I keep noticing how I seem to be ahead of the curve on a lot of things. Not just politics or education, but emerging socioeconomic trends. In my last rundown, I covered my college-age theories on education policy and how they matched up with research being done by doctorate-level studies during the same time. This time, it is some of my most fiercely opposed writings from this site’s infancy, on Livejournal, now almost ten years ago that seem to be bearing fruit much like I had predicted it would.
“But the poor job market is not the only reason that recent graduates feel stuck in internships. Millennials, it is often said, want more than just a paycheck; they crave meaningful and fulfilling careers, maybe even a chance to change the world… That kind of ambition comes with a price, however. Competition for salaried high-tech jobs is fierce, so Ms. Thomas has had to settle for internships: three, so far, including at a five-person food-delivery start-up, a beauty products site and, currently, a well-known social-networking app that she asked not to name.”
New York Times, 2/16/2014
Our generation was promised the world, money, the good life, you name it… when our generation comes into the real world (if we ever leave Mom’s basement) things will not be good. We were promised a lot, and there’s really not a whole lot left for us now.
These comments were made by me while the housing bubble was peaking, about a year and eight months before the stock market began the decline that signaled the start of the Recession.
“…the explosion of internships in creative fields has led to an environment in which people, who are in fact not qualified for the jobs they desire so badly, can continue to just barely work in those fields. But we, the employers in those industries, have never explicitly told them no. We’ve never told them, hey, this profession — whether it’s film or magazine publishing or the music industry or journalism — is maybe not for you. There’s not going to be a job for you here, or maybe anywhere, so why don’t you do something else? Instead, they float from internship to internship, getting that proximity to the excitement and the cachet of those industries but never really fully being allowed in.”
“Day after day I see people walk these halls with that same idea, only to know that they are not “totally gonna go far,” and that the real world has a rude awakening in store for them. Every day I watch people, some of them older than me, bask in an idealistic, pseudo-intellectual mindset that only seems to retard their development into adults and their successful entry into the real world. I feel like an absolute misfit here not being able to simply enjoy myself and live out my college days like Flounder or Bluto. I’ve been constantly reminded by classmates that college is “just for fun,” so why do I keep taking it so seriously?”
These comments were made a few months before CNN proclaimed that job prospects were up for the graduating class that year. Sadly, my generation would not graduate for another two or three years.
“…this generation of recent college graduates ‘was brought up to believe that there should be no winners and no losers, no scrubs or MVPs. Everyone, no matter how ineptly they perform, gets a trophy.’ This idea about this generation of kids has been around for years; in 2007, Po Bronson wrote a cover story for New York Magazine called “How Not To Talk to Your Kids” that argued that contemporary parents were praising their children too much, which was creating a mind-set that everything they did was great — and making them more reluctant to fail.”
“…bodies of adults, but the spirit and soul and development of a child. It’s a wholly unhealthy condition to be in, but it is easy for a time. They call my generation the Boomerang Generation, meaning we come right back after college. The only reason we go back home is because we’re still children and we have nothing inside, so we run back to where we were children and find some sort of solace.”
In an article published in August of 2013, the US Census reported record numbers of young adults living with Mom and Dad.
“I think most of the researchers are saying it has to do with the shift, a couple of shifts, in the culture that have to do with kids seeing their goals as extrinsic as opposed to intrinsic.”
On Point, WBUR 2/13/2014
They are just more concerned with how they are put forth on the outside and how everyone else perceives them. They would rather be hollow little dolls acting out a charade of a life than actually have some fulfillment…because people are impressed with the fake little show they’ve put on.
More in Ms. McCain here.
While we’re on the subject… did this even get major news coverage?
“How are you supposed to get experience failing if failing isn’t really an option anymore… it is kinder for us to reject them than perpetuate the hope that they might one day break through.”
“The world, or at least the United States, as it seems, is going to be entering a very dangerous time period. We have children who weren’t raised by the television… they weren’t raised at all. They have vague ideas of how life is from cheesy, badly written sitcoms, and they now make a conscious effort, in a world that is not like a tv show, to make it a tv show. People play characters, and try to force their lives into set scripts. We have an entire culture who is going to come of age, and out into this world…without really having a culture. It’s an empty culture, one based on a phony world while they never made anything in their own lives matter.”
100% or not, articles like this are putting forward a stereotype, and with all stereotypes there are those who will prove it right.
“McArdle writes that she was initially skeptical of the idea that “Trophy Kids” were unique to this generation, but that after talking to people who have been hiring college graduates for decades, she’s come to realize that this generation really is different: “They demand concrete, well-described tasks and constant feedback, as if they were still trying to figure out what was going to be on the exam,” and quotes an employer who told the author of the book Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, ‘It’s very hard to give them negative feedback without crushing their egos.’ ”
“SERIOUSLY MAN!!! THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN HAVING BITCH FITS!!! I hate to say it, but you are the pynical of EMO at this point. Lesson for a man who refuses to listen, BE FUCKING HAPPY!!!”
“you bitch and bitch and bitch about not having a girlfriend and then when an opportunity comes up for you to have one you go running like a fucking immature baby and make up reasons why you don’t want it, and then you wonder why you’re not happy. Wake up.”
Anonymous Comments to GenerationExtant, 3/27/2006.
Note how both seem to have some sort of personal stake in their anger, the first probably from being told he or she is not living up to certain standards (or “perfection”) and the other from being seemingly snubbed, rejected, or disagreed with in the past by yours truly.
“Lila McCain, the mother of Karen Douglas, a senior at Newton North High School who committed suicide in October, empathized with stressed-out teenagers: ‘I feel for the teenagers of today, they clearly have a very stressful environment, social media doesn’t help, they have to realize… life isn’t perfect, and that’s the beauty of it. And… it’s okay to not have good days… it’s perfectly normal to not be perfect. I really feel like we Photoshop our lives… we share all the good things on Facebook… but there’s so much more to life than that.’
On Point, WBUR 2/13/14
“it’s just nice to know that even though we’re born with the ability to know we’re content, we’re also born with the ability to know that we are not. Sadly, we tend to spend the rest of our lives trying to forget what we were born with. Distress is natural, so is anger and hate and fear and all that other stuff that is considered a weakness in humanity. We seem to try to simply negate and ignore our weaknesses rather than confront them, understand them, and use them in the way best suited to our life.”
There needs to be more focus not just on positivity and making sure things are “good” but also on how to handle the bad when it comes along.
“The big shift therapeutically now, what we’re trying to to do respond to this… is teaching kids to accept the imperfection and saying ‘that is not going to change, how do you change in response to that fact?’ ”
On Point, WBUR 2/13/14
“We’re in the midst of what I call “Generation Stressed, which really refers to a generation of incredibly stressed out parents raising a generation of stressed out kids. Parents are more stressed than they’ve ever been, and the stress is contagious… and unfortunately our teens don’t have great role models in terms of how to manage this stress.”
On Point, WBUR 2/13/14
“Throughout my entire life, I remember slogans and propaganda “you are special” “you are unique” “the power of positive thinking.” And yet, at the same time my generation has been bombarded, possibly more than ever before, with influences of media which paint an absurdly inaccurate picture of life that will be: our future. We see certain people, broadly drawn caricatures of society, and their piffling troubles that the writers make important to resolve in a half hour, full hour, whatever the time format. We are inundated with the Tanners, the Seavers, Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski, MTV… and suddenly our young minds put it all together.
All of those slogans are meant to make us like these people!
If we think positive, and believe we are special, we will end up like these people: with their problems, but ultimately happy at Bayside High. So the die is cast: we have been influenced, and we now know what we should be in our lives.
But what if we have a thought, or an idea, or something happens in our lives that stands in the way of this unattainable ideal of bubblegum utopia? Repression! We simply push it away, hide it, try to ignore it in our pursuit of a greater life, a simpler life, a sitcom life that absolutely cannot be achieved, yet we are still convinced that we can. And, because there are no parents present to shake their heads and say “this is asinine!” and explain to their children the difference between the Tanners and real life, the children fall into a trap that is nearly impossible to escape.
“Something I feel may be the most critical aspect culturally, which is, ‘life is not perfect.’ But the culture seems to be telling the kids it’s supposed to be perfect. The biggest change I’ve seen over the past two decades with teenagers is the striving for perfection and then the inability to cope if they fall short.”
On Point, WBUR 2/13/14
“I feel like I’m surrounded by shallow hollow husks of human beings with fragile character shells built up by too many years of Saved by the Bell and Full House. There is this overly happy and wholly unrealistic caricature of society that my generation is adhering to, and I want none of it.”
“If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed my manifesto on the confused and disillusioned youth present today, and how they are struggling to find an identity, purpose, and tangibility in their slowly crumbling, not-like-it-is-on-TV lives. At the same time they feel their lives crumbling, they try to hold it together however they can, often repressing their true impulses and idiosyncrasies in the hopes of fitting a pre-destined “norm.”
“I’m angry because I expected more from this situation.
I’m sad because I was hoping this wasn’t the same old thing.
And I’m frustrated because I wish this would stop happening.”
I highly suggest, if you have the time, to at least listen to the first 20 minutes of this:
It’s not just that I’m being proven right, it’s that all of us together can do some good and make things work out right.