Millennial journalist goes on crusade of rage against air-conditioning
Is Taylor Lorenz the most privileged journalist in America?
The Atlantic writer concretizes the stereotype of Millennials as mollycoddled paintywaists with no firsthand experience of actual suffering. She was once the target of widespread internet ridicule for admitting to paying $22 for avocado toast, a half-toasted piece of bread with a smear of green-hued sludge that looked as though it had been scooped and spread with an ice pick. She also outed a quartet of internet-famous sisters, revealing that their mother is Pamela Geller, the vocal critic of Islam. The result was predictable: the sisters were the victims of extreme vituperation, receiving violent threats and losing their popular talk show — all for the sin of not choosing their own mother.
When Lorenz isn't outing hapless social celebrities, she's waging her own jihad against modern convenience. Islam for Pamela Geller is air-conditioning for Lorenz. She describes the refrigerant-circulating machine as "unhealthy, bad, miserable, and sexist." Her beef with A.C. is in the office, where, deprived of central climate control, she is at the whims of her toasty male coworkers, who demand a suitable temperature in the summer for working. All she's really suggesting, you see, is "raising office temps a few degrees in the summer."
In response to her first loaded description, Lorenz went farther, engaging in a fatuous form of ratiocination: "Like buy a fan. Ur not gonna die lol. I should be able to wear dresses in the summer and not get hypothermia."
The imprecatory jeremiad against air-conditioning actually isn't new. The Luddite hatred of artificially chilling the indoors popped up a few years ago online, making its mainstream debut in a Washington Post piece presumptively titled "I don't need air-conditioning, and neither do you." The author, general-interest reporter Karen Heller, embraced the term "humble-brag" to describe her A.C.-free Philadelphia home, lecturing the reader about the subjective nature of temperature and the human body. "[C]omfort is really just what you're used to," she explained, quoting a lunatic who refuses air-conditioning in Tempe, Ariz., despite it reaching over 100 degrees in his home.
Normally, I'm pretty open to arguments about how modern technology has tainted our prelapsarian innocence. But remonstrances against air-conditioning should hold little purchase in Anno Domini 2019. Yes, we spend less time sweltering in the hot sun. We don't get to experience the atavistic glories of heat stroke as often. And, yes, without air-conditioning, our electricity use would decline, marginally helping the environment.
In that vein, if you eliminated the internet and the need for computers, with all their circuit boards and batteries and unrecyclable plastic, we could cut down on even more pollution. Nobody is calling for that, because we make a tradeoff between technology and waste. Air-conditioning is part of that bargain, and one few are willing to give up.
Really, though, the problem niche reporters like Lorenz have with air-conditioning is about their own comfort. Lorenz wants sundresses inside during the summer without the indignity of dawning a cardigan or — cue horror! — draping a throw over her legs. It's about the most decadent grievance ever formulated.
Seth Mandel calls the anti-A.C. crusade "an incredible marker of privilege." So it is. Lorenz would get more fulfillment reporting on any of life's actual exigencies rather than the first-world problems of high-hat Millennials.