Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy
September 17, 2013 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy - A short essay on happiness, reality, frustration, and generational expectations.
posted by Argyle (297 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is horrible. It is essentially a bad Op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, but dressed up with "hilarious fake charts" and other "internet humor".

Also, not up to date on terminology, but isn't "gypsy" a slur now?
posted by lattiboy at 8:56 AM on September 17, 2013 [47 favorites]


That second chart needs a fix:
|
|    --------------- Expectation: A job with reasonable wages
|   /
|  / 
| /---
|//    \
--------\-----------------
         \
          \------ Reality: Massively increased structural inequality
posted by 0xFCAF at 8:57 AM on September 17, 2013 [140 favorites]


This is terrible for a ton of reasons. I'm not going to dress it up with garbage strawmen for idiots or clipart or sub-xkcd stick figures. It's just terrible.
posted by boo_radley at 8:57 AM on September 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


I saw this on a number of friend's facebook feed. Essentially it seems to boil down to "lol young people, thinking they're so special. how can they want jobs to feed themselves."
posted by Carillon at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


adding 4. Stop using Facebook [social media site of choice] to measure how much rainbows the unicorns are barfing up. The pretty pictures are a lie.

But for a year or two I think my family and us kids fit in that demographic (me, a gypsy at my age?) - I don't know about the 70s and 80s being a time of prosperity.

I remember free school lunches (one of my friends would stand in line and she'd have her breakfast in her pocket to eat with her school lunch - a foil wrapped potato she kept warm) and my folks not saving nearly as much for retirement as they would have liked. It was a struggle getting through the 70s and early 80s for them to "boom" a little financially in the late 80s, but they also kept an eye on their industry, ready for when it cratered in the 90s.

Life sucks except when it doesn't, amirite? Why are we blaming people's expectations when it's actually what's going on is that the economy really sucks?
posted by tilde at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


jeez, 0xFCAF , how long did that take you to put together?
posted by boo_radley at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey guys, those kids who were raised to believe they could achieve anything by baby boomers and then subsequently had the rug yanked out under their feet by said baby boomers sure are a bunch of whiny entitled pricks, amirite?

-- Baby Boomers
posted by kdar at 8:59 AM on September 17, 2013 [100 favorites]


While I am sceptical of the plight of Gen Y as the next person (I graduated from university at a time when people were queuing to get jobs washing dishes), this is awful. Although there are some good points about the Baby Boomers.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:59 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is pretty darn bad.
"Crushing economy? Nope, you must be lazy and entitled! Bootstraps."

This is the same oversimplification we've been hearing since the last time a group who wasn't doing well was told it was all their fault.
posted by ®@ at 9:00 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


boo_radley, he has it macro'd.
posted by Carillon at 9:01 AM on September 17, 2013




This is an uninterrupted stream of pro-capital, anti-worker propaganda. Nothing more or less.
posted by clockzero at 9:03 AM on September 17, 2013 [35 favorites]


I graduated from university at a time when people were queuing to get jobs washing dishes

So that's where all the dishwashing jobs went.
posted by griphus at 9:03 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's interesting things to be said about the nexus between the American Dream, globalisation, the IT revolution, the perniciousness of the self-esteem movement, and the recent economic downturn.

Then there's being patronized by stick figures.
posted by Diablevert at 9:04 AM on September 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


The comments section is pretty good though. Good discussion on the use of spaces before periods.
posted by dobie at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm all about blaming the baby boomers too, but aside from the other objections raised, I think this is specially designed to appeal to angry young people who hate their own generation and think that their rich parents are to blame for not preparing them to downwardly mobilize. My lower middle class Silent Generation mom prepared me just fine to be happy without a lot of money. "Follow your dream and we'll support you, but obviously be prepared to eat ramen forever like we do every night kid."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


And we go straight from Boomers to Gen Y, with Gen X, America's middle child, forgotten again.
posted by headnsouth at 9:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [69 favorites]


I would suggest that a totally wrecked economy that's been captured by the editorial board of the Wall St. Journal and their classmates is in no way incompatible with the thesis of the article - that people currently in their mid 20s were raised to think they were the very Princes and Princesses of Creation, despite an overwhelming lack of any evidence to support that thesis, and are especially upset when they turn out to be just normal people with nothing particularly special to recommend them at all.

In fact, as 0xFCAF's revised chart points out, it just makes them that much more miserable.

I will agree that telling them to shut up and work harder is kind of cruel under those circumstances, though. While that might be necessary to get them where they want to go, in the modern world it's a long, long way from being sufficient.
posted by Naberius at 9:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


It starts off with the reasonable premise of

Happiness = Reality + Expectations

and then spins out its length carping at my generation's expectations without considering the galloping decrepitude of our reality.

And what were those expectations, really? How vertiginous were they? We were brought up to believe, given the modest to moderate to fantastic whole-economy growth that our grandparents and parents and older cousins experienced, that the tide might continue to rise, and all boats would follow the swell; life would continue to get easier; and society would sustain us if we tried shape our careers around ideals and happiness as opposed to material goals and money.

But fuck us, right? What with our immaterial ideas apparently denting the fabric of reality and provoking the vengeance of the market for our hubris? Instead of living to learn, or to help people, or to make art, or to push out the bounds of human understanding, we all should have gotten computer science degrees. Or MBAs. All 80 million of us resident in America.
posted by Iridic at 9:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [20 favorites]


Also: "GYPSY"? Seriously?
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on September 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think that working people should have high expectations. Why the hell not? What, we should all just say okay, the 1% captured 68% of all gains between 1990 and the present, but I am happy in my career of mindless and underpaid drudgery? Hell, all those people who wanted an eight hour day and a weekend were just a bunch of whiners whose parents worked harder than them, amirite? Stop thinking you're so fucking special, you peasant! Special people are billionaires and heiresses and rock stars, not you.

It used to be that you'd trade high pay, for instance, for a fulfilling career or for job security. You might not make a lot of money, but you'd either really enjoy what you did or you'd be sure of a stable job over the long term. Now we're just saying that you should trade high pay for....nothing!!!!

Unless you're a tech wunderkind or a Walton or a crony of the Republicans, in which case you can make billions and either spit on the poor or make policy as an unelected rich person via your foundation.
posted by Frowner at 9:07 AM on September 17, 2013 [44 favorites]


Hurf durf bootstraps and all about the damn notion that we think we're so special.
posted by Carillon at 9:08 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, good god, those comments.
posted by Iridic at 9:08 AM on September 17, 2013


Also also:

"When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks."

-Eugene "Motherfucking" Debs
posted by Iridic at 9:09 AM on September 17, 2013 [58 favorites]


Yea the GYPSY everywhere turned me right off. No.
posted by sweetkid at 9:10 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The comments are funnier if you read them pretending that "Anonymous" is all the same confused person overenthusiastically arguing with themselves.
posted by oulipian at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why would the younger generations be upset at how the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation have dismantled, looted, and sold our nation for scrap? Those spoiled whelps!
posted by entropicamericana at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Reality = (Expectations ÷ Health Insurance) ^ (Internships People Pay To Get, As If Doing Free Work Wasn't Enough) + Endless War
posted by oceanjesse at 9:12 AM on September 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Generational divisions are mostly bullshit. All my life since the early 80s I've also been told equally
A. You can do anything you want to do in life if you work hard enough!
B. Your generation is a bunch of coddled spoiled sissies who think you're all so damn special. Just sweep the goddamn floor like your grandfather did and shut the fuck up.

I'm pretty sure this is known as "Being raised middle class in America for all eternity." Sally Draper gets the same pressure on Mad Men, and I bet TS Eliot heard it in the early 1900s.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:14 AM on September 17, 2013 [26 favorites]


I'm gonna open a bootstrap factory is what.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on September 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


I can't believe it took me until today to learn that all I need to do in order to succeed is spend decades steadily working my way up through the ranks of the same company, which is the most common path to success today due to the incredible abundance of such employment situations caused by the orderly transition of power and prosperity engineered by the people who previously held those jobs and managed those companies.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:14 AM on September 17, 2013 [56 favorites]


Also, not up to date on terminology, but isn't "gypsy" a slur now?

It's the name Europeans gave to the Roma, who already had a name for themselves, and it carries a lot of negative associations. So while it isn't a straight-up slur, it's sort of like the word "negro" in that there are more acceptable words to use for nearly any context in which you'd use it.

And you sure as shit don't use it for as an acronym meant to rile people up.
posted by griphus at 9:14 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gensplaining: like mansplaining but between generations.
posted by stresstwig at 9:15 AM on September 17, 2013 [30 favorites]


Yeah, I think we need some graphs of American bootstrap production. I know a lot of it's been outsourced, but there must still be one or two around here, right?
posted by kaibutsu at 9:15 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


See, we in Gen X knew that things were terrible and had no prospects for improvement. So we have not been disappointed.

The key to happiness is low expectations.
posted by Justinian at 9:16 AM on September 17, 2013 [64 favorites]


Yuck. Such gross generalization. I really, really don't like using "generations" as a unit. Especially when the characteristics you attribute to them seem to be lazy stereotypes based on television shows.

You want to talk about "hard work" getting you there? For my boomer father, he was offered a unionized government job straight out of university and stayed with it for 30+ years until retirement. As an immigrant, no less. Not to say he didn't work hard at the job, but there's a lot more people now that also completed university who--as Kokuryu said--can look forward to washing dishes at the end. It's fucking different now, who would have guessed.

Also boomers weren't all uniformly happy because their expectations of reality were met or exceeded. A lot of people struggled and are still struggling. How do you think life looked for many boomer mothers who went through divorces in the 70s an 80s and tried to make a go of it as single parents supporting children? Because I saw it and it was a lot more Kraft dinner, 12-hour days, and bargain bin shopping than it was lush green lawns and 2-car garages in my experience.
posted by Hoopo at 9:17 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


And you sure as shit don't use it for as an acronym meant to rile people up.

I don't know, I think it's a great acronym if your article isn't meant as genuine advice, but instead as a snide put-down of those kids today which you hope to use to generate page views with both from those kids and the other people who think they are lazy.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:18 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The usual suspect right wing trolls have really been picking up their game lately.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:18 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


When all the American bootstrap mills shut down in the early nineties, the Germans bought up all the old school looms on the cheap. You have to import from the continent now if you want artisan-grade bootstrap.
posted by Iridic at 9:19 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wait — the comfortable middle class professionals are grumpy because "AW MAN MY DREAMS HAD TO BE ADJUSTED TO FIT REALITY"?

They're making it reeeeeeal hard for me to not answer the initial premise with "Because they're spoiled fucking brats, that's why."
posted by grubi at 9:20 AM on September 17, 2013


In hindsight it's easy to see that my teenage expectations for my life ("I'm going to move to New York City! And make TV shows!") were maybe not the most realistic, and would be the kind of expectations that would be mocked by this article... except that... they happened. I went to art school and have been working the production side of TV for the past decade. It's expectations like 'I may one day be able to buy an apartment' or 'I may sleep on a bed instead of a futon' that have gone unfulfilled, largely thanks to some of the statistics others are pointing out. Increased worker productivity, less of it actually trickling down to worker salaries.

(Fortunately, I did just achieve 'went to the doctor without fearing bankruptcy', which is something, but I guess I thought I'd get there before I was in my 30s)
posted by matcha action at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also boomers weren't all uniformly happy because their expectations of reality were met or exceeded. A lot of people struggled and are still struggling.

And some people's fears outweighed their expectations so even when they were okay, they still weren't happy because they were too afraid. (I had a set of grandparents who were frugal to the point of being a tiny bit hoarder-y and miserly, and I'm seeing how that affected my parents - and, in turn, me.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If anything Gen Yers should be pleased as punch that my generation spent the 90s and 00s going to Burning Man and getting grad degrees in American Studies. Go forth 20somethings, study just enough code to defraud rich people with your nonsense obstreperous start-up business plans! Write "Social Media" on a white board and demand 100k contractor fees because you can use Photoshop a little! Feast upon the souls of the greedy overlords so that we might not have Not-tried in vain! Let the Great Disruption Forward begin!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:25 AM on September 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


The whole idea of a "yuppie" is such an outdated concept.

My fiance and I both have pretty good jobs, we live in a decent-ish neighborhood, we both have decent cars, ect. Yet somehow the idea that we're "totally making it" just seems not right at all. There isn't some giant pile of money and time left over at the end of the month, just less pants-shitting about bills and enough resources for a small road trip or something. The bar has been so lowered that I think the concept should be retired.

Kids seem like such an anchor of responsibility and unbelievable cost that it isn't selfishness (or whatever bullshit intent was put on "yuppies" in the past) driving the decision not to have any, it's the complete lack of aid and no real financial security.
posted by lattiboy at 9:27 AM on September 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


I remember when the same basic complaints/observations were given about Generation X, so to some extent this just feels like it's Gen Y's time in the barrel -- although it does seem it's coming later than it should; we should really be harping on those slacker Millennials by now.

Likewise, while it's fashionable to harp on Baby Boomers sucking up all the good things for themselves, I am filled with the memory of my Baby Boomer mother struggling as a single mother through the 70s and 80s and busting her ass to give me a good life; at least partially as a result of that I have a very nice life, better than hers ever was. It tempers my generational worldview just a little.

But on the third hand, social inequity is as high now as it has been in living memory. My own wish for Gen Y and the Millennials is that they are thus motivated, not just to look out for themselves, but to correct systematic issues left untended for decades.
posted by jscalzi at 9:28 AM on September 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


The consumer culture has bred us to want more, more, more. Meanwhile automation and the information age has reduced the need for actual workers to the point where unemployment (the real kind, not the fake statistics) is going to go past 50% in the next decade, and asymptotically towards 100% in the next century.

The end of human labor as a means of production leaves a big vacuum when it comes to usefully consuming most of our time and effort. The money people used to receive in exchange for their labor also must now come from some new source.

It looks like we're headed towards a system where everyone gets a small stipend from the Government, which just makes the money up by debasing the existing money a bit more. Of course this is unsustainable, as is the extraction based system which supplies all of lifes essentials these days.

There is a ton of things to be unhappy about once the personal delusions get set aside.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


This seems very shallow.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2013


Also, remember when people had jobs? That's so rare we have popular TV shows detailing people doing this strange thing called " employment." for us to marvel over.
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm gonna open a bootstrap factory is what.


Wait, bootstrap factory? These bastards are so lazy they're even not making their own bootstraps?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:34 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Based on this "Toys From Your Childhood" post I'd estimate this writer's age to be about 30. Not sure what bearing this has on anything. But also, he (or she, but probably he) is not really much of writer.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:36 AM on September 17, 2013


That article is mostly crap, if half-clever crap. Still, that's better than the usual rendition of this chorus. As expected of the genre, it completely ignores all the thorny structural issues.

Write "Social Media" on a white board and demand 100k contractor fees because you can use Photoshop a little!

Seems to me that knowing Photoshop a little commands more like 1K, these days. Writing "social media" on a white board while knowing Ruby is worth 10K. Writing "Black-Scholes" on the white board while knowing R a little is worth 100K.

This comment has no immediate purpose, muchlike my law degree.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:36 AM on September 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


I outsourced the bootstrap factory to Laos, muuuuch cheaper.
posted by The Whelk at 9:37 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


So labelling generations with letters seems kind of silly, but especially if we're going to start at X. We're going to run out pretty soon.

Here's a better idea: labelling generations after their collective greatest fear.

Generation Dust For Dinner
Generation Nuclear Annihilation
Generation No Job For You
Generation Alien Plague That Makes Your Eyeballs Melt

posted by oulipian at 9:38 AM on September 17, 2013 [56 favorites]


Blurg. The economy sucks. But it IS possible for a young person to be financially successful. It just requires avoiding a bunch of traps:
1) student loan debt
2) living in an uber-expensive city or neighborhood
3) pursuing a high-status/low-wage job like journalism, arts, nonprofits
4) getting in a relationship with someone who's irresponsible
5) spending a lot of money studying something that won't actually help you get a job
Etc, etc.
You don't have to be particularly smart to avoid the traps, just kind of have common sense and a knack for figuring out when someone is offering you a good deal or a bad deal. I think the best word is "canny." I know non-super-genius college dropouts who are making 100k because they are canny, and people with graduate degrees who work at the grocery store because they aren't. I do think there's a lesson there. I don't think this cartoon is too effective though.
posted by miyabo at 9:38 AM on September 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


I'm glad you all wrote this splendid comments. Every time I saw this posted recently I have had to write:
This is nonsense, but anything else I write will be uncivil.
posted by mkb at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Potomac Avenue: "Based on this "Toys From Your Childhood" post"
Toy: Legos
Age when I became obsessed with it: Never
Amount of time before I became bored with it: Immediately
Downside: They're not fun at all
Overall rating: 1/10
Comments: I've never understood the lego fetish. What the hell is fun about putting dumb legos together?
The double-hell with this person.
posted by boo_radley at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2013 [46 favorites]


Writing "Black-Scholes" on the white board while knowing R a little is worth 100K.

snuffleupagus I had to google all of the words in that sentence you're hired
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also I'm 29 and I've fallen in to several of those traps myself, so I don't want to sound like I'm lecturing. But things are pretty good right now.
posted by miyabo at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2013


You don't have to be particularly smart to avoid the traps, just kind of have common sense and a knack for figuring out when someone is offering you a good deal or a bad deal. I think the best word is "canny."

And you have to not act as if success is some sort of god-given right. It ain't.
posted by grubi at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The double-hell with this person.

I know! I am still in my magnet phase.
posted by jessamyn at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I do think there's a lesson there.

Yep, it's ignore everything your parents and teachers say. That American dream thing where you get a job, get married,have kids, own property? That is never happening to you. Trying to make it happen will send you into poverty, you do the things they tell you never to do, don't go into debt, don't go to college, only date a few income brackets above yourself, be mercenary and flinty, don't have kids, don't own taxes, don't get sick. You're not living in the middle class majority world, you're living in the neo 19th century and guttersnipes got to get paid.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on September 17, 2013 [32 favorites]


You're not living in the middle class majority world, you're living in the neo 19th century and guttersnipes got to get paid.

I say, this thread is nigh the most dispiriting ePistle I've scryed on my ANSIble this workcycle.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:47 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Blurg. The economy sucks. But it IS possible for a young person to be financially successful. It just requires avoiding a bunch of traps:
1) student loan debt
2) living in an uber-expensive city or neighborhood
3) pursuing a high-status/low-wage job like journalism, arts, nonprofits
4) getting in a relationship with someone who's irresponsible
5) spending a lot of money studying something that won't actually help you get a job
Etc, etc.
You don't have to be particularly smart to avoid the traps, just kind of have common sense and a knack for figuring out when someone is offering you a good deal or a bad deal. I think the best word is "canny." I know non-super-genius college dropouts who are making 100k because they are canny, and people with graduate degrees who work at the grocery store because they aren't. I do think there's a lesson there. I don't think this cartoon is too effective though.


Yes, if survival/prosperity is the only thing, this might work for you. If you want anything else, or have talents that lie in "nonprofitable" fields, or if you develop a health condition, or get pregnant, or don't have money to move away from your economically depressed area...etc. etc...well it might not.

Canny is a great thing and a useful skill. But the slopes keep getitng slipperier, and canny is no good when bad luck comes calling.

We fetishize cleverness in our society, the thrifty person who makes the most of nothing, the kid who makes lemonade out of lemons. But at some point all the cleverness in the world won't save you from a bad enough situation.

And, as someone who prides themselves on being a "finagler" I can tell you, that years and years of constant finagling...always thinking things over four times, second-guessing, radar tuned for bargains or scams, always having to make something out of nothing...it wears you out. As a short-term strategy it's fine, as a lifetime necessity it's brutal. Never being able to indulge, give in, do what you want, not worry? It beats you down.
posted by emjaybee at 9:47 AM on September 17, 2013 [68 favorites]


Maybe the reason "secure jobs" have gone out of style as a thing people desire is that the corporate world has done away with the idea of "secure jobs" in favor of "agile outsourced bullshit".
posted by rmd1023 at 9:48 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


that article was terrible and that website is terrible. this is a constructive comment. the end.
posted by flyinghamster at 9:48 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure beating people down and wearing them out is the whole feature not bug part of the enterprise.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]




See, we in Gen X knew that things were terrible and had no prospects for improvement. So we have not been disappointed.

The key to happiness is low expectations.


That and the ability to generate around yourself a cloud of anaesthetizing irony so relentless and impenetrable that it becomes self-sustaining, like Jupiter's Great Red Spot.
posted by No-sword at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


We fetishize cleverness in our society, the thrifty person who makes the most of nothing, the kid who makes lemonade out of lemons.

I feel like at this point in our culture, this is something that we mythologize more than fetishize. We valorize this trait, but no one wants to be that person anymore.

But at some point all the cleverness in the world won't save you from a bad enough situation.

Which is why what the culture really seems to fetishize these days is wealth so extreme it affords a true detachment from quotidian economic concerns.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Young People have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things -- and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning -- all their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. "

Aristotle, 384 BC – 322 BC

"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers."

Socrates, 469 BC – 399 BC
posted by rada at 9:54 AM on September 17, 2013 [33 favorites]


All I know is that when I listen to Pusha T I realize I have no problem hurting other people to secure my own comfort.
posted by Teakettle at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fame/Celebrity seems to be pretty high on the fetishization charts as well. It's part of the cultural mythos in the US that being a rebel is the path to greatness. we were founded by rebels after all. So popular culture and mass marketing fetishize the rebel celebrity and the cult of nonconformity that works against a future solidarity to actually make a change.
It's disheartening.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:56 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So labelling generations with letters seems kind of silly, but especially if we're going to start at X. We're going to run out pretty soon.

Also if we use Z that's totally asking for a fucking zombie plague, so we'll have to skip it like they do with the thirteenth floor and loop right around to A-prime or something.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:57 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well the A-prime generation sounds pretty badass, don't ya think?
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Generation Fighting Mongooses.
posted by griphus at 10:02 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Socrates, 469 BC – 399 BC

Well, after Socrates came the Athenian Coup, the Corinthian Wars and then the Macedonian conquest of all of the other Greek city-states. So...whatever that means.*

*Refreshed familiarity with Classical history partially brought to you by Total War Rome II.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:02 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


That American dream thing where you get a job, get married,have kids, own property? That is never happening to you.

That was always a lie. The only people who ever had a solid shot at that were already born into a middle-class (or higher) white family. And even then, it was a dream. Not a guarantee.
posted by grubi at 10:03 AM on September 17, 2013


The only people who ever had a solid shot at that were already born into a middle-class (or higher) white family

What? I grew up upper middle class and my parents were immigrants from India who came here in their 30s (before I was born). Same for all of their friends.

Understood that's not possible for many people and I'm not saying it is, but I'm tired of affluent or even middle class nonwhites getting their achievements just flat out ignored in these conversations. That's not the progressiveness I want, because I'm ignored in it and so is my entire frame of reference.
posted by sweetkid at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


The stick figures ruin it, because Lucy needs to be wearing lycra-blend fitness clothing 24/7 & there's no way to depict that with stick figures.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:07 AM on September 17, 2013


You may not like the graphs or the humor, but unmet expectations do lead to unhappiness and, over time, bitterness.

I would argue don't expect so many things, and take as much from Life as the time afforded to you allows.

Don't blink, it goes quick.
posted by four panels at 10:08 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Ferris.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:09 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Our youth now love luxury

almost as much as our Internet loves to pass around fabricated "quotations."
posted by RogerB at 10:10 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why can't you guys just be content with an encyclopedic knowledge of Diff'rent Strokes like Gen X is. Pick a different show though, cuz Gary Coleman is ours.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:10 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The stick figures ruin it, because Lucy needs to be wearing lycra-blend fitness clothing 24/7 & there's no way to depict that with stick figures.

Highlighters.
posted by Kabanos at 10:10 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh god the fluorescent shoes
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:12 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


> That American dream thing where you get a job, get married,have kids, own property? That is never happening to you.

That was always a lie. The only people who ever had a solid shot at that were already born into a middle-class (or higher) white family. And even then, it was a dream. Not a guarantee.


I mean, I think the trouble is that in recent generations, people have increasingly been conned into giving up non-economic forms of stability in chasing that dream. And that's dangerous.

So for instance fewer and fewer of us have stayed in the town where we grew up, shared resources with our family and longtime neighbors and close friends, things like that — and when people do that stuff, it's treated as pathological. (Not just "You still live at home?!" but also "You still live on the same block as your mom?!" or even "You still go home for dinner every Sunday?!" or whatever.) And this is pretty clearly related to the pernicious idea of "agility" that others have called out upthread. A lot of people now just assume that they have to be willing to relocate on short notice for work, and that if they refuse — because they place too much value on the stability of a long-term local community — then there's something wrong with them.

Look at the scorn that people get who have stayed in Detroit all these years rather than moving away. It's not "Oh wow, they must really depend on their neighbors and their family for a lot," it's "What a bunch of morons, don't they know that place is doomed?"

So in a way, the problem with The American Dream is not that it's become a lie — like you say, it always was, at least in its strictly economic form — but that we have invested so much faith in that lie that we now expect people to abandon social capital for a nice degree from an out-of-state school and a sublet room in a booming city.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:16 AM on September 17, 2013 [61 favorites]


What? I grew up upper middle class and my parents were immigrants from India who came here in their 30s (before I was born). Same for all of their friends.

I didn't say it was impossible for anyone who wasn't upper middle or that if you weer upper middle that it was a guarantee. I said that the only people who had a solid shot at it were usually upper middle.
posted by grubi at 10:16 AM on September 17, 2013


So in a way, the problem with The American Dream is not that it's become a lie — like you say, it always was, at least in its strictly economic form — but that we have invested so much faith in that lie that we now expect people to abandon social capital for a nice degree from an out-of-state school and a sublet room in a booming city.

That's a damn good point.
posted by grubi at 10:17 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Heh just looked it up and it seems that made up Socrates quote has been floating around since 1953.

"This passage was very popular in the 1960s and its essence was used by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Gijsbert van Hall, following a street demonstration in 1966, as reported by The New York Times, April 3, 1966, p. 16."

Eternal Lawntember.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:17 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


What? I grew up upper middle class and my parents were immigrants from India who came here in their 30s (before I was born). Same for all of their friends.

I didn't say it was impossible for anyone who wasn't upper middle or that if you weer upper middle that it was a guarantee. I said that the only people who had a solid shot at it were usually upper middle.


You stipulated "white family" in addition to your class comparisons.
posted by sweetkid at 10:19 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]



That American dream thing where you get a job, get married,have kids, own property? That is never happening to you.

That was always a lie. The only people who ever had a solid shot at that were already born into a middle-class (or higher) white family.


I don't know. It worked out for my dad more or less and many of his generation, except it was a Canadian dream ... and they had to do some WW2 combat duty first.

I do think that when one was born has a huge impact on what one's options shall be, and where their heads (and hearts) will be at. I was born in 1959, technically baby boom, but the tail end, which is to say, I've always experienced a rather crowded world (the older boomers already having staked out the available real estate, figurative and otherwise). And I certainly don't identify at all with the various baby boomer cliches. The Summer of Love happened when I was seven or eight. The Beatles broke up when I was eleven. Etc.

Strangely, I can very much relate to one aspect of Lucy's plight:

To be clear, GYPSYs want economic prosperity just like their parents did -- they just also want to be fulfilled by their career in a way their parents didn't think about as much.

But something else is happening too. While the career goals of Gen Y as a whole have become much more particular and ambitious, Lucy has been given a second message throughout her childhood as well:

You're Special


This is a rather accurate description of where my head was at by the time I was say, twenty-one (1980). But reality being reality, I was forced to adjust somewhat by the time I was twenty-five, choosing to pass on the economic prosperity bit in lieu of my desire for a fulfilling career. Which has itself proven to be anything but easy.

But I'm definitely still special.
posted by philip-random at 10:21 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Something I heard on NPR this morning: according to the census, the exact median income for people in the US right now is $50K per year.

However, they then went on to interview a family in Paducah who was making that - a couple who both worked in arts-related fields, had a kid, and were quite pleased with how they were doing.

But - the piece went on to state - $50K per year may be the national median, but it is not necessarily the local median. And, the median for Paducah is actually more like $30K. The piece then went on to interview a couple who were making $30K and struggling - they could only get part-time work, bills were tight, they could barely afford health insurance (trying to get it was tough because the wife had a benign tumor in her brain and so taht caused difficulty). "Hearing that we're middle class," the wife kept saying, "that's just baffling, because....I thought we were aspiring to middle class. How much more can we aspire to?" Unfortunately, not much - because that was about the average income for Paducah.

So in short - Yeah, moving to a cheaper city may bring your costs down, but it may also bring your salary down to match. And that means that the root of the problem is that the economy fucking sucks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:22 AM on September 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


This the problem with you Gen Y people, so busy on the internet telling everyone what's wrong, you don't have time to realize you're throughly fucked. Taters!

Best,
Gen X
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:26 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes! The economy DOES suck! The "economy" sucks the life out of us in order to pay extravagant salaries and inflate the stock prices of the vandals we work for. That is how it sucks.
posted by Mister_A at 10:28 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


And Brandon is right, my people have known everything is ruined since we were in the womb, so we've made our queasy peace with it all.
posted by Mister_A at 10:28 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The kids are all right.
posted by fikri at 10:29 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Generation Tunnel Snakes for me, please.

The problem, to me, is the fundamental American refusal to admit that luck plays a major role in life and to set up social safety nets accordingly, but we've successfully been brainwashed into thinking any problem can be solved with gumption and hard work, and if that doesn't solve it, work harder, and so we go on, driving ourselves into the grave for the benefits of the shareholders.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:29 AM on September 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


Oh go listen to your sisters of mercy mix tape Xer.
posted by The Whelk at 10:30 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've seen this theory in various forms since the start of the Great Recession. Although it contains a grain of truth, I subscribe to an alternate theory : "Gen Y" adults aren't pissed off because they think they're special; they're pissed off because they can't find jobs.
posted by evil otto at 10:30 AM on September 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


they just also want to be fulfilled by their career in a way their parents didn't think about as much.

This is an attitude I have picked up on; though it is hard to say how much is just a fake cultural notion (advertisers telling people this) versus what people actually feel and want.

But it is a strange idea to me, and one I've never much understood. Work does not and cannot "fulfill" me; to the extent there is such a thing, at least.
posted by spaltavian at 10:31 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem, to me, is the fundamental American refusal to admit that luck plays a major role in life

That's why I got the luck bobblehead in Arlington house as soon as possible.
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


You stipulated "white family" in addition to your class comparisons.

Yes, I did. And?
posted by grubi at 10:33 AM on September 17, 2013


The social capital thing is also why I always get a little irritated when I hear people talking about their post-college social network as Their Tribe or Their Family Of Choice or whatever.

On the one hand, it's understandable. People want that sort of stability. People want to believe that their friends would bail them out of jail — and maybe they would.

But sometimes you need more than a one-time favor. Would those friends visit you in jail every week for ten years if you were convicted? Would they support you long-term if you had a psychotic break or a serious brain injury? Would they get you a job — I mean, not just "pass your resumé on to someone in HR" or whatever, but actually just engage in outright nepotism and risk getting disciplined themself to make sure that you stay employed? Would they wipe your ass for you if you couldn't do it anymore?

To the extent that anyone's got that sort of social capital with anyone, it's a rare and valuable thing and they're incredibly lucky. And I can think of plenty of outliers — a few people who have that sort of social capital with their old buddies from when they were 27, and (depressingly) a lot more people who don't even have that sort of social capital with their family or with the neighborhood or church they grew up in. But statistically speaking, if there's anyone in the world who you can count on for that sort of thing, it's likely to be a blood relative or a longtime friend-of-the-family and not that one guy from your roommate's Burning Man theme camp who hosts a potluck once a month.

Which is sad. I'd love it if the myth were true and that theme camp was a valid substitute for a neighborhood where everyone knew your grandma. But it just isn't. In a way, it's a measure of how much we've lost — we can't even remember what real durable non-economic social structure was like, and we think that potluck once a month is just as good.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:34 AM on September 17, 2013 [32 favorites]


(tl;dr: okay, it's time to re-read Bowling Alone again)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:35 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can tell she's not exactly from my generation because this is made of stick figures, not humorous and ironic gif sets.

also seriously who hates lego what is wrong with you
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:35 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Would those friends visit you in jail every week for ten years if you were convicted? Would they support you long-term if you had a psychotic break or a serious brain injury? Would they get you a job — I mean, not just "pass your resumé on to someone in HR" or whatever, but actually just engage in outright nepotism and risk getting disciplined themself to make sure that you stay employed? Would they wipe your ass for you if you couldn't do it anymore?

Some might, but I am awful hard to get along with.
posted by grubi at 10:36 AM on September 17, 2013


Figuring out what generation I am in seems a lot like Algebra but aging feels more like Calculus which makes me feel 17 again!
posted by srboisvert at 10:36 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Instead of living to learn, or to help people, or to make art, or to push out the bounds of human understanding, we all should have gotten computer science degrees.

Okay, this is a totally different subject, but part of your problem is insisting that the former and the latter are mutually exclusive things.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think the increasing profile of the search for meaning probably correlates with the meaninglessness of the typical job. This is kind of an obvious statement, but if you're in a low level job answering phones or whatever, you're constantly surrounded by fake nonsense. Fake encouragement from your managers, goals whose success or failure correlates with nothing, forced camaraderie with your colleagues in mandatory settings, insincere "we're all in it together" talk from obviously wealthy managers who show up from the head office like sea gulls, to shit all over everything and then disappear in a cloud of feathers and cursing. It doesn't surprise me in the least that people would be dissatisfied under these circumstances.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Would those friends visit you in jail every week for ten years if you were convicted?

No because if I'm going down I'm taking everyone with me.
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


For the record, I'm probably considered a Boomer (though I dispute that, since I never go in on any of that summer-of-love fun), and I had bupkus to do with the gutting and destruction of our economy. Hell, I was soundly displaced by the mess, and still can't get back on my feet (no one want to hire old folks, you see). On top of that, I know more than a few self-styled "entrepreneurs" in their mid-to-late-20's who are all on-board with the exact forces that created the mess. Fuckers idolize Wall Street.

My lawn. Get off. Now.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:39 AM on September 17, 2013


"Gen Y" adults aren't pissed off because they think they're special; they're pissed off because they can't find jobs.

What floors me abouty this is that Boomers can't perceive the direct connection between their "I can't afford to retire" complaint, and the scarcity of opportunity at entry levels. When no one is moving out, no one can move up. When no one can move up, no one can move in. Especially when less employees are required for almost any given function as vs. when Boomers were embarking on their careers.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:39 AM on September 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think the increasing profile of the search for meaning correlates with the meaninglessness of the typical job. This is kind of an obvious statement, but if you're in a low level job answering phones or whatever, you're constantly surrounded by fake nonsense. Fake encouragement from your managers, goals whose success or failure correlates with nothing, forced camaraderie with your colleagues in mandatory settings, insincere "we're all in it together" talk from obviously wealthy managers who show up from the head office like sea gulls, to shit all over everything and then disappear in a cloud of feathers and cursing. It doesn't surprise me in the least that people would be dissatisfied under these circumstances.

Alienation of labor! It's a real thing and has real consequenses ( Thought you where a helpful member of your community? Nah, yer just an interchangeable cog along with all the rest! If we could somehow get a monkey to do this job we would! Enjoy, and smile when you work, I don't like looking at frowners.)
posted by The Whelk at 10:40 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Work does not and cannot "fulfill" me; to the extent there is such a thing, at least.

My experience has been the exact opposite. With one exception, I have *always* found value and satisfaction and fulfillment in my work. From my first job at Pizza Hut when I was 16 (I was making kids smile! I was helping moms not have to cook! I was helping people enjoy a break from their routines!), I have always been fortunate to end my workdays believing I've done something valuable in a "leave it better than you found it" sense. I can't imagine how awful it would be to not see work that way.
posted by headnsouth at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Many of the jobs that young people do get are not only underpaid, have crappy benefits, and no security, but worse, they're meaningless, dead-end jobs.

I think everyone expects great things of their lives when they're small and usually have to readjust when they become adults... but the adjustments should be reasonable, "I have a lot to be thankful for."

For many of the jobs young people are getting, the best thing that they can say is, "I will continue to eat and won't end up on the street." They literally have nothing to look forward to in their future other than decades of meaningless work, bankruptcy if they ever have the temerity to get sick, and almost no spare time.

I would personally be either despairing or outraged if I were that age today - probably alternating between them, with a heavy helping of "substance abuse" to stem off outright violence on my part.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


On top of that, I know more than a few self-styled "entrepreneurs" in their mid-to-late-20's who are all on-board with the exact forces that created the mess. Fuckers idolize Wall Street.

Hey look: here are some assholes and morons amongst your peers, therefore your arguments are invalid? I don't think that's a generational standard Boomers are well positioned to encourage.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is another in a series of apologetics for American inequality. Invent inaccurate generational stereotype, come up with acronym and blame the victim.

To me it seems that if we had feudalism now instead of capitalism they would be looking to justify the nobility holding all the wealth and calling the sans-culottes a bunch of lazy whiners.
posted by banal evil at 10:42 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, this article is valid because it has hippy hate in it!
posted by telstar at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2013


The Toys From Your Childhood post makes me madder than the Generation Y one - probably because I've heard the same arguments about Kids These Days a million times, but I've never heard anyone say Legos are dumb. And he asserts "there's not really any way to play with" dolls. Dolls are the easiest thing in the world to play with! They are basically imaginary friends, plus you can cut their hair off and send them on dangerous special missions into the dishwasher.

This guy's probably like "I never really got the point of crayons. What do you do with them? There's no moving parts! 0/10."
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


moving to a cheaper city may bring your costs down, but it may also bring your salary down to match

In general, this is how it works. But there are a number of places where the cost of living is completely insane right now, far out of line compared to average income. Living in those places can completely ruin your financial prospects, even if you do everything else right. It's just another trap to be aware of.
posted by miyabo at 10:44 AM on September 17, 2013


This guy's probably like "I never really got the point of crayons. What do you do with them? There's no moving parts! 0/10."

Maybe 1/10 for the occasional multicolored dog turd.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:44 AM on September 17, 2013


Now there are two. There are two _______.: Thank you for making that point.

One thing, however, is that growing up in close proximity to a college or university does help, and could be considered a privilege.

On the other hand, there have been people that decide to goto another big name college out of state anyways despite the existence of one right next door, looping right back to your point.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 10:44 AM on September 17, 2013


I'm glad someone finally said it (i.e., banal evil). The generational thing bothers me to no end, as if there isn't such a thing as context. I'd rather think of it in simpler terms of how-fucked-you-are. Like the "haves" and "have nots."

Or just call this entire last century "The Aristocrats!" and be done with it.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 10:50 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have always been fortunate to end my workdays believing I've done something valuable in a "leave it better than you found it" sense. I can't imagine how awful it would be to not see work that way.

Speaking as someone on the opposite side of this particular spectrum, I find not caring very freeing. I can slack off and not feel like I'm failing someone or hurting anything important. I can even screw stuff up and not consider it a deeply personal failure. I can refuse to work overtime and weekends because I don't feel like it and no one can try to guilt me into it with anything short of actual job discipline. Work never has to take over my life and I'm free to do things I enjoy more than any job in my spare time.
posted by Copronymus at 10:50 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


but that we have invested so much faith in that lie that we now expect people to abandon social capital for a nice degree from an out-of-state school and a sublet room in a booming city.

As someone who somehow, miraculously, weathered this trap and survived, I'm now trying to talk others out of it. But that notion that "you aren't a real person unless you lived in NYC/LA/Portland/wherevertrendyville" is really pernicious. And since I did manage to survive, it's hard to convey just how damaging it can be...

A big part of it is this idea that anything you don't Authentically Choose In Crafting Your Life As A Work of Art is wrong and bad and you mustn't do. So you can't live in the city whose suburbs you grew up in. Because that's just "falling into life" and not Choosing Heroically.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:52 AM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't see this getting any better however. It seems that 50% of people are STILL potentially going to be replaced by machines.
posted by Carillon at 10:53 AM on September 17, 2013


A couple relevant tweets I enjoyed last night:

"As a Gen-Yer, I've been told that I've been told I'm special a fucklot more than I've been told I'm special."

"We don't think we're special. We just think you're assholes."

"Gen Yers don't hate society for failing to put us on a pedestal. We hate ourselves for failing to beat incredibly stacked odds."


Also previously linked in the young folks vs old folk throwdown in the econo-dome posts, thoughts from Matt Bors in both screed and comic form.


The idea that we've been told we're special all our lives bears so little resemblance to the upbringing my friends and I actually experienced, I don't understand where it's coming from.
posted by Peccable at 10:55 AM on September 17, 2013 [29 favorites]


Oh go listen to your sisters of mercy mix tape Xer.

I don't know why you gotta be so undemanding. One thing I know, I want more.
posted by escabeche at 10:58 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


One thing, however, is that growing up in close proximity to a college or university does help, and could be considered a privilege.

On the other hand, there have been people that decide to goto another big name college out of state anyways despite the existence of one right next door, looping right back to your point.


Good call on both points. Yeah, my perspective comes from growing up in a college town where pretty much everyone, regardless of class or income or whatever, was dead set on the idea of leaving town for college, because staying home was for losers. I think the mental image we all had was, you know, "Leaving town is for up-and-coming members of The Creative Class" and "Staying put is for born losers who will probably work in a gas station forever." (Even though this was a town with plenty of upper-middle-class people and plenty of "creative" jobs! Kids are dumb!)

But so there we all were, showing off our "agility" unnecessarily and racking up debt we didn't need and burning ties we could have used, and in hindsight that strikes me as deeply bizarre and kind of regrettable. It's always been the case that some people did that sort of thing, but the sheer number of people in my generation who insist on doing it seems new and weird and problematic.

But yes, we were lucky to have a college nearby at all. The exodus of young people from places that are seriously depressed and isolated is a whole nother can of worms, and strikes me as a lot more reasonable and a lot less symptomatic-of-some-sort-of-fuckuppedness.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:59 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


The idea that we've been told we're special all our lives bears so little resemblance to the upbringing my friends and I actually experienced, I don't understand where it's coming from.

Ever watch a Levi's ad, or Apple anything, or Nissan or any of the other 'make your mark on the world' type campaigns? that's where.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:01 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand where it's coming from.

All these kids today with thier texting and hip hop and desire for food and shelter, so spoilers! They should be thankful we don't murder them for sport!
posted by The Whelk at 11:01 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


In a way, it was a form of conspicuous consumption. Leaving town meant either "I'm betting I'll be successful enough not to need any help from my family ever" or "My family is rich enough that all their help can come in monetary form."
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:02 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, if we all lived near our extended families and relied on them for day-to-day assistance, we would all be dead from murdering each other.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:02 AM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


( Levi is totally gross and disgusting in that regard because of how much working class fetishizing goes on in thier ads, yeah you wanna put a factory in the US there Levi's? Not just a fig leaf, high end one? Thought so.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe that's just me?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:03 AM on September 17, 2013


I don't get why there weren't protests when the raised the retirement age on people. It wasn't anything to do with increased life expectancy (as if we need to keep our time working at some "perfect" percentage anyway) but just real stone cold facts that we will have to work harder to support the lazy dying boomers. I hope I can retire early or just beat the boomers to the grave.
posted by Napierzaza at 11:03 AM on September 17, 2013


The Toys From Your Childhood post makes me madder than the Generation Y one [...] This guy's probably like "I never really got the point of crayons. What do you do with them? There's no moving parts! 0/10."

Yeah, I agree. In fact, the combination of the two seems pretty revealing in an Authoritarian Personality kind of way. The enforcement of social conformity and economic victim-blaming in the Yuppies post goes hand in hand with the utter confusion at the idea of unstructured creative play in the Toys post, as if a toy without a single set of socially sanctioned and enforced rules were defective. Catch that offhand remark about "The guilt you feel when people call you a genius because you solved [the Rubik's Cube] even though you used instructions and just did what they told you to do" — rule-following and blank physics-puzzle wonderment are apparently this person's only forms of play, because they're the only things that calm the "fidgeting." (I think "fidgeting" is actually this person's word for freedom.)
posted by RogerB at 11:04 AM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


What blood-stone-circle ritual do I have to perform to make these "Gen Y is so entitled" posts stop appearing Forever?
posted by hellojed at 11:05 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, I hear you, Potomac Avenue. Sometimes you need to get away from a situation. That's always been true.

But either the rate of families-who-I-mean-I-love-them-and-all-but-sometimes-they-suck-so-bad-I-just-gotta-leave-or-I'll-stab-them-in-the-face is way up, or something else is going on on top of that.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:05 AM on September 17, 2013


Blurg. The economy sucks. But it IS possible for a young person to be financially successful. It just requires avoiding a bunch of traps:
1) student loan debt
2) living in an uber-expensive city or neighborhood
3) pursuing a high-status/low-wage job like journalism, arts, nonprofits
4) getting in a relationship with someone who's irresponsible
5) spending a lot of money studying something that won't actually help you get a job


I did literally all of these things exactly wrong. Explains a lot.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, I'm back in Gen Y? I thought I was a Millennial. Did I just get evicted from one generation to another? Yuppies? What? Dude, everyone I know is poor. Ambitious, brilliant, radiant with wit and talent and intelligence but working at hotels and fast food (and healthcare, which used to be a great thing as far as pay and benefits go, and is still a lot better than lots of other fields, but is diminishing because all of us are going for it as the last open field that pays anything). Are you from a parallel universe where young people actually have leisure and autonomy and security?

Can I come visit?
posted by byanyothername at 11:08 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I did literally all of these things exactly wrong. Explains a lot.

Same here, dude, same here. The problem is that when we were kids they weren't called "traps," they were called "aspiring to the upper middle class."

Well and 4) was called "falling in love" and was considered to be separate from a canny, relentless search for elusive economic security. But it's the one I'm angriest about. I almost can't talk to my friends who make middle-class salaries AND have middle-class partners, they are so fucking rich and i can't go to the doctor all because they "fell in love smart."

(I am right at the economic point where alone, I struggle, but if I had a partner who matched my salary, we'd be GOLDEN. But no, the men of my generation are even worse off than the women, and mostly earn what I made as a 19 year old at a mall store.)
posted by like_a_friend at 11:11 AM on September 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yep, we've made romantic interactions into economic transactions WE'RE THE BEST.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


In a way, it was a form of conspicuous consumption. Leaving town meant either "I'm betting I'll be successful enough not to need any help from my family ever" or "My family is rich enough that all their help can come in monetary form."

There's what Potomac Avenue said or 'there are no jobs for anyone here because no one ever retires anymore'.

I work with people who claim they want to keep working because retiring would be 'boring' and my difficulty in being civil about it gets harder and harder.
posted by winna at 11:21 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


What floors me abouty this is that Boomers can't perceive the direct connection between their "I can't afford to retire" complaint, and the scarcity of opportunity at entry levels. When no one is moving out, no one can move up.

Sorry, dude, I can perceive the connection just fine. But I'm still not moving into a cardboard box by the river so that you can move up. That's what "can't afford to retire" means, at least for me and for most of the people I know.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:22 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


FUN RETRO PICKS FOR 2013:
Neon block jackets.
Screenprinted leggings
TR-808 synth
Marriage as a purely financial transaction for the consolidation of resources and capital.
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on September 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


also acid wash jorts
posted by elizardbits at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't believe we've gotten this far in the thread without noticing how "GYPSY expert" Paul Harvey won the Internet today with this gem:

For those hiring members of Gen Y, Harvey suggests asking the interview question, “Do you feel you are generally superior to your coworkers/classmates/etc., and if so, why?”


Whaaaat? Does Paul Harvey also suggest that adoption agencies ask potential parents "do you feel that you would be a good parent? If so, why?" Does he really believe that asking a yes/no question to which the best answer is blindingly obvious will yield good information? Has Paul Harvey met people? Does he live in a hermetically sealed cube and only get information about other humans via articles in The Atlantic?

Seriously, I saw this thing posted on Facebook (Gen Y, yah, I know) about an hour ago and my mind has been ever-more boggled by the mind-bending stupidity of that quote every minute that's gone by. It's almost as though I imagine Paul Harvey sitting in his hermetically sealed cube with an iPad and saying to himself: "Now I've got it - I'm going to add an 'if so, why?' Now my question is fool-proof! No one can possibly see past the penetrating inquisitiveness of 'if, so why?' Take that, you GYPSY narcissists!"

I mean the whole article is pretty silly, but this is just....I mean, I don't even know. It's amazing.
posted by breakin' the law at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I sort of want to live in a society where you can do something like "getting in a relationship with someone who's irresponsible" without ruining the rest of your life forever.
posted by threeants at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


also acid wash jorts

look some of us cant afford your fancy regular-washed long jeans OK?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2013


Sorry, dude, I can perceive the connection just fine. But I'm still not moving into a cardboard box by the river so that you can move up. That's what "can't afford to retire" means, at least for me and for most of the people I know.

As long as you don't sit around calling unemployed young folks unflattering names when they can't move out of their parents' houses, buy homes, or have children ever, then that's fine. Lots of your peers really aren't drawing that connecting line, and they're being dickheads about it.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


I mean, not that it actually does. But I'm not really a fan of the idea of YOU MADE A MIS-STEP, NOW YOU BURN
posted by threeants at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wanna know why I'm unhappy? Because everyone is busy labeling me part of generation this or generation that. They're telling me that the American Lie they sold all the way up until GWB (and even until 2007, right before, oh, a Black Man took office) is suddenly a lie, but they swore swore swore it was true, but now they're saying "no no no - it IS true, just WORK REAL HARD AT JOBS YOU CAN'T FIND, AND WHO SAID YOU DESERVE HAPPINESS???"

I'm gen-x, actually. But I am really really really fucking tired of all the goddamned "boomers this, gen y that, gen x that, silent generation this, greatest generation that, gorgolfod generation this, gen XIII that...."

Yes, the boomers fucked shit up... The boomers tried and lost, and there's nothing that I can see the non-boomers doing that's "unfucking" things up any more than what the boomers tried, and believe me those fuckers were fighting. Black Panthers? Radical Environmental Movements? Women's Lib? Well - I suppose the Unions were pacified by then, so... But society was on a path to war, but they lost, and then... they sold out. As I'm sure they would have even if they would have won. Clinton's Krushchev to Huey's Lenin (I suppose Mao would be more relevant when mentioning Huey Newton)...

We're fucked. Corporations fucked us all. They sold us to the cheapest shittiest human rights offenders. The whole system is a joke, and don't you fucking blame a goddamned young kid for any of the shit that they inherited and don't tell them that the reason they're miserable is because they believed in the lies they were told and now that it's not there, it's magically their fault instead of the capitalist pigs who pushed this shit on all of us.
posted by symbioid at 11:29 AM on September 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


I can't believe we've gotten this far in the thread without noticing how "GYPSY expert" Paul Harvey won the Internet today with this gem:

For those hiring members of Gen Y, Harvey suggests asking the interview question, “Do you feel you are generally superior to your coworkers/classmates/etc., and if so, why?”


See this is exactly the problem. There's a decent hard working Millennial out there, who could take this "GYPSY Expert" job, and instead there's Paul Harvey, holding on to it, even though he's been dead for like four years.

In seriousness, though, I hate hate hate this question. You know what, I'm not superior to most of my classmates and peer; I'm not worse, but I'm not better. As an employee, I'll be fine, and so will they, but one of us isn't likely to be much better than the other. But I can't say that. I have to make up some bullshit skill that we all have and claim that I'm the only one that has it, even though everyone in the room knows its a lie. It's stupid.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:33 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Looks like someones got a case of the Tuesdays... The Ruby Tuesdays! Let's all head down after quittin time and grab some Buds! *Loverboy song*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:34 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know who thinks everybody is special and talented? The people who think bootstraps are a universal solution to economic problems. Gen Y may have been told that and may have believed it (not really, in my experience) but the reality is the group of people who are actually deluded enough to believe it are mostly older conservatives.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:34 AM on September 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


I read this article a couple days ago because several of my friends who I really like and respect posted it to their wall.

I started it with a mild sense of outrage and ended it with a distinct sense of apathy.

I'm 29 so I think I'm in the right age group for what this person is talking about. And the thing is, the 'GYPSY' people he described definitely existed in college. I knew people like that. I WAS like that, even a year or two after college. But then ... then I grew up and I learned about the world.

I thinkt this article is describing the phenomenal process of 'becoming an adult' whereby one realizes the hopes and dreams that seemed so attainable in one's youth are not, in reality, so easily attained. And if they are attainable at all, then it will most likely be by way of a completely different path than what one might have imagined.

Most likely the 'GYPSY' (god, do I hate that) people he describes have grown out of that mindset in the way we might expect them to. By growing up.
posted by Tevin at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2013


Yep, we've made romantic interactions into economic transactions

I know how we could fix this!

First, we make it extremely hard for one half of every married couple to get a job -- certainly not a job that pays a living wage. Then, let's make it so that same half of every couple has no actual financial privileges, they can't get cash at the bank or take out a credit card without their spouse's approval. Finally, make it so that one half of every couple doesn't stand to get much money at all if there is a divorce.

Since only one person in each couple would be making all the financial decisions, it would be impossible for them to get screwed, and they could marry whomever they want!

Of course life would kind of suck for the other half of every couple, but who cares about them anyway.
posted by miyabo at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, in a job interview, I would say that yes, I am better than my classmates and my peers at the things that make me a candidate for the job. That doesn't make me a better person than them, of course.

And also, fuck this guy!
posted by Mister_A at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I sort of want to live in a society where you can do something like "getting in a relationship with someone who's irresponsible" without ruining the rest of your life forever.

I mean, not that it actually does.


Well I dunno about forever but I am screwed pretty thoroughly for at least the next ten years unless I marry some seriously rich dude like yesterday.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:36 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


As long as you don't sit around calling unemployed young folks unflattering names when they can't move out of their parents' houses

You mean the struggling young man living in my house right now? The one I'm supporting because he cannot get a job in this economy? You got yourself a deal! I won't sit around calling him names, because I'm too fucking busy trying to survive.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:36 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cool. You're way nicer than my cousin's mom, who could afford to retire but won't because spite, and calls her daughter horrible names for being on food stamps and generally shits on all young people ever, we're so damn lazy.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:37 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My advice to you, sir, is to do what your parents did.

I tend to agree that there is nothing generationally unique about the disillusionment that one often suffers after 20 years of being told you are brilliant, creative, here's another A, of course you should get a second PhD, you can't sell your potential short....having generally having nothing but Great Artists and Great Books as archetypes for what life should be about. THere was a Baby Boomer (I know!) who sang "20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift", and that was a pretty long time ago now.
posted by thelonius at 11:39 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


In seriousness, though, I hate hate hate this question. You know what, I'm not superior to most of my classmates and peer; I'm not worse, but I'm not better. As an employee, I'll be fine, and so will they, but one of us isn't likely to be much better than the other. But I can't say that. I have to make up some bullshit skill that we all have and claim that I'm the only one that has it, even though everyone in the room knows its a lie. It's stupid.

In fairness to my New Favorite Fake Expert, Harvey seems to suggest that the question has two right answers. You could:

a) Say that you don't think you're better than others (This is presumably what any sane person, regardless of his/her inner feelings, would say.)
b) Say that you are, but then come up with a "good reason" why it's so.

WHICH JUST UNDERLINES HOW AMAZING THIS QUESTION IS. Does Paul Harvey really believe there is a cadre of 25-year-olds out there who will answer this question with a "yes" followed by a "uh, well...I got a trophy every year in Little League." Does he really think it TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE that someone could make up a reason why they are supposedly better than others and sell it seriously? Does he really think an interviewer is going to be able to judge a "good" reason from a "bad" one? What constitutes a good and bad reason for arrogance, anyway? How does this question answer anything?

I'm really just continually amazed by this.
posted by breakin' the law at 11:39 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


And now, a word from Old Economy Steven
posted by dr_dank at 11:41 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift not any shift at all, there are no shifts, fuck off."

Reeeeeeeeeeeemix!
posted by like_a_friend at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm all about blaming the baby boomers too, but aside from the other objections raised, I think this is specially designed to appeal to angry young people who hate their own generation and think that their rich parents are to blame for not preparing them to downwardly mobilize.

Just one more reason I'm grateful to have discovered punk rock, dumpster diving, and DIY during my college years. They turned out to be a much better preparation for the future.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:43 AM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Don't totally blame the Baby Boomers; the "Greatest Generation" returned from World War II with the biggest case of over-entitlement in America's history ("WE saved the world, dammit") and taught their children well, with the combination pushing aside the generation that truly knew the Great Depression and acted accordingly in the 1970s. It's all been a slow build to the breakdown since.

And I consider the blog's author totally discredited due to his absurd opinion of bunnies.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:44 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Marriage as a purely financial transaction for the consolidation of resources and capital.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a TR-808 synth.

If I live to share a box with my fellow Xers in my disgusting old age, it will be diverting to hear us argue over precisely when we knew we were fucked. "By aught-eight I knew we were fucked. Yeah? I knew we were fucked in aught-one! Well, I knew we were fucked back in ninety-two!"
posted by octobersurprise at 11:45 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does he really think it TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE that someone could make up a reason why they are supposedly better than others and sell it seriously?

"I consider myself superior to my peers because I can answer any interview question you throw at me in such a manner that you only realize I was ridiculing you halfway into your nightly drunken stupor, staring blankly at a computer screen with a 45-degree downward line representing your 401(K) worth, wondering when, exactly, it was that your life took a turn so wrong that your day's only worthwhile experience was attempting to feel superior to an unemployed 25-year-old."
posted by griphus at 11:48 AM on September 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


Just one more reason I'm grateful to have discovered punk rock, dumpster diving, and DIY during my college years. They turned out to be a much better preparation for the future.

Truth.
posted by jessamyn at 11:49 AM on September 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


I wish I could remember the name of the book where the thesis was basically that Americans always see themselves as "sharps" who are clever enough to dupe suckers and get rich despite a rich system, so there's a lot of the just world nonsense about just avoiding "traps" or whatever. It was a decent book (though I had to take it back to the library without finishing it, so I'd like to track it down again).
posted by klangklangston at 11:50 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Legos and I never really got along, but only because I preferred cardboard boxes as a building medium. If I'd had 1-foot-long Legos or something, then we'd be talking.

My Rubik's cube was never solved. And it was a fad, so I had like three of those fuckers. But even the people who solved them never seemed happy; they'd get a sort of robotic look on their face, turn-turn-turn, yay I created a cube with solid-colored faces. That's my reward!

In retrospect, it was rather symbolic of some of my future work assignments.

I mostly like people younger than me, honestly. Perhaps I have been blessed with exposure to the nice ones, but in general I don't find them any more venial or uninformed than people my age were. They seem rather worried, who can blame them? Many of them are much more enlightened than I was at that age.
posted by emjaybee at 11:51 AM on September 17, 2013



You stipulated "white family" in addition to your class comparisons.

Yes, I did. And?
posted by grubi


Nonwhite people are not prohibited from middle/upper middle class security with the certainty you imply. What I perceive as the knee-jerk progressive "white wealthy" vs "poor everyone else" really generalizes a wide range of experiences that immigrants as well as long term nonwhite generations actually face, and feels reductive and insulting, even if it is meant well.

(Which is also what I said before, but just to clarify again).
posted by sweetkid at 11:53 AM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


WTF is the next generation going to do when they hit their senior years and have no savings and no social security?

Die young, I guess. Only the generationally wealthy deserve to live past age 60.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:54 AM on September 17, 2013


Point of clarification (since several people seem to be confused): Gen Y and Millennials are the same thing.
posted by naoko at 11:58 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good to see that MeFi remains a bastion of optimism, a respite from hyperbole, and bulwark against group-think.
posted by Argyle at 12:01 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Good to see that MeFi remains a bastion of optimism, a respite from hyperbole, and bulwark against group-think.

It's true, the concerns that have been raised are total nonsense crazypants! Oh you wacky sarcastic iconoclast, you!
posted by FatherDagon at 12:09 PM on September 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Good Lord, work ain't getting done today.

I myself am pretty tired of generational framing. I am also pretty tired of pointing to corporations for the FUBAR situation we might be all in.

Here's my framing of it all:

WW2 happened, and ended. Then the boom. As the linked article pointed out, a few to five decades of economic prosperity happened.

But within that time frame, evidence of an end to such prosperity was surfacing. I have had a poster for a few years now, and it currently resides in my office. This has really helped explain what has happened in my lifetime, and will happen going forward.

1970 came and went, and in retrospective, Hubbert's prediction of a peak in US oil production happened. The oil crises followed in that decade. End result was a diversification of supply for good and especially bad. Global production hasn't changed much in the past decades, with periods of decline.

From the perspective of where I live and my lifetime: consequences of peaking domestic energy production were pretty evident - a plant closure when I was about 3 (reportedly helped make the tank of a car known as the Chevy Caprice), the other plant right next door to that would close in 2010, and in the mid 2000s, a Visteon plant would shutter down the freeway from it. This is in addition to the closure or otherwise winding down of other plants in SE Michigan (and across the country).

Simple consequences of declining energy production, subsequent plant closures and resulting job losses are societal uplift and, while we point to folks with a lot of money in their pockets, confusion and endless misery in trying to figure out what to do.

Another way of framing it: I was born in '89, Clinton was elected in '92 which was followed by a decade of rising global energy production and thus economic prosperity. 2001 came with Bush and Cheney being sworn in, with Cheney containing insights into what was going on in the oil biz. All that translated to for most of us in SE Michigan at the time, however, was they got elected and the auto jobs along with the economy are going to go *poof* (and they did... somewhat, if you get my point).

Problem is: not many people follow the news, so people are ill-prepared. Then again, a condition of living shouldn't be one must follow the news. Another problem is: lack of education, and means of successfully delivering it to people. Then again, a condition of living shouldn't be one must get "an education", whatever that is. So most people don't consider global energy supply or politics having an impact in their day to day lives.

Generally though, people need a medium through which they can take in and give out information critical to survival. Access to such media has gotten difficult in some cases these days, due to factors hard to completely enumerate.

Short: we have a resource crisis, and communication issues, resulting in people not really realizing the floor they stand on is losing support in their lives. Some might have an idea, most don't have a clue.

Are we getting someplace in getting these issues hashed out? Absolutely! Cultural changes in the past decades have helped a bit, so have innovations in technology, but we got quite a ways to go. Question is do we have the time to fix it all before it's too late?

And at that end, all I can do is hope yes, and chug along.

/rant
posted by JoeXIII007 at 12:17 PM on September 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's anger out there, but not nearly enough. Just look at how ineffective Occupy ended up being. We could possibly be near a tipping point, if the perfect storm of climate change, ocean acidification, water wars, and another economic shitstorm carries the cycle of history toward revolution or collapse.
But the 'opiates of the masses' are at work as well. Petro is cheap right now, smartphones and easycheap internet (even if it's shitty) are pervasive; the securitarians running the world have folks scared of the 'other' more than they are scared of the security state, and everyone is hoping that good ol' merkin ingenuity can wave a technological magic wand over all of it and simultaneously solve the problems and put folks back to work in droves at the same time.
It's an interesting time.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:18 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's true, the concerns that have been raised are total nonsense crazypants! Oh you wacky sarcastic iconoclast, you!

First, I'm not an iconoclast. I'm a pretty average person.

Second, I'm not going to get into ripping quotes from the comments above, but many paint a dire picture that this generation is facing situations far worse, more dire, and completely inescapable than any previous generation. It's this kind of 'special snowflake, poor me' attitude which seems quite thick around here these days.

Third, I didn't call any of the concerns "total nonsense", you did. Many of the points people brought up are valid and of concern, but the heavy dose of fatalism and nihilism that accompanies them make it difficult to have a conversation about.

I simply wish that MeFi had a little more respectful debate and discussion and little less riding of high horses.
posted by Argyle at 12:23 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The national unemployment rate is 13.5% among people aged 20-24. It's at 9.3% for those aged 25 to 29 which is closer to the national rate of 8%. If you combine ages 18-29, it's 12.7%. Among African Americans in that age range, it's 22.3%.

But perhaps the real problem is underemployment and the basic cost of living for Gen Y. Just anecdotally speaking, it seems like in my generation (X), it was easier to hold down a part-time or fulltime job and pay rent while still "chasing your dreams" in your early 20s, and then find a full-time job with benefits after those dreams died or at least got ported to something more realistic. For the GenY friends of mine chasing dreams in the arts/education/nonprofit it seems much harder to afford rent and basic necessities.
posted by cell divide at 12:23 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another response piece. It says mostly the same stuff as the other responses, but also attributes the piece to a guy who worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I can't figure out where that bit of information is coming from, but if it's true, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
posted by naoko at 12:27 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is possible that two things are true at the same time:

1) The economy sucks. Young adults today face a dire situation which is much worse than it has been in decades. There is no safety net, so if you make one mistake, you can suffer for many years.

2) There are still specific things YOU can do which will help YOU survive the situation and even thrive in this difficult new environment.

I don't think talking about #2 diminishes #1 at all.
posted by miyabo at 12:30 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


But the 'opiates of the masses' are at work as well.

More stick, less carrot - bet you good odds all the strange shit being done in the name of security these days is just the ground-laying for a Preemptive Counter-Revolution.
posted by The Whelk at 12:36 PM on September 17, 2013


#2's a zero sum game though. Anyone might be able to do better by doing things "more right" but if everyone does, well they're back to square one.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:37 PM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Many of the points people brought up are valid and of concern, but the heavy dose of fatalism and nihilism that accompanies them make it difficult to have a conversation about.

Also makes it pretty difficult to live through, especially when people not in caught in the mire find it necessary to tell you it's not so bad, really. And you're exaggerating. And other people have it worse. Double-especially when those responses are to what is pretty clearly venting rather than, well, I really have no idea what it is you peeked in here to find and didn't and felt the need to say anything at all.

As far as respectful debate? Paul Harvey's article is more disrespectful and ignorant than anything said here by a country mile. I mean, we can debate exactly how disrespectful and ignorant, certainly, but that doesn't even have the cathartic quality that raging against the storm provides.
posted by griphus at 12:39 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish I was a Yuppie, because that would imply being upwardly mobile. My own trajectory has been relatively flat for the past six years or so.
posted by codacorolla at 12:43 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


attributes the piece to a guy who worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers

And then he cofounded two companies that specialize in tutoring for standardized testing, which seems beyond appropriate here. That's right, Gen Y, you're not special; your SAT scores say so. But our tutors can help you be special; contact us today for our weekly rates.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:46 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


And by "Paul Harvey's article" I mean "the article in the FPP."
posted by griphus at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I simply wish that MeFi had a little more respectful debate and discussion and little less riding of high horses.

The stable's this way sir, we'll put your horse up as soon as you're done with it. And there's as much respectful debate in the main hall as your appetite can handle, all you have to do is participate in it!
posted by FatherDagon at 12:51 PM on September 17, 2013


A couple of very unlucky examples aside, everyone in their 30s I know who took making money seriously from the time they were teenagers is secure, and one or two very lucky examples aside, everyone who did not, is not. This doesn't mean the secure people took no risks, it means the risks were carefully calculated and well hedged, as any prudent risk must be.

So many people having unhelpful priorities is probably due to bad upbringing -- the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering (too much) but didn't at least engage you on the question what you were going to do with that sociology degree.
posted by MattD at 12:54 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


bad upbringing -- the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering (too much) but didn't at least engage you on the question what you were going to do with that sociology degree.

Um.

This "bad upbringing" is also sometimes known as "growing up with parents who were too poor to have gone to college." Taking the project of wealth-building seriously AS A TEENAGER is something that really, only the children of the already-rather-wealthy are equipped to do.

My parents couldn't have "engaged me" on what I was going to do with a sociology degree--my mom would have been like, "that sounds pretty fancy, rock on." She is not a stupid person, but I would bet you ten dollars she does not actually know what a sociologist is, and would be intensely embarrassed to ask.

I mean really. Also, teenagers who "took making money seriously" when I was a teenager were weird, fascist assholes...
posted by like_a_friend at 1:02 PM on September 17, 2013 [37 favorites]


I simply wish that MeFi had a little more respectful debate and discussion and little less riding of high horses.

It's a pretty hyperbolic and high-handed piece to begin with on a sub-sub-Buzzfeed blog ("14 Shitty Sayings," "7 Ways To Be Insufferable On Facebook," really?), so dismissive snark and contumely is probably more than it actually deserves.

I don't know, the kind of people who take a piece like this at all seriously, I question their good breeding.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:04 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


didn't at least engage you on the question what you were going to do with that sociology degree

I was an English major and currently work in digital production and do just fine but - my parents basically would love it if I were a starving novelist living in a garret (the dying of consumption part would be a bit much). I dunno, they just wanted us to be who we wanted to be. Not bad upbringing in the slightest, to me.

I think they saw the cliche of Indian parents pushing their kids to do things they didn't want to do and were like - "nope, not doing that to our kids."
posted by sweetkid at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


...the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering...

And what if they had? What if everyone's parent's had? There's simply not enough work needing done to occupy 80 million new engineers. Or, if you like, 20 million engineers, 20 million lawyers, 20 million trade school graduates, and 20 million programmers. (And the demand for the first three of those will decline as quickly as the fourth can automate the jobs away.)

How about 80 million doctors, nurses, and physical therapists? Maybe. But that particular demand is tied to the senescence, and limited by the mortality, of the Baby Boomers; all those medical personnel will end up falling redundant by the millions decades short of their retirement. Possibly years short of repaying their school loans.

So since any other middle class job requires at least a bachelor's degree, why not get a bachelor's degree in something that interests you? No matter what you do, affluence is not overly likely; so you as may well do what you like, even if success in that particular field is still more improbable.
posted by Iridic at 1:17 PM on September 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


So many people having unhelpful priorities is probably due to bad upbringing -- the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering (too much) but didn't at least engage you on the question what you were going to do with that sociology degree.

What about the fact that it wasn't until pretty recently that everyone was suddenly expected to even go to college at all? None of my grandparents went to college. Three of them had long, interesting careers that enabled them to retire comfortably in their 60s, and the ones that are still alive continue to live comfortably in their 80s. One grandmother was able to be a housewife while her husband alone made enough money to support his wife and three children. They weren't rich, but they weren't scraping by either. He was just a regular guy living a regular life in a regular town with his family.

I'm pretty sure our society has developed to a point where it's not realistic to expect a large percentage of people to find any sort of career path that could be described as successful or admirable. Why are so many kids even able to get loans for tens of thousands of dollars to major in things that have no viable career path after college? Why is it normal to major in one thing and then get a random job doing something else and have this meaningless degree, just to be able to say "hey, I did college!" Why has that become normal and even expected, and then it's sort of a joke when the kid with the history degree can't get a decent job?

We as younger people were given the opportunity to major in whatever the hell we wanted, even if we couldn't afford it. You didn't even have to do that well in high school in order to get into some college somewhere. The options are there, and they're fully supported by the higher education system that we're pressured into attending. To blame young people, or even their parents, for this systemic failure seems to be missing the bigger picture.
posted by wondermouse at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


bad upbringing -- the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering

My parents were awful by this definition, but I've vowed to correct their mistakes. That's why I moved a stone's throw from MIT, so my developing fetus can attend lectures and absorb the sweet fumes of STEM knowledge. I will not go into labor until he or she can pass the written exam. I'm not even pregnant, but hey, success begins at conception.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:24 PM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Prenatal bootstraps! It's never too early.
posted by RogerB at 1:24 PM on September 17, 2013


A couple of very unlucky examples aside, everyone in their 30s I know who took making money seriously from the time they were teenagers is secure, and one or two very lucky examples aside, everyone who did not, is not. This doesn't mean the secure people took no risks, it means the risks were carefully calculated and well hedged, as any prudent risk must be.

So many people having unhelpful priorities is probably due to bad upbringing -- the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering (too much) but didn't at least engage you on the question what you were going to do with that sociology degree.


I was going to respond to this, but wondermouse did a pretty good job of it. Your dull moralizing about upbringing based on anecdotal evidence totally ignores the structural factors of a massive labor surplus and exploding credential inflation.
posted by codacorolla at 1:27 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


What about the fact that it wasn't until pretty recently that everyone was suddenly expected to even go to college at all?

I am the very first person in my father's family to go to a 4-year university. And that stretches back several generations.

Dad and Grandpa were still successful - Dad was designed electronics engineering, and Grandpa was a plumber who had also been officer of a platoon of Seabees in WWII. But - nope, neither of them went to college.

I'm the one with the 4 year degree and arguably I'm doing worse than they did.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:29 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


So many people having unhelpful priorities is probably due to bad upbringing -- the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering (too much) but didn't at least engage you on the question what you were going to do with that sociology degree.

HAHAHAH!! At the end of high school I sat down to have this conversation with my parents, I had the temerity to say I wanted to study History, English, or Writing. They directly told me "no" and said I had two choices: business or computer science. So, I entered college studying both, eventually setting on economics/business. Yet my heart was still elsewhere (I would deny it if you asked me back then), since I took the time to take non-required courses in history, writing, film studies throughout my college career. I transferred to a decent four year university and I majored in Economics and got a minor in Business Administration, and that was only because the biz school in my university had a separate application process that I couldn't meet the requirements for. Hell, I even took a year to study Mandarin Chinese, because, y'know "China is where the business is at!!".

I wish I could tell you there was a happy ending, and I got a decent, well paying job at PWC, McKinsey, HSBC, or whatever the hell the suits apply to these days. But I didn't. Instead, for the last 5 years, I've been struggling, not sure what to do, not sure if I should do what I like, questioning if I like what I like, just buckle down and do what I've been told and what everyone else is doing, or maybe I should drop out of the rat race and just bury my ambition completely and be happy that I have a good place to live and food to eat.
posted by FJT at 1:30 PM on September 17, 2013


Fuck everything, I'm strong-arming my future kids into ophthalmology school. Whoever cures all that chronic myopia going around will be the Greatest American Hero and I heard that pays pretty well.
posted by griphus at 1:31 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Maybe, just maybe, everyone's career can't be their passion.

I know it's crazy, but hear me out.

Maybe people can find a way to choose work that helps provide the financial security needed to support their passion outside of work.

While it would be nice to find work that perfectly aligns with personal passions for everyone, that's simply unrealistic.

Of my uncles of the much-derided Silent & Boomer generations, 3 were postmen and 1 an accountant. Not their passions, but they paid the bills, and allowed them to indulge in the fishing, trumpet playing, cycling, and other things they enjoyed in life. My father was the one crazy one that decided to go to college and become an engineer. They all had good lives, but didn't 'follow their passion', they followed the money.

You are right, everyone can't be a lawyer/doctor/engineer/programmer. But there are many professions out there that can provide a good living. Unfortunately, they don't always align with what people would love to do. This sucks, but it's the reality of the situation.

I don't mind being an engineer, but it's OK. While I might rather run a charcuterie shop, be a professional cyclist, or own a comic book/video game store, that just won't pay the bills.

Pushing your children to think rationally about their future and find a happy medium between passion and practicality is not a bad thing. My high school senior daughter would love a career as professional cosplayer or professional collage maker, but has decided to study TV/film production because it blends what interests her with what will make a living.

As much as I'd like both my daughters to be petroleum engineers so I can worry less about their financial security, taking the middle ground is a reasonable approach.

If there is one takeaway from the post, it's that maybe "following your passion" isn't always the best advice.
posted by Argyle at 1:33 PM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


“The internet loves to pass around purple fabricated monkey "quotations" dishwasher”
- RogerB

“I simply wish that MeFi had a little more respectful debate and discussion and little less riding of high horses.”

I’d like to ride a high horse. That’d be sweet. I’d call him Norman and feed him carrots.

“but there's a lot more people now that also completed university who--as Kokuryu said--can look forward to washing dishes at the end. It's fucking different now, who would have guessed.”

&
“But on the third hand, social inequity is as high now as it has been in living memory..”


There’s the rub. Most of the work being done is being done to promote that inequity. So it either supports and expands the inequity or it’s spun off into inconsequentiality.

“Paul Harvey's article is more disrespectful and ignorant than anything said here by a country mile.”
And now you know, the rest of the sto…waitashake that guy looks like he’s 15 years old.
And it’s a Media Relations (PR) fluff piece from the University website. Jesus fuck.

“They’ve been led to believe, perhaps through overzealous self-esteem building exercises in their youth, that they are somehow special but often lack any real justification for this belief,” Harvey says.

Yeah. Y’know, on the one hand my entitlement perception of superiority is based on being able to kill any dozen of these chucklefucks in the room.
That, though, doesn’t address the stealth noun “deservingness” derived apparently from the ironical ‘deserving poor’ epithetic.

Deservingness’ got nothing to do with it. Scads of material is being produced that is a simulacra of work. It’s like a PK Dick story. Loads of Jabronies blathering on about nothing and promoting the blathering as though the promotion of the useless simulation of work is as useful and arduous as laying concrete.

Drivel like “You can become special by working really hard for a long time.” Really there Van Gogh? Herman Melville just didn’t work hard enough and that’s why his income level went to shit?

Tesla just wasn’t on the ball enough and Edison’s the big hero? Heinrich Goebel had a sense of overentitlement thinking he was special for inventing the light bulb but Edison just worked real hard, oh and bought the patent from Goebels impoverished widow. Stuff like that?
Gary Kildall was a sucker for graduating college, but Bill Gates is an ambitious genius for dropping out (and stealing DOS). All about hard work and ambition. Uh huh.

Maybe we should redefine “success” in less monetary terms and consider everyone has having deservingness for basic physical needs such as food, shelter and fucking health care so they can succeed at something worthwhile instead of being jackpotted out of their reward for hard work.

Don’t tell me hard work succeeds, not monetarily proportionately, because it just ain’t so.
Being special isn’t at all valued. We’ve proven that time and again that it’s the ability to exploit the special that we prize.

One of the commenters said it best, to paraphrase, ‘measuring happiness in dollars, career and job titles are the problem’ – work hard at carving out your own happiness (make sure it’s protected from predation) and take the time to enjoy it. That’s success. And in no way do we support that.
Too many people trying to justify having the big wallet by trying to make others play that game. You think you're "entitled" if you don't wanna play. Bullshit.
I like having a non-money goal as my life's work. I can imagine inventors, artists, firefighters, etc. etc. feeling the same way.
I think people with those non-financially focused life goals ARE special.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:33 PM on September 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


My parents had a particular ethos that served them well most of their lives (probably deriving from their Cumberland Presbyterian faith) that stressed the value in being without pretension or unseemly levels of ambition. Basically, you marry for love, do your time in college, find a big, stable company, work hard every day and call your bosses "sir" and everything will take care of itself. I don't know that they taught me I was special at all. They taught me to have faith that the system takes care of decent regular folk.

Even my late dad said a few years back (sometime around his fourth layoff) that this view of life had started to fail him and he wished he had taught me to depend more on shrewd planning than faith and decency.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:41 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Maybe, just maybe, everyone's career can't be their passion. I know it's crazy, but hear me out. Maybe people can find a way to choose work that helps provide the financial security needed to support their passion outside of work.

What's crazy is that some people still persist in thinking that this is about "finding your passion" rather than "finding financial security".

I gave up on following my passion already, what we're trying to get is A LIVING WAGE.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on September 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


Even my late dad said a few years back (sometime around his fourth layoff) that this view of life had started to fail him and he wished he had taught me to depend more on shrewd planning than faith and decency.

QFT. My father had a very similar, conservative philosophy - he's now in his mid-60s and recently told me, "I never thought I'd live through the best time in this country. That's over."
posted by ryanshepard at 1:45 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


RogerB: "Prenatal bootstraps!"

Yeah, all those spoiled crying babies just laying around expecting to be coddled and fed for free... back in the old days we pulled ourselves up by our own umbilical cords and got a job.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:46 PM on September 17, 2013


Second, I'm not going to get into ripping quotes from the comments above, but many paint a dire picture that this generation is facing situations far worse, more dire, and completely inescapable than any previous generation.

Not so much. It's just people relating their experiences.

The overly simplistic analysis provided by the shitty link in this post sounds like more of the same old crap I've been hearing about Generation X since I was a teenager, and likely the same shit that Boomers heard from their parents, and so on and so forth. This person has figured nothing out. Shit like this:

"Cal Newport points out that "follow your passion" is a catchphrase that has only gotten going in the last 20 years, according to Google's Ngram viewer, a tool that shows how prominently a given phrase appears in English print over any period of time. The same Ngram viewer shows that the phrase "a secure career" has gone out of style, just as the phrase "a fulfilling career" has gotten hot."

Where to even begin with this? There is so much wrong, so much jumping to erroneous conclusions. Maybe Cal Newport should look into the same ideas expressed in different words. Like Dale Carnegie almost 100 years ago--he's credited with stuff like this:

"Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours."

and he was dead by 1955!

And this: Lucy, on the other hand, finds herself constantly taunted by a modern phenomenon: Facebook Image Crafting.

There is absolutely no way this phenomenon began with facebook image crafting. See Conspicuous Consumption and "keeping up with the Joneses"

It's this kind of 'special snowflake, poor me' attitude which seems quite thick around here these days.

The Me Generation?

It's not about "around here" "lately".
posted by Hoopo at 1:54 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


they just also want to be fulfilled by their career in a way their parents didn't think about as much.

This is an attitude I have picked up on; though it is hard to say how much is just a fake cultural notion (advertisers telling people this) versus what people actually feel and want.


I guess I would be an older member of gen Y/the millennials/whatever, and that attitude is a total real thing that I have seen a lot of. I have many friends who have made significant financial sacrifices in order to chase fulfilling careers and/or their passions. This is in really stark contrast to what I've heard about my grandparent's (depression-era) generation, where passion and fulfillment had almost no influence on the jobs people took, even when they had options.

The idea that we've been told we're special all our lives bears so little resemblance to the upbringing my friends and I actually experienced, I don't understand where it's coming from.

As a kid, I was told that I was special to a really unhealthy degree. Though I didn't really internalize it, I just got really cynical.

Disclaimer: I didn't read the article 'cause it sounds like it's crap.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 2:00 PM on September 17, 2013


Yep, we've made romantic interactions into economic transactions WE'RE THE BEST.

Um...yeah, it's called the oldest profession for a reason.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:01 PM on September 17, 2013


Disclaimer: I didn't read the article 'cause it sounds like it's crap.

Aw, come on. RTFA. It is crap, but at least you'll know.
posted by troika at 2:02 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why is it normal to major in one thing and then get a random job doing something else and have this meaningless degree, just to be able to say "hey, I did college!"

Yeah, this is the expectation now, and parents, not entirely incorrectly, assume that their kids are going to have to buy into it to get jobs better than minimum wage or retail wage slave. And the thing is, if you're a kid who excels academically, you end up getting pushed onto the college track by default. Because of course it would be waste of all that potential if you don't! Study whatever, your fancy degree from a top university will guarantee you a decent job! And if the economy was better, it probably would have.

I don't know, I was a kid who consistently excelled at academics, and who enjoyed it, so of course I had to go to college. My parents had gone to college thanks to my grandparents' "attain as much education as you can" ethos, and they passed that on to me. When I told them that I didn't think I wanted to pursue a STEM degree because it wasn't where my aptitude lay, and that I was thinking of law school, that still seemed like a reasonable plan in 2007. But then the economy imploded and it became clear that there would be no guarantees of financial security.

Would I be financially better off if I was shift manager at Starbucks with no college degree and barely any student loan debt? Probably! But I don't think it's fair to heap blame on parents or young people for buying into the system that was supposed to offer financial security. Barely any of us are still chasing the dream of a career where we can indulge our passion. We just want a steady 9-5 that will pay the bills, and a college degree was supposed to be something close to a guarantee of that.

And I don't know if it's just that the state of things has eroded so much or what, but my $40kish/year job and loads of debt seem positively secure compared to a lot of other twenty somethings. Sure, I'm one disaster away from complete insolvency, but at least I have health insurance and can pay my bills. The bar has lowered considerably, and trust me, very few of us twenty-somethings are still chasing our passions. We just can't afford to.
posted by yasaman at 2:07 PM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some of the people aiming for dreams rather than "being practical" come from homes run by embittered depressed parents who hated their practical jobs, resented the families they supported, and mourned the loss of the things they had once wanted to do but been discouraged from.

It's not consequence-free to give up on doing what you love, or living the life you want. It can end up making you a real SOB to be around.

I think giving in by lowering our expectations is counterproductive. One, it doesn't work; we know that the people at the very top who use our labor would happily take us right back to slavery if they could. Like Boxer in Animal Farm,we can't change things by just working harder. You just end up at the glue factory when you are all used up.

It's a radically non-cynical thing to say, but I think there is enough, if we refuse to accept things the way they are, for people to live decent lives and to do at least some of the things they love, if we refuse to let the those at the top off the hook, if we keep fighting for better. It's either that or give up completely and jump off a cliff. The chances of success may be miniscule, but the alternatives are worse.
posted by emjaybee at 2:12 PM on September 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


I wrote up a huge response to this but this entire situation is so depressing. Everything wrong with today is either my fault or my parents' fault.
posted by gucci mane at 2:23 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gave up on following my passion already, what we're trying to get is A LIVING WAGE.

Yes. Right now, there are a lot of people who have realized that following their passions doesn't make the most financial sense. I don't know about you, but I know that the probem with many of those people is they have not yet wrapped their head around the fact that the jobs with living wages are jobs they have traditionally been told are low-status jobs.

You know who makes a lot of money? Plumbers. Welders. Sanitation workers. People whose jobs cannot currently be outsourced, whose work involves working with their hands. I have a friend who looked at the economy, shrugged, said, "I'm going to be a boiler inspector" and is currently making money hand over fucking fist. He now owns real estate and is a landlord as well, in addition to following his passions on his off time.

There are jobs out there. Even in this economy. Even ones that make a "living wage". They are easier to get, certainly, for someone who started out pragmatic. But they are not totally out of reach.
posted by corb at 2:27 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


gucci mane: "I wrote up a huge response to this but this entire situation is so depressing. Everything wrong with today is either my fault or my parents' fault."

well maybe if you werent so depressed.
posted by boo_radley at 2:29 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't Germany one of those European nations where the trades and blue collar workers are seen as craftsmen instead of menial laborers? Where going to trade school isn't seen any less than going to a university? And where universities actually promote apprenticeships and real job experience, rather than expecting schools to provide job training, or that students will graduate and magically transform into fully qualified applicants? And aren't they an economic powerhouse right now?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:33 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


My high school senior daughter would love a career as professional cosplayer or professional collage maker, but has decided to study TV/film production because it blends what interests her with what will make a living.

The TV/film industry generally pays badly for most jobs below executive or engineer/creative level, offers little or no benefits (lots of companies tend to hire people on a freelance/temp basis), involves working hours that most people would find ludicrous, and is focused in a couple of the most expensive cities in the country. I hope she has a realistic idea of what she's getting into. Studying TV and film production pretty much falls into the "passion" category.
posted by wondermouse at 2:35 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


In my experience what you studied in school doesn't really matter that much. I know a lot of music majors who are programmers and do shows at night. I'm surprised there's so much "your degree was in WHAT?" going on here.
posted by sweetkid at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Justinian : See, we in Gen X knew that things were terrible and had no prospects for improvement. So we have not been disappointed.

I was going to say "Well, I'm Gen X, and I grew up expecting it all to be fucked. So far it seems like I was right."

But yours was more eloquent, so let's go with it instead.
posted by quin at 2:44 PM on September 17, 2013


Yes. Right now, there are a lot of people who have realized that following their passions doesn't make the most financial sense. I don't know about you, but I know that the probem with many of those people is they have not yet wrapped their head around the fact that the jobs with living wages are jobs they have traditionally been told are low-status jobs.

Still others have not yet wrapped their head around the fact that the education necessary to do those jobs also costs money, and is harder to pay for when a previous, less profitable education must also be paid for. Individual persons getting over their class snobbery isn't the solution to a structural problem.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:48 PM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I get the sense too that when people still talk about following your passion, it's more likely to be sour grapes than it would have been a few decades ago. Not "Do what you love and the money will follow" but "Financial security is impossible anyway, so we might as well have a good time."

Being convinced you will end up comfortable and being convinced you won't lead to a lot of the same conclusions, you know? If you think your actions can't affect the outcome (because prosperity feels guaranteed or because it feels inconceivable) then either way you're more likely to say "Fuck it, I'm gonna do what I want."
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:49 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know a lot of music majors who are programmers and do shows at night.

My dad did exactly that in Russia in the 1970s. Which is sort of terrifying now that I think about how many people I know that couldn't pull it off here in the Land of Opportunity and had to put their musical instruments away for good.

Maybe one day America will finally catch up to the standard of living of the intra-collapse Soviet Union, but I can't see Congress passing federally-guaranteed maternity leave and completely free state-sponsored education any time soon.
posted by griphus at 2:51 PM on September 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


(Although on the plus side no one needs to take a class in Reaganism to graduate.)
posted by griphus at 2:53 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know a lot of music majors who are programmers and do shows at night.

I also definitely, absolutely do not mean by this that everyone should/can do this. I'm just saying someone majoring in music (or whatever) because they want to isn't necessarily an idiot relegating themselves to a life of pain.
posted by sweetkid at 2:58 PM on September 17, 2013


I mean, yes, there are still some plums left in the pie. With some combination of aptitude and cunning and luck and hard work and social connections you can land a job that pays very well indeed, considering, and if you save up your shekels maybe you can aspire to the dignity of a rentier.

But just a few decades ago you needed only aptitude, or only cunning, or only luck, or only hard work, or only social connections in order to get a job that paid very well indeed, considering.

And if things go on like this? If the jobs keep being combined or made temporary or offshored or automated? At some point you'll need to max out all your aptitude, cunning, luck, etc. to get such a job, and then you'll need to work like a dray horse to keep it - on weekends, when sick, when you'd rather kill yourself than crawl out of bed.

If we ask what purpose these trends serve, if they are inevitable, if there might be corrections or alternatives to the present system - is this foolishness? Arrogance? Laziness? Entitlement? Then entitle me up, broheem.
posted by Iridic at 3:03 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nonwhite people are not prohibited from middle/upper middle class security with the certainty you imply.

I didn't say anyone was prohibited. At all. What I said described the fact that the people for whom the "American Dream" was any sort of solid likelihood were usually relatively well-off white people to begin with. As in, comfort is more likely to beget comfort. As in, it's harder to move upward, class-wise, than the "Dream" would otherwise imply. As in, the single most significant force influencing future comfort or wealth is outside of the control of the individual. Not that those individuals couldn't overcome any disadvantage, but that the biggest advantage isn't merit or effort or talent or anything one can control.

I'm curious: do you think that's untrue? Or has been untrue at some point? And keep in mind, I do recognize that anyone can "make it"; that's not counter to my point at all.
posted by grubi at 3:10 PM on September 17, 2013


A couple of very unlucky examples aside, everyone in their 30s I know who took making money seriously from the time they were teenagers is secure, and one or two very lucky examples aside, everyone who did not, is not.

If the median age of these folks is 35, then I'm 5 or 6 years older than you. The people around 40 I know are all pretty secure, whether they focused on making money from the time they were teenagers or not. Even the sociology majors. Even the English majors. I think that's the relevant difference people are talking about here. That people who are now 25 are going to find it substantially more difficult to get to the financial stability my friends and I take almost for granted.

Even the engineering majors.
posted by escabeche at 3:21 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


If the jobs keep being combined or made temporary or offshored or automated?

So here's a genuine, die-hard serious question. Because the jobs are going to be automated. That's the point of automation. There's no more point in complaining about this fact and trying to turn the clock back than there was in smashing your looms in an attempt to halt progress.

So what is the actual answer to automation? What is the actual answer to the fact that fewer people are going to be necessary? What is the demand? Is it for people to be hired to do slow, inefficient work, work that could easily be done swifter and cheaper by machine, simply because it pays more people? (Never mind that that would raise the price of all such machine made goods significantly) Is it plaintively for the jobs to come back?

The problem is not the system. It's an easy target, but it's not the problem. This is all just a stronger impact of the industrial revoution - now, the automated revolution.
posted by corb at 3:38 PM on September 17, 2013


So what is the actual answer to automation? What is the actual answer to the fact that fewer people are going to be necessary?

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
posted by like_a_friend at 3:41 PM on September 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, I mean, that's a snarky throwaway answer, but what is your proposed solution?
posted by corb at 3:44 PM on September 17, 2013


what is your proposed solution?

This is a thread that is mostly about a different topic. People should be able to comment in this thread without having to solve (or even necessarily propose solutions to) the problem outlined in the original post.
posted by jessamyn at 3:46 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Blue collar jobs also come with a heavy helping of health problems down the road.

As for working hard and planning: The company my dad worked for got fucked in the aftermath of the dot-com bust (despite being a gasket manufacturer), so he went back to school for technical communications. Only to be getting out of grad school in the worst academic hiring climate in a generation. He worked incredibly hard, but the main lessons I took away are: A company that promises to be loyal will fuck you over as soon as possible, allow execs golden parachutes while the stock price tanks, and that hard work on something worth doing isn't necessarily rewarded with money or success, so you'd better be sure you want to work hard on it.

Maybe it's different because I grew up in Michigan, which has been on a bit of a slide for at least the last 20 years or so, so this economic depression and class warfare is something I'm pretty used to.
posted by klangklangston at 3:49 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep. It's all Gen Y's fault.
posted by Talez at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I mean, that's a snarky throwaway answer, but what is your proposed solution?

Strong minimum wage laws, strong maximum weekly hour laws, generational attitude change about the 40 hour work week?
posted by Talez at 4:05 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


THere was a Baby Boomer (I know!) who sang "20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift", and that was a pretty long time ago now.

and being born in 1941, he was a member of the silent generation - not a boomer at all

george harrison was the latest born beatle in 1943 - maybe that makes him borderline, but the others? - silents

timothy leary? - born 1920

jimi hendrix? - 1942

i could go on and on but the 60s were actually led by the silent generation with the baby boomers tagging along

we didn't do such a great job of following through with it
posted by pyramid termite at 4:08 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oddly there's an open AskMe about increased automation and what it means for our future.
posted by sweetkid at 4:08 PM on September 17, 2013


Well, I mean, that's a snarky throwaway answer, but what is your proposed solution?

i really wish it were a mere throwaway, but actually "MOAR PRISON" seems to be an increasingly employed solution.

Oh also don't forget a bigger and bigger and bigger military for our many "necessary" wars.

As for myself, I hold with Talez's solution, but that would probably require a protracted and bloody revolution in the United States. Unless when the cold war kids die off we can FINALLY stop running in screaming terror from Evul Soshulism.
posted by like_a_friend at 4:08 PM on September 17, 2013


-Stay-At-Home Adults: "children are moving in with their parents because they can't get a good start to life" (also btw: More men on the 'daddy track')
-Where The Public Is On Obamacare
-Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2012
-Incoming inequality
-Feel like a million bucks, doc

meanwhile in japan: 'BoJ insider warns of need for wage rises: Government is putting pressure on business to boost income', RE: A LIVING WAGE

what's more, this is increasingly being recognised! (e.g. at the _IMF_ ;)
-The IMF on fiscal policy as macro stabiliser at the ZLB

and even more broadly there's growing recognition that to sustain growth and development (versus gaming the system for the personal enrichment of an elite political class) there needs to be more public and private investment -- infrastructure, education, R&D -- to address the challenges of our time (i.e. better capital/credit/resource allocation for the long term...)

-How the cult of shareholder value wrecked American business: "Indeed, you could argue that much of what Americans perceive to be wrong with the economy these days — the slow growth and rising inequality; the recurring scandals; the wild swings from boom to bust; the inadequate investment in R&D, worker training and public goods — has its roots in this ideology..."
-Occupy the bookshelf: #OWS turns two - "we are somewhat concerned that you, like us, might be suffering from 'well-informed futility syndrome' "
-FT Alphaville meets mathbabe to talk Occupy Finance
-Five Years after Market Crash, U.S. Economy Seen as 'No More Secure'
-Five Books: on Causes of the Financial Crisis
-"This, then, was a world of excess potential supply"
-Why conservatives spin fairytales about the gold standard
-Uber Alles: the sharing economy

Short: we have a resource crisis, and communication issues, resulting in people not really realizing the floor they stand on is losing support in their lives. Some might have an idea, most don't have a clue.

Are we getting someplace in getting these issues hashed out? Absolutely! Cultural changes in the past decades have helped a bit, so have innovations in technology, but we got quite a ways to go. Question is do we have the time to fix it all before it's too late?


-Temperature chart for the last 11,000 years
-Power to the People: "In the past, revolutions in energy have often come hand-in-hand with revolutions in communication: the First and Second Industrial revolutions of the 1800s and 1900s, for example, were matched by revolutions in steam-powered printing and the advent of radio and television. We already have our revolution in communication: the Internet, which broke away from old, top-down models and instead emphasizes collaboration and lateral, peer-to-peer power. Now, Rifkin says, we need an energy regime that matches it..."
posted by kliuless at 4:16 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


So what is the actual answer to automation?

Possibilities besides those raised by Talez and like_a_friend:

1) A guaranteed minimum income capable of sustaining a person in comfort.

Problems? It's politically unimaginable at the moment, at least in the U.S. Any nation implementing it would have to ask some hard questions about how much to guarantee; about how to raise the money; about how to proof the system against shocks, population growth, and corruption; about eligibility and, as a consequence, immigration restriction. (Of course, in a perfect world, we would eventually roll out the GMI globally, and all would be well until the death of the sun.)

2) If you insist that everyone must work in order to earn their bread, and the market was failing to provide permanent positions, then some sort of government works program might be in order, perhaps bolstered by intricate data collection and computer modelling to ensure that each iota of work was agreeable to the worker and of some social benefit.

You might receive a new schedule each week: harvest parsnips on Monday, write sonnets about the cruelty of love on Tuesday, operate a carnival ride on Wednesday, teach a mathematics class on Thursday, and then your time's your own for the long weekend.

Problems? This is, if possible, even less politically tenable in the U.S. then the GMI. Central planning? Who likes the sound of that?

3) A massive suffering slave class lorded over by an omnipotent ruling class.

or

4) The die-off, through famine, disease, or war, of the surplus population.

Advantages? Both are becoming more politically tenable by the year.
posted by Iridic at 4:17 PM on September 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Crap. That was the wrong link. Things are worse now.
posted by like_a_friend at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2013


The problem of automation is easy, either redistribute the wealth or don't. Automation will create more wealth. Choose what to do with it.

Redistribution -- progressive taxation, education for all, working healthcare system, support for labor, shorter workweeks, more vacation/family/other leave, more generous unemployment benefits, retraining/education for people out of work, lower retirement age, etc. Less extremes. You're more likely to have a job, but less likely to get rich at it.


Or not -- continue reducing taxation on the richest, destroy public education, allow higher ed to become much more expensive, continue with profit driven healthcare, fuck labor, longer hours, more weeks worked per year, higher unemployment, end traditional retirement, etc. If you have a job in a good field, have a good education, remain healthy, etc, you will do well. If you have a lot of capital, you will do extremely well. If you don't have these advantages, fuck off and die, perhaps literally.
posted by jclarkin at 4:26 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


my open letter to generation y

i was born in 1957 and grew up in a small midwestern factory city - when i was in high school, it was the dream of many of my classworks to get a job in one of the well-paying factories in the area, get one's own apartment and live a good life

in 1975, the factories closed, or quit hiring - the two biggest ones did eventually start hiring full time, non- temp workers again

this year

i read of the problems of generation y with a great deal of sympathy because the late baby boomers experienced the same thing in the late 70s

it eventually ended for us, in the sense that we at least got something, even though it wasn't as good as what we'd thought we'd get

as for you - i'm not sure it is going to end for you

but the mid-seventies is when the rot truly set in - and it's not really gotten much better and recently, it appears to be getting worse

if it's going to change, it'll be because YOU change it - my generation and gen x have already proven they're not willing or able to do it

the ball's in your court now - it's up to YOU
posted by pyramid termite at 4:29 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


-Occupy the bookshelf: #OWS turns two - "we are somewhat concerned that you, like us, might be suffering from 'well-informed futility syndrome' "

Is there a link which is not behind a "register to read now" firewall?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:29 PM on September 17, 2013


Hoopo: "For my boomer father, he was offered a unionized government job straight out of university and stayed with it for 30+ years until retirement.

symbioid: "Well - I suppose the Unions were pacified by then, so...
"

200 comments, and only two mentions of unions. But I guess they say all you really need to know about it.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:30 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two things seem clear about the future: the current model is unsustainable given technological reality and our political system is presently (and for the foreseeable future) incapable of rising to the challenge.

On a slight tangent: I'm not really optimistic about what's going to happen as we begin to find out the truth about how well retirement planning has gone for people who have been given a 401k pamphlet and told to figure it out. This might be one of the forcing functions which demands us make a decision.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:32 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a link which is not behind a "register to read now" firewall?

-Occupy Finance, the book by Alt Banking
-Occupy Finance the book, coming out [today] (#OWS)
-Happy Birthday, Occupy Wall Street! #OWS
posted by kliuless at 4:44 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


200 comments, and only two mentions of unions.

And only one mention of public works programs.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:44 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hadn't realized just how much this article annoyed me until just now when someone on my Facebook feed posted it and I went into a flames-on-the-side-of-my-face rage. I have informed all my facebook friends that if anyone else tries to post that thing I may have to shank them.

And for a couple people on the list I think I actually would do so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:48 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


the ball's in your court now - it's up to YOU

Uh...thanks, I guess? But your generation still has most of the votes, and they're using them to vote for anti-science semi-literate jeebus freaks, so...we've really got our work cut out for us unless y'all want to fix that part.
posted by like_a_friend at 5:09 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hadn't realized just how much this article annoyed me until just now when someone on my Facebook feed posted it

Classic Facebook Image Crafting-related taunting.
posted by Hoopo at 5:12 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kliuless: wasn't talking about climate change, was talking implicitly about the planet's finite volume and why we dig deeper (see Deepwater Horizon). About the only thing I agree with in your second point is a change in the energy regime. That's well on its way with smart grid tech for starters and great gains in electric efficiency over the past decade. Migrating away from personal cars is also helping along with vehicle efficiency improvements across the board. Self driving cars will be here soon enough.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 5:22 PM on September 17, 2013


I am 30 years old. I am not sure what generation I belong to. I have never had full-time work.

I would just like a job. And medical insurance. And maybe my own place to live. That is it.

I have a BA and an MA. What little work I can get is usually adjunct-instructing undergraduates.

Sometimes it feels like having been conned, I am now participating in conning the next generation.

Seriously though can I have a job
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:23 PM on September 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Uh...thanks, I guess? But your generation still has most of the votes, and they're using them to vote for anti-science semi-literate jeebus freaks, so...we've really got our work cut out for us unless y'all want to fix that part.

Well, your generation might want to start by you know, actually registering to vote. And voting. Link.
posted by Wordwoman at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was born at the end of the 1970s and am alternately considered x and y but consider myself the "My So Called Life" generation since I don't identify with either x or y and Claire Danes and I are the same age and everyone our age was obsessed with that show.

But really, these generation things are meaningless and are mostly groupings for advertising and marketing purposes. I work in advertising and am sensitive to blanket criticism of the industry but- these labels are most useful as advertising terms. Don't take them to heart or listen to "ball is in your court" generalizing claptrap.
posted by sweetkid at 5:49 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Being young today really sucks. In the old days, your parents only had to destroy the manufacturing base of Europe to secure your economic future. These days, we'd need an actual World War. Get to it, Boomers!
posted by MetalFingerz at 6:51 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, your generation might want to start by you know, actually registering to vote. And voting. Link.

gimme a sec while I telepathically control my cogenerational minions
posted by threeants at 6:53 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, I mean, that's a snarky throwaway answer, but what is your proposed solution?

I would require every 18 year old to spend 1 day each with 100 working professionals of age 30 or higher. They would have to ask 3 questions, and record the answers:

1) What training allowed you to get to this point?

2) How much money do you make?

3) Are you happy?
posted by miyabo at 7:05 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


gimme a sec while I telepathically control my cogenerational minions

Snark away! Meanwhile, I'll be helping to register voters, like I did last election cycle.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:11 PM on September 17, 2013


You know Metafilter's had a lot of (actually pretty good) threads about sexism, and I can't help but draw some comparisons. In threads about sexism,

-statistics about wage gaps are not refuted by anecdata about someone you know who is totes making money hand over fist
-coming into a thread of people sharing their actual, lived experiences and saying "you know you're just exaggerating, it's not really that bad" is widely regarded as shitty trollish behavior
-people can discuss how much the current situation sucks, on a systemic level, without being expected to have a complete and readily implementable solution in their back pocket
-telling the people who are currently being shat upon by the current power structure "well that sucks, but it's on YOU to fix it" is a shitty cop-out that treads close to victim blaming

I do wish the same rules were in effect with regards to class warfare, but judging by this thread that just isn't the case.

Also I had to go dig this out of one of my posts in an old Occupy thread but it's still relevant to the people annoyed at my generation for wanting "fulfillment" or whatever crap they think we want:

The 99% looks too beaten down to demand anything as grand as “fairness” in their distribution of the economy. There’s no calls for some sort of post-industrial personal fulfillment in their labor – very few even invoke the idea that a job should “mean something.” It’s straight out of antiquity – free us from the bondage of our debts and give us a basic ability to survive.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:08 PM on September 17, 2013 [24 favorites]


The problem of automation is easy, either redistribute the wealth or don't.

"Distribution is the core of the problem we face."

if it wasn't obvious, keep in mind that financial markets are a kind of distribution mechanism -- for example interest rates can bring forward consumption or 'send' savings into the future; it's an information technology, so to speak, that transmits _value_ which is why it's worth understanding how it works and who controls it -- occupy finance is a good place to start...

also btw, re: unions; What kind of mass movement with truly powerful institutional support can take the place of unions?
posted by kliuless at 9:09 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


CBC had a documentary on how hard it is to find work as a young person in Canada today recently, and it really opened my eyes. Its main points were that most young Canadians are underemployed (Uni degree working at a restaurant as a waiter/waitress) or unemployed. Even those in the trades, which has been thrown at us as a stable, reliable field forever and ever; I don't know about the US, but I was in Grade 5 the first time we were told that even though I was in the gifted class, the trades would make you more money, so there was no shame in learning to wield/plumb/pipefit/etc. However, it seems most companies would rather hire already experienced workers from overseas, then actually pay to train Canadians, so apprenticeships are hard to get, and even if you finish one, you are fighting people with decades more experience for jobs.

I was a bit blow away then sat down at thought about myself and my freinds:
I'm a chemistry grad student, so I make a living wage ($20k/year, -5k tuition, but no taxes), as long as I keep my expenses low.
M: Graduated and used connections she got during co-op to swing a job in the units NMR department. Liked the work, paid OK from what I understand, but they kept there eye out for someone with a Masters or PhD, and two years later she is looking for a new job. However, she has experience now, so it shouldn't be too hard to find.

C: Religious studies degree. No idea what to do with it when she graduated, so she got a Library Sciences degree, which we've all talked about what a trap they are. As if that wasn't bad enough, the goverment laid off hundreds and hundreds of librarians the year before she finished her degree, so she is fighting for less positions with people with 30 years of experience. Two degrees, work experience, and the best she could get was working at a clothing store. She is now doing a (funded) Religious studies MA, hoping that will help her get an academic librarian position.

J: Grad student like me, also in chem.

A: Last I heard he was working at chapters, despite an Econ degree.

E: Psych degree. Working as a receptionist and bookkeeper at some store.

Wow. Everyone I still talk to from uni is either a grad student, hoping to get one a of a few prof jobs, or doing something they don't need a degree for.

Well, what about my friends from high school? Most of the ones I kept in touch with didn't go to university (Heck, most of the ones I knew didn't go period.). Avoiding all that debt and wasted years helped them, right?

S: Worked at various minimum wage jobs for years, now going back to school (collage, aka trade school) to do computer repair type stuff.

R: Last I heard he was delivering pizza, so that isn't so great. Oh, and his girlfriend was expecting last I saw them, they probably have a kid now. Now, he was a high school dropout, so not the best example?

E: Worked as a chef for a number of years, as our school had a really great chef training program. Went back to high school to take U level classes and go to university recently, as he was sick of being trapped in minimum wage jobs.

S: Ok, I don't even know what he is doing. Kinda a crazy slacker guy, probably should be seeing a psychiatrist, or something. Don't think he ever finished high school, missed a lot of chances to get into apprenticeship programs for some trades he showed skill in. Every time I went back to Burlington and met up with him he'd have some story about getting fired from something; a Sex shop, as a DJ, doing club promotion, I don't even know. I have no idea how this guy affords FOOD let alone rent, which might be why he is living somewhere new or couch surfing every time I meet him.

L: Lost touch with him, he was doing unskilled construction up north of the months on/months off type. Last I heard he was out on the east coast somewhere.

Oh, I almost forgot S, since he gradated before the rest of us. Last I heard he had a job on a ship as a marine engineering specialist, and was married. That was 8 years ago, so who knows now though.

oh,and D, my best friend, is still in school with a duel degree in philosophy/English. However, he has a lot of experience as a bartender from summer jobs, so he will probably be fine; he knows he is going to get more use out of that then his degree.

I know it is anecdotal, but everyone I know in uni is either doing a grad degree, or underemployed, as the one of us that WAS employed at her level was laid off at the start of Sept (well, didn't have her contract renewed, close enough.). The people I know from high school that didn't go to uni are doing just as bad or worse (Depends on the debt vs pay situation), and are trying to get more education to get away from minimum wage jobs. Those that went to uni and aren't in grad school feel bitter or helpless, as big companies always have 'experience needed' signs, those that didn't are almost all working at near minimum wage and trying to get out.

Honestly, the crazy slacker with no work ethic, who managed to get himself kicked out of the military reserve after something like two days (It might have been three, it was WELL under a week), and has, to be honest, basically no future, is easily the happiest of us all. Sure, he has no savings or stability, but frack, pretty much none of us do. At least he is enjoying every day raving and partying instead of staring at the future wild-eyed.

Why don't we look at me for a moment: I'm smart enough to be willing to move for work.
I went to Montreal and worked for Merk for two months in 2010. By the end of that summer Merk Montreal was closed.
I went to Deep River and worked for the Deep River Science Academy at Atomic Energy of Canada for a summer. It was about a year later it was privatized and most of the employees laid off.
Since then I've worked at academic labs, all the while reading about how hard academic positions are to get, and how you shouldn't fall into the "I'm going to become a professor trap."

Really? If I work a non-academic job, I'm just going to get laid off, and if I work an academic job, I'm going to do endless post-docs. Goddammit. I'm glad that a Master's salary keeps me pretty happy, because it looks like they'll be no higher paying jobs left by the time I finish it.
posted by Canageek at 10:16 PM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have a BA and an MA. What little work I can get is usually adjunct-instructing undergraduates.
Sometimes it feels like having been conned, I am now participating in conning the next generation.
Seriously though can I have a job


Fairly overeducated m'self. My wife has multiple degrees from an ivy league school. And I am asked to speak on occasion in certain educational areas. And I move in some very rarefied air. I'm not of that world, but I am most definitely in it and indispensable to it. And I'm starting to see the trap there. It's like a pitcher plant.
And yet... I am not more secure, all things considered, in my job than my parents were. I make less than my dad, albeit he was a tremendously hard worker and an artist in his trade. Still, blue collar. I'm technically white but... far higher health costs, far more risk to life and limb and I still don't have the take-home equivalent he did. Granted he did side-jobs and off the books stuff and I have to use my off time to train and school.
But it's stupid weird how eclectic my skill set is, how in depth in comparison, and how it's still growing and I make less money all things considered, than he did.

I feel entitled to more because I've DONE more. If I work harder, smarter, climb the ranks and have VIPs listening to my advice on serious matters perhaps I should make more than a guy doing a "dirty" job. If not, at least my wife with her PhD. from Prestigious as all Hell U. and myself together should be doing better.
Nope. We couldn't afford the house my dad left me.

Of course, I could take my skill set and party elsewhere. I'd get fuck you money. Maybe set myself up as the mouthpiece or the shadow or the iron in the glove for some big muckity muck somewhere. But then I'd be like every other asshole in the business. That is to say, treating it as a business.

I think that's the con. You either work at something you hate, or something that makes you hate yourself as a Level-3 "tunt", risk exploding, suffer from dreams, and live devoid of intimacy and independent thought with a nice fat paycheck at the end of it, or you get called a loser and starve and struggle looking for work so you can squeeze out maybe 10 minutes a week to do your passion. Write a novel, paint, play music, hell - farm or build a chair or desk. Whatever.

Y'know the phrase I like. When I was injured my kid was ill and things weren't going very well and my wife (who was working) inquired about relief. Yeah, no, we made too much money. For any level of relief or services or anything. Oh, well howabout a break on bills until Smedley gets back on his feet. No, fuck you. Pay us. Our child is very sick. Yeah, that's a real shame. Fuck you, pay us. Smed can drive Smed Jr. to the hospital can't he? Oh, he can't? Well, can you prove he's severely injured enough not to drive? Can you get the doctor to ... Oh, foreign country, eh? Yeah, real shame we can't help you. Have you tried churches or charities?

Nobody suffers like the poor, but no one gets shafted like the middle class. Wanna get a college loan, because you have to work a shitty retail job, eh? Well your parents own their house. That's an asset. Sell the house and take the money to go to college. When you run out of that money, we'll give you a hardship loan.

Yeah, thanks.

I think we're all staring at the future wide eyed. God mad skillz? Big time college? Awesome! Oh, sick kid huh? And you're injured. Ah, well. Too bad. C ya!
posted by Smedleyman at 10:33 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I did miss one person; I bumped into a friend a few grades behind me last Christmas, working at Best Buy while finishing a game design degree and interviewing with Bioware. Talked to him a few months ago; seems he couldn't find a job so he went to a job counsellor who looked at his math skills and got him a job doing investment something or other. Apparently it pays really well, though wearing a tie took some getting used to. Glad one of us made it.
posted by Canageek at 10:47 PM on September 17, 2013


I find this kind of article depressing, especially because of the way they obscure important aspects of history and economics behind a smokescreen of generational abuse. It's not just about "greedy baby boomers" or "lazy millennials", but demographics and economics.

There are lots of factors involved, but here are three important ones.

1. There is a trade-off between inflation and unemployment (The Phillips Curve)
2. Young and poor people benefit from focussing policy on unemployment. Old and rich people benefit from focussing policy on inflation.
3. When the baby boomers were young, they benefited from a focus on unemployment. When they were old, they benefited from a focus on inflation.

This doesn't mean that every baby boomer had an easy life and is spending their retirement bouncing around on piles of cash like Scrooge McDuck. As individuals, a lot of them struggled terribly. Also, as individuals, some members of younger generations have done extremely well. But as a group, the baby boomers have benefited from their demographic power, which has meant economic policy and conventional wisdom has usually swung their way.

The Phillips Curve tells us that there is a tradeoff, over the short run, between inflation and unemployment. If you pump a lot of money into the economy, whether by low interest rates, by printing it, or by borrowing, people start off by spending or investing that money. That boosts growth at first, creates jobs at first, and creates inflation not just at first but for a while.

If you do a lot of that, the people who are harmed are the old and the rich, who have lots of savings being eaten away by inflation. Note that it's both. A retired person on a small pension might be hammered by inflation, even though they're not rich. A young playboy living off an inheritance will also be hurt by it.

The people who benefit are the poor, who have no savings to be eaten away, but have more chance of a job. Young wage-earners don't mind too much, as their pay goes up with inflation. Debtors, like people who've just taken out big mortgages, benefit as their debt is eaten away by inflation.

Now when the baby boomers were young and there was a threat of recession, conventional wisdom said: focus on unemployment. Inflation was allowed to rise to 10%, 20% which hurt previous generations to the boomers. But the boomers, with jobs and mortgage debt, did OK.

Now the baby boomers are old, when there's a threat of inflation, conventional wisdom says: worry about inflation. Inflation is mostly kept under 4%. That hurts younger generations than the boomers, who would have more jobs if the Phillips trade-off focussed more on unemployment. But the baby boomers, who now often own their homes and have accumulated pension funds, are harmed less.

The baby boomers, as soon as they could vote and spend, have had a disproportionate amount of political power and influence. That doesn't mean they rubbed their hands together and cackled gleefully while plotting how to rob the Greatest Generation of their pensions and the Millennials of their careers. But it does mean that economic policy, and conventional economic ideas, have been subtly slanted in ways that tend to benefit them as a group. They're mostly not aware of it. In the Sixties and Seventies, they genuinely worried about unemployment and thought they were doing the right thing in fighting that menace. In the 2000s, they're genuinely worried about inflation and think they're doing the right thing in keeping it low. But the things they worry about, and the policies they consider to be the right thing for the nation, tend to somehow happen to be the things that benefit them as a generation.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:12 AM on September 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Well, your generation might want to start by you know, actually registering to vote. And voting.

No one generation has a 100% record when it comes to being registered and voting. All generations have a sucky track record. And the Boomer generation still has more sheer numbers of people in order to offset this.

You're blaming other generations for their own problems again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 AM on September 18, 2013


I do wish the same rules were in effect with regards to class warfare, but judging by this thread that just isn't the case

That is probably because everyone, no matter who they are, acknowledges that sexism exists and is a problem. Even the hardest of the MRA guys will acknowledge that sexism is bad. They may differ over what degree sexism is bad, or who's responsible, but they agree that it's bad.

"Class warfare" is not something that people agree on. Some people think class warfare is good. Others see it as bad. Some people think it's the rich trying to get richer. Others think it's the poor forcibly trying to take money and resources from the rich. There is zero agreement. So you're not going to get a monolithic set that is simple to discuss and make rules for.

No one is dismissing lived experiences. What people are doing is dismissing the idea that these lived experiences speak more generally to everyone - and in some cases, noting that the lived experiences may be devoid of certain levels of detail.

(Also, from a moderation level, there has also been a lot of talk in MeTa from mods about how things people choose are treated differently than things people were born into and cannot avoid. People are born women, they are not born sociology majors.)
posted by corb at 4:46 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The causes of business cycles are not very well understood, but no economic theory attributes the recent dramatic rise in aggregate unemployment around the world to the level of interest that undergraduates have in sociology.

This is just classic blindness to structural issues and a deep need to believe that everything boils down to individual choices. (See also the recent thread on the Waltons, in which it was somehow argued that it without the ability of individuals to accumulate fortunes worth tens of millions of dollars, their grandchildren might one day have to worry that *their* grandchildren might have to join the rat race at some point -- a worldview that basically reacts to the existence of other people by saying, "fuck you, I'm looking out for me."
posted by leopard at 5:37 AM on September 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've said it before, but classing people born from the mid 70s to the mid 90s as one generation with a singular experience is nuts. I was born in 82, my youngest nephew in '95, and there is so much different about our upbringings, our experiences in the job market, the role of technology and the cost of education that I can't even.

In the UK, someone born before 1980 would have paid no tuition fees for the cost of university, and would have got a government grant. Those born after 1980 had to pay up to £3k a year and take out a student loan to cover the cost of living, meaning they graduate after a three-year course with about 12k of debt. Those born after - 1990? - are looking at £9k a year for their tuition. It's means tested, yes, and not everyone would have to pay the max. But it meant that the experience of my then-boyfriend born in '79 and me, born in '82, had very different situations on leaving college. I'll be paying off £100 or so from each paycheck at source until the loan disappears - he left with no debts whatsoever. Kids born in the 90s will probably end up looking at us and feeling lucky.
posted by mippy at 6:12 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


bad upbringing -- the kind of parents who not only didn't force you to major in engineering (too much) but didn't at least engage you on the question what you were going to do with that sociology degree.


I 'minored' in Sociology, and not only did I just have a haircut, but I also ate a SALAD for my lunch. At my desk in trendy London's trendy Bloomsbury. LIVING THE YUPPIE DREAM.

Mind you, there is a reason dyspraxic people don't become engineers. You should have seen the quality of my Lego bridges.
posted by mippy at 6:15 AM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know about the US, but I was in Grade 5 the first time we were told that even though I was in the gifted class, the trades would make you more money, so there was no shame in learning to wield/plumb/pipefit/etc.

Maybe there are places in the US where this is true, but it was never my experience. The trades were for people too dumb to get "good" jobs pushing paper around in offices. That's bullshit, of course, but it was definitely the message. My high school instituted explicit tracks right before I graduated and the "vocational" track was exclusively sold to people who didn't have the grades for a four year college.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:16 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


fwiw, here's some stuff on gender disparities from the commanding heights...

-Women Prefer Cooperative Arrangements: "If men and women prefer different kinds of performance measurements and reward structures, but men get to design all the performance measurements and reward structures, then naturally male leaders will design systems that show that men on average outperform women. Then—ta da!—you end up with another way in which meritocracy merely re-inscribes inequality."
-Why Are 83.4 Percent of Fortune 500 Board Seats Held By Men? (Why There Are No Qualifications to Serve on a Corporate Board of Directors)
-Are Female Politicians Less Corrupt?

oh and also btw...

-Don't Blame "Technology" for the Fall of the Middle Class: "I'm deeply uncomfortable with the decision to classify what's largely a political trend as a technological one."
-We Created This Inequality: The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It's Sickening Our Politics
-Labor unions are essential — and also in deep decline. Could a new model for unions bring labor back? (swedish unions ;)
-Early childhood education for at-risk kids: a powerful tool to fight economic inequality
-Lifelines for Poor Children
posted by kliuless at 6:54 AM on September 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Canageek: " At least he is enjoying every day raving and partying instead of staring at the future wild-eyed. "

I'm less staring at the future wild-eyed and more staring through the present moments. Waiting. Silently crying. Hoping. Wishing for... Someone to go away. Something to take me to a better place. Losing myself to myself in my mind.

Syd Barrett just seems so... totemic to me right now. Not that there's any beauty or glory in madness, but sometimes... sometimes I think I wish.

Not that you were here, but that I was there.
posted by symbioid at 8:00 AM on September 18, 2013


Don't Blame "Technology" for the Fall of the Middle Class: "I'm deeply uncomfortable with the decision to classify what's largely a political trend as a technological one...

"...so let's not talk about politics or technology, but detour into a short essay on food service economics."
posted by Iridic at 8:04 AM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I may have missed this in the thread, but is there any evidence that people of the Gen Y era actually are any less happy than people of the Boomer era were at the same age?

Because there is bunch of evidence that suggests age and life-stage have a bearing on happiness, partly for the reasons mentioned in the article. i.e. After a certain age people tend to come to acceptance of how their life panned out, rather than feeling the need to be always striving for things that for many will never happen.

As I understood it, what the research showed was that rising living standards have historically had very little impact on happiness, and people's happiness does not seem to have changed all that much over the decades.

Regardless, the notion of "Happiness = Reality - Expectations" is not a bad place to start. But the more interesting question then would be how do expectations get misaligned with reality, and why don't they alter more quickly in the face of evidence.

But maybe they're not all that misaligned after all, which would help explain why happiness doesn't change all that much in different eras.
posted by philipy at 10:46 AM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


After a certain age people tend to come to acceptance of how their life panned out, rather than feeling the need to be always striving for things that for many will never happen.


Great, I guess we can all look forward to being happy once time and age makes us weary of our discontent, and compels us give up all hope of financial security or even any meaningful leisure in acceptance our newfound serfdom.

Yes, that sounds exactly like what the Boomers went through coming out of the 70s doldrums into the 80s and 90s bubbles. I'm sure that they mostly made shit tons of money during those decades had nothing to do with their improved outlook. I cant wait!
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:08 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


-telling the people who are currently being shat upon by the current power structure "well that sucks, but it's on YOU to fix it" is a shitty cop-out that treads close to victim blaming

except that someday YOU will be the power structure - all those people older than you? - they'll be dead and gone - and as i said, if they were going to have fixed it, they'd have done it by now

40 to 50 years from now generation y will be running things - pretending otherwise is the real cop-out
posted by pyramid termite at 4:23 PM on September 18, 2013


40 to 50 years from now generation y will be running things

the ball's in your court now - it's up to YOU

So wait, which is it? The ball's in our court *now*, or will be in our court in 40 or 50 years?

Look, 50 years from now when Generation Beta-Prime-Echo-Seven starts bitching about how Gen Y didn't fix everything and in fact let it all go to hell, feel free to join in, and if, indeed, nothing got fixed and it all went to hell, I will totally cop to it. But until we actually have the tools and authority to fix things, the "it's all up to you guys" pep talk is more infuriating than insightful.

Maybe you're right that earlier generations aren't going to do anything or they would've by now, but fact is, at this moment the boomers are still the ones in a position to do something; saying "I'm not gonna make it, it's up to you guys to prevent this plane from going down" while still sitting in the cockpit and blocking us from getting at the plane's controls does nothing but pass the buck and help you assuage your conscience.
posted by mstokes650 at 4:50 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


well, if there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you can do ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:58 PM on September 18, 2013


"...so let's not talk about politics or technology, but detour into a short essay on food service economics."

with the conclusion that: "It's a full-spectrum cycle of income stagnation, where households don't have the money to buy nice services and therefore people can't get jobs providing nice services."

which takes you back to minimum/living wages (or basic income/job guarantees) and redistribution writ large... and then on to the effectiveness of fiscal/monetary policy (in a nominal democracy), the structure of the financial system -- is it fair? is it making the 'right' kind of investments (for the betterment of society) and offering the rewards and incentives to do so? we already have a (pre)distribution system, if it doesn't seem to be working very well (for many or most, not just a few), why?

as for the politics[*] i don't think you have to look too far down k street (banking, oil, defence lobbies, etc.) as lessig has been pointing out, but also cf. ideological extremism/tribalism, which itself imho is partly in response to uncertainty brought on by technological change and globalization that rifkin alludes to...

and so on to automation :P

-Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Are Vulnerable to Computerization
-Dear Mr. President, Robots CAN Repair Roads
-Here Comes the Self-Driving Tesla
-Mercedes-Benz reveals recent test of self-driving car
-ATA: Self-Driving Trucks Are "Close To Inevitable"

all that said, none of this precludes us building institutions we trust and a society that we'd all want to live in, where our neighbors are healthy, educated and earn a decent living (doing things that are humane and not destroying the environment) and, if not, have access to the tools and resources to make it so... which brings me back to yglesias' point that this is more of a political (economy) problem than a technological one. the question then is how do you convince people, have it become widely recognised and coalesced into political will?

---
[*(written a couple months ago in an email, but i think it still stands for the most part...)] it's pretty clear how the game is being to played: republicans try to damage obama as much as possible -- i.e. filibuster all nominees, no legislative initiatives (regardless of their merits) -- but not do anything where they'll get most of the blame (e.g. debt default) with the idea that they'll suffer unpopularity as long as the president is tarred as well, which seems to be working... then if they gain in the midterms and chris christie or whoever gets the presidency in 2016 i'm sure they'll 'pivot' and adopt some of the proposals obama was trying to get thru :P

BUT there's three years before obama's time is up, so his obvious play is to call the GOP out on what's a pretty cynical (but effective) strategy and change the national conversation from a 'failed presidency' to 'republican obstructionism' and so that's what he's doing: taking it to the public and going around the country to drum up support, particularly in red states (his rollout was in chattanooga); if he can get 'business leaders' and the 'middle class' on his side he'll have some teflon to put on, change the dysfunctional dynamic in congress and maybe get some appointees nominated and legislation passed in the process... will he succeed? that's for the court of public opinion to decide; democracy at work!

incidentally, while the domestic agenda is stalled/stalemated, his foreign policy objectives are pretty ambitious; while some are long shots like getting israel & palestine to agree on a settlement, if he can get iran to the table (the new president seems willing to trade nuclear disarmament for lifting economic sanctions) obama/kerry would have something to show netanyahu a greater chance on mideast peace, then if he can successfully negotiate TPP/TTIP (the trans-pacific/atlantic free trade agreements) he'd also be boosting the US' international standing, esp wrt china, strengthening his position at home, which i think is one reason why he's trying to 'go big' abroad... of course, if syria/egypt/iraq/afghanistan/etc. implodes on his watch, that would be problematic (altho it's not clear what the US/NATO should be doing about it either).

posted by kliuless at 9:06 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Economics and happiness are somewhat different things, and there is a ton of research about the connections, or lack thereof. Short-version: There is no lack of dirt poor people in developing countries who are happier than Wall Street types with their million dollar bonuses. (cf An anthropology of happiness.)

Which is not to say it's not a good idea to improve living standards for everyone, or to try to raise your own, of course it is, other things being equal. But don't go imagining that you'll be permanently a lot happier if you succeed in doing it. There are benefits, but a feeling of happiness is not one of them.

The best you'll get is a "honeymoon period", before you get used to how life now is. And then you'll find a new set of things to be grumpy about, same as in a marriage. i.e. You'll be a lot happier for a short while, and maybe a little bit happier permanently.

Though in as much as it does make a difference, finding a lasting relationship or making some good friends is likely to do a heck a lot more for your happiness than more money will. (cf Summary of recent happiness research).

At an individual level it's a much bigger deal whether you are inclined to look on the positives or the negatives in life. If you're given to wallowing in self-pity, or obsessing about how someone done you wrong, or nitpicking the shortcomings of everyone around you, that's not going to make for happiness.
posted by philipy at 12:51 PM on September 19, 2013


Though in as much as it does make a difference, finding a lasting relationship or making some good friends is likely to do a heck a lot more for your happiness than more money will.

It's not wallowing in self-pity to say that two jobs and a kid tend to put a crimp in one's social life and entertainment budget. You're not talking about people who can't afford the wedding they want, you're talking about people who can't afford rent.
posted by headnsouth at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2013


Which is not to say it's not a good idea to improve living standards for everyone, or to try to raise your own, of course it is, other things being equal. But don't go imagining that you'll be permanently a lot happier if you succeed in doing it. There are benefits, but a feeling of happiness is not one of them.

I'm sure a lot of the people in Generation Y (and Generation X, and the Baby Boomers, and the Greatest Generation, and the Millennials, and everyone) would indeed be happier if you raised their standard of living so they could afford things like rent and food and doctor's visits.

And not just that. Everyone always focuses on the dire needs in threads like this, but hell, everyone also deserves the occasional treat for fuck's sake - the annual vacation, the occasional meal in a nice restaurant, the occasional ice cream for the kids, the occasional really pretty shirt that you maybe have to save up for for a while but it makes you feel like you are the princess you always imagined you'd be as a child when you wear it so it's worth it, the occasional movie, the occasional record....

There are indeed people who are attaching "happiness" to material things. But there are a fuck of a lot more people whose unhappiness is because they cannot afford the basic standard of living.

And the people who can't afford the basic standard of living are fucking sick of being told that they shouldn't equate money with happiness because that kind of mealy-mouthed platitude always comes out of the mouth of someone who's got a job and a car and a mortgage and should probably look in the fucking mirror when it comes to whether they're being materialistic, and then look out the window so they understand what is really fucking going on when it comes to economic unhappiness in this country.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on September 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Money can't buy happiness, but it sure as hell pays off many kinds of misery so they go away.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:16 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Economics and happiness are somewhat different things, and there is a ton of research about the connections, or lack thereof. Short-version: There is no lack of dirt poor people in developing countries who are happier than Wall Street types with their million dollar bonuses....

Which is not to say it's not a good idea to improve living standards for everyone, or to try to raise your own, of course it is, other things being equal. But don't go imagining that you'll be permanently a lot happier if you succeed in doing it. There are benefits, but a feeling of happiness is not one of them.

The best you'll get is a "honeymoon period".....


This is purely ridiculous in the context of the thread, and is verging on a derail. The structural and possibly generational issues that are being discussed in this thread are explicitly about economic expectations and realities as understood through socioeconomic opportunity and attainment. Of course, if you have no expectations you're less prone to disappointment.

But it's a shitty move to insist that we here in America need to change our definition of happiness all of a sudden, because 'someone' broke the old one. We should adopt the version of happiness that is used by the happier members of "dirt poor" third world society instead. I'm sure that the form of "happiness" native to people living in a different part of the world in a radically different culture is easily adaptable to our materialist society.

It's such a relief to hear that problem of unhappiness isn't linked a life of debt or poverty! It's that you don't have a good attitude about your life of debt or poverty! Stop expecting anything else! We all just need to transcend the economic pressures that inexorably pattern our daily lives in the society we actually live in and make the most of our lot in life! Learn to care about other things and you won't be sad about being poor!

What amazing insights. Who did this study, Marie Antoinette, Ph.D? I hope it's called Who Moved My Parachute Cake?!

The American Dream's version of 'happiness' is not some rarified anti-materialist bodhisattva state, it's 'making it.' Economic security. Joining the 'ownership society,' being able to 'maintain a middle class lifestyle;' affording health care, properly educating one's children when the states can't or won't provide that, and maybe even be able to save for retirement.

That affluent people still find things to be unhappy about, or that materialism ultimately fails to deliver happiness at some philosophic remove is not an answer to the structural problems and frustrations of those who currently find themselves unable to take their place in our society, economy and so our culture, in the way those things actually operate.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:18 AM on September 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


But it's a shitty move to insist that we here in America need to change our definition of happiness all of a sudden, because 'someone' broke the old one. We should adopt the version of happiness that is used by the happier members of "dirt poor" third world society instead. I'm sure that the form of "happiness" native to people living in a different part of the world in a radically different culture is easily adaptable to our materialist society.

I've resolved something - the next time someone advocates that the best way to "attain happiness" is to abandon materialism, as they do in third world countries, I'm going to say "great. You go first."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on September 20, 2013


Well but also that's just poverty porn.
posted by sweetkid at 10:56 AM on September 20, 2013


EXACTLY.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:56 AM on September 20, 2013


I forgot to mention that my parents are stunned at how few of my friends can find work; back when they graduated uni in the late 70s or early 80s with Radio and Television arts degrees you just went to one of the big companies in that flied, got a job in archives or mail room or whatever then worked your way up. Mom did that with CBC, started somewhere in the basement and is now somewhere on the border of upper and middle management with a bunch of staff and things. Dad was doing the same before he left his job to raise my brother and I.

Ah well, if I can't get a job as a chemist, I'll get my Dad to train me as a brewmaster. Beer is booming in Canada and the US, despite the economy.
posted by Canageek at 11:55 AM on September 20, 2013


I heard this story on NPR earlier this week, about the rise of the new middle class in Brazil.

Tens of millions of Brazilians have risen out of poverty over the past decade in one of the world's great economic success stories. The reasons are many: strong overall economic growth, fueled by exports. A rise in the minimum wage. A more educated workforce. And big government spending programs, including direct payments to extremely poor families.

But becoming middle class in Brazil means a better life, not an easy one. The new, lowest rung of the middle class is what in the U.S. would be called the working poor, with monthly incomes of between $500 and $2,000.


They interview a family:

Roberto's father grew corn, beans, manioc and vegetables. It was enough to feed the family most of the time, he says. There was no running water or electricity.

When I ask if life back then very hard, Roberto pauses and breaks down in tears. It takes him several minutes to compose himself.

"It was very hard," he says. "The financial hardship was very great."


I thought about this thread as I was listening to this story, and thought about what it would sound like to tell someone like the families in this story that they should readjust their expectations and happiness levels to the setting of their rural, often-hungry childhoods, or that they were stupid or foolish for having expectations or wanting happiness and some level of security above "nose above water, kind of."
posted by rtha at 1:00 PM on September 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ah well, if I can't get a job as a chemist, I'll get my Dad to train me as a brewmaster.

posted by Canageek


I'd have guessed you have a green thumb.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:49 PM on September 20, 2013


And the people who can't afford the basic standard of living are fucking sick of being told that they shouldn't equate money with happiness because that kind of mealy-mouthed platitude always comes out of the mouth of someone who's got a job and a car and a mortgage and should probably look in the fucking mirror when it comes to whether they're being materialistic, and then look out the window so they understand what is really fucking going on when it comes to economic unhappiness in this country.

I hurt my finger I favorited this so hard.

It's like the time my boss told me that work titles didn't matter and I wanted to scream OF COURSE YOU THINK THAT YOU'RE A VICE PRESIDENT
posted by winna at 1:10 PM on September 21, 2013


(Although on the plus side no one needs to take a class in Reaganism to graduate.)

Heh what do you think econ 101 is?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:50 AM on September 23, 2013


oh god how does this keep showing up in my facebook feed....
posted by kaibutsu at 7:49 AM on September 24, 2013


oh god how does this keep showing up in my facebook feed....

My Facebook threat seems to have worked very well. You may want to try it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on September 24, 2013


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