… What Exactly Is a Millennial Pause, and Are You Guilty of It?


You know when you have to film yourself, and you wait a few beats before you start talking (or dancing, or whatever it is you’re wanting to film). Well, if you’re a millennial, you likely don’t know because turns out, millennials don’t even realise they’re doing it. As for Gen Z? They don’t do it at all.

What we’re talking about here is the ‘millennial pause’. It’s a term coined by Boston-based TikToker @nisipsa last year, who shared a video of Taylor Swift pausing for a split-second before jumping into “Hey, guys”.

“God! Will she ever stop being relatable,” said @nisipisa in her video.

@nisipisa #stitch with @taylorswift ♬ All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) – Taylor Swift

For millennials, pausing at the start of a video is standard, as growing up, you needed to give the equipment a few moments to start — and to ready yourself for the camera, too. Unless you were a TV reporter or loved filming yourself on VHS videos growing up, you probably weren’t in front of the camera all that often.

Related: The Borders Are Open, So Why Are Australians Ignoring Japan?

Related: No More Avo Toast: Turns Out, Millennials Actually Take Savings and Super Very Seriously

Gen Z, on the other hand, film themselves constantly — and there are no cringey “is this thing on?” pauses, because they trust the tech will work. But with short-form videos the preferred content these days — Reels, TikTok and YouTube Shorts — the millennial pause is becoming more and more obvious, and is now basically the equivalent cringe of a boomer wishing a friend ‘Happy Birthday’ — on their own Facebook page.

It’s not an isolated phenomenon, either. Rather, it’s part of what The Atlantic writer Kate Lindsay calls millennial internetisms. In her piece, ‘Are You Sure You’re Not Guilty of the ‘Millennial Pause’?, she writes that once she noticed the millennial pause, she started noticing her age in other parts of her Internet (still capitalised, or is that a millennial quirk?) experience.

“I get confused whenever Instagram changes its layout,” she writes. “I use GIFs to make jokes in Slack. I have posted song lyrics on my Instagram Story.”

The differences between Gen Z and millennials are constant TikTok fodder — with the younger generation taking aim at us for our tired skinny jeans, blonde hair and love of Harry Potter.

The latest round of spot-the-age-difference circulating on the platform is a hand gesture. In a video posted this month, user @zoii.tsa shows workers in a café being asked to do a specific hand signal, with overlaying text that reads: “Guess the millennial”.

@zoii.tsa Gen z vs. millennial 👀💖 #guesswho #fyp ♬ Good Day – Nappy Roots

The person filming goes up to their co-workers gesturing to them to complete her heart hand gesture. While all the Gen Z workers use their index and middle finger, the one millennial completes the heart with her index finger and her thumb.

While many commenters called the Gen Z way of heart-ing awkward, others said their fingers didn’t even fold that way. For some millennials, though, the clip proved to be extremely handy with one commenting: “Not me, an elder millennial legit practicing this move so if anyone ever does it to me I’m READY.”

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.