Let’s talk about this.
It’s a cute post that’s been circulating on Facebook this week as the apparent answer to why generation Y is unhappy. Spoiler: because our expectations are inflated. This is total bullshit. Like many people who write about Gen Y/Millenials, this writer (artist? MSPainter?) misses what the anger is about.So let’s break it down:
A second GYPSY delusion comes into play once the GYPSY enters the job market. While Lucy’s parents’ expectation was that many years of hard work would eventually lead to a great career, Lucy considers a great career an obvious given for someone as exceptional as she, and for her it’s just a matter of time and choosing which way to go.
Wait, what? How many people actually did this? When I walked out of college in 2007 I was terrified that I didn’t have a job lined up yet. When we got our first round of entry level jobs we were grateful and happy and hardworking. Hey it was the first step to a real career! We were going to make it! No minimum wage jobs for us anymore!
“Sure,” Lucy has been taught, “everyone will go and get themselves some fulfilling career, but I am unusually wonderful and as such, my career and life path will stand out amongst the crowd.” So on top of the generation as a whole having the bold goal of a flowery career lawn, each individual GYPSY thinks that he or she is destined for something even better –
A shiny unicorn on top of the flowery lawn.
When Occupy Wall Street happened people dismissed the protesters as a bunch of over educated debt dodgers who just needed to get a job, dammit, and stop complaining. As if there was nothing wrong with the system we live in. Bullshit.
The system we have now is to maximize profits as much as possible for the top tiers of any industry at the expense of labor. My generation has less spending/saving power than my parents’ generation. Federal minimum wage is still at $4.50 and if you’re a server that could drop as low as $2.50 an hour (because your tips are always guaranteed to remain a constant $2 an hour). Wages have stagnated across the board compared to the actual cost of things.
So when Gen Y complains that things aren’t fair it’s because they entered the workforce during a shitty economy that’s the result of shitty decisions made by the generation hiring them. Gen Y is pissed because asking for things like health benefits or wages that match cost of living or retirement funding are things their parents got when they entered the workforce. We assumed we’d be getting a similar package, something that would enable us to do what our parents and grandparents did: settle down, build families, buy houses, save for retirement. Maybe take a vacation once in a while. Wanting these things isn’t aspiring to the unattainable. It’s wanting very basic things.
To compare. I am 29. I got married at 27. We do not have kids. I’m a full time grad student now, which I’m paying for out of pocket after working full time as a teacher and saving for a year for tuition. My husband joined the Navy to get a full time job with benefits that will later pay for college because he didn’t have the resources to put himself through on loans and the wage jobs he could get did not pay enough to make rent.
My parents at 29, had two kids, full time jobs, and a house. They had a rough time when my dad went back to school for his MS and then later PhD but at least he got a stipend and some help from the university. Enough that they could make a third kid happen. They were poor, but they weren’t so poor they couldn’t feed, shelter, and clothe three children.
That’s what Gen Y is complaining about when they say things aren’t as they used to be. It’s not just that we have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps or whatever lame idiom you want to use. It’s that many of us are putting off significant milestones (getting married, buying a house, having kids) because we’re in so much debt, everything is expensive, and we’re not getting paid enough to cover it all.
Stop talking about the reasons why Gen Y is so narcissistic or entitled and maybe start listening to what they’re saying. The system is fucked up. The older generations just can’t feel the water boiling.