Even while still in my early twenties, I've felt my comrades -- fellow Internet consumers -- dipping into the tail end of the "twenty-something trend," estranging themselves from publications like Thought Catalog and BuzzFeed that coined the term. Much of the language is self-aggrandizing, pieces filled with blanket notions that don't hold weight. These stories and digests are no longer fodder for self-fulfillment or gravitas for pragmatism or soulfulness.
The Internet's twenty-something content has reached a saturation point, crystallizing all its cannon's ideas into sugar-coated aphorisms, rules on how to be and the ever-self-conscious pursuit of doing things for "the story"; semi-literary punctuation points in a life-long and senseless stream of hashtags and emojis.
It's with a cynical, swollen and artisan ice-coffee'd pumped heart I realize how our culture and priorities are based off of the narratives we've watched develop through traditional and new media, the things we've fallen into buying and the accouterments we've convinced ourselves are necessities. Our social lives revolve around devices rather than serendipity or the charming meet-cute.
It's easier for marketers to sell, write or produce advertorial content to the lowest common denominator of the "twenty-somethings." As a consumer, it takes far more consideration to dwell in your intention behind the cultural consumption that seems inane. Like, for example, why you listened to Taylor Swift's Red album because, realistically, you know your individual boycotting won't make any indent on her success, however your subversive knowledge about superficial trends will pay dividends to your later criticism.
Subsets of our shared aged group are going in different directions. Some curate byte-sized quotes distancing ourselves from the true experiences of reading Rilke, Flaubert and Wallace. In democratizing content, we water its insights down on Tumblrs and blogs.
Are we searching for a flock or seeking more individualism? In the latest effort to simultaneous express and bandwagon, cool kids clutch to the "normcore" aesthetic. A "sartorial pendulum swinging away from individualization" wrote Slate. Or could it just be the upswing of kids buying more from the Gap?
How can we specify cultural stratum in our age bracket since many of our peers breathe different mantras? "Millennial" is far too generic. Age doesn't delineate shared desires and generational wanting, nor does it parse the priorities of people whose only commonality might be their age.
Nations, tribes and even lunch tables are hinged around the idea of shared priorities, also known as resources and alliances. Simply put, we're all on a track of defining what we want, who also want those things, and what are the ethics and means around how you'd like to achieve those things and ways of life.
In our casually constructed socio-economics, the hipster is the younger, privileged individual. He or she has appropriated the expensive tokens and ways of life that are quaint, special snowflake-y and individualized in all its nonchalance. A hipster wouldn't admit to prioritizing "finding him or herself," but from the outside perspective looking in, it might be perceived as an active game of Find and Seek. You might be said hipster if you are still finding yourself off of another person's penny. That penny most likely belongs to your parent or an avuncular relative.
In another subset of our labeling, there's the DINK (double income no kids), a term that gained notable hold in the media after TIME Magazine's "Having It All Without Having Children."
The DINK community is characterized as couples who choose not to breed, rather continue their lives pursuing powerful careers and bodies, untethered from children whose mouths are always inexplicably ringed with juice stains. There is also the homosexual DINK counterpart. They take weekend trips to Toronto or other North American cities on a whim ("because we can!"), donate to NPR regularly and start most casual conversations with something that reminded them of a podcast they listened to recently.
What both versions of the DINK share is that they can focus completely on themselves and their partner. This isn't to say they are selfish people for not having children (they aren't, they just made a choice), but to highlight how these people priorities life. They've committed to a unit, the couple, whereas the SINK (the single income no kids) invests back into one's individuality.
Both the DINK and SINK disrupt our understanding of how adults live without either the institutions of marriage or children. Specifically in TIME, Lauren Sandler calls the reader's attention to the role of childless women as our nation struggles to reconcile "a culture that often equates womanhood with motherhood." What's the function of a woman who's married, yet childless? Better yet, what's the function of a woman who is single by volition, financially independent, and has no kids?
WHO IS THE SINK?
Defined on Urban Dictionary in 2008, a SINK is a female urban denizen with single income and no children. In essence, she's a young woman during a time in her life when "[life's] current state [is] too fluid and ever-changing," as the SINKSF defines her. She could be in between college and professional life, between relationships (but not defined by them), or moving from one city to the next.
The female SINK may or may not be from a privileged class, in the traditional sense; however, her education and employment, during such a Job Crisis, helps the SINK prioritize what an ideal life would be and gives her a clearer picture of where she wants to go. She holds a full-time job that doesn't necessarily artistically fulfill her, but she knows responsibility often means doing something for the time being.
The SINK's catalogued thoughts can be found on Internet landscapes, notably SinkSF, whose community manifesto remarkably phrases, "being a SINK is not all chambray tops and carefree attitudes. At times, it's lonely. At times, it's scary. But the SINK does not let that stop her. She moves through that loneliness and fear and comes out stronger."
WHAT A SINK ISN'T
A SINK is not to be confused with a hipster. A hipster is pursuing a career as an aspiring screenplay writer/photojournalist/indie band bassist while working as a local coffee barista or waitress at an exclusive restaurant that serves Southern-style cocktails in mason jars (read: probably supported financially my mom and dad). Instead, a SINK, although interested in an artistic career, is completely economically self-sufficient and as such toiling away in a full time entry-level job at a competitive, big business.
If you are overly enthused about several of the topics on this list, chances are you are a SINK:
Pussy Riot, oversized cardigans, yoga, James Franco, art openings, hand drip coffee, chunky scarves, "Blue is the Warmest Color," going to lunch alone, French men, feminist critiques of "Sex and the City," carbohydrates, red lipstick, an obscure documentary on some bizarre American subculture that no one has seen, Lorde's hair, expensive fair trade chocolate, afternoon sex, Malala Yousafzai, coats made out of your grandma's couch.
WHY "THE SINK" MATTERS
The SINK is an equal blend of poetic and polemic. Why? The way we define ourselves is inherently political and the words we align ourselves to are also intrinsically tied to our self-esteem and image. Words can be light-hearted, fraught with irony, yet they also hold the weight of implication and assumption on what's expected of us in society. Names can take root and shape our decisions.
Simply, we coin terms to better understand how people prioritize their lives. On the ugly edge of the spectrum, we've seen how when bigots and systems have used naming as a device to marginalize and create power structures to demoralize and subjugate. However, naming shouldn't be used against a person.
People have an affinity for specificity and to further understand. In our habitual efforts to name things or people, to claim a capitalized letter, we seek to assign certain narratives and psychologies for ourselves in order to find more patterns so we can quell the ambiguities and unknowns in our forsaken heads.
Naming is the quintessential moment of self-determination, personhood, and individuality. In naming the SINK, the SINK becomes an act of endearment, empowerment, and self-possessive.