyone but those willing to lie their way to the top. Right now, the path to Silicon Valley or Instagram success demands a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach. So really, the question shouldn’t be “why are there so many millennial scammers”. It should be “why aren’t there more?”
Images: @coachkrystal_; @betches / Instagram
I hope you are all sitting down right now, because I have some bad news for the Kaylor shippers out there. (Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift, yes it’s a real thing, no I don’t need help.) It appears the tall blonde singer and her taller blonde friend are having some problems, because late last week TMZ caught Karlie Kloss in the ultimate act of betrayal. No, she did not kill Taylor’s cat. No, she did not kidnap her first child. She didn’t even watch Game of Thrones without her and then lie about it right to her face as if it meant nothing (Looking at you, Liz). She—wait for it—hung out with Katy Perry!
If you recall, Taylor and Katy used to have mad love, but now they have bad blood. Taylor still has scars in her back from Katy’s knives. It’s horrendous and violent. Now, all members of Taylor’s elite squad are banned from hanging out with Katy, and I imagine if they break that rule they can only borrow Taylor’s smallest yacht and must clean out Meredith Grey’s litter box when the housekeeper is away. We all saw what happened when Selena dared to get back with Justin.
Rumors of problems between Taylor and Karlie have been brewing for a while. They have not been seen out together in some time, and Karlie’s name was suspiciously missing from the T-shirt of friends’ names Taylor was wearing in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video. Then, in January, Karlie posted a video of herself playing basketball and captioned it “Swish swish.” She got so much backlash from Swifties that she ended up changing the caption on Instagram.
Swish swish ????❤️ Love Advent ‘17 thank you @THELOVEMAGAZINE @kegrand pic.twitter.com/MNIwz5aczq
— Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) January 1, 2018
As any Betch would know, “Swish Swish” is the name of Katy’s
pathetic excuse for a diss track for Taylor on her last album. Hmm, suspicious. Rabid pre-teens People were immediately calling Karlie a traitor, while others seemed to think that this could be a sign that Taylor and Katy are cool now and just waiting to announce it. Sure guys, hold onto those dreams, they’re cute.
This can only mean two things: either Karlie Kloss is no longer friends with Taylor Swift or Katy Perry and Taylor Swift have made amends pic.twitter.com/qsVh2RvBOP
— Mel (@staningthebiebs) February 8, 2018
I’m sure everything will be revealed on Taylor’s next album when the first single will most definitely be titled “Die Karlie Die.” Did I accurately capture the subtleties of Taylor’s shade? I think I did.
Being a pop star is basically like Game of Thrones only with less incest and murder (we hope), and this weekend Taylor Swift claimed another victim in her relentless pursuit of the iron throne. Taylor’s feud with Katy Perry (that began over
John Mayer some stolen backup dancers) has been simmering for years, but now Katy wants to put it all behind them. Someone had to break first, and it’s not surprising that Katy is more of a nicegirl than Taylor.
Things in the feud reached a new level last week, when Taylor released her entire catalog on Spotify on the same day Katy’s new album came out. This was honestly a low blow even for Taylor, who isn’t exactly known for taking the high road. Their feud has often taken place over social media, or even in diss tracks, but trying to sabotage someone else’s album sales is kind of next level. Whatever, Taylor clearly doesn’t have a soul.
But with the heat turned up, Katy needed to get out of the kitchen. In an interview with Arianna Huffington (rich HuffPost lady), Katy said she’s “ready to let it go,” and that she apologizes for anything she’s done to Taylor since the whole thing started in 2014. She went on about how there are more important things happening in the world, and even said that Taylor is a “fantastic songwriter.” We’re not sure we’d go that far, but it’s not our fight to fight.
Katy of course had to do something extra, so she followed this statement by singing a little bit of “Let It Go” from Frozen, just in case the message wasn’t clear already. Speaking of extra, Katy also shared a video of her getting an hour-long therapy session, in which she cries a lot and explains why she cut her hair. It’s interesting enough, but also like what are you doing putting your therapy on YouTube?
So will Taylor the ice queen give a shit about Katy’s white flag? TBD, but she hasn’t made any public comment yet. She probably has to look into her
evil magic mirror and make sure she’s still the fairest one of all before she makes any decisions, so don’t hold your breath. Taylor knows she has the upper hand right now, so she can make Katy sit around waiting for an apology as long as she wants. Kind of like in middle school when your friend broke your favorite pink gel pen and bought you a new one because she was so sorry but you still waited until the last minute to invite her to your birthday party so she knew not to mess with you again. Actually, it’s exactly like that. Taylor Swift is just an overgrown middle school girl with a six figure bank account. Why have I never realized it before?
In the meantime, you can listen to Taylor’s whole catalog on Spotify, or just don’t because a snake will always be a snake. #TeamKimye, in case you forgot the shenanigans of last summer. Go listen to Kanye instead, or go outside or something.