50 Things Millennials Know That Gen-Xers Don't - Rolling Stone
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50 Things Millennials Know That Gen-Xers Don’t

Apps, memes, micro-stars and more!

There’s already been a preponderance of scientific studies and general handwringing about Millennials, all attempting to piece together the puzzle of how this cohort feels about politics, sex, identity and more. Recently, we isolated some potential blind spots for twentysomethings in our 50 Things Millennials Don’t Know About list. Now, though, we’ve decided to focus on those artifacts that this still-unfolding generation knows better than any other. Does a list of emoji, dating apps, Disney Channel stars, and Tumblr favorites constitute a coherent cultural whole? Probably not. Is it a reasonable millennial mind-map? Sure!

Contributors: Hazel Cills, Maria Sherman, Monika Zaleska and Rolling Stone Staff

Frankie Jonas

The Bonus Jonas

The Jonas Brothers were so massively popular around 2008 that even non-Millennials knew about Joe, Nick and Kevin. But only true die-hard Jonas Brothers fans knew about Frankie "Bonus" Jonas, their adorable little brother. (He's still only thirteen-years-old!) A certain segment of the Jonas Brothers army flooded nascent social media sites with information about the kid. The shockingly swift collapse of the Jonas Brothers career (damn you, Justin Bieber!) took Frankie down with it, but he has plenty of time to start anew. He doesn't even turn 30 till 2030. 

Amanda Show Amanda Bynes

Amanda Bynes on ‘The Amanda Show’

Before the very unfortunate public breakdown of Amanda Bynes there was The Amanda Show, the pinnacle of teen sketch comedies. She was the amazingly precocious star, playing the role of many beloved characters: Judge Trudy, Moody (in the Dawson's Creek parody Moody's Point,) Hillbilly Lula Mae… the list goes on. The girl had talent!

Lil B

Lil B

No generation is more digitally savvy and microtrend-friendly than millennials, and no rapper embodies those aspects more fully than Lil B. Wildly unpredictable, insanely prolific, and wholly irrepressible, the Based God is a walking meme.

Haylie Duff

Haylie Duff

Remember Disney Channel's Lizzie McGuire? So you've heard of its star, Hilary Duff. Okay so you remember when Hilary Duff did a cover of the Go-Go's "Our Lips are Sealed" with her sister? Maybe? Vaguely? Well, that sister is Haylie Duff, who the kids entertainment powers-that-be pushed hard to make a star. Haylie also hosted a reality show to find the next lead for Legally Blonde: The Musical and played popular girl Summer Wheatley in the cult classic Napoleon Dynamite

Rowley Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Rowley From ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’

Many kids have a goofy best friend from childhood that starts to embarrass around the time that puberty hits. For Greg Heffley, protagonist of the book and film series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, that's Rowley Jefferson, a slightly overweight and dimwitted dude with absolutely no self-awareness. Greg treats him like a doormat, but they always make up in the end. 

Corbin Bleu

Corbin Bleu

For a very brief moment in the spring of 2007, High School Musical star Corbin Bleu seemed like the future of pop music. His debut album Another Side debuted in the Top 40 and it genuinely seemed like he might be part of a neo-Brat Pack along with the other Disney kids of the era. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens did cross over to more adult fare, Corbin was sadly left behind and his 2009 follow-up disc tanked. 



Alicia Silverstone, queen of the teens, slipped her Clueless image for something more, um, animated in Braceface, the early-'00s teletoon. Silverstone voiced Sharon Spitz, a precocious vegetarian teen with a mouth full of metal. The show covered real life issues in totally relatable ways: everything from crushes to poverty.



Sort of like The Joy of Painting for kids, Pappyland launched in 1996, hosted by the benevolent, punningly named artist Pappy Drewitt. 

Poo Chi


Once upon an inexplicable time, robot pets were thought to be a good idea, much to the chagrin of parents everywhere. The most popular of the fad was Poo-Chi, a miniature robot dog. There were a few spinoffs, but the original could bark, flip, growl, and walk. It was almost like having a real pet, except it didn't love you.  

Erik Von Detten

Erik von Detten

Before there were the swoon-worthy boys of One Direction, teen girls found a place in their heart for Erik von Detten (middle), star of such Disney Channel classics Brink!  and The Princess Diaries. The boy had it all: floppy blonde hair, a crooked smile and a permanent place in our Tiger Beating hearts.

Kel Mitchell

Kel Mitchell

Being part of a comedy duo is tough. It almost always ends badly. Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell (seen far left) won over millions of young fans on All That and Good Burger, but in 2004 they both tried out for Saturday Night Live and only Kenan got the nod. He's now the longest serving cast member on the show, and Kel is a little bitter about the whole thing, telling TMZ that Kenan wants nothing to do with him. Hopefully they'll make up sometime soon and give the world Good Burger Two: The Desolation of Dexter

Tom Delonge Mark Hoppus Travis Barker Blink 182


By 2001, So-Cal pop punk heroes Blink-182 had already ran through the streets naked in "What's My Age Again?" and parodied the boy band craze in "All the Small Things," terrifying and infatuating a generation of kids who just wanted to pierce their nose and walk around in torn pantyhose. The band truly hit their music video apex with "First Date," each member adopting a really gross vintage persona. The most memorable: Tom DeLonge's boorish Boomer (far left).



Thank you Emoji, for expanding the range of emotions we can express to now include a smiling turd. What better way to explain that you're having a shit day? The expressive options are near-endless. Meet me at seven? Thumbs-up! Instagramming that cake you're currently eating? Pair it with an Emoji cake caption. Just please don't confuse Emoji with Emoticons. Winky faces are what seventh grade boys sent you over AOL Instant Messenger when they were "flirting." C'mon guys, we've matured. If you like someone, just be direct and text them SMILEY CAT, PIZZA, HAMSTER.

Blues Clues

The ‘Death’ of ‘Blue’s Clues’ Star Steve Burns

Blue's Clues was essentially the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood for kids of the 1990s. The freakishly cheerful Steve Burns hosted the show, but he left in 2002 to persue his music and other career aspirations. But word spread like wildfire through the middle school set that he died, either of a heroin overdose or in a car accident. Burns even appeared on The Today Show to dispute the shockingly widespread reports, which persist to this day. 


MySpace Top 8

In very Darwinian fashion, the early iteration of MySpace asked users to select their Top 8 friends, undoubtedly leading to some bruised feelings and spawning a snarky catchphrase. And if Tom was one of your octet? Forget it, you were a loser.



Neopets has been described as a cross between Pokémon and Tamagotchi, so of course people were obsessed with it in the early '00s. Neopets is a site where you adopt and care for virtual pets of various "species." You name 'em, feed 'em (they don't die like Tamagotchi, just get all shriveled and sick-looking, and their status bar says "starving") and build them little houses. After that you play online games to earn Neopoints to buy them food, toys, and pets. (Yup, pets for your pets.) Neopia, the Neopet world, was also home to a vibrant message board community and a marketplace for good$ to buy and sell: perhaps a virtual scooter for your virtual pet? A Neopets addiction might seem dated, but the site is still around and reached its one trillion page-view mark in 2011. 

Gordo Lizzie McGuire

Gordo from ‘Lizzie McGuire’

Every great teenage heroine has a fiercely devoted male best sidekick that's forever trapped in the torturous "friend zone," forced to be a shoulder to cry on after those taller, suaver boys break her heart. For Disney's Lizzie McGuire, this was David "Gordo" Gordon (played my Adam Lamberg). Shippers prayed they would get together and they came close roughly 10,000 times before they finally kissed near the end of the The Lizzie McGuire Movie. That was the last we saw of them, so presumably they are living somewhere in eternal bliss right now — at least until the inevitable Lizzie McGuire reunion movie.



Anna-Catherine Hartley, known by her stage name Uffie, was one of the first singers to make a name for herself via social media. After releasing her first auto-tuned, faux-British accented single "Pop The Glock" in 2006, the singer worked with French music producers the likes of Mr. Oizo and Feadz to drop her debut album Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans in 2010. By the time the album dropped, the foul-mouthed electro-popster had largely faded into obscurity. However, her X-rated songs dissing online haters exemplified a very specific type of MySpace-era Internet fame, and viral white girl rappers Kitty Pryde and Kreayshawn owe a lot to Uffie's steez.

Jerome LOL


On November 10, 2012, Rihanna performed her song "Diamonds" on SNL in front of a green screen backdrop of 3D animations of planets cruising across digital oceans and various deep-sea creatures. The accompanying video looked a lot like the work of online Seapunk artists and musicians like Jerome LOL (pictured at left) and Lil Internet, the latter of whom coined the label. Dozens of think pieces (and think tweets) were written about the ethics of a mainstream celebrity appropriating the endearingly ragged seapunk aesthetic. Eventually, everyone realized that they were talking about animated dolphins and the debate ceased.

Cory Kennedy Cobrasnake

Cory Kennedy and the Cobrasnake

If there were ever a patron saint of Internet-fame, it would be certified It-girl Cory Kennedy. The Los Angeles teen model met party photographer Mark Hunter, known as "The Cobrasnake," in 2005 and the duo became a staple at every well-photographed, Steve Aoki DJ'd rager across the country. Though the two have since parted ways, these shaggy-haired hipsters will forever go down as popularizing the neon shoestring headband and making bad flash photography cool.



Chatroulette is a site that pairs you up with random users for videochats. You keep "spinning" until you're paired up with someone you actually want to talk to. But nobody actually thought a videochat website would be used for actual chatting, right? You're really playing the odds if you don't expect to land on a dude getting intimate with himself on-camera.  

Steve Roggenbuck

Steve Roggenbuck

With curmudgeons like Jonathan Franzen scolding millennials for being Internet-addicted, Steve Roggenbuck's support for social media as a connective, supportive platform for budding writers has never been more refreshing. The Alt-Lit writer turned sorta motivational speaker champions veganism, poetry as a means for social change, and loving the moon. His hilarious video blogs and his most recent project, Boost House, a publishing press and artist residency, have inspired countless young fans.


Selfies are commonplace all over the Internet these days, but the Tumblr favorite hashtag #GPOY stands for "Gratuitous Picture Of Yourself." And when you scroll through your Tumblr on lazy Wednesday, you're bound to see a bunch of attractive, carefuly selected Photobooth selfies for #GPOYW. 

Horse Ebooks


Twitter is a hothouse for weird, and Horse_ebooks is one of its weirdest accounts. Originally thought to be a bizarrely brilliant spambot, the account fired off near-koans like, "Everything happens so much." The account was eventually revealed to be the work of one man, Jacob Bakkila, and the handle continues as part of an ongoing performance art project.

Molly Soda

Molly Soda

If you've ever had a Tumblr, there's a chance you've scrolled past a picture of the rainbow-haired, rat-loving artist known as Molly Soda on your dashboard. Her web presence and hilarious YouTube series "Tween Dreams" are beloved by blogger girls hungry for early 2000s nostalgia, with references to Hot Topic, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Avril Lavigne. Molly Soda was also a back-up dancer for Grimes, further burnishing her Tumblr credentials. 

Tyra Banks America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks’ “We Were All Rooting For You” Rant

Supermodel Tyra Banks' modeling competition TV show America's Next Top Model is dramatic almost every year, but 2005's season four gave viewers a very special moment. The infamous rant, which has racked up over 1.7 million views on YouTube, has Tyra losing it at an outspoken contestant named Tiffany, whom Banks had deemed insufficiently serious. Tyra's screaming, "I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU! WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!" will live forever in TV lore.

MTV Next

MTV’s ‘Next’

Next was a gem of a dating show. A single contestant would stand outside an RV. Inside the truck were five possible dates. When each date stepped off the bus, the screen froze to reveal quirky facts about the date (e.g., "thinks the world is his oyster"; "licensed metrosexual"). At any point during the date the contestant could shout "next!" and the date would end, even if that meant shouting it right as someone got off the RV. 

Allison Pill

Alison Pill

Millennials will probably remember her as first appearing alongside a pre-rehab Lindsay Lohan in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, but the actress has since displayed her left-field charm as lesbian activist Anne Kronenberg in Milk, Zelda Fitzgerald in Midnight In Paris, and as an able deliverer of Aaron Sorkin's rapid-fire dialogue as Maggie on The Newsroom.

Lulu App


The self-proclaimed "First-Ever App for Girls" (because all other apps are for boys?) lets users anonymously rate guys in your Facebook network. It's opt-out, so you can find almost any dude you know/dated/made out with and tag him #BigFeet or #OpensDoors. It also gives you a little quiz that lets you rate guys based on their humor, ambition, and, duh, looks. Flipping through Lulu reviews is kind of like one-sided speed dating. And it's funny until you realize, like, what if someone was writing anonymous reviews of me on the with hashtags like #NapoleonComplex or, gasp, #AlmostTooPerfect?

Big Wolf on Campus

‘Big Wolf on Campus’

Long before Twilight and the other hundred werewolf-filled TV shows and movies, there was ABC Family's Big Wolf on Campus. The sitcom followed high schooler/werewolf Tommy Dawkins (Brandon Quinn) and his goth friend Merton Dingle, who battled the supernatural creatures that had invaded their tiny town. Tommy's cheesy facial hair and a script littered with pop-culture references made this short-lived show an eternal favorite of the ten people who actually watched it. 



Young Adult author Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl is one of the few YA novels to have stood the test of time, with its anti-bullying, nonconformist message consistently relevant. The story of an eccentric 10th grader nicknamed Stargirl taunted and shunned by her entire school for looking and acting differently went on to inspire real-life "Stargirl Societies."

Kony 2012

KONY 2012

In March of 2012, the organization Invisible Children released a video that called for the arrest of Ugandan thug Joseph Kony by the end of the year. The film, which focused on Kony's recruitment and abuse of child soldiers, went viral, leading to millions of reblogs and Facebook posts. But Invisible Children's slacktivist movement to hang up posters for an event called "Cover The Night" raised questions about its legitimacy. The campaign slumped after the organization's finances went public and it was alleged that very little of the cash was going to direct action. Oh, and then one of the founders of Invisible Children was busted for public drunkenness and masturbation. Yeah, great job catching Kony!


Like Mission Impossible's self-destructing messages, Snapchat photos disappear shortly after being sent. So you can snap and send without fear that your shots will get saved by the recipient. (Oh wait, except for screenshots.) But Snapchat isn't just about sexting. There's nothing quite like hanging out with other gen Y-ers while someone takes a selfie, adds a pink mustache via the draw tool, and sends it off to someone across the room. Did you open it yet? How about now? Now?!



Go-Gurt: A long tubes of yogurt that you can squeeze out instead of eat with a spoon. Attractive? No. Delicious? Yes. You had to eat about three of them to equal the amount of yogurt found in a regular container, but they were worth the trouble.



You can pronounce it with a hard "g" as in Graphics Interchange Format (full name, wow). Or like the peanut butter (JIF). Either way, there's nothing like finding the perfect GIF to explain your current state of mind. (Molly Soda's GIF wall is at left.) There's Tumblrs upon Tumblrs full of these animations. Best thing: condensing key pop culture moments for our non-existent attention spans. #RealHousewives. Worst thing: if you have slow WIFI, no GIFs for you.

Mae Whitman

Mae Whitman

After playing George Michael's forgettable girlfriend Ann in the show Arrested Development, Mae Whitman had memorable roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as the sword-wielding Roxy Richter and The Perks of Being A Wallflower as the outspoken feminist Mary Elizabeth. But it's her role as the rebellious teen Amber on Parenthood that she's most known for. Though, Mayonegg Ann will always have a special place in our hearts. 

S Club 7

S Club 7

Everyone knows about the Spice Girls, but only true pop aficionados will recall their junior counterparts in S Club 7. The diverse British crew came to fame through a BBC Television series but shined brightest on CD, via most memorable single like "Bring It All Back," "Reach," and "Never Had A Dream Come True." Ain't no party like a S Club party!

tinder app


The future is now, and it's pretty sexy: while Gen Xers might find millennial practices of dating strange and, well, uncouth, Tinder takes hook-up culture to new heights. Here's the run down: you create a profile connected to Facebook and start looking for singles in your geographic location based on shared interests and friends. You see five photos of your future significant other alongside a sentence or two personal description. You swipe right if you find this person attractive, left if you don't. It can mostly result in sex.

gibby icarly

Gibby From ‘iCarly’

Much like Steve Urkel was to Family Matters, Gibby (Noah Munck) was the  bizarre friend and neighbor to the central crew of iCarly — before fans fell in love with him and he became a series regular. Near the end of the show's run, he was getting as much screen time as iCarly herself, but somehow his proposed spin-off series Gibby wasn't picked up. Maybe it was a good call. A little bit of Gibby goes a long way. 



Even if we don't like to admit it, for those of us under the age of 13 in the early 2000s, social media could sometimes seem daunting. Hi5 addressed that problem by explicitly creating a positive way for young people to interact online. There was one official rule: no bullying allowed.


‘Taste the Rainbow’

Skittles' "Taste the Rainbow" catchphrase has been kicking around for years, but in the late-'90s and early-2000s, the confectioners began running a bizarre series of commercials, including one that ended with the multi-colored candies falling out of the sky as a child whispered "Skittles, taste the rainbow." Other versions of the ad saw magical birds in Japan caused uttering the phrase, or a dog stumbling upon a Skittles rainbow in a remote forest. There were tons of weird variations, and the spots have inspired all sorts of filthy parodies on the Internet in recent years. 

Juno Temple

Juno Temple

After appearing in English films like Atonement, UK actress Juno Temple moved stateside to become an indie film staple, earning parts in Greenberg, Kaboom, and Lovelace. Her knack for snappy delivery and her choice of eccentric roles helped her earn a BAFTA rising star award, but some people still likely know her as "that British girl with really crazy hair."

Evan Peters

Evan Peters

Who can play a sadistic school shooter, an accused serial killer, and a Frankenstein-esque boymonster and still look ruggedly handsome while doing so? Evan Peters, who's currently every American Horror Story-obsessed teenage girl's dream boy. The actor had a few small parts in TV shows and movies like Parenthood and Kick-Ass, but it wasn't until 2011's Ryan Murphy-produced American Horror Story that Peters finally made a name for himself — playing very tortured young men. 

Kid Pix

Kid Pix

The game of choice for "indoor kids," the pixelated drawing program Kid Pix was a baby Net artist's dream. It was basically a pimped-out version of MS Paint, complete with animations, pre-drawn graphics and killer sound effects. Hearing that "OH NO!" after hitting the delete button was pretty satisfying. Please get a petition to make that the Internet's official deletion sound. 



Nostalgia for technology is no new thing, but nostalgia for websites? In the early aughts, Purevolume was a hot bed for discovering new acts, primarily those of mall goth/emo affiliation. Think vintage MySpace without the social content.



Everything that is beautiful and wonderful and probably rendered in a faded '70s hue makes it way onto Pinterest, a social networking tool that allows users to "pin" images/videos/what have you to their "pinboard" to share. Everything on the site is adorable with a capital "A."

Ari Graynor

Ari Graynor

Chances are if you've seen Ari Graynor in a movie she was acting intoxicated. As Meadow's roommate Caitlin on The Sopranos, as Caroline in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and as Katie in For A Good Time Call, and more, Graynor's perfected the sloppy drunk badgirl routine. Though the raspy actress can do more than just appear spout curse words and appear tipsy, she's just pretty damn good at it.

Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth

This DJ-producer specializes in the kind of inclusive, feel-good remixes and sets pioneered by Girl Talk, ones where a month-old pop song can be an occasion for both instant nostalgia and sweaty dancing. 

Brooke Candy

Brooke Candy

Many people probably saw Grimes' video for "Genesis" and thought (among other things), who is this alien-esque woman in a metallic armor bodysuit with long pink cornrows? 'Twas Brooke Candy, the rapper and stripper whose Tumblr cyberpunk meets Hustler aesthetic has earned her a cult following. The video for her song "Das Me" finds her dancing on top of a hot pink limo as it cruises down a bland suburban street while she beseeches the people of the universe to jiggle their asses. 

Zoey 101

The Quinn and Logan Romance on ‘Zoey 101’

Zoey 101 was running a little thin on ideas around the fourth season, so they decided to shake things up with the unlikely romantic pairing of Quinn Pensky and Logan Reese. The brainy Quinn and the obnoxious Logan were bitter enemies for years, but during one fateful moment on a bench they kissed and became Quogan (or Linn, depending on your preference.) They kept their romance secret until the series finale, but it inspired fan fiction stories by Zoey diehards. 

In This Article: Millennials

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