What’s Up with Generation Y?

Turns out it was hot all week up in my corner of the world. For those who say global warming is a myth I say bullshit to you. Maine is by and large a pretty temperate place to be in the summer time. High eighties and nineties rarely happen and there is still a large portion of the population that doesn’t even have air conditioning. I hate heat in any form especially when I am sleeping or cooking so I have a few window units but let me tell you this weeks’ blast of summer to the extreme made me realize that my units were not nearly as high powered as they could be. And by the way old houses while they can’t hold heat in the winter time when you want them to they hug the hell out of the heat in the summer time.

So while lots of great ideas passed through the noggin this week, I was simply too spent to actually do anything other than drink cold beverages and whine and say someone turn this fuckin heat down. However between gripe sessions I did do my daily reading and stumbled across this sweet piece of story. I am starting to think those folks at the NY Times need to hire me or some real working class folks impacted by the economy so they can stop writing these bullshit ass pieces or maybe its that the folks in New York are living in a bubble separate from the rest of us. So they are unable to get a clue on what real hard times looks like.

In any event, to recap this piece in case you don’t feel like reading. We have a kid from good upper middle class stock who graduated from college 2 years and has not found a job…oh but he turned down a job paying $40,000 a year at an insurance company because well it wasn’t quite the path he wanted to go down. So until recently this kid was living at his parents’ house while they provided room and board, he now lives with his brother in Boston and his folks are paying his share of the rent until the end of August. Oh my!  

I have a lot of friends who often say I sometimes seem older than my years and maybe that is true. Just the other night I was looking at elder boy aka the college boy now and thinking back to when I was his age. Well when I was his age, he was growing in my womb and I was getting the crash course in grown up life. By the time I reached the same age as the kid in the Times piece, I had been married, divorced on the brink of remarriage and actually was making a career change all by the tender age of 24. Nowadays I meet members of the so called Generation Y and the Millennials and often think damn, you are a lazy fuck.

Look, I never planned to become a crotchety old woman saying these things but I have to be honest in the past couple of years I have seen a disturbing trend where I encounter younger folks and the expectations are that they are owed more though they have done nothing to achieve it in the work world. Look, you cannot work a year or two and expect you are going to shoot up the ladder; you got to pay your dues.

It also says a lot about how this generation which actually my son is a member of has been raised when a $40,000 a year job is looked down at. In the real world and not just rural America plenty of folks wish they had a $40,000 a year job, no it’s not a great deal of dough but if one lives frugally it can be more than enough. Generally speaking a daily latte and weekly stops at the mall won’t be happening on such a salary yet you generally can be assured of the basics of life.

Before I decided to write this piece I actually spoke to my son since I did not want him thinking I was attacking his demographic and he said he understood where I was coming from. However he said he felt it was not the entire gen Y crowd that seems delusional about their worth but that yes by and large a great deal of his peers do see themselves starting at the top rather than the bottom.

Again call me foolish but I think there is a great deal of value starting one’s professional life at the bottom, first off you get to really see the organization, field, etc. You also are still at a point in life where you are still learning who you are , where you want to go and while making a great deal of money is nice when you are young there is nothing wrong with having a little. Even though I married young when I was between husbands I had the roommate adventure, quite the journey in young cheap living. Bottom line these experiences grow us as humans, every shit job we work in our early 20’s, every shitty place we have will hopefully stay with us when we grow up and become real adults.

But the younger generations today want it all, my son’s theory is that the media is to blame and while  I want to say nah…I think he may be right. Mine was the last generation not raised on a steady diet of cable TV, yes many of my peers were the early latch key kids but there were still kids like me who did have a stay at home parent and no TV. I have said before, I got cable for the first tine when I was an adult, in fact lately as I have been checking out You Tube and I have been stunned to learn there were actually videos for many of my favorite songs in the 1980’s, granted music videos of the 80’s were primitive compared to what today’s kids see.

The media that is constantly  bombarding our kids teaches them that in order to be happy and successful you need XYZ and sadly as a nation we have fallen for the same hype which probably has a lot to do with the financial crisis we find ourselves in. After all if I wear this label or that label I will be happy. Yet its this type of imagery that our kids have digested that leave them unable to function in the real world, after all if I watch My Sweet Sixteen on MTV or whatever reality show $40,000 often sounds like a very small sum of money and you get a kid straight out of college turning down what in reality is a adequate sum of money because we have a bling bling culture where we want lots of money.

So while I hope this is not taken as a slam on younger folks I will say it’s a lesson for us all that we need to look at the values we live by as for the young man in the Times piece, hopefully he won’t be turning down anymore jobs.

ETA: This is a link today’s letters to the editor of the Times that I think are worth reading about this topic and Scott Nicholson.

13 thoughts on “What’s Up with Generation Y?”

  1. I’ve had an interesting look into how we (Generation Yers) think — I work in a place where we get a lot of interns who are often my age if not just a year or two younger. They come in thinking they’re supposed to be doing real stuff — my job! Gone are the days where an internship meant making copies, faxing things and getting coffee (apparently). These people want to be assigned real tasks with real outcomes.

    The reason, I’ve surmised, is that it’s partly because a lot of companies HAVE learned that intern labor can be beneficial. It’s often cheap, if not free, and you can work them just as hard because they want to please. Folks have experiences there and think that’s what an internship is like everywhere. That translates into the job arena because who wants to do (and get paid “appropriately” for) a job that they did for free (or cheap) as an intern? That’d be people who don’t “get it.” And “it” is that we’re in a recession. Period.

    Another moving part is higher education. Schools (specially those Top 20) have to explain why their tuition is so high (and students need to assuage their own concerns for taking out so much in student loans). One way they explain this is by suggesting that a degree from upper echelon, expensive as hell school X will make sure you get a really good job. For a few years, this was the case, and then 2008 happened and it’s a whole new ballgame. I guess no one is telling the graduates that the jobs they would’ve gotten a few years ago are going to people with twice their experience.

    The final and important part is definitely the parents. You instill a work ethic in your child and there are various ways to do it, but I assure you that the guy in this story would not have turned down that job if he wasn’t already sure that his parents were going to continue to foot the bill. If he knew he was going to have to do that on his own, $40,000 would’ve looked a heck of a lot better.

    Case in point, I know that when I quit my job in 4 weeks and go back to school, my bills are on me and me alone. I’ve known this since I decided to return to school and have prepared thusly. Of course a lot of my experiences speak right to what Kit said about white privilege. Not too many of my black friends have mommy and daddy paying for everything. Meanwhile, a good white friend of mine (we’ve known each other since middle school) spent a whole year here in DC with no job, in a nice apartment in an expensive area of town. Her family paid for that. She moved to an even more expensive apartment when she did get a job. I’m sure her annual salary is far less than my feeble federal salary. However, she was able to wait for an opportunity that “fits” her very specific educational background. An advantage for sure, but doesn’t’ do much by way of teaching a lot about making tough decisions.

  2. Interesting sis… want to make a big dumba$$ point of clarity
    Unfortunately Generation Y is lumped together based on being born from say 1980 to now lol.

    and it needs to be a clear definition..
    in my mind 1980-1990 is generation Y the HELL
    1990-current is generation Y the f$ck

    Y the Hell (of which I am) feels we got a bad rap because we bought into the whole school thingy and here we are now.. like Y THE HELL we go through all this and we feel lied to so Y THE HELL we should listen to anyone at this point! Now grant it, there are a LOT of bums in this bracket and some were just bums to begin with

    Y the F$CK on the other, is a by-product of the Reagan years..aka Reagan Rats, and have become quite integrated with technology so the concept of patience and working hard is not there. But its hard when their parents wanted to be even better OR they themselves were kids when they had em, so there was nothing instilled?

    Grant it there are broad stroke generalizations, but there are bums in all generations, and there are a LOT of hard workers.. truth is.. those that do work hard don’t get as much press as the bums

  3. I love it lil bro! As part of the Y the Hell..I find myself shaking my head in exasperation at the Y the F*ck…despite the not so many years difference between us.

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