No, Kirstie Allsopp, cancelling Netflix won’t buy a house – in any location | Zoe Williams

The TV presenter has said young people who can’t afford their own home should move to cheaper areas and stop wasting money. Why do the middle-aged insist on these senseless attacks?

Kirstie Allsopp has been examining why young people can’t afford to buy houses, making the following suggestions: they should move to cheaper areas; they should spend less time at the gym; they shouldn’t waste their money on a Netflix subscription. You don’t need me to point out the flaws in her arithmetic; that vital work has already been done, not least by young people.

We all know that clashes between generations are the stupidest internecine conflicts humanity has ever been able to dream up. The only thing keeping them alive are these regular bulletins from the “things young people should stop buying if they want to afford homes” gazette.

It started in 2016, when an Australian demographer, Bernard Salt, criticised millennials for going to “hipster cafes”; by the following year, this had been distilled down to the quintessential hipster item, the avocado. If only they would forgo their fruit/vegetable on toast, they would be able to save for a deposit. Though it started in Australia, this line, like a lie, had got halfway round the world before the truth – that it would take hundreds of years before your daily avocado savings would amount to a house – had got its pants on.

Just as any coffee, so long as it was milky and Italian in genesis, came to stand in for “privileged metropolitan”, so the avocado effortlessly swelled to represent “any young person, without any defined range – so, for practical purposes, any person younger than me”. If you had coffee and avocado, that made you a privileged young person, and, therefore, in the world of food symbolism, beneath contempt, politically irrelevant.

It didn’t make a whole load of sense, but it made more sense than going after their Netflix subscriptions. It’s a platform you would be as, if not more, likely to associate with the middle-aged, so it just reinforces, surely inadvertently, the underlying message that what the middle-aged have as their birthright, the young will never deserve.

Allsopp should have gone after this generation for chilling. Even people who don’t know what “Netflix and chill” means still know that it’s a young person thing.

  • Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist


Zoe Williams

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