Column: Die, nuppie, die

Each generation of Americans produces dominant social groups that come to define a decade.

The 1950s had the beatniks.

The 1960s and 1970s had the hippies. (Just like the Baby Boomers to hoard two decades to themselves. The bastards.)

The 1980s had the yuppies. (Sweet lord, make that three decades.)

The 1990s had what New York Times columnist David Brooks calls the bobos, who are yuppies with a social conscience.

What about the 2000s? This decade has, as Reason magazine recently pointed out, the nomadic urban professionals, or nuppies.

I am writing because as much as I like Reason, and I really do, I don’t like this word nuppie. As a so-called “nuppie,” I am making an effort to stop this inaccurate, effete term before it catches on in pop culture. The minute Stephen Colbert, South Park or Anderson Cooper uses the word nuppie on television – game over. Hence, my desperate plea.

The first reason this word must be struck from our cultural dictionary is that it is not accurate. My main problem is with the word nomadic. It does not fit.

We do not travel as a tribe like nomads do. We move individually. Unlike nomads, we have fixed addresses, so that Netflix can find us. Most importantly our movements are not aimless. If they were, two million 28-year-olds would have wound up in North Platte, Neb., for no apparent reason, which would be pretty awesome, but has never happened.

(Above: North Platte, Neb., a great place for herding cattle, a great place for proving my point.)

I also object to the intellectual laziness that has lumped nuppies in with the rest of the “-ppies.” Please do not label us as “-ppies.” We share little in common with the other “-ppies” except the delicate letter grouping at the end of our names.

We are too concerned with our careers to be hippies and we have not done enough cocaine to be yuppies. Our kindred spirit is the hobo. We move from town to town in search of work and play. The Honda Civic is our bindle.

Finally, I dislike the mental image the word conjures. Nuppies do not sound like a group of respectable, hard-working individuals. Nuppie sounds like the name of a freshwater fish that lives in an upscale aquarium and quotes articles from The Economist. “Ashley dear, come out of the castle at once so I can tell you what Paul Krugman wrote about wage inequality.” Both of these fish, in my mind, are dressed as if they’re about to play tennis. Their 15-year-old fish son hates them.

As a professional who moved to Los Angeles by way of Washington and Cleveland, I would prefer to be called something else. My people have left the comforts of home to inject life into corporations, organizations and downtowns nationwide. At least let us pick the name the media will slander us with when one of our white-collar brethren is sent to prison.

I have given this idea much thought.

Instead of nuppie, I think we need a new word that describes the impact we’re having on the world and the workplace, something that is both more accurate and more awesome, something like – and I really have given this a lot of thought – Mobile Business Labor Commandos, or moblacoms.

What would you rather have someone call you?

A nuppie?

Or a moblacom?

I rest my case.

I am smart enough to know that a word can’t be forced on the world, just as one can’t pick a nickname for oneself, which is why no one in high school called me Thunderheart. But I would like to make the case for the accuracy of the term moblacom.

We are mobile, which is defined as “capable of moving or being moved.” This is a better word than nomadic, which describes a group of people at whom one always wants to shout, “What’s wrong with right over there? There is nothing wrong with right over there! Right over there looks fine.”

We are business labor. Being business labor allows us to purchase condos, get married and buy New Balance shoes. We like being business labor.

We are commandos. Commandos are members of special-forces units. As in-demand professionals we have special skills. Plus, have you seen how many of us wear camouflage for no apparent reason? We love it. That has to mean something. A nuppie would never wear a camo shirt, jeans and Timberlands to the office.

You know who would?

A member of Team Moblacom, that’s who.

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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