Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy because They are Entitled Unicorn and Rainbow Loving Brats

I am totally enthralled by the online conversation happening in reaction to HuffPo’s article titled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy” with this simple equation: Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

There is also a great conversation happening in response to this (explicit) Gen X/Y-er’s rebuttal to the HuffPo article.

Gen Y Yuppies unhappy

Both articles contain a lot of generation/class warfare, which seems … less than helpful.  Basically the first article is saying that Gen Y is delusional and entitled, having been told by their Baby Boomer parents that they were special their whole lives, and they are disappointed because: their expectations are higher than reality can support + they are comparing themselves to their peers’ inflated images on Facebook.

I was born in 1979 and am sometimes classified as Gen X and sometimes Gen Y.

My opinion: Reality has tanked and young adults are having to lower/change their expectations.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  (Anyone who lived through the Great Depression had to do it too.)

We can no longer expect to get a job that pays a living wage (or a mortgage) in the field we studied in college.  We cannot expect to own a home of our own before 40 and/or without debt.  We cannot expect to get health insurance, benefits, or a retirement plan from our careers.  We cannot expect to keep a job longer than 2 years.  We can no longer expect to have clean air to breathe, un-poisoned food to eat, or pure water to drink.

Sure, this sounds awful (and depressing).  And I can start feeling really pissed off at older generations who have: filled the oceans with plastic, oil and nuclear waste, poisoned all the water with Roundup, etc. etc. etc.  ETC!!!  But the HuffPo article author would say that I was blaming others!  And it’s kind of true, blaming others, no matter how accurate the judgement, is not solution-producing.

But it’s got me thinking…

What IS the problem?  Exponential Growth is Unsustainable.

Then, if you’re really feeling productive, what is the Solution?

Stop Growing Unsustainably.

I think the only way to stop growing unsustainably is to change the target / change the goal.  The goal for our parents and grandparents used to be: Make More Money.  (There’s a great documentary streaming on Netflix about how plowing and greed for quick money off wheat started the Dust Bowl.)  And maybe that’s still the goal for Gen X and Gen Y…  But it can’t be anymore.  (Unless of course we’re content to go the way of the dinosaurs.)  Now it has to be: Live within the Parameters of the Land.  Or: Focus on True Happiness.  Or what?

But maybe I’m just being Lazy, Delusional and Entitled….  Thinking there’s something more than working at McDonald’s and acquiring massive debt to be a good Consuming American.

Thoughts?  What is our new goal, given that exponential growth is no longer possible (and was never a good idea to begin with)?

Categories: Opinionated Rants | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy because They are Entitled Unicorn and Rainbow Loving Brats

  1. Like this post of yours. I saw that Dust Bowl from PBS, horrifying event. But thank God I am part of happy gen X & gen Y, perhaps because I recycle, never been interested in keep changing cell phone, live a simple life, not obsessed with acquiring more–although invest regularly, not overpaying mortgage, am relatively healthy, am able to eat healthy and find the taste of the food is just all right, and absolutely above all cuz I’m a sinner saved by grace 🙂 this must never be out of sight–Joy of salvation regardless if all else fails.

    • God’s original orders for Adam and Eve *included* to tend the garden… take care of it… be good stewards of what we are given. That has never changed. But we have. Humanity has abandoned that idea of being a good steward of what we are given. I have not, not entirely at least. Things I own last two, three, four times longer than those same things my peers have. I only trade things in for something “newer” (still used) because the old thing is no longer usable for various reasons (usually because it is actually, truely, worn out). I don’t buy into the implied need to have the newest or best. We save at least 45% of our income rather than spend it on things we really don’t need. I guess that makes us bad “consumers” because we refrain from consuming things as much as we are able. I still have and use a very old stapler on my desk, a Pilot 404 from Ace Fastener Corp. in Chicago that is over 50 years old. It works great. I still have an old CRT TV with an adapter box to get digital channels over my old fasioned antenna in the attic. No cable or dish here. If it was still cost effective, or possible, to repair I’d still have my old Renault LeCar. I do have some newer modern things too but not like most people. What I am trying to say is that it is possible to be happy (and I am now and getting happier) with having less than most if not all who have the same income level as we have. I would prefer to have one car. A smaller house. I wouldn’t mind a lower paying job if it paid the bills and allowed me to enjoy life and do the things I enjoy doing (things that don’t cost money). BTW- I don’t believe in going in debt to have anything. If I do not have the money for something I don’t really need it that bad. The only exception I’ve allowed is a house but that decision was up for some real thinking before going in debt for it. I am no longer in dept for anything longer than it takes the monthly bill to arrive. The closer I get to living sustainably with what is around us the happier I get. I didn’t always think like this. I’m a baby boomer. Just made it on the tail end of that generation. I used to strive to aquire more. But now I’ve realized that goal doesn’t satisfy. It’s not a change in circumstances, or income, or habits. Those things follow. It is a change in ATTITUDE. Now that is something that we are truely free to control. Attitude. All those other things happen as a result of this one free choice. I guess that makes me a rebel. OK, I’m fine with that.

      • Great comment Bob, loved it all. Very true about maintaining things instead of buying new, living smaller in order to afford the things that really last – experiences and people.

  2. laura

    I knew a smart, ambitious woman once who said “God is here to save the world and I am here to help”. I’ve held onto that all these years. I think at the root of it if we don’t know the deep love of being cared for by our creator we will always seek to fill the void with other things. We will be greedy.

    It’s good to wrestle with these things, it means you aren’t occupying either extreme, right?

  3. pelorojo

    I don’t think one has to necessarily accept the following:
    We cannot expect to own a home of our own before 40 and/or without debt. We cannot expect to get health insurance, benefits, or a retirement plan from our careers. We cannot expect to keep a job longer than 2 years.

    In fact, I heartily disagree. I think all of that is possible with (oh god, here it comes) hard work and perseverance. And, as you said, an acceptance of reality. That home you own may be a bit of a dump in a not-so-good neighborhood. You may have to suck it up and choose a 15 year mortgage so you can have some property you own free and clear by 35. That job may be a slow moving slog with lots of tiny incremental raises completely out of proportion with your hard work. Your health insurance may be passable but still heavy on the co-pays.

    All of these things are possible. But the key requirement is that your wants and needs vary only marginally from when 25 until you are 35. And we know. That is hard.

    It’s in our nature to want to have different experiences, creative stimulation, and fulfillment, both personal and professional. So much of that drive is at odds with the “hard work/perseverance” model of having no debt, owning a home, secure job/health care.

    It’s not that those things can’t be done. It’s that the cost of having them taps into your spirit, not just your time and effort. And I think we all struggle with that balance. But l have to disagree with the notion that the system of getting/keeping jobs, getting/keeping homes is somehow just now broken. It IS flawed. But it doesn’t mean one can’t play the game and reap the “rewards”. I think the real issue is finding the line between having your basic needs met and still being able to have creative pursuits and personal fulfillment.

  4. great food for thought, carrie!

  5. Bettina Johnson Larsen

    As a Baby Boomer who partook in raising a Gen whatever they call you now: First I don’t like the generation labels.
    I see the younger generation just as varied as all others. I feel anger at those former 60’s hippies (who I once envied) who preached love and peace but then sold themselves to the likes of corporate CEO’s and Wallstreet. I was thrilled to see MoveOne and Occupy develop. I’m so proud that your generation is attacking the issues of global warming/climate change, human rights, greater acceptance of minorities/inter-racial marriage/LGBT rights/single parenting/disability rights…etc. Those of us who fought for these things hope we helped just a little in sowing the seed in our children to continue the fight for humanity and social justice. Yes, there are bad things out there, like the Keystone Pipeline, monster SUV’s, a lack of walking paths, continued military conflicts etc but all in all, I think many of us BBer’s raised some pretty good young adults.

    • thanks Bettina, really good to hear your thoughts on this!

      I think some of the negative things written about Gen Y / X could be written about almost anyone and seem to be ills of current American evolution… television, consumerism, crowdedness, tweeting instead of interacting, video games, Walmart, stock speculation, wealth inequality, etc. etc.

      There are inspirational people in all age groups, for sure.

  6. William

    I still try to live like a Boy Scout.

    – If you pack it in, pack it out!
    – Leave no trace!

    I am not a “granola munchin huga-tree”, but I have no need to have huge and live big.

    Once my boys are grown and out of the house, I could easily see myself living like this.

    Not to mention I hate cleaning…. The less there is, the less there is to clean! 😉

  7. Saved IS important, of course, and eventually rid of sociopathic government influence!!! 🙂

  8. I think you have every reason to be angry about what the baby boomers have left you (and their parents, the depression era generation) – holding the bag of debt of their excesses. I belong to the LAST few years of the baby boomer generation(some would say I am a gen X-er, though social iconography often determines the dividing line and, in that regard, I am a boomer). and, unlike the older ones of that generation, did NOT get the benefits of the ME ME, narcissistic, over-the top financial windfalls my cohorts received. By the time I reached my late ’30’s in a stellar career (and it was highly “successful,” working hard and doing all the right things my parents had done), I realized the party was already over and neither I nor those coming after me would EVER receive the ridiculously fantastical abundance upon which our economic situation was built (the notion that “debt = wealth”). It doesn’t. Debt just pushes debt onto those who come after us.

    That is when I left my career, divested myself of all of my “portfolios” of fantasy profit, and walked into a smaller, though more rich life of experience and being. That was 15 years ago. I did, in fact, several years ago, write an apology to the generations who come after them /us because we do owe you a big one. You have been stuck with a bill for payment of excess and delusion racked up by those previous generations. I am truly sorry and, once I became aware of my own participation in it, I walked out. So I hope I have done my best by you.

    My own father, now 90 and one of the “Horatio Alger” types who grew up dirt poor during the depression and who, after WWII, pulled himself up by the bootstraps and received the benefits of fantastic economic growth through his own career and retirement, still takes wonderful (expensive) vacations, “owns” a home (mortgage NOT “own”) and does not seem to realize at all that his own children and grandchildren will NEVER be able to retire nor visit the countries, nor experience the kind of leisure he has in his lifetime. He/They doesn’t/don’t get it. He/they think that what he experienced was “the american way.”

    One of the things people do not realize is that the phenomenon of this massive accumulation of wealth from the late 1940’s to late 2008 was a singular event in humanity – spanning over about two generations (depression era and baby boomers) and was highly unusual in nature. It was an anomaly which most think is “normal.” It’s not.

    Those generations of americans were taught to over-value their own worth and contributions (I know a lawyer who charges $700 per hour – a gen x/yer) and this is ridiculous. His parents were boomers who taught him to overvalue himself, who were taught by the depression era/WWII folks to also overvalue themselves. Which is why HuffPo is going to call the GenX/Y ers a bunch of spoiled brats. Well, it is only because their parents and grandparents taught them to be so. Based on a false party of wild profit and over valuation. And HUGE opportunities for them which no longer exist for us. Truly a difficult emotional and psychological burden to bear, in my opinion. These are unfair expectations to place upon those who no longer have the same abundant opportunities their own parents and grandparents were given.

    I think what we are being asked to do here is to realize our humbleness and humility and to recognize that our true worth is far below and more human than the financial hubris of Wall Street wants us to believe. The latter is fantasy and I believe the great contribution of these next generations is to demonstrate community, humanity and a bit more selflessness than our recent ancestors taught us. Hard pill to swallow but, I think, in the end, it will be an enormously great gift for future generations.

    Again, I appreciate your blog and the honesty of this particular post. I believe your anger is justified and very real. Okay, so, now that we are living in “real” versus “fantasy,” I think we have a great potential for growth and cultivation of depth and discernment – three qualities that really escaped the previous generations.

    So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it. I find the prospect exciting and inspiring and I have been truly inspired by your journey through the “Tiny House Experiment,” both pros and cons. Your insights take both into account and that is a balanced approach – one we need more of on the planet. I know the “Tiny House movement” can become into which we can also just blindly plunge (just like our previous generations just “plunged” into their own cultural memes). So, I think your writing is very valuable in slowing us all down and considering our choices more fully.

    Thank you for your contributions, as well as your informative links so everyone know what they are signing up for. Most excellent perspectives. Keep writing.

    • Very thoughtful comment! Thanks Amelia.
      I especially liked this sentiment you conveyed: “I believe the great contribution of these next generations is to demonstrate community, humanity and a bit more selflessness than our recent ancestors taught us.”
      A noble goal.

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