Last week, an article from MarketWatch went viral thanks to a very unfortunately-worded tweet that claimed retirement experts suggest people should have twice their salary saved up by the time they turn 35. This is clearly preposterous given that many 35-year-olds who attended college (and god help those with graduate degrees) are lucky enough to be freed of student debt by 35—not to mention that few have the kind of high-paying careers by that age to be awarded that kind of financial stability.
Although the article—which was quoting the advice of Fidelity investments—does recognize that for most 30-somethings this is simply just not possible and that millennials have it tougher than any previous generation, the damage was already done. Thousands took to Twitter to express their contempt and amusement at the notion with a collective “LOL.”
Several days later, Twitter is still fixated on the article, but as the internet is wont to do, “by 35” has now morphed into a sarcastic meme. And given the broad adaptability, so far it shows no sign of slowing down.
Many are using the meme to point out the mundane things most people actually accomplish by 35. Sadly, none involve putting a down payment on a summer home in the Hamptons.
By age 35 you should have a junk drawer filled with USB flash drives you’re reluctant to throw out because you don’t know what’s on them but are reluctant to plug in because… you don’t know what’s on them— aloria (@aloria) May 20, 2018
By age 35 you should have at least one fork in your cutlery drawer that you just don’t like, and actively frown at if you accidentally grab it.— Wile E. Minogue (@chrisopotamia) May 20, 2018
By age 35 you should have a huge box of cables but you can't throw them out because you're pretty sure you still need a couple of them but you're not sure which ones— Lori G 🗽 (@LoriG) May 19, 2018
By age 35 you should have a shelf full of books you can't read because they're not ebooks, but can't throw away either because you intend to read them.— Kiran Jonnalagadda (@jackerhack) May 20, 2018
by age 35 you should have a kitchen cabinet dedicated entirely to plastic bags that contain other, smaller plastic bags— vytas (@peakysblinder) May 20, 2018
By age 35 you should run into friends and say "WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOON!" twice a week. You will never hang out. You'll just scream this at each other until one of you dies.— Luke Trayser (@trukelayser) May 20, 2018
Others lamented the sad reality of adulting.
You’re supposed to have hella money saved by 35 but my debit card got declined buying a Twix bar and a Diet Coke at 41.— “The Devil Himself” Johnny Taylor (@hipsterocracy) May 21, 2018
By age 35 you should be able to re-watch Bridget Jones and think 'You're only 30 and you manage to afford to live alone?'— Emma Reynolds (away) (@EmmaIllustrate) May 20, 2018
By age 35, you should have figured out how to spell “bananas” without having to mentally sing Hollaback Girl— Jon “Jon Baker” Baker (@JonBaker) May 20, 2018
This one goes out to all the extremely online 35-year-olds.
By 35 you should have at least two abandoned blogs, one dormant podcast or streaming channel, three RPG campaigns prepped but never run, and five unfinished novels (graphic, text, or interactive).— Daniel Solis (@DanielSolis) May 20, 2018
And then there were just the funny and absurd takes on the meme.
By 35 you should have returned to your childhood home to discover the ancient evil you and your friends thought you’d defeated when you were all 12 has risen again, say retirement experts.— A.R. Moxon (@JuliusGoat) May 16, 2018
By age 35, you should have at least 10 framed pictures of Jeff Goldblum in your home.— Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) May 20, 2018
By age 35, you should have destroyed two death stars and redeemed the most feared villian in the Galaxy.— Tom McFarlin (@tommcfarlin) May 20, 2018
by 35 you should have a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife and you should ask yourself "well, how did I get here?"— oliver subpodcasts (@dylmdav) May 20, 2018
But if there’s one thing we can all take away from this exercise, the following probably best sums it up. I mean, can we live?
By age 35 you should stop paying attention to condescending life advice from strangers writing think pieces.— Hipster Viking Amy (@lasrina) May 19, 2018