Why are millennials burned out?
February 4, 2019 7:58 PM   Subscribe

“If Millennials are different, it’s not because we’re more or less evolved than our parents or grandparents, it’s because they’ve changed the world in ways that have produced people like us. What made millennials the way they are? Why are they so burned out? Why are they having fewer kids? Why are they getting married later? Why are they obsessed with efficiency and technology? And his answer, in so many words, is the economy. Millennials, author Malcolm Harris argues, are bearing the brunt of the economic damage wrought by late-20th-century capitalism. All these insecurities — and the material conditions that produced them — have thrown millennials into a state of perpetual panic. If “generations are characterized by crises,” as Harris argues, then ours is the crisis of extreme capitalism.
posted by robbyrobs (93 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm an early Gen Xer and saw the boomers pull up the ladder behind them in the 1990s as tuition started rising faster than general price inflation.

My first year of state-subsidized tuition was $1300/yr and that included health insurance. 10 years later the tuition was $4000/yr, and 10 years after that the tuition was $7000, and now it is $15,000+/yr, with health insurance alone $2000 of that.

Median boomer was born in 1955 and so is age 65 next year, so starting then we'll be seeing boomers leave spaces in the workforce as they retire, and also stimulate the economy as they start hitting their retirement savings/pensions.

Also on the bright side, if we can get through this year with no recession, it will be the first decade since Jamestown was settled with no recession!
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:35 PM on February 4 [32 favorites]


We don’t shout a aqui anticapitalista in the streets for like, our health.

Also none of us have health insurance
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 PM on February 4 [38 favorites]


That “Productivity Pay Gap” chart is damning. It’s amazing to see it in the form of data, when for years I thought it was just all in my head. That I was working harder and harder for less money as inflation and the cost of living rose almost exponentially.

I want to find a way for us to fix this but I’m truly at a loss.

I’ve been hearing about how boomers are going to retire and stimulate the economy for 15+ years now and I have yet to see it. They screwed the economy so bad that they even screwed some of themselves and don’t have the option to retire. My parents are a living example. They were once wealthy and now they have nothing.

I feel myself getting angry about all of this. I think having said my piece I’m just going to jump out of this thread now.
posted by nightrecordings at 8:41 PM on February 4 [60 favorites]


I read this article today and thought about posting it as an FPP, but it fits well enough in this thread. The article itself is solid, but about halfway down, there's a photo that really says all that needs to be said. It's a fruit water dispenser in a WeWork, in which have been placed four cucumbers with the words "DON'T STOP WHEN YOU'RE TIRED STOP WHEN YOU ARE DONE" carved into their skin. I just can't. Forget avocados, those cucumbers are the symbolic fruit of our generation.

(I have not read Harris's book, but I saw it in a bookstore a while back and thought the cover was killer)
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:50 PM on February 4 [22 favorites]


We might technically not have had a recession, but central bank interest rates have never been this low. It has been a zombie economy running in debt for the last decade.
posted by amil at 8:51 PM on February 4 [18 favorites]


Millennials qua Millennials exist about as much as Soccer Moms and White Van Man.

On the other hand, the actual human beings who are getting progressively more fucked over down the decades are real.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:54 PM on February 4 [12 favorites]


Also if anyine , regardless of age cohort wants to join the antu-capitalists* we don’t care if it took you this long we’re haooy to have you

)(no Nazis)
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 PM on February 4 [12 favorites]


Thanks robbyrobs - I read the article. I don't know if it's as simple as 'the economy', more a general ennui\tired of Capitalist culture's focus on owning (rapidly outdated) stuff that doesn't make you happy.

Many millennials I see (this is NZ) even when they're entrepreneurs who're doing well, seem to have a dramatically lower interest in owning things; are very mobile; highly aware of climate change (maybe the main drive for less\no kids? ) and all it augers. I know several who don't own cars - that never happened even 10 yrs ago.

Also, here at least, the level of redtape is such that it makes anyone starting out quite determined never to employ anyone, there's a lot of one man bands.
posted by unearthed at 9:00 PM on February 4


I read his book a few weeks ago and it made me so depressed about my kids' future that I had to just skim the section headings by the end. It's a brutal read.
posted by potrzebie at 9:25 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Y’all need to organize. Like unionization. The Boomers who run things will be like, unionization = communism and that shit needs to be squashed. But the Gen Xers will be like “this really complicates how we run our corporations and we’d never willingly make our lives harder, but actually a living wage and social stability are things we wish we’d had and maybe we’d be ok with our workers having these things.” We GenXers, we got bills and we’re worried about retirement and health care so we’re not going to automatically take care of you, but we’re also highly aware of the fact that state college tuition for our parents was like $300 a semester and a bachelors degree guaranteed a living wage and home ownership.

The Boomers are dying off. All of us that are inheriting their power and positions can be made sympathetic to your cause. Capitalism demands that we take everything we can get but many of us need to be reminded that it is reasonable that you be able to own property, have access to health care, that your children deserve quality education. If you’re not getting that, then demand it. Voting helps, unionizing helps more. Your skills are important and you deserve the respect and compensation for your labor.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:32 PM on February 4 [23 favorites]


Y’all need to organize. Like unionization.

Y'all need to let us. We've been trying. It's frequently illegal.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:34 PM on February 4 [95 favorites]


I think it's peculiar for a Marxists' history to start in the 1950s, as the damning chart does, or some vaguer past. "The state helped with many of these things in the 1960s and ’70s, and before that, corporations actually picked up a lot of the slack. ": oh yeah, those kindly corporations of the before time, like the Pinkertons? And Carnegie?

It makes the postwar too normative.
posted by clew at 9:46 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


Y'all need to let us. We've been trying. It's frequently illegal.

How so? Let’s change that. I was told we couldn’t organize because [specifics related to my profession] but it turned out we were able to change that legally.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:50 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


How so? Let’s change that.

A place to start would be targeting US 'right-to-work laws', which decreases the bargaining power of official labor unions.
posted by Quackles at 10:21 PM on February 4 [36 favorites]


The West Virginia teacher strikes were illegal wildcat strikes.

Look I’d didn’t think I’d spend my 30s doing a reimahinating of the 1930s but that’s where we are now. All,power to the workers.
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 PM on February 4 [24 favorites]


I read until the following then said “ ‘Obama-era’? So this guy hasn’t studied much 20th century history, apparently ...”

“In the book, I talk about an Obama-era education policy that basically seeded this idea that education was all about job preparation. There was no other real justification for it. That puts you on a really dangerous course because that’s all about human capital production, and then you have a system where the schools set out to produce skills in children based on what people who own companies say they want those kids to have, what skills they’ll need from their workers.”

Totally agree with the general point but if he thinks this only start in 2008....
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:58 PM on February 4 [11 favorites]


Someone reset The Whelk. He's so angry he's starting to spit out line noise.
posted by loquacious at 11:20 PM on February 4 [33 favorites]


Line noise or should we agistate on the line of production and distribution? Shut it down!
posted by The Whelk at 11:29 PM on February 4 [26 favorites]


we'll be seeing boomers leave spaces in the workforce as they retire, and also stimulate the economy as they start hitting their retirement savings/pensions.

If only. The majority of boomers haven't saved enough for retirement. Quite a few haven't saved anything. So expect some continued pulling up of the ladder.
posted by Candleman at 11:57 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Look I’d didn’t think I’d spend my 30s doing a reimahinating of the 1930s but that’s where we are now. All,power to the workers.

Someone reset The Whelk. He's so angry he's starting to spit out line noise.

Warkers of the whirled, untie...
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:40 AM on February 5 [21 favorites]


If only. The majority of boomers haven't saved enough for retirement. Quite a few haven't saved anything. So expect some continued pulling up of the ladder.

And once again, this is because capitalism, not because Boomers. Who do you think was actually getting drafted? Who was in the Dodge Revolutionary Workers' Movement? Hello, it's the forgotten working class boomers, including people of color!

There's a lot of weird around this boomer narrative - it's like every single one was white, straight and middle class, went to college and became a professional, then pissed it all away. As if there are no people of color or poor whites...and like poverty among elderly women doesn't exist. A lot of those people who didn't save enough for retirement didn't save because they actually didn't make that much money.

And you know who's living in the fancy lofts that went up around here? Who's making tech and banking money and driving up rents here? It's....millenials! Just the rich ones. Rich millenials aren't any better than rich anyone else, unless they're hiding it really well.

I mean seriously, every time we have this conversation, people of color and working class white people just...disappear from American history. This seems like an extremely weird tack for the left to take, and it's hard for me to believe that it serves us well.
posted by Frowner at 2:52 AM on February 5 [120 favorites]


Y'all. I am a "boomer" if you must. While I am white, I have never been on top of any heap. I remember, yes, it was the 1990's when living started to get stupidly hard (in the US, for those of us for whom it had been easy, for those of us who refused to go along with certain norms. But it had already been stupidly hard for many in the more traditional cultures who were being sucked dry and destroyed by exploiters. For Native Americans. And for African Americans in main.) Rents went up so high they became impossible, for people without jobs on a similar (even if lesser) incline. Or people who were not suited to the kind of entrepreneur life that corporate culture likes (and feeds from, IMO.) Hell, life was already stupidly hard for my parents, who had their own resistance to dominant ways. My dad got burned out by the 1980's and became quite bitter, for a while.

This kind of intergenerational sniping is one of the symptoms of the cultural rot. Humans are not doing well, in this culture and in this world. Most other living things are not doing well either. We might rather consider making common cause with each other, than blaming whole groups of people. Just as immigrant asylum seekers are not a band of marauding criminals, so boomers are not a group of white, excessively privileged clones. I am burned out of even trying to be part of this culture. I make common cause with anyone who shares this experience consciously. I celebrate those who still have the energy to mount active resistance, and to build alternatives (there are quite a lot of those that are thriving.)
posted by luaz at 3:14 AM on February 5 [39 favorites]


Like, for instance, I know a semi-retired boomer white woman who worked as a secretary her whole life and who is divorced. She saved a lot, she had a union job for at least part of that time...and she's still working part time because even as a diligent saver she doesn't have enough to retire on with any real security. This is a typical story for a divorced woman who does pink collar work.

Other boomers of my acquaintance are working because they want to leave something of their savings for their kids, because they're shit scared about how things are going. I mean, a lot of the retirement age people I know are actually pretty worried about the state of things.

I think we often lack a theory of social change. Like, consider all your co-workers and casual acquaintances - how many of them are politically active and have developed political ideas, even rudimentary ones? Maybe they vote. A huge percentage of people of all generations are swept along by events. Even people who are really politically active tend to be swept along, because events are big and we are small.

"Boomers" "pulling up the ladder" are almost certainly our old friends the politically connected upper middle classes reacting to the sixties and seventies, and taking advantage of global financialization. And Jeff Bezos isn't a boomer. Peter Thiel isn't a boomer. Mark Zuckerberg, god knows, isn't a boomer. Are those people any less evil because they're younger? Would you trust your future to Peter Thiel because he was born in 1967?
posted by Frowner at 3:30 AM on February 5 [52 favorites]


But the Gen Xers will be like “this really complicates how we run our corporations and we’d never willingly make our lives harder, but actually a living wage and social stability are things we wish we’d had and maybe we’d be ok with our workers having these things.” We GenXers, we got bills and we’re worried about retirement and health care so we’re not going to automatically take care of you, but we’re also highly aware of the fact that state college tuition for our parents was like $300 a semester and a bachelors degree guaranteed a living wage and home ownership.

How strange. I am also a Gen-X er, but I have the insight to realize that "a living wage and social stability aren't just things the Millennials need, they're things I need too because I STILL FUCKING DO NOT HAVE THEM". I also have the insight to understand that a living wage for workers applies to ALL WORKERS, us too, not just the Millennial ones. And I have the insight to understand that improving the social capital for all workers will IMPROVE my OWN ability to pay off my OWN bills and take care of my OWN health care and save for my OWN retirement.

Some of us GenX'ers are in the same financial dire straits as the Millennials. We aren't all in charge, we're at the mercy of the Capitalist captains of industry too. And we've been there even longer, and that makes us more tired, more angry, and more fed up that people in charge are still passing the buck on this.

It isn't a generational thing. Stop acting like it is and sitting back to watch the world burn and ACTUALLY JOIN IN TO DO SOMETHING. because those things you claim are stopping you would also get easier if you did.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:50 AM on February 5 [36 favorites]


Hell, if you ARE in charge of a corporation already, it's even easier. Just....decide to prioritize a guaranteed livin wage and generous benefits package for your own employees over your corporate profits. Decide that instead of maximizing your personal profit, you'll personally cut back in your own life so all your employees get to share in the company profit. So what if you have bills - so do your employees, and a five-dollar-an-hour wage will make a big damn difference to them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


But the Gen Xers will be like “this really complicates how we run our corporations and we’d never willingly make our lives harder, but actually a living wage and social stability are things we wish we’d had and maybe we’d be ok with our workers having these things.”

Elon Musk is literally a Gen Xer. Jeff Bezos is literally a Gen Xer. Rich people are rich people the world over.

You know how your local liberal project (be that a food co-op, environmentalist nonprofit or whatever?) will be super nice about all the issues and then flip the fuck out and start union-busting when their staff want a union? And they'll break out every anti-union canard in the book like it's 1915*? And everyone will be all "but whhyyyyyyyy, you're so liberal"? It's because people want to hold onto the power and profit that they themselves have.

This is not a generational thing or even, per se, an ideological thing. (It's not as though, eg, the New Left was overwhelmingly thrilled by feminism, or like white feminists have been overwhelmingly thrilled by criticism from women of color). It's a problem of entrenched power. It stands out sharply when money is involved, because money is the big vector for power.

Gen X capitalists are not going to be nicer than Boomer capitalists. If they are "nicer", it will be because external factors force them to be, not because of some ineffable cultural difference or because they recognize the common humanity of their staff.

*I've seen this a whole bunch of times, and it's always "outside agitators" and "a union will disrupt the special relationship between Nonprofit Management and our wonderful, beloved staff" and "we provide lots of benefits so no one actually needs a union". It's all cliches; they can't even come up with new stuff.
posted by Frowner at 4:04 AM on February 5 [47 favorites]


But the Gen Xers will be like “this really complicates how we run our corporations and we’d never willingly make our lives harder, but actually a living wage and social stability are things we wish we’d had and maybe we’d be ok with our workers having these things.”

LOL. Look, my parents are wealthy Gen Xers (b. 1966), and dad has been working at triple-C level jobs since I was about... Twelve to fifteen, I think. My dad will concernedly tell me about how the world is terrible for millennials now and how did we get this way? He has also been known to tell me that there has been no inflation since the late 1980s, that John Oliver is 'dangerous,' and would absolutely lecture me about how it would be nice to give people benefits but a company has to be profitable. I have had intensely frustrating, exhausting conversations with both my parents around things like "I didn't deserve to have this good education while my friends were being taught by creationists" and "but everyone should be able to be comfortable" and have been met by "but we should be able to give what we earned to our children, it's not fair to be expected to give it away." I say that I think corporations are effectively amoral (because they are) and he gets furious and upset.

And my dad is the decent one. Like, on a personal level. But on a class distribution level? You are absolutely kidding yourself if you think wealthy Gen Xers are going to be in any way better than wealthy Boomers. I can tell you that from personal experience. You are not going to pierce the finely crafted walls of justification as to why they deserve this or denial about how little other people have.

The only way you will part the wealthy from their hordes is by legislative force.

I am identifying with William de Worde so much in this moment. "My family is rich. I'm not."
posted by sciatrix at 4:26 AM on February 5 [40 favorites]


Meh. The big difference is that Millennials are still relatively new to the catastrophic inequality that leads to burn out. Gen-Xers and Boomers haved become inured to it as their lot in life. That does mean though Millennials can still fight back if they aren't worn out from just trying to get by like so many of us.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:32 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


It's funny to have this gen-x/millenials spat in here, when the subject of the article is all "no, it's obviously about class, not generation".

(Possibly only funny to me and other Marxists on the cusp between these two market segments very different generation groups)
posted by pompomtom at 4:35 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]


It's funny to have this gen-x/millenials spat in here, when the subject of the article is all "no, it's obviously about class, not generation".

Some people really like to grind that axe here. Me, I'm dreading this generational narrative. When my working-class parents end up medically bankrupt, and the last shrouds of the safety net are kicked away to spite the olds, I'm going to end up holding the bills about the time I retire.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:42 AM on February 5 [10 favorites]


s/retire/get fucking fired because age-based discrimination is the new normal/
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:44 AM on February 5 [16 favorites]


I think the mods here need to treat these Boomers/Gen-Xers/Millenials discussions exactly the same way they treat any Palestine/Israel discussion that pops-up.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:48 AM on February 5 [20 favorites]


There's a lot of weird around this boomer narrative - it's like every single one was white, straight and middle class, went to college and became a professional, then pissed it all away.

I think the word "Boomer" has become less a literal term for "people born between 19XX and 19YY", and more a synecdoche for...exactly the sort of privileged older person you describe.

I've been called out for using the term this way, and have since tried to use it more carefully.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:13 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


As pointed out above, this isn't about generations - it's about class. Our society is getting more and more unequal. Millennials are driving Ubers to get by (and making pennies); other (richer) Millennials are taking them - and buying condos to rent out, etc.
posted by jb at 5:33 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


Every time discussions like this come up on metafilter, they lurch into the same pointless circle of intergenerational sniping and "but that's not *my* experience" and "yes BUT let me tell you about this one person I know..." Like clockwork. Every goddamn time.

This happens because the articles that form the basis of these discussions always frame the gigantic gilded age wealth inequality of the modern world as a generational conflict. Age demographics are tangential to the fundamental issue. It's not the Boomers. It's the billionaires. It's the billionaires, it's the billionaires, it's the billionaires. It's the fucking parasitic billionaires, the heartworms on what could be a healthy society.

Respectfully, I submit that we should just stop giving oxygen to articles that are ostensibly about wealth inequality but that always place terms like "boomer" and "millennial" front and center. Because that misses the point and leads us in the same miserable, pointless circle over and over. These articles are little more than clickbait.

And by the way, generational names and the attributes that supposedly describe those cohorts are essentially demographic astrology. Fucking tea leaves.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 5:38 AM on February 5 [64 favorites]


I speculated the last time this happened as to why it might be happening.

I second everything Vic just said and what Frowner said, above, too. We’re better than this.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:43 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I've been guilty of this inter-generational Blaming of the Boomers in these threads in the past, and I should know better because absolutely it's about class and not age or generations. I'm mid-Gen X, and people my age are moving into management/leadership positions and turning into the same sorts of people making the same sorts of decisions the bourgeoisie always have in the hopes of moving up a rung on the ladder. Plutocrats of the past can only wish they had the kind of wealth, power and control that Gen Xers and Millennials like Zuckerberg and Bezos have. And lots of people my age are also all in on the capitalist "you are your job/things you buy will make you happy" mindset, which I am still somehow naively surprised by because my demographic was flattered with marketing that told us we were smart enough to see through all that when we were younger. So there's nothing unique about the Boomers or Gen Xers or Millennials or any other generation. Human nature hasn't changed much over the centuries, which is why people are still staging ancient Roman plays.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:01 AM on February 5 [10 favorites]


If only. The majority of boomers haven't saved enough for retirement. Quite a few haven't saved anything. So expect some continued pulling up of the ladder.

Well, what I expect personally in the darkest scenarios is my parents living a long time in need of full-time medical care and my needing to use any security I have accumulated to look after them. It's happening to a lot of people around me, and I will do whatever they need, but "pulling up the ladder" is the least of my worries. There is no ladder for folks like us.

I mean seriously, every time we have this conversation, people of color and working class white people just...disappear from American history. This seems like an extremely weird tack for the left to take, and it's hard for me to believe that it serves us well.

This kind of intergenerational sniping is one of the symptoms of the cultural rot.

we should just stop giving oxygen to articles that are ostensibly about wealth inequality but that always place terms like "boomer" and "millennial" front and center.


100%. Somehow people on the left are quick to understand that divisions along racial and ethnic lines, sexuality lines, and class lines are a means of limiting and constraining democratic power to preserve a wealthy elite, but are totally blind to the fact that generational rhetoric is doing the same thing. Across generations, we have more in common than not, and we are all existing in an economy that is contracting for the vast majority, and we are not special, different, or in any meaningful way unique as humans from one another or unique from the rest of the globe that has different generational population-size patterns. Start critiquing this rhetoric wherever you see it. The problem is the sequestration of wealth and the draining of wealth from working people to siphon it to the rich and very rich.
posted by Miko at 6:23 AM on February 5 [15 favorites]


Very much agree that the prevalence of these theories of intergenerational conflict are at best mistaken and at worst, and quite commonly, a deliberate attempt to obscure ether real origins of these tensions.

I don't buy the parental issues theory though because plenty of people c. 20 will blame boomers, and most of our parents aren't.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:28 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


There are people in here literally using their parents to illustrate their broad generational claims, though.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:42 AM on February 5


Sorry those are the real tensions, not ethereal tensions, unfortunately.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:43 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


My comment from a previous "millenial" thread still stands. See also this previous comment about the "the boomers are gonna retire any day now" lie.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:51 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Yeah but, and sorry if this is impolitic to say, my understanding of MF and experience of MeFites is the user base skews older than c. 20 years old.

My point is that I'm pretty sure even the actual teens still have a concept of boomers as the enemy, cursed boomer memes are a thing, boomers are accused of owning all the housing, etc.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:53 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


As a Gen Xer, in my twenties I had to listen to the problems of Baby Boomers (my parents were not Boomers), the most successful generational cohort in human history.

Now until the day I die I'm going to have to listen to the navel-gazing of their successful children.

Ugh.
posted by JamesBay at 7:00 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


I mean seriously, every time we have this conversation, people of color and working class white people just...disappear from American history.

This. Plenty plenty of people were seriously f'd over in multiple ways in the apparently magical post-WW2 years. But the analysis (or even just the acknowledgment) of why (structural economic/class/racism/privilege/gender/etc. dynamics) is often missing from discussions like this.
posted by carter at 7:16 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


It's intergenerational because someone involved in health care ends up cleaning the assholes of both babies and parents, even if you push that labor onto others. It's intergenerational because dealing with climate change is going to require the same kind of vision as pre-modern monument building, or alternatively the living civil rights movement where one can't expect to live to see the end. It's intergenerational when I see my queer elders trying to build institutions to preserve their living history before they end up dying in systems with a high rate of abuse.

It's intergenerational because justice is intergenerational and an ethos of care is intergenerational. And if you don't see that or practice that, you're just another fucking Reagnite wearing a sexy leftist costume crying "what about my golden parachute?"
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:29 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Somehow people on the left are quick to understand that divisions along racial and ethnic lines, sexuality lines, and class lines are a means of limiting and constraining democratic power to preserve a wealthy elite, but are totally blind to the fact that generational rhetoric is doing the same thing.

While I definitely agree about the effects of the increasing disparity of wealth being felt by those of all generations, and the general worthlessness of most clickbait articles talking about generation divides, I think it is still important to note that there is the signal differences between generations, that of age and size of those age groups, and those things do matter a great deal in changing systemic problems.

Anyone expecting those who were born in the post World War II years as a group to radically change the system will be waiting in vain. Those of us brought up after them have seen the society change from one of promise towards better equality to that of gaping economic inequality. During those years there were some gains, many setbacks, but still a demand for improvement among those on the left, but it lacked sufficient voice in face of the empty promises of the right that favored the wealthy. Many of us from those past generations may feel the pain the disparity in wealth creates, but most of those same have settled into lives where they scrape by, enjoy the benefits of policies of greed, or fall by the wayside and have no say at all.

It's the youngest generations that tend to lead the demand for change when they have sufficient numbers and realize the extent of the need. It's no coincidence that things like the Me Too movement and BLM are happening with a large cohort coming of age in a generational wave. That isn't to say the rest of us won't play any part in supporting and adding to their voices by adding our own efforts to them, but that age does still play an important role both for the young wanting change and from the old who've seen how we ended up where we are.

I'd say it's important to notice and to respect the age differences rather than saying they don't matter, but also to fight back against bad framing of arguments that seek to create or increase a generational divide. I think Metafilter does okay in that regard. There are always some ready to blame generations for problems created, but always pushback against those ideas as well. Talking about the things that happened when a generation was at its peak and the influence wielded after isn't necessarily condemning all those within that age group so much as using it as a marker for eras and their successes and failures. One can say "not all boomers or xers" but things happened when they did and as a group those generations accepted it or didn't muster force to stop it. Maybe this one can, if those of us who want to see the change help them and allow them to take the fore in making it happen, regardless of whether they damn our age groups or no.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:38 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


There are people in here literally using their parents to illustrate their broad generational claims, though.

uh. I'm using my parents to point out that the generational claims don't hold up once you examine class participation; if I sounded like I was saying "all Gen Xers" as opposed to "not only wealthy Boomers" I am very sorry. I meant the latter.
posted by sciatrix at 7:46 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


My point is that I'm pretty sure even the actual teens still have a concept of boomers as the enemy, cursed boomer memes are a thing, boomers are accused of owning all the housing, etc.

It's not just that, it's the Figure of the Boomer - I mean, I would be surprised if all those cursed boomer memes originated with actual boomers. It's a bit like calling someone gammon in the UK, except that "Boomer" describes both an ideology and an actually existing generation, rather than ham.

Now, because I am a GenX person, I will point to my memories of the nineties. There was this whole thing in the nineties, described and skewered by the then-awesome Baffler* - OK cola and extreme sports and a general bolshie-ness in the popular culture, where we, the rising generation, were supposed to be rebelling against our staid and boring elders and their bad and boring politics. This was the recession nineties, the temp slave nineties - those years get forgotten, eclipsed by the boom at the end of the decade, but they gave us Michael Moore and Downsize This, plus a lot of anti-work, anti-capitalist independent pop culture.

These are different and worse times, but not totally different. In the nineties, the last time around, there was also this cultural framing of what was primarily a political problem. The cultural frame had some bits of truth to it - there really was an affective change - but a lot of both mainstream and alternative media were very quick to grab onto the more reassuring narrative of generational differences, everything has changed now that we have grunge music, "cyber" everything, etc etc.

Like, a lot of the woke internet stuff makes me really anxious. On the one hand, times are worse, so there's more material pressure pushing people to be actually woke and take action, and the internet does provide options for action that we didn't have in, like, 1995. But I'm here to tell you that this whole Olds And Their Cursed Images thing has happened before, and the wokeness tide rolled back down the beach.

*How did it fall so far? Why is it so anti-feminist now? Why are there no longer music reviews? I had this total thing for Thomas Frank back in the day, but I should have known because they hardly had any women writing for them even then.
posted by Frowner at 7:48 AM on February 5 [21 favorites]


The only way you will part the wealthy from their hordes is by legislative force bloody revolution, but we aren't supposed to say that.
posted by briank at 8:03 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I certainly thought about saying that! But historically speaking, bloody revolution without legislative force seems to mostly destabilize people and create avenues for different people to build up and exploit new hoards.

The best case scenario is that we do this without actually killing the rich, that we change the law instead. But since law is the calcification of public opinion and public good, we need to apply public pressure as strongly as we can to change the "might makes right" direction that currently exists into the direction of equitable resource distribution for all of us. We can move the law slowly without shattering it, or we can pour blood upon it and wash it away. At least, I think we can still move it. It is hard to tell, now. Moving laws takes time and sustained effort and sustained attention over generations. We have just repeated the second cycle of robber barons growing fat upon the sweat of people working: how do we break that cycle in perpetuity? I don't have good answers.

But blood destabilizes. It can destabilize and wash away the mortar and moorings of an entrenched and inequitable system, but it can also destabilize and wash away the attempts to build a better system on the foundations of the old. If we can do this without blood, we should: but we should continue to remind the wealthy that their own best interests lie in providing safety, security, and happiness for everyone, because they are the first targets for violence in the event that red-faced rage wells up and blood flows in the streets. Minimize blood, as best you can, and pour it only where it is absolutely necessary to wash away calcified injustice.
posted by sciatrix at 8:23 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


and I mean, you're also talking about my dad, dude. That's a factor, too.

Maybe my perspective is warped by where I came from, but I have to wonder if we can maintain "eat the rich!" in the specifics: where do we cut the boundaries? are there no good woke people who might shed a tear as we sharpen the knives? what is the boundary for "rich"--1% or 0.1% or 0.01%?

It reminds me of the rhetoric men drum up when women complain about public harassment and assault, the way men will brag that if they saw X situation or found themselves in it, they'd just beat the guy up, like a real man does. But those same men won't look for those situations or intervene when it happens, because the things they imagine that they will do are impractical in practice, even if they make for nicer fantasies than "I will say 'what are you doing, man?' and talk to that asshole," or "I'll call the bus driver and say that this man is bothering me" or "I'll vote, every time" or "I'll show up to the meetings of the state legislature and raise hell."

at the same time, I'm thinking about sustainable change, and how we don't lose the entire country to fragmentation, and the erosion of legal norms we struggle with, and I look bleakly at the future and I don't see hope. As Frowner says, I've seen an awful lot of wokeness tide roll down the beach as soon as the slope got too steep.

posted by sciatrix at 8:31 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


This is one of the cases where the thread and the article seem very much at odds.

When I talk about millennials, it’s not, like, a metaphor whereby millennials are the working class and boomers are the ruling class or something. The capitalist millennials are going to be just as bad, if not worse, than their predecessors, because they’ve inherited this exploitative system.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:36 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]


The Boomers who run things will be like, unionization = communism and that shit needs to be squashed.
You know, people’s ages are pretty close to a continuous function. I’m sort of puzzled by how everyone buys into these labeled groups. I’m apparently a “boomer,” since I was born in 1958, but I was a union member for years until I went back to school and ended up as a programmer. And I am still a bit proponent of unions. But apparently I am indistinguishable from Jeff Bezos.

I see a LOT of anti-union sentiment amongst my coworkers, including ones a lot younger than me. News flash: people are people regardless of their birth year. You might find like-minded people in unexpected places if you don’t spend all your time just pissing them off.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:40 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


^^^

Everybody's burned out. This is largely due to class rather than age. Differences among generations are largely fictitious.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:46 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


I agree that we usually use generational differences as metaphors rather than concrete groups, but the economy and social environment do change. To say things like living entirely within a recession or fighting in WWII don't change people is... weird?
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:49 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


"Obsessed with efficiency and technology" this trite-

WE DIDN'T MAKE EPCOT THE GRAND PRIZE OF EVERY DAMN GAMESHOW YOU MARKED TO US FROM THE FUTURE DID WE?!
posted by East14thTaco at 8:56 AM on February 5


Most of my social circle is deep into the hustle economy, not because they're personally invested in gigging for these shitty ass corporations, but because it's the only way they (we) can fund the actual meaningful work that they want to be doing.

I'm an underpaid* (unionized) public librarian. I spend a good chunk of my free time volunteering and I give probably more of my money than I should in the circular gofundme wheel of the ill, the desperate, the broke in my community. I'm also a single parent so this weekend I swallowed my hereditary class pride and started donating plasma. I absolutely feel like one of the luckiest and most financially stable people in my community. We're all social workers shopping for Shipt, non-profit workers driving for Lyft. Capitalism won't pay us a living wage for the critical work we do.

I work with a lot of teenagers, though, who have bought into this ethic completely. Hearing trans high school kids bragging about all the ways they're already maximizing productivity is devastatingly sad.

*I do scrape by with a living wage. And my library district is one of the better paying in my state. But student loans/transition costs that I had to stick on a credit card/parenting drive up the cost of living pretty quickly.
posted by libraritarian at 9:10 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


I’ve been hearing about how boomers are going to retire and stimulate the economy for 15+ years now and I have yet to see it.

The "boomers have all the wealth, they're keeping it from you" canard comes from the exact same place as "immigrants are the reason you can't have a living wage". It's the same lie told for the same reason, just tailored to appeal to different audiences.
posted by FakeFreyja at 9:16 AM on February 5 [15 favorites]


I’ve been hearing about how boomers are going to retire and stimulate the economy for 15+ years now and I have yet to see it.

Yeah, this was one of the big lies in academia in the early 2000s. The boomers are going to retire and then it'll be jobs, jobs, jobs. Except that as the boomers retire, their positions get "retired" too, replaced by shitty low-paying contract gigs.

(Edit: this isn't to blame any particular generation for the situation. As the interview rightly points out, it's capitalism doing what it's designed to do – in this case scooping money from the bottom to fill the coffers of university admin.)
posted by Beardman at 9:17 AM on February 5 [18 favorites]


[One deleted; yes I understand the state of the world but still, have a care for the mental health of other people reading, and don't dive headlong into the doomsday/genocide scenarios please.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:32 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I agree with the deleted post but maybe I can get at a similar idea without doomsday prophesying:

Marxist theory once predicted that anti-capitalist revolutions would be spurred on by contradictions in the system of capitalism. We'll soon be dealing with the greatest and most universal contradiction in capitalism we've ever seen: climate change. As it becomes ever clearer that capitalism's inherent growth drive is the main driver of climate change, it'll also become clearer that capitalism needs to go. And for the first time in human history, this will happen across the entire world at roughly the same time.

So times are going to change, and it's up to us to make sure that they change for the better.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:06 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


A place to start would be targeting US 'right-to-work laws', which decreases the bargaining power of official labor unions.

Given Howard Schultz's veiled threat to reelect Trump if the Democrats don't stop talking about the marginal tax rate, I'm starting to think we should start by targeting the rich directly.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:14 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


The "boomers have all the wealth, they're keeping it from you"
Yeah, it's not that the boomers don't have all the wealth -statistically they do, but the amount of wealth they have on an individual basis is dwarfed by income inequality and other factors, and it's not evenly distributed as boomers were generationally more likely to leave all minorities behind - since then most minorities still get left behind but some have caught up.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:36 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Also, side note, in any society in which the old are not begging for crusts the old have to have more wealth per capita than the young, whether as right to a pensions or something more specific. The thing about being old is that you probably can't earn much money now and definitely can't expect to earn much later.

This is another reason to point the spotlight at class, not generations -- or at least to do some envelope type calculations figuring out what UBI (frex) for the old would be and only being outraged by generational accumulation above that.
posted by clew at 11:33 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


we should continue to remind the wealthy that their own best interests lie in providing safety, security, and happiness for everyone

But what if the ruling class disagree? If they find it more convenient to their needs to instead increase the state's ability to control and repress, to augment it by supporting stochastic and more organised forms of violence if necessary? If they choose to support multiple forms of discrimination in order to ensure that the working class remains divided and many are left unaware of those responsible? If they place their faith in personal refuges in NZ and secure compounds when faced with the spectre of serious global crises?

Or, even if they fear the flaws of those strategies or have moral qualms, what if the very nature of the system that endows them with their power makes it impossible for them to to use it co-operatively?

I don't think the rich feared revolution in 1938 Germany. The revolutionary threat was neutralised, even if it meant framing countless innocents for the crimes of their entire class.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:58 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


But what if the ruling class disagree?

And they do. This is the crux of the issue, and why it's a values debate and not a purely numerical one. Due to my work I am often adjacent to wealthy people, and a great many of them espouse some version of the view "I can't change the world, so the best I can do is take care of myself and my family," - and the more humanitarian-minded of them extend that to "my community or neighborhood" or "recipients of my cause-specific giving." Their decisions are undergirded by a worldview that accepts the inevitability of tribalism and family ties as primary, and their sense of belonging to any state or community as distantly secondary. The global marketplace makes it more possible than ever to live very well and comfortably while rarely needing to intersect with public systems, isolating them and their families from the impact of the disastrous policies they support. They don't care that much, and why should they? Unless you have some way of implanting another moral or philosophical structure into their minds, they don't have any reason to feel guilty about these choices. Doing the best you can for yourself and your family, for the succeeding generations of them if you can preserve your wealth, is the most moral position they can imagine.
posted by Miko at 12:24 PM on February 5 [18 favorites]


And they do. This is the crux of the issue, and why it's a values debate and not a purely numerical one. Due to my work I am often adjacent to wealthy people, and a great many of them espouse some version of the view "I can't change the world, so the best I can do is take care of myself and my family,"

I think we tend to fall into presentism or...surface-ism, maybe, where we don't think about the enormous amount of political/ideological work which went into creating the belief that society can be changed for the better, that people are sort of created equal, that we have responsibility to people who are not blood kin or able to buy our assistance, that it's not okay to own human beings, etc. These are ideas that sort of haunt human history (early Christians, heretics, peasant movements, etc) but that gained some political traction in the 18th and 19th centuries, when liberation movements weren't basically just instantly crushed.

I think Northam's yearbook is a good illustration (and the fact that the med school yearbook was discontinued in 2013 because people kept, like, putting racist stuff into it). This illustrates the strength and persistence of violent, hierarchical ideas, and the comparative weakness of liberatory ones, even after so much political struggle. So many people fought and died to get to a society where you can't just work to bring back chattel slavery, and we're still getting Northams. (Which is part of why he absolutely must go - the social traction of "people are created equal" is important, and every time someone challenges it we have to smite them if we possibly can.)

The ideas that most mefites take for granted, the ideas that structure our worldviews, are extremely fragile and often not pinned to a material reality. We value equality, but equality isn't pinned to a really existing equal society - we're still struggling to bring it into being.

What I'm saying is don't underestimate how evil and violent people will be to preserve their own privileges, and don't overestimate how unthinkable the unthinkable really is.
posted by Frowner at 12:39 PM on February 5 [12 favorites]


The boomers brought about the counter-culture movement of the sixties, gen-X brought in the alternative movement of the nineties, and now the millennials are staking out their ground in opposition to the established system. The power of outraged youth is not to be underestimated. But nor is the power of the system to co-opt, distract and mislead. If you want to fight this system, you need to have a long-term perspective.
posted by No Robots at 12:53 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Doing the best you can for yourself and your family, for the succeeding generations of them if you can preserve your wealth, is the most moral position they can imagine.

Yes. This is what I was trying to convey, when I was describing the conversations I've had upthread; I cannot get through that wall with moral arguments. I've tried, and I've tried doing so from arguably the strongest possible moral position: a child in that family arguing that I don't deserve that largesse, that other people deserve it more, and further that I don't want it; that I just want to be comfortable, and for everyone else to be comfortable. And I run aground on that rock every time, the rock of "but it is our money, we worked hard for it, and we deserve to pass it to our children, and we want to, and that is the moral thing to do." Every time.

When I pointed out reminding them, I did not necessarily mean reminding the wealthy this politely; I didn't mean reminding them gently. I meant the sort of values and cultural war that Frowner is describing. I meant the veiled threat to invoke enlightened self-interest, frankly: reminding the wealthy that giving their goddamn wealth up is what prevents the violence of breaking revolutions in the first place, because when you make people despairing and desperate, the costs of revolution start seeming comparatively minor.
posted by sciatrix at 12:53 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


the rock of "but it is our money, we worked hard for it

The proper counter-argument here (whether or not it wins the day with the older generation) is that "our money" didn't become "our money" through magic. We have what we have because the state has structured the economy that way and defends it, by force when necessary. It's not "the natural order," it's a deliberate choice. And when the choice gives us people spending $230 million on a house they're not even going to live in, a couple of blocks away from doorways where homeless people shiver at night, the choice becomes indefensible.

The fundamental emotional position of 90% of conservatives I encounter is "whatever is, is right," or "the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature." De-naturalization is the necessary battle.
posted by praemunire at 1:24 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


To say things like living entirely within a recession or fighting in WWII don't change people is... weird?

If you're responding to me, that's not what I'm arguing, but I suppose I was a little glib. Just trying to emphasize that differences between generations are not discretely based birth year but on a variety of factors, and the wealthy are not affected by those things in remotely the same way as everyone else.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:29 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


On the one hand I’m glad people are finally dropping the intergenerational sniping I’ve seen so much of in the past. On the other hand, nice that it’s happening now, when there’s an article about the unique financial challenges faced by my generation. Oh, now it’s just a class problem people have always dealt with.

I don’t want to be too cynical, but it wasn’t long ago that there were threads on this site about how Millennials, “well they do seem to act very entitled,” how there have been plenty of recessions in the past (but Gen X didn’t complain), and how student loan debt is really a problem of poor decisions and poor incentives. Now people are breezing past the content of TFA to talk about how we should stop thinking in terms of generation in favor of class. So it remains, implicitly, that Millennials are whiny and entitled (even TFA makes sure to note that this scholar, a serious person, doesn’t challenge this, but wants to talk about why we are this way).

At its worst, this site can feel like there are a lot of people who are older and wealthier than me, talking dispassionately about my generation’s problems, then mentioning in another thread how they’ve just bought a house. I know it’s more complicated than that, and that lots of people here have more than their share to cope with. I just mean to say that it’s hard to relate sometimes. By all means let’s drop the generational sniping, but I’m not exactly ready to forget it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:56 PM on February 5 [17 favorites]


Meh. It's not my main grudge, but I do feel entitled to hold a grudge against the generations that voted in Reagan.
posted by praemunire at 2:13 PM on February 5 [13 favorites]


I hold a hefty grudge against Reagan and his lying campaign that ousted Jimmy Carter (best president ever).
posted by jb at 2:42 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


There are millions of people over 50 with crushing student loan debt (because they were told to retrain for jobs that never materialized), no history of long-term full-time employment, no assets, and living paycheck to paycheck on part-time and contract work. So if you want to bitch about the productivity/pay gap or the medical and educational debt crises, join the fucking party. We're great company fond of self-medicating.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:49 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


My parents are super late Boomer/super early Gen X and did not go to college. They were still able to buy a house in a very good school district in their early twenties and my mother was a stay-at-home parent for many years. They hoped I'd go to college, and I did. However... the thought of buying a house or having a family on one income like they did is hilarious.

My parents were not wealthy, so I have a hard time with a solely "it's just about class, not generation" argument. My parents had a much easier time changing their class/financial situation as young adults in the 80's than I do and they had less educational capital.

I think there was an FPP awhile back, even, about how 'millennials' demonstrably have fewer financial resources than previous generations at their benchmark. This is the only link I can pull up super quickly.

Anyway, yes, one can always argue that Some Group of boomers or gen-xers had it badly, and that #notallboomers are greedy capitalists, and of course both those things are true. But it is, yes, also true that millennials as a millions-large aggregate cohort are not doing as well as the cohorts before them.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:17 PM on February 5 [14 favorites]


Eh, Carter did start the trend, rolling in deregulation and privatization even if he put in solar panels and asked the White House Kitchen to make use of leftovers to keep costs down. certainly our most honorable ex president and better then Revanchist Reagan but you know, all politicians should be disposable and that.
posted by The Whelk at 3:20 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


I'm either a young Gen-X or an old millennial (because naturally we didn't get a generational moniker) and it is my astute and incontrovertible opinion that both groups are full of insufferable entitled whiny idiots who are bad at relational thinking and largely indifferent to the suffering of others, as are their parents and grandparents.

But if you're younger than me right now, you're a little more likely to be fucked (I was a bit of a late bloomer and dirt poor to boot, so I feel your pain).
posted by aspersioncast at 3:23 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


We're not talking "some group" we're talking millions of people, including a bit less than half of the adults counted as officially unemployed and a bit more than half of the homeless. Honestly this discourse feels a lot like crabs in a pot with the fires lit. And I get why capital mouthpieces like The New York Times keeps poking us with the wooden spoon, I don't get people who would rather sit it out and watch it burn than to organize together.

(Yes, I do smell funny, it's the skin cream.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:14 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I think what irks me about “whiny and entitled” is that it’s very hard for people to understand what it’s like to be starting a career right now, with the understanding that you will likely never achieve the things previous generations have. Stuff like home ownership, ever paying off your loans, ever being able to pursue the careers you want because they barely exist anymore (speaking as someone who would love to be a professor, librarian, or park ranger — all things that have been defunded, eliminates, or otherwise made impossibly competitive).

So the conversation turns to entitlement, because why should we think we’re entitled to these things? Never mind that they were things plenty of people have pulled off successfully. Never mind that there’s not a strong safety net in place for those of us expecting to rent in perpetuity, or to freelance without benefits into old age. Not like we’re the only ones, but jeez, career planning doesn’t exactly gel easily when this is what you’re up against.

So people who own houses, have careers, have their debt under control, and know that none of it came easily — of course it looks like whiny entitlement when someone sounds frustrated. Few but the wealthiest among us skate through life. So here, as elsewhere, there are many people whose life circumstances are different from my own, implying that it’s a failure of character and imagination if I feel downtrodden, that I’ll be fine (or that I won’t be fine, but should still just suck it up and stop expecting a handout).

So it’s frustrating that an article about the constricting economic climate in which I’m expected to start a life turned into a thread about generational sniping, like I’m selfish for thinking an article about my generation might be about me.

Unless you’ve just graduated from college into the current economic climate, there’s probably some kind of information gap, and I’d appreciate it if people would at least give that some thought before assuming the worst on my part. We’re all hurt by capitalism, but this article is specifically a response to the dominant discourse of the last few years that has painted me and my cohort with a broad and unsympathetic brush.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:19 PM on February 5 [11 favorites]


they barely exist anymore (speaking as someone who would love to be a professor, librarian, or park ranger — all things that have been defunded, eliminates, or otherwise made impossibly competitive).

and they haven't existed since WELL before the Millennials came of age. One of my contract lecturers in university in 1998 had gotten her PhD at Yale in the mid-70s, and still didn't have a full-time job. She'd been gigging it for two decades.

The bottom fell out of the academic job market in the 70s or 80s - and library jobs aren't much better. The problem is that - like being an actor, musician or artist - everyone wants jobs like these. At one point, maybe it was "easy" to become an academic, provided you were white, upper-class and male - and had been to the right university. (The male thing really matters: one of the best scholars from the 60s-70s in my original field was never given a university position explicitly because she was a woman).

Millennials do have new challenges - the job market is worse for younger people, student debt is higher. But what is described as "typical" - being able to buy a house, having stability - really was only a middle class reality. What's happened is that the middle class is disappearing, to be replaced by poor and rich. This is the growing inequality.
posted by jb at 5:14 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Never mind that there’s not a strong safety net in place for those of us expecting to rent in perpetuity, or to freelance without benefits into old age.

A lot of people can't expect even that and never had that.

No, I don't think it's a failure of character to be frustrated with your economic prospects. But the dominant discourse exists to prevent solidarity and empathy with people who face similar or worse economic prospects, and I find it depressingly predictable that the primary response to this discourse is a crab pot.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:26 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Because heaven forbid that people two paychecks away from homelessness who each have six-figure student loan burdens actually work together if we have different Spotify lists.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:29 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


To say things like living entirely within a recession or fighting in WWII don't change people is... weird?
If you’re talking about the Depression, that ended in 1941. WWII ended in 1945. Anyone that became an adult by 1945 is [quick finger counting] 89 years old now. Though I guess you could (unbelievably) join the military at 16 with a parent’s signature, so you might find an 87-year-old WWII vet. But they are most emphatically NOT “baby boomers.”
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:37 PM on February 5


I don't get people who would rather sit it out and watch it burn than to organize together.

For me personally, voting has moral consequences. If you voted for Reagan, who largely did what he said he would as president, I'm not ever going to forget how weak, greedy, stupid, and racist you were. You've already demonstrated that you were perfectly willing to try to eat someone else's lunch. Well, turns out you were actually arranging to have your own lunch eaten, and now you're sad about it; you're white, so you were supposed to be safe! It may well be tactically useful to ally with you, but I'd have to be an idiot not to keep in mind that what you did once, you'd do again (and indeed many did; there must be huge overlap between Reagan and 45 voters who were alive at the time).

Supposed millennial "entitlement" doesn't even register on this scale.

This isn't even, like, in my top ten political grievances, but, if you voted for Reagan, you did everything you possibly could to bring the country to this pass, and that does matter.
posted by praemunire at 7:11 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


In America, there's no practical distinction between "fuck old people" and "fuck old people who are also disadvantaged minorities." Funny enough, that's just what Reagan-era yuppie scum said and did.

When I say that things like health care and housing are inter-generational issues, that's not an ideal, that's a statement of grim economic reality that I've been putting in unpaid labor to fill in the gaps for grandparents and now parents since I was 12. Women end up doing more of it than men. So if you're doing to do something horrifically short-sighted and spiteful like cut into my mother's quality of care again (a Republican agenda BTW), would you kindly take your turn with the physical therapy and fixing breakfast?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:21 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


this is a pretty cynical post, but it's how i'm feeling about the world in general lately, and is only marginally a response to posters in this thread, all of who i know to be compassionate, caring individuals who only want to see things improve. that said, i would like to inject an actual millennial's perspective into this conversation, and all i have is my own. so:

the class debate is framed as a generational issue not because millennials are obsessed with boomers, but because BOOMERS are obsessed with boomers and make everything about themselves. despite the narrative, millennials don't really blame boomers for the state of the world, we're just jealous they got to experience something better. like yeah the middle class is eroding and as boomers age into retirement more and more of them are just as broke and destitute as my friends and i, but at least some of them got to be middle class, for a little while at least. and if we ARE mad, it's mostly because a lot of them won't shut the fuck up about how much better they had it back in their day. and if we're frustrated, it's because when we say "well it's actually really bad for us," even our class allies say "well sure but it's not really uniquely bad for you, because it's bad for everyone right now." like yeah no shit i know that already, my parents are both even broker than i am, and i am seriously legitimately crazy fucking broke. we're not interested in engaging in any sort of generational warfare, we just think you guys are really loud and we'd like you to just shut it for a bit, you're using up all the air in the room again, please, just five minutes of silence, just five minutes for us to be alone in the spotlight with how bad we have it before we get either a "back in my day" or an "i have it tough too," for the love of god.

the world is broken right now, and the psychological effects of coming of age into that broken world cannot be overstated. knowing at 17 when you're touring colleges that as much fun as it seems they are going to put you (or your parents) into debt effectively for the rest of your life. knowing at 22 that you can't even afford to get a cat so you'll never be able to have kids. knowing at 24 that there's basically no way you'll ever be able to afford to live without a roommate, let alone own a house. like seriously, barring serious economic changes i'm going to be living with strangers i met on craigslist for the next ten years, at least, probably closer to twenty or thirty. if we're even still around in twenty or thirty years? because of climate change? or just because when all the younger millennials hit their mid thirties and are still working insane hours to barely scrape by we as a society are going to see suicides skyrocket? the idea of being this broke (or even being say, one order of magnitude less broke than i am today) for another ten years is unfathomable, let alone somehow making it to 50, or god, 70. that feels literally impossible. the brain literally cannot process it. so the only conceivable options are either annihilation or a complete and total societal shift the likes of which i've never seen in my lifetime. in a lot of ways i think our current situation mirrors the cold war, except no one is trying to dispute that growing up under the cold war didn't fuck up a whole lot of people.

we got out of that one somehow, and i'm not giving up hope that we'll get out of this one. but it is a uniquely difficult and horrible time to come of age. the only time worse will be tomorrow, and then the day after that, and it will only get worse every day until we get our shit together and make a better world for everyone. when it comes to class struggle, we're all on the same side. but we're not on the same page, and it's insane to pretend otherwise. this is not a generational battle but it's just a fact: for us, the stakes are higher.
posted by JimBennett at 11:36 PM on February 5 [18 favorites]


On behalf of the baby boomers who thought Reagan was evil incarnate, whose politics have remained considerably left of liberal for 40+ years, who had careers in some type of public service, who never even briefly considered fucking over our own children and everyone born after, would you all please stop blaming the entire generation for the fact that capitalism has done to the economy exactly what one would expect.

We wouldn't tolerate such stereotyping of other groups of people. There is no reason to allow such sloppy thinking regarding this age cohort.


From above—repeating it here because I can only favorite it once.

Everybody's burned out. This is largely due to class rather than age. Differences among generations are largely fictitious.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:46 AM on February 5

posted by she's not there at 11:43 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


In America, though, life seems to move faster than anywhere else on the globe and each generation is promised more than it will get: which creates, in each generation, a furious, bewildered rage, the rage of people who cannot find solid ground beneath their feet.--James Baldwin
posted by No Robots at 6:54 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


The Precarity of Everything: On Millennial (Blacks and) Blues - "Reniqua Allen — the author of It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America — on Black millennials, millennial burnout, and hope in a time of uncertainty."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:37 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


the rage of people who cannot find solid ground beneath their feet

``All that is solid melts into air''
posted by clew at 11:32 AM on February 6




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