CLEVELAND, Ohio — When Caitlin Fisher wrote a blog post two and a half years ago titled “The Gaslighting Of The Millennial Generation,” she didn’t know how many people would end up reading it.
The post went viral and the article has been expanded into a full-fledged book, released late last month.
Fisher, an author based in Cleveland, was originally inspired from a conversation she had with her sister. At the time, her sister had two jobs, serving at a restaurant and tutoring at an elementary school.
“She was cobbling together a living wage while living with me and my partner at the time,” Fisher said. “This one time I kind of went off, and I said, ‘Everybody whines about the millennials being entitled babies, but I feel like we’re doing great, and we’re doing the best with what we have.’”
Fisher, who is 31, said that she and her friends regularly experienced criticism because their age. Often, she said, they were called entitled or lazy — even when working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
She shared her thoughts in her blog, Born Again Minimalist, connecting insults thrown at millennials with gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse. When somebody is gaslighted, they are manipulated to doubt themselves and their concerns through a gradual twisting of narrative.
Fisher posted an article: “The Gaslighting Of The Millennial Generation.”
The article stated: “Society as a whole loves to hate on the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999), calling us ‘special snowflakes’ and sarcastically referring to us as ‘social justice warriors,’ calling us out for ‘being offended by everything’ and, everybody’s favorite, pointing out how very entitled we are. Here’s the secret: We’re not.”
Instead of Fisher’s usual 100 or so readers, the article received millions of views.
“It went totally viral and absolutely freaked me out,” she said. “For this to become the phenomenon that it did, it absolutely floored me.”
The article also received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. Some felt like the complaints raised in Fisher’s article were valid, and some viewed it as whiny. Others felt that her use of the germ “gaslighting” was inappropriate.
“I used it on purpose, I used it to grab attention, and to really point out that honestly the way older generations treat the next one is problematic and has some abusive qualities,” Fisher said. ”I feel like that phrase did connect with the people I was talking to and the people who really responded well to the blog.”
One email Fisher received stood out from the rest — an offer from a literary agent to represent her. The agent helped her to write a book proposal and sample chapters, forming a pitch.
Mango, an independent book publisher based in Miami, Florida, picked up the book.
“The Gaslighting Of The Millennial Generation” is Fisher’s first book. She has done freelance work in copywriting and social media content for the past few years, and has written personally since she was in high school.
The book incorporates more research and intersectional studies than the blog post did. She cites books like “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America” by Bruce Gibney, “Millennials Rising” by Neil Howe and “The Next America” by Paul Taylor. The book also utlizes generational data from the Pew research center.
Some chapters delve into issues like racism and educational standards — topics that weren’t originally discussed in Fisher’s blog post.
“I definitely wanted to be intersectional in my approach. I did not just want to be a white lady yelling at the void,” Fisher said. “I wanted to make sure my research also spanned a lot of different topics and I wasn’t just creating an echo chamber.”
The book launched on May 15, and Fisher celebrated locally with a launch party at re/dress. The millennial-themed event included avocado toast and pink drinks. (“We gave away participation trophies,” she said, laughing.)
Fisher hopes her book can give some millennials hope.
“I’d just like people to know that they’re not crazy for expecting more out of life, and that it’s not normal to have to burn yourself out to just make ends meet,” she said. “My message is to just go forth and keep killing it.”
Copies of “The Gaslighting Of The Millennial Generation” can be purchased on Mango’s website or on Amazon.