Younger generations aren’t silent

When Reddit users aren’t throwing tantrums over being told they can’t cyberbully fat people, it can be a great place. It provides a voice to niche communities, creating space for online discourse in an open setting for all who wish to participate in “subreddits” of interest. One particular subreddit that caught my eye is r/lostgeneration. To let the community speak for themselves, here’s their introduction:

This subreddit was forged about the same time the economy went to hell, lamenting the sorry state of the economy, the problems of an educated (and sometimes over-educated) young workforce having troubles finding employment despite “doing everything right”, and just what this generation is supposed to do when the usual markers of adulthood (kids, house, marriage) have been pushed back in the name of higher education/income potential, along with the collective reorganization of a new set of values.

The front page is littered with articles and discussions on the current economic climate – usually revolving around issues that young adults face. Regardless as to the various articles posted and discussion threads started, the singular guarantee is that everything is depressing.

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Boasting over 23,000 subscribers, this is a collection of fears and anger from a generation feeling like their place in the world was sold before they got a chance to capitalize on it. Much of this frustration is directed at older generations, particularly Baby Boomers, who — as a generation, not necessarily as individuals — have refused to retire, and paid far less for their college education and houses, yet are the same people asking younger generations why they haven’t reached the same milestones of life they did at their age.

We’ve all heard it – “when I was your age I owned a house already!”

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Or, “I worked my way to the top from entry level. Young people don’t have any loyalty to their employers!”

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And the classic: “I worked my way through college. You don’t need that financial aid.”

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But ultimately, the message young people are being sent is that “you’re just not working hard enough, like I did. That’s why you’re not successful.”

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Protest, via Shutterstock

Protest, via Shutterstock

When the narrative is that kids these days are lazy, self-obsessed or simply lack ambition, it’s easy to see why those being labeled as such can want to vent their feelings about how society has changed, yet they’re still labeled failures for not achieving what was far easier in the past. Is it really fair to call someone a lazy failure for not achieving the same success as your elders when the task is objectively harder now than it was then?

It’s time to let go of the “bootstrap” fallacy that hard work guarantees success and riches with time, and it’s time to think about how these new circumstances will shape the future. Playing the blame game isn’t going to solve anything, but accepting there is a problem is part of the solution. It’s not as if your average grandma made the direct decisions that are affecting the economy today – we all know money talks, and those with the most of it have done an awful lot of yapping.

As a commenter in the subreddit writes:

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And another:

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Getting angry at people from previous generations isn’t productive, but spreading the understanding that young people are facing difficulties and this will have a devastating rippling effect if they can’t get into the housing or job market is important, and should be taken more seriously.

I know you walked right into that store, demanded the manager give you a job and he happily gave you one since he saw you were a real go-getter, grandpa, but doing the same nowadays would just get you arrested.


Holly Blackler is a University student in the final year of her degree, which is a double major in Political Science and Philosophy with a minor in Media. She writes on a variety of things, but focuses on social issues and international events.

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32 Responses to “Younger generations aren’t silent”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    That’s not it. His politics were always reactionary, from the time he was supported Stalin’s invasion of Finland until he became a supporter of LBJ invasion of of Vietnam.

    It was his irrational pessimism that created his politics and led him to preclude the idea of a successful American workers revolution.

  2. Indigo says:

    In terms of generalizations, yes. The contrast is very sharp. But that’s largely a media illusion. Look closely at the circumstances of the elderly, things are tough.

  3. Indigo says:

    That was a different book.

  4. 2karmanot says:

    Make that a double Kale, no organic honey, and hold the foam please baristia.

  5. 2karmanot says:

    True that, the fingers out nimble the brain.

  6. 2karmanot says:

    Exactly

  7. 2karmanot says:

    GO Blue!

  8. 2karmanot says:

    Cahillprof is right Hound, the signature of ‘shameless’ has pretty much defined the recent generations and its epicenter in American narcissism has made us the bane of the globe. I’m nearly 70, walk with a cane and managed to put up a large sign on my front gate that read ‘OCCUPY First Street’ to the distress of my Tea Party neighbors. The Boomers aren’t going gently into that dark night of the American soul and I for one still remember what a real Democracy was and tell it like it is: Over!

  9. Holly Blackler says:

    I agree, so much of what we see and get caught up in is a distraction one way or another. That is an excellent literary example, I must tuck that away for later use.

  10. Holly Blackler says:

    Bernie Sanders has definitely impressed me as a candidate that openly recognises generational differences and the death of the middle class in particular. I hope he gives Hillary a good run for her money (something she has a lot more of, which will prove a difficult hurdle to overcome), and opens some eyes about what needs to be done.

    The thing about college that irks me is that it’s now mandatory for so many entry-level positions and to be considered as a good job candidate, while the price for getting it is sky high and steadily rising. The one-two punch of it now being necessary yet so much more expensive to get is quite devastating, especially when we’re now seeing it have an effect on how young people start out in life – starting with so much debt right out of the gate is definitely harsh.

    I definitely agree about the staying at home thing – it’s easy to feel disenfranchised and that your vote doesn’t matter when that’s a message being hammered home over and over, but it’s our only shot to speak up and be heard, if enough of us get together to do so.

  11. Houndentenor says:

    Organizing can happen online. It’s actually now easier to get a message out than ever. What matters, though, is showing up at the polls which young people didn’t do when I was a 20something (30 years ago *sigh*) either. There are only two forms of political power for citizens in this country…voting and money. If your group isn’t donating millions, then you’d better be able to turn out the vote. Why do you think some of the voting restrictions are targeted at college students?

  12. Houndentenor says:

    Yes, but you also must know far more who were good on those things who are now Tea Partier assholes. Every group has exceptions, but it should be worrying people that a generation is leaving behind a scorched earth. if you don’t like that, then do something about it rather than shaming people for saying the obvious.

  13. Houndentenor says:

    I realize that the 20-somethings I meet are mostly the best of the best, those who got into a good school and have managed to stay there, but I’m mostly impressed by millenials. Yes, their handwriting is atrocious (as if that’s a needed skill any more) and other old-timer complaints, but they are smart, much better informed than my peers were at that age, and facing a lot of problems that my generation should have already fixed but instead made worse (climate change, the deficit, etc.). They have been screwed and frankly it will serve my generation right (I’m 52) if they pull the plug on us when we get old because there’s no reason they should pay for our benefits when we clearly (collectively at least) didn’t give a fuck about price-gouging them for a college education at ridiculously high fees plus high interest rates.

    I’m on something of a campaign to get them to vote. I know they follow the issues that matter to them. Vote third party if you don’t like the mainstream ones, but don’t just stay home. Staying home says to those in power that you don’t care and that they needn’t pay attention to what you care about. or just vote against incumbents for a few election cycles. (That would change things significantly if they were more afraid of voters than losing big donors.) But register and vote. The effects won’t be immediate but if those in power didn’t think it would make a difference, they wouldn’t be working so hard to keep young people from voting. The same goes for poor and minority voters. it will make a difference and those trying to keep people from voting know that.

  14. cambridgemac says:

    Well, this boomer (1952) knows dozens of peers in low and modest wage jobs – or now retired – who took considerable risks as Freedom Riders and antiwar activists and community organizers and peace corps volunteers. Funny how we were never asked about turning the US into an aggressive oligarchy. I guess we missed the memo.

  15. cambridgemac says:

    Getting “generations” to fight each other is one more ploy of the 1%-owned media. Like stirring up race hatred. It keeps attention away from the 1%. Sort of like Zaphod Beeblebrox, of whom Douglas Adams said his job as President of the Galaxy was to keep everyone from noticing who was running the show.

  16. cambridgemac says:

    Bingo! Plus two other things – 1) and pension and 2) having enough savings to last a few months without earnings. I was born in 1952 and your description of middle class fits. It’s still the reality in Canada and Northern Europe.

  17. cambridgemac says:

    Unfortunately, the clear-eyed analysis of the students in Ann Arbor (and Madison) is not shared by their peers around the country…. yet.

  18. caphillprof says:

    I am unsure that blaming gets one anywhere particularly now that people are mostly shameless.

    Basically the government–federal, state and local– need to provide an economy for everyone, not just for the 1%. And this will not happen until we repair our broken Citizens United government

    If you want a preview of our coming “economy” look at water rationing in California.

  19. Bill_Perdue says:

    If he though the Joads were temporarily embarrassed millionaires then Steinbeck was an idiot.

  20. Last Resort says:

    Let’s just hope that there’s something left for our children after the boomers wreck most of it by they’re on their thankless deathbeds and that we don’t become as vile as the boomers aka the worst generation ever.

  21. aliomadison says:

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  22. aliomadison says:

    ✯✯✮✭✬✰✩▓▓▓▓

    °☯$☯°. I just agree… Ruby `s comment is astonishing, on thursday I got a brand new Volkswagen Golf GTI from having earned $6134 this month and-also, 10 grand this past munth . with-out a doubt this is the most financialy rewarding Ive had . I actually started six months/ago and pretty much straight away was earning more than $79.. per-hour . ..

    you can see more info this link………↷↷↷↷

    ➽➽http://www.RealDollers/IncomeNet~ToEarn.Com

    Click☰☲☱☰☲☱☲☰☱☰☱☲☱☰☲☱☲☱☰☲☰☲☱☰☲☱☰☲☱☰☲☱☰☲☱

  23. Knottwhole says:

    Spend some time in Ann Arbor Michigan, The youth are not blaming the boomers. They’re blaming the owners of their debt. They can’t afford a mortgage because the interest is higher on a student loan. Indentured servitude is the pox on them all.
    This nation is rightly doomed.

  24. Indigo says:

    That’d be a jumbo green tea smoothie with kale, wouldn’t it?

  25. Indigo says:

    But it’s so much easier to theorize on the keyboard.

  26. BeccaM says:

    I was born in 1963. As far as I’m concerned, ‘middle class’ means earning enough on one person’s full-time income to support a family in reasonable comfort. Owning a house, at least one car, there being no question about the kids being able to go to college if they want to, and having enough money left over to save for retirement — not to mention taking the occasional family vacation.

    Nowadays, if you ask a family if they can have a life like that, they laugh.

  27. nicho says:

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” ― John Steinbeck

  28. nicho says:

    And as long as they keep sitting at home pecking away at their keyboards, thinking they are actually doing something, the One Percent will be happier than shit. It’s like the idiots who spend their time on hook-up sites, lying to one another and talking about meet-ups that never happen think they have an active “social life.” I always laugh when I read “not into the bars.” Right — or anywhere else where they have to engage face to face with other people. Get off Reddit or wherever your typing and start having community meetings where you plan things that actually happened.

  29. 2karmanot says:

    Oh what the hell…..schaudensnark is a dish best served with a double tofu burger, biggie fries and a jumbo green tea drink.

  30. Indigo says:

    The death of the middle class remains under-reported. There are still people around us so deluded they imagine themselves to be upper-middle on the basis that they had a pleasant childhood, a nice education, and currently have a good job. At best, they’re working class with jobs. Lucky them. As for the others, young or old, who are un- or underemployed, the winds of time are beginning to blow away the glitz of the pre-Reagan prosperity, leaving the scars and ruins of a military dictatorship run amok. I can see it and I’m not Gen-Y by a long stretch. The socio-economic ruin is not limited to the under 30 set. It’s pervasive and if it hasn’t hit your grandparents yet, try to be understanding, refrain from scornful snark when it does.

  31. Sean says:

    This was a fantastic read, you really illustrated the dichotomy between the generations and the world they grew up/are growing up in.

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