Critique and graphic by: Chris Talbot-Heindl
For me, no single other demographic is quite getting the pummeling currently as the millennials. It’s shocking, actually, that an entire age range of 20 years could be lambasted constantly in “news” sources as other generations nod their heads in agreement, raising a toast to the failure that is this generation of so-called slackers and gimme-gimmes.
I’m not sure who said it first, Huffington Post or Time Magazine, but one of those gossip rags purporting to be journalistic papers started what has turned into a constant barrage of hateful blame and mudslinging, sanctioned by mass media, and strengthened by other demographics I like to refer to as “mom,” and “grandma.” (Not mine; of course, mine are way too sophisticated for this kind of bullshit.)
Yesterday, I got in my second Internet-staged public disagreements with “grandma,” a 60-something year old posting on my aunt’s Facebook page. It was started with someone I like to call, Coat-tail Rider, who wrote an article about the supposed psychology behind the eternal disappointment known as my generation. The article went something like this: mommy and daddy held their hands their whole lives and now they can’t handle anything difficult.
Yeah. Nice one. Almost as intelligent or well thought out as the spectacular theory that Mister Rogers turned us all into narcissistic assholes by telling us we were special.
Like so many idiots before you, you are making the mistake of believing that everything happens in a vacuum, totally unaffected by other aspects of life, society, history, economics, etc. As if the psychology of helplessness is just because we’re all vapid, whiny, ingrates, and not at all because there are not enough good-paying, career-path, fulfilling jobs out there for the amount of people who are qualified for them.
The Huffington Post article all but claimed that millennials are so ridiculously naïve and deluded as to think that some magical unicorn will sweep us up and take us to a beautiful meadow where we will find our ideal place of employment and live happily ever after. This was also my aunt’s friend’s interpretation of the situation.
“If the parents of millennials had done their jobs as parents and aught [sic] them to problem solve and take responsibility for their choices as children in the first place, they would not be ’30 years old’ and unable to function as adults,” she began.
After I responded to the post of the article, she took it upon herself to make assumptions of my experience and to tell me that “Opportunities don’t appear by majic [sic], you have to create your own opportunities by networking, volunteering, working jobs that are available, and using your talents wherever you can.”
Opportunities appearing by “majic?” Nobody thinks that; however, we did believe that if we worked hard since high school, put ourselves through college, got the internships, volunteered enough, took the low-paying entry-level position that had nothing to do with our intended field but proved that we somehow were contributing, that eventually a career path would form given enough applications and calls.
What we didn’t count on was that our generation would be the most educated generation of U.S. history, and that by the time we finished getting our education, all the jobs that would have been those career paths would be outsourced, automated, or in other ways gone. Gone.
No manufacturing jobs to pay off our student loan debt; the surest way of getting rid of it or of working a summer job to pay for the schooling during the year, according to everyone I know from the previous generation. Those were outsourced.
No career-path internships. Instead, companies want you to stay in those internships indefinitely (where they offer things such as “exposure” or “a fun work environment” instead of wages), and have an additional service job to pay your bills.
No apprenticeships. Why would anyone show the next generation how to do something that the previous generation needs to continue to do since they have no guaranteed social security?
But forget all that. We’re all a bunch of whiny couch dwellers who need to learn the value of a hard days work.
Except we have. I’ve been working steadily since I was 12 years old.
The problem is that a hard day’s work doesn’t mean what it used to in wages.
The 60-something who implied that the reason why I couldn’t make it was because I made poor money decisions, bought things instead of living below my means, and didn’t work for what I thought I deserved (all of these implications from absolutely nowhere!…Oh, well, there was that Huffington Post article; it must be true.) informed that when she was a newly wed in 1970, she was only bringing in $596 a month! Holy cats! Only $596 per month.
Well, curious me, I went ahead and plugged that into an inflation calculator and the magic calculator informed me that $596 in 1970 would be equal to $3,629.77 a month today, or roughly $22.69 per hour. Which equates to more than what my full-time and my husband’s full-time gross income is per month.
Is that because we’re a bunch of lethargic, ungracious, layabouts? No, it’s because of a lack of opportunity, a lack of fair wages, the 600% increase on the cost of tuition, rising student loan interest rates, the housing bubble burst, the shit economy, the degraded environment, the dwindling social security, the constant wars, the inflation of the cost of living, the disappearing middle class, the outsourcing of good jobs…etc. etc. etc. I think I don’t have to mention what generation of people created this situation that we are now faced with either, so I won’t.
To think anything else in the non-vacuum we live in is naïve, lazy, and narcissistic.
But hey, I can also take her other gem of wisdom and go overseas as “we have effectivel [sic] out-sourced most of them – so if you really want a job – go overseas to China, Honduras, Bangladesh, or Viet Nam – that is where your jobs went.”