Would you give this millennial’s open letter to Yelp a bad rating?

UPDATE, FEB. 25, 2016: Stefanie Williams’ open letter responding to Talia Jane’s (real name Talia Ben-Ora) open letter has received its very own open letter in return.

FILE - In this July 25, 2015 file photo, traders gather at the post that handles Yelp, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. While Google, Netflix and Amazon.com all soared to new heights after their recent quarterly reports, Apple, Twitter and Yelp were all ravaged for disappointing performances. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
FILE – In this July 25, 2015 file photo, traders gather at the post that handles Yelp, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. While Google, Netflix and Amazon.com all soared to new heights after their recent quarterly reports, Apple, Twitter and Yelp were all ravaged for disappointing performances. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

GQ writer Nicole Silverberg penned a sarcastic response on Feb. 23 that called out both Williams and Ben-Ora.

“It seems to me that you (Stefanie) wanted to prove to you (Talia Jane) that you are, somehow, even more of a millennial than Talia Jane and that Talia Jane is ‘doing it wrong.’ I love this, because I think it’s important for women to publicly correct their peers and hone their one-upmanship while ultimately reducing our generation to a series of broad stereotypes, which I will soon do. And that’s why I’m really here. To one-up you all,” Silverberg wrote.

Silverberg also criticized both women for using something as serious as a layoff for #trending content.

“Sometimes I feel like my life isn’t trending. The need to put out exciting content is staggering, when in actuality I just want to scroll through Facebook while I nostalgia-binge seven seasons of ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer‘ in the background so I can tell my friends in a week that I nostalgia-binged all seven seasons of ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.'”

Other publications have penned their own reactions, including this one from Upton Saiidi of CNBC, which argues even though Ben-Ora and Williams can both be classified as millennials, they came of age in radically different economic times.

That’s not all, though. Ben-Ora herself has written a follow-up piece on Medium, called “An Open Letter To You.”

In this letter, Ben-Ora gives the reader an update of sorts. No longer employed at Yelp, she said she wants to use her experience as a way to help others in the Bay Area who are feeling the same money squeeze she felt.

“Call me entitled, but I don’t think you should be barred from growing and exploring and taking risks because your income isn’t in proportion with the cost of living in your area,” Ben-Ora wrote.

As of now, there’s no open letter from Yelp.


EARLIER, FEB. 23, 2015: A former Yelp employee’s angry open letter to her boss went viral earlier this week, documenting how much the 25-year-old said she had to stretch her finances to afford to live in the Bay Area and work at the food-rating app at the same time.

Medium user Talia Jane, who was employed in Yelp’s customer service department until last weekend, posted “An Open Letter To My CEO” on the free blogging site on Feb. 19, and it quickly got the Internet’s attention.

“I haven’t bought groceries since I started this job. Not because I’m lazy, but because I got this ten pound bag of rice before I moved here and my meals at home (including the one I’m having as I write this) consist, by and large, of that. Because I can’t afford to buy groceries,” the post reads.

Talia Jane detailed everything about her job and her debt in the post, including the fact that she spends most of her paycheck on rent in “the cheapest place I could find that had access to the train, which costs me $5.65 one way to get to work.”

She also discussed the company’s perceived retention rate among members of her generation, and how hard it was to pay utilities and phone bills while making “$8.15 an hour after taxes.”

Talia Jane was hoping to use her customer service gig as a way to work her way up to running some of the site’s social media accounts.

She was fired from her job in customer service later the same day, according to an update she posted after publication. The update also includes contact info to donate money to her Venmo and PayPal accounts.

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman tweeted a response to the post later that day in response to Talia Jane’s firing, stating the decision to let her go had nothing to do with the blog post.

Reactions to Talia Jane’s post garnered strong reactions from readers. Some firmly sided with her, while others vehemently claimed she had nobody to blame but herself for her financial woes.

One reader in the latter camp wrote her response Saturday afternoon, a day after Talia Jane was fired. Medium user Stefanie Williams explains why she feels the issues outlined in “An Open Letter to My CEO” are misguided.

Williams’ post, titled “An Open Letter to Millennials Like Talia…” tells her story of working several part-time jobs in the hope that she would one day be able to have a career.

“When I was 22, I was let go from an office job…I, too, was an English major. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that. Work in marketing? Try my hand at journalism again? PR? No clue. All I knew was my dreams of being able to move out and live in the City with my friends had just been dashed,” Williams wrote.

However, Williams said those setbacks didn’t stop her. First she got a job as a hostess at a local bar. Then she became a cocktail waitress. Later she moved up to the weekend bartending shift.

“A year later, I was making enough money to move into the City with my best friend. I worked four days a week making anywhere between $50,000 and $60,000 a year — more than many of my former classmates with much more flexibility and far better hours. I was able to travel three times a year, go out with my friends, pay rent, pay for groceries. Above all, I was able to write. And at 26, I signed to United Talent Agency in LA and began my journey into television screenplay writing,” Williams wrote.

Williams argues she was able to do all of the things mentioned in the above quote because she worked hard at jobs she didn’t like in order to get to a place of comfort later. Her advice for Talia Jane?

“Trust me when I say, there are far more embarrassing things in life than working at a restaurant, washing dishes, or serving burgers at a fast food window. And one of them, without one shred of doubt, is displaying your complete lack of work ethic in public by asking for handouts because you refuse to actually do work that at the ripe old age of 25 that you think is unworthy of your witty tweet creating time.

“You wanted to write memes? Darling, you just became one.”

What do you think? Do you side with Talia Jane or with Stefanie Wiliams? Sound off in the comments.




Author: Jake Harris

Social Content Producer for the Austin American-Statesman.

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