Hello, Lost Generation (and Generation C).
April 13, 2020 2:46 PM   Subscribe

"Millennials now are facing the second once-in-a-lifetime downturn of their short careers. The first one put them on a worse lifetime-earnings trajectory and blocked them out of the asset market. The second is sapping their paychecks just as they enter their peak-earnings years, with 20 million kids relying on them, too. There’s no good news in a recession, and no good news in a pandemic. For Millennials, it feels like there is never any good news at all."

Key numbers from the article:
Slogging their way through the aughts, avocado toast in hand, the Millennials proved those miserable studies true. During the recession, half of recent graduates were unable to find work; the Millennials’ formal unemployment rate ranged as high as 20 or 30 percent. High rates of joblessness, low wages, and stagnant earnings trajectories dogged them for the following decade. A major Pew study found that Millennials with a college degree and a full-time job were earning by 2018 roughly what Gen Xers were earning in 2001. But Millennials who did not finish their post-secondary education or never went to college were poorer than their counterparts in Generation X or the Baby Boom generation. Economic growth, in other words, left the best-off Millennials treading water and the worst-off drowning.

Crummy wages collided with a cost-of-living crisis and heavy debt loads. The cost of higher education grew by 7 percent per year through the 1980s, 1990s, and much of the 2000s, far faster than the overall rate of inflation, leaving Millennial borrowers with an average of $33,000 in debt. Worse: The return on that investment has proved dubious, particularly for black Millennials. The college wage premium has eroded, and for black students the college wealth premium has disappeared entirely. While struggling to pay down their student loans, millions of younger Americans have also found themselves shut out of the real-estate market by housing shortages and attending sky-high prices. Rich Boomers bought the houses and made building new ones impossible. Millennials were forced to keep on renting, transferring wealth from the young to the old.
Meanwhile, the generation proceeding Millennials face their own distinctive challenges:
For healthy young people like Arora—who seem much less likely to have severe complications with COVID-19 than their elderly counterparts—living through a months-long quarantine and the deep economic recession likely to come after it will have consequences all its own, most of which, for the moment, are unknowable. It’s hard to imagine the future of this cohort in any detail, beyond the fact that their lives will be, in at least some ways, profoundly different from what they might have been. While writing about how the pandemic might eventually end, my colleague Ed Yong posited that babies born in the post-coronavirus era, who will never know life before whatever enduring changes lie ahead, might be called Generation C.

But Generation C includes more than just babies. Kids, college students, and those in their first post-graduation jobs are also uniquely vulnerable to short-term catastrophe. Recent history tells us that the people in this group could see their careers derailed, finances shattered, and social lives upended. Predicting the future is a fool’s errand even when the world isn’t weathering what looks to be an epoch-defining calamity, but in the disasters of the past lie clues that can begin to answer a question vital to the lives of millions of Americans: What will become of Generation C?
posted by Ouverture (81 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
For Millennials, it feels like there is never any good news at all.

Don't worry, the good news is that Generation Locust and their Council to Re-Open America will happily send the Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z, and even the less privileged of their own cohort into the meat grinder back into the workplace to preserve their stranglehold on politics and the economy.
posted by tclark at 2:51 PM on April 13 [53 favorites]


After reading this article I realized why I was thinking about my shitty retail job (all I could find) right out of college in 2007 last week so much that I subsequently it brought it up to my therapist during out last virtual session — because I was job searching in a recession and now I'm job searching during a pandemic.

I’ve been self-employed for nearly ten years, which works for me as an extreme introvert, but I got tired of feeling like there was no safety net so I just started looking for more traditional jobs a month before COVID19 hit hard where I live. I’ve never taken a paid sick day in any job I’ve had over the past 20 years, nor have I ever had a paid vacation day. I am starting to feel like there is no hope I will ever have one.

The only positive to what’s happening right now is that I’m finally eligible for unemployment (not that I have any faith that it’ll kick in anytime soon) and eventually I hope that my applications for small business assistance will come through so I can get off that and maybe keep limping along with the reduced work I’m getting. But I don’t disagree with the article: For Millennials, it feels like there is never any good news at all. Being eligible for unemployment after paying into the system but not being eligible for it before isn’t really good news so much as what should have been all along.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:19 PM on April 13 [18 favorites]


But at least we'll have a lot stories of our struggles to tell our grandc---hahaha.
posted by Young Kullervo at 3:29 PM on April 13 [20 favorites]


Metafilter: there is never any good news at all.
posted by wanderingmind at 3:29 PM on April 13 [27 favorites]


[One deleted. We've done the intergenerational-sniping thing many times, mainly going around and around the underlying fact that many gen Xers and boomers are poor and precarious too. That can be true, and also at the same time we can choose to focus on this specific article about many millennials being poor and precarious. Gonna ask that folks forego the temptation to snip at each other about this?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:03 PM on April 13 [54 favorites]


Christ this is depressing. Of course, there doesn't need to be a "deep and long recession" following this. Small businesses don't need to disappear. Our economy just experienced the equivalent of a global hurricane. Yes, some disruption is inevitable, but a civilization protects its own from disaster and makes whole those who suffered.

But, of course, the "good" Republican governor of my state is already talking about slashing budgets. Further relief bills already are bogging down in congress. Trump is using this as a excuse to destroy the postal service, for whatever reason. After all, never let a crisis go to waste.

Once the disaster passes, the pain need only be as much as we want it to be.
posted by eagles123 at 4:09 PM on April 13 [23 favorites]


Think about this sort of thing when you next interact with any of your Republican-voting relatives.
posted by aramaic at 4:16 PM on April 13 [12 favorites]


I am incredibly lucky to have a job that I can do remotely and I make pretty good money. The making "pretty good money" part has only been within the past few years, though -- before that, I was really underpaid for ~15 years.

I graduated from college in May 2002 (you can do that math). I didn't find a job until February 2003 and in retrospect, I was pretty lucky there. I was definitely looking to move up and move on when the recession hit. Hence the reason I spent the next ~10 years underpaid.

(And you know, fine, there was a bunch of personal issues too, but ...)

I turn 40 this year. I have been working hard to get myself out of debt (it should be this year ... well ... that was the plan, anyway, and I hope it holds true and I will finally be done paying off my student loans. Which were actually pretty small, all things considered!) and actually moving into an adult apartment (ha ha ha no home buying for me ever but I've always either had roommates or lived with a romantic partner or in some kind of house-share situation so this would be a step up). And so, who the hell knows at this point if any of this will actually happen.

I know what privileges I have. I also know how fast all of this can go away and how quickly it all changes. I'm not taking anything for granted right now.
posted by darksong at 5:01 PM on April 13 [15 favorites]


Millennial here, born in 1985. Had my first computer at 15 (y2k!), first cell phone at 20 (2005). On a whole, nothing's ever felt like what it was supposed to - but I'm nervous about that type of feeling. Sounds like something old men would start wars over.

I'm lucky to have no medical debt, a house, and paid off student loans. But on the other hand, I've not had a good job in six months and have really struggled with employment the past 15 years.

Yeah, so actually, this whole "everyone's fucked" is pretty terrible but it's doing great things for my feelings of shame over not "making the most of myself." If there's literally no jobs, then it's not my fault for not having one, right?
posted by rebent at 5:12 PM on April 13 [33 favorites]


Also b. 1985, and the small business that I had just finally, gruelingly gotten to a stable position has been shuttered since mid-March. But I don't have any debt and I can do some online sales, so if I can get an SBA loan to cover the rent I still have to pay on my closed storefront I might be able to reopen and pick up somewhere near where I left off.

although eventually the question of 'who are my customers if no one has any fucking money' is going to become pressing.
posted by nonasuch at 5:18 PM on April 13 [15 favorites]


nonsuch, there will be loan programs for small biz. keep your powder dry.

I was born in 1972 and thought the fall of the Berlin wall was going to be the big historical thing i lived through. I was wrong. I was in NYC on 9/11/01 and we all thought the city would never be the same. We were wrong. Fukishima. Katrina. The 07-08 subprime mortgage debacle. Wrong wrong wrong.

Gen whatever, fight.
posted by vrakatar at 6:42 PM on April 13 [37 favorites]


Millennial who teaches college seniors here. It was rough watching my classmates post- graduation. For the most part, my friends were either hacking their way though grad school, getting paid not nearly enough teaching, or working a series of underpaying jobs. (My partner and I did a combination of all three!)

The last couple years had been good- the teachers finally got some raises and friends got stable jobs. People were buying houses and having kids and finally doing all that stuff we'd put off and boom.

I honestly don't know what to tell my seniors. Best case is they end up like the lucky Millennial and manage to get something stable by their 30s. And some places are still hiring folks with their type of degrees. But this looks so much worse.
posted by damayanti at 6:43 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


As an Xer, this is the 3rd recession of my post-college adulthood. The 1st (2001) left me unemployed, and when I got a full-time job again, I was earning half as much as before I'd been laid off. I managed to stay employed thru the 2008 collapse, and after another bout of unemployment several years ago, clawed my way back to my 2001 salary just last year (when my workplace unionized, and won a very good contract). At the moment, my job seems secure. Fingers crossed.

But I know I have it so, so much better than so many younger people.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 6:47 PM on April 13 [14 favorites]


I was born in 82, and this really hit home for me. I’ve finally gotten over the feeling it was all my fault in the last year or so.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 6:52 PM on April 13 [17 favorites]


I was born in 1972 and thought the fall of the Berlin wall was going to be the big historical thing i lived through. I was wrong. I was in NYC on 9/11/01 and we all thought the city would never be the same. We were wrong. Fukishima. Katrina. The 07-08 subprime mortgage debacle. Wrong wrong wrong.

The thing I'm worried about with COVID is I don't think we've ever had anything where the entire country had to 1) fear for their lives, and 2) fear that any little thing they do could kill people. I recently read this article on moral fatigue, and I think people are underestimating the long-lasting traumatic effects of not being able to engage in day-to-day life not only for your own safety, but also for the safety of every person you ever interact with.

I mean I'm still going to fight, but I think COVID is different. Not necessarily worse, but different in a lot of ways that may have longer-lasting effects than we think. But I dunno, I'm bad at history, so maybe I'm wrong.
posted by brook horse at 6:53 PM on April 13 [26 favorites]


I was born in 1979 and I feel this hard. So many recessions that cost me jobs, student loan debt that was suddenly not erasable by bankruptcy, more recession, skyrocketing rent and home prices...

I will likely never have my parents' lifestyle. I dont even care. I'm just hoping to survive.

I have learned the folly of building your bug out haven in another country. My fiance is willing to wait up there for me, but my god, this is not the life I've been planning.
posted by ananci at 7:04 PM on April 13 [13 favorites]


lol I meant to mention: my younger sister just bought a condo a few months ago, and now her job (which she is doing from home) is talking pay cuts. Also she does not have a sofa or most of the furniture she was planning to get after moving, because the first couch she bought didn't fit through the door so she had to return it, and like a week and a half later our state went into lockdown. So she is doing what she can do of her job from a half-empty apartment that has already lost a chunk of its value. Which feels like it should be a metaphor for something, rather than my actual sister's actual life.
posted by nonasuch at 7:18 PM on April 13 [15 favorites]


I think Covid will cement the term "Zoomers" for Generation Z, now that the defining moment of their coming of age is going to school via Zoom.
posted by rikschell at 7:58 PM on April 13 [52 favorites]


To the degree that higher education and academia were secure before this (they weren't, but they also weren't terrible if you managed to claw your way into a decent program), they will not be after. Austerity is coming after this, and higher ed is going to be slashed to ribbons. Research funding will be cut in the name of "budget balancing" while those trump tax cuts stay in place. Democratic administrations at the state level will lead the charge just as well as republicans.
posted by codacorolla at 7:58 PM on April 13 [8 favorites]


It keeps coming back to the Great Dismantling of the Social Contract.

It started with Reagan and has continued unimpeded until now. I mean, we've been warned not to get into politics or to blame any particular generation of Americans, but I think everyone understands which political party and which generation were the biggest cheerleaders for this. And here, at last, the chickens have come home to roost, with that unnamed generation at greatest risk from a crisis that the leadership of that unnamed political party has done the least to deal with, except kicking the can further down the generational road. No one wants anyone to die and it's not like anyone responsible can or will fix it, but I think it is really important we start learning and learning fast how we got here.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:47 PM on April 13 [71 favorites]


Austerity is coming after this ...

I think it probably depends on who gets elected.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:54 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I think it probably depends on who gets elected.

An entire year passed between the 1929 crash and the 1930 election. On election day, the Republicans had lost seats but kept their majorities in Congress.

But it was also so close that two special elections between November and the start of the new term went to Democrats, so the House was run with a D majority of 1 at the start of the next term.

What I'm saying is that a year after the crash. the Republicans still won the midterm election.
posted by tclark at 8:59 PM on April 13 [8 favorites]


Personally I think Gen Z are way worse off comparatively. But I'm an older millennial with a college degree and a union job, and I had a job out of college in 2007 before the recession hit. I'm one of the luckier ones.
posted by subdee at 9:08 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


For Millennials, it feels like there is never any good news at all.

This is very true. I'm trying to think of an equivalent - maybe the people who came of age just as WW1 started. I'm not a Millennial, but I think it's just crushing.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:11 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I was born in the mid 80s and I feel like my friends are in one of two camps. One group managed to find relatively stable jobs after their undergraduate degrees, got family help to buy a condo, and then managed to parlay those advantages into the figurative house with a white picket fence ten years later. The other group muddled through underemployment or graduate school or bad relationships during that decade, and spent all of those years just surviving.

Or, I dunno, maybe we were all just trying to survive. It's my theory for the relative lack of political engagement among friends close in age to me—we were so busy trying to scrape together our lives that we didn't have any energy to fight. (Or, in some cases, to vote.) My white-picket house friends like to talk politics but it doesn't go any deeper than that.

This article hit me really hard. I'd had plans to make some changes in my life this summer/fall, but now all of that is on hold, again. I keep kicking these things down the line and it's not clear to me how/if I can make them happen in this new world.
posted by invokeuse at 9:14 PM on April 13 [15 favorites]


I was born in 1972 and thought the fall of the Berlin wall was going to be the big historical thing i lived through. I was wrong. I was in NYC on 9/11/01 and we all thought the city would never be the same. We were wrong. Fukishima. Katrina. The 07-08 subprime mortgage debacle. Wrong wrong wrong.

As was mentioned above, none of those things are in the scale of a pandemic like this. FWIW I don’t think COVID19 is the *actual* apocalypse (tho maybe it is), but the thing is that opportunity and security for young people has unquestionably worsened slowly but steadily in the background of all those terrible events. And the fallout of each of those events came down disproportionately on those without wealth and power while those who were already relatively secure held on to their security with the help of a financial and political system that was built to favor them over the less fortunate, The present crisis is larger than 9/11 + Katrina + Fukushima + the 2004 Christmas Tsunami combined and there is every reason to believe it will accelerate the downward trends in financial stability and opportunity young people have already been experiencing.

I agree that it doesn’t need to be this way. The crisis has created a ton of potential opportunity— the healthcare industry is already taking advantage of this out of necessity. The problem is, that multimillionaire “job creators” are not likely to take up many of these opportunities without incentives and in partnership with government. It’s really up to those of us who have a little security, a little access to power to stand up to those who are entrenched and make this shit happen. The unregulated free market without the enlightened hand of functional democracy to guide it has failed beyond doubt and I honestly don’t get why people even bother to show up to listen to these old white men speak anymore.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:20 PM on April 13 [19 favorites]


we were so busy trying to scrape together our lives that we didn't have any energy to fight. (Or, in some cases, to vote.)

This is not accidental, and if the past is any guide this fact will be utterly ignored in favor of easier tasks, such as yelling at brown people online and hugging the latest dysfunctional father figure.
posted by aramaic at 9:26 PM on April 13 [8 favorites]


It was hard enough for me graduating high school in ‘89 with an infant on my hip but I’ve been sickened over the years over that same baby and her younger sister never even having the chances I had. Every time one of my girls starts making progress on one of their goals, economic downturn sabotages their efforts. It’s happening once again.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:29 PM on April 13 [27 favorites]


My point is that the worst case prediction is almost always wrong. As is the rosiest, most pollyanna prediction. Reality can not be predicted.
posted by vrakatar at 9:53 PM on April 13


it's hard to equate the big stick of history to the generation at topic. to envoke grandma living through the 18' flu, wwI, and II. the depression of 29' the recession of the 70s.

it's no wonder she loved Ann Arbor in the 60s. imagine an 82 year old walking into a head shop for a Zeppelin poster circa 1983.

almost seems quaint, today. No, I get it to some degree. like historys quagmire is big enough for everyone to notice now but currently denfencless and then comes the next hill
and the next.

Reality can not be predicted.
posted by vrakatar at 12:53 AM

only if dicates alter reality, then is this not true.
posted by clavdivs at 9:57 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I was born in the mid 80s and I feel like my friends are in one of two camps. One group managed to find relatively stable jobs after their undergraduate degrees, got family help to buy a condo, and then managed to parlay those advantages into the figurative house with a white picket fence ten years later. The other group muddled through underemployment or graduate school or bad relationships during that decade, and spent all of those years just surviving.

Yes! And the divide is so clear and seems, honestly, SO arbitrary - and because everyone knows people who wound up on the other side of it, the people who lucked into relatively stable situations don't feel like they'll ever really be safe from utter disaster (because one bad medical situation fucks you so completely no matter how much you've managed to save) and the people who didn't luck into them blame themselves (because they feel like, well, I had all the same advantages and opportunities as these old friends of mine so why did they end up buying a house when I didn't??).

I guess it gives us a certain twisted solidarity across classes? Everyone feels precarious, everyone's one bad day away from the abyss. And nobody with kids knows how the hell to talk to their kids about the future.
posted by potrzebie at 10:00 PM on April 13 [16 favorites]


An entire year passed between the 1929 crash and the 1930 election. On election day, the Republicans had lost seats but kept their majorities in Congress.

Meh, the crash is the start, but had mostly recovered to early 1929 levels by April 1930. The recession warning signs didn’t start blinking red until Late 1930, and the really bad parts didn’t hit until 1931.

Considering a lot of Republican seats were rural, and the news cycle/economic response just moved slower, the effects just weren’t there in 1930 for the election, but was in full effect by the 1932 election when the Republicans were wiped out across the board posting an 11 seat loss in the Senate and a 101 seat loss in the House.

Also the lines were finally redrawn for the 1932 election for the first time since 1912 which broke up a lot of the gerrymandering that helped the GOP eek out a close 1930 election as cities got way more seats due to the massive rise in population over the rural areas.
posted by jmauro at 10:03 PM on April 13 [11 favorites]


The Senate, and the Fox News right is our biggest problem. Fucking Wyoming gets two votes in the Senate? No one lives there! I get why back in the day, states demanded Senate representation, big states versus little states, but... No one could see where it would lead. Given that Wyoming's economy is pretty much based on extraction industries, how will they ever change?

On the other hand, we do see the federal government sending checks to folks, which is the most socialist thing I've seen in my many years. And the current administrations failures becoming more and more apparent every day...

On the other hand, Biden. Sigh...
posted by Windopaene at 10:14 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to think of an equivalent - maybe the people who came of age just as WW1 started.

Tim Duy: "The Millennial experience might be the norm not the exception. We don't appreciate how lucky the Boomers and Xers had it. My Granda was born in 1910. By the time she was 35, she lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression."

I think Covid will cement the term "Zoomers" for Generation Z, now that the defining moment of their coming of age is going to school via Zoom.

Robert Klemko: "Last month was the first March without a school shooting in the United States since 2002."

It keeps coming back to the Great Dismantling of the Social Contract.
  • We're on the Brink of Cyberpunk - "It's not just the technology, surveillance, and dystopian vibes—it's the culmination of decades of deliberate governmental erosion."
  • Agency - "Attention conservation notice: below the fold is a lengthy and spoiler-filled response to William Gibson's new book Agency. Probably best not to read unless you've already finished Agency, or have no intention of reading it and want to get some sense as to what the book is about. In either case, you're likely better off reading Mike Harrison's Guardian review, which covers much the same ground as below, but with more subtlety and fewer spoilers... the best we can reasonably hope for is a quasi-benign soft autocracy, optimized for survival rather than for preserving (possibly illusory) liberal and leftwing values of human agency. The more plausible outcome, however, is ruthless oligarchy of a kind that is itself going to be unstable in the long run, leading to further crisis and disaster."
  • Trump as the ultimate triumph of neoliberalism - "Modern capitalism societies are built on a dichotomy: in the political space decisions are (to be) made on an equal basis with everybody having the same say and with the structure of power being flat; in the economic space the power is held by the owners of capital, the decisions are dictatorial, and the structure of power is hierarchical. The dichotomy was always a complex balancing act: at times, the political principles of nominal equality tended to intrude into the economic space and to limit the power of owners: trade unions, ability to sue companies, regulations regarding discrimination, hiring and firing. At other times, it was the economic sphere that invaded the political: the wealthy were able to buy politicians and impose the laws they liked."[1]
  • Excerpt from Thurow's 1969 'Poverty and Discrimination' - "The discriminator may prefer to hire Negro maids, Negro garbage collectors, or to work with Negros if he can be in a position of authority. He may also prefer to hire Negro labor if it can be exploited to increase his own profits."
  • Walmart Workers Say They Face A Choice: Their Safety Or Their Paycheck - "We're not essential. We're sacrificial. I will be replaced if I die from [Covid-19]."[2]
but there is another way...
  • Crises and the case for socialism - "In the aftermath, we need a substantially expanded economic role for government, including control over infrastructure and financial enterprises and increased public provision of health, education and other services. All of this will require a substantial increase in the public share of national income, which can only be financed by reducing the share going to high income earners, and particularly the top 1 per cent. In short, we need socialism."
  • Jack Dorsey's $1 billion pledge sparks conversation around UBI - "I'm moving $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief. After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl's health and education, and UBI."
  • Spain discusses basic income for the poorest amid coronavirus fallout - "Amid the debate about coronabonds, the Spanish government wants to push through long-term financial measures to help the poorest."
  • Pramila Jayapal's ambitious plan to get every worker their paycheck during coronavirus, explained - "Mass unemployment is a policy choice."
  • Instead of lowering the Medicare age to 60, why not lower it to 0? - "The benefit of this is it would require massive human pretzeling by the conservative SCOTUS majority to eliminate without also destroying the program for seniors."
  • Is this the end of capitalism? - "What is the role of art and technology in repression and resistance, and how can community combat social breakdown?"[3]
  • Why You're Going Broke While the Rich Get Richer - "Think about your local not-so-friendly bank. Here's a thing you don't know, but should. It has an account at the central bank. That's where the government banks, too, by the way. So here's the first thing to note about money in our broken system: banks have an account at the central bank — but you don't... As usual, capitalists reserve a certain degree of socialist privilege for themselves — but not for anyone else. The central bank should be a public institution — but in our broken system, it's a club, a weirdly private institution, where you can't have an account, only banks can."[4]
  • Bank of England to directly finance extra government spending - "This is basically the equivalent of minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin. It basically shows that advanced countries that borrow in their own currencies don't face financing constraints."[5]
posted by kliuless at 10:24 PM on April 13 [41 favorites]


I was born in the mid 80s and I feel like my friends are in one of two camps. One group managed to find relatively stable jobs after their undergraduate degrees, got family help to buy a condo, and then managed to parlay those advantages into the figurative house with a white picket fence ten years later. The other group muddled through underemployment or graduate school or bad relationships during that decade, and spent all of those years just surviving.

I'm one of those unusual mid-80s babies who straddles the two camps - the first half of my 20s was chaotic and mostly unproductive for reasons both related and unrelated to the last recession. The time since then has seen me build a stable career in a normally stable industry and buy a home as a single person without help from family. I got here purely through a lot of hustle (and smarts, let's be honest), which makes my middle-classness really freaking precarious.

An important detail that makes this more that just navel-gazing is that right before COVID-19 became a big deal, I lost my job as part of a phased mass layoff that is affecting the entirety of my sector in my province. So I'm not really sure what to do with my somewhat niche career where I've built up a great work history and reputation. I also have no fucking clue what to do with my shiny new graduate degree, which happens to be mostly relevant to said field. It's largely irrelevant at this point, and then there's the matter of my house, which is going to be a gigantic pain to unload.

I'm not really feeling solidarity with anyone, because I can't really make sense of my class situation anymore. Upward mobility isn't a real thing, and in a lot of ways I feel like I've been dealt some sort of Promethean punishment for thinking I'd outsmarted the Great Recession.

During the Great Recession, I was punished socially by folks in the first camp for not adulting the way they did. As the recession subsided, I was punished professionally for playing catch-up, as well as socially for having to forgo having a life in service of building my career and dealing with a precarity that more privileged folk couldn't understand. Now, I'm being punished not only by the economy, but by both campus - I'm a cautionary tale to those who've been stable since finishing undergrad at 22, and I'm a poor little rich girl to what I would assume is a large proportion of my family.

Who knows, maybe I'll land on my feet as everyone says I will. Maybe I'll get a job in some far-flung part of the country and rent my house out at only a minimal loss. Maybe I'll only be a little bit scathed. But maybe it'll be worse than that. A lot worse. I don't know. I don't even know if I want to know.
posted by blerghamot at 11:20 PM on April 13 [10 favorites]


a civilization protects its own from disaster and makes whole those who suffered

I'm with Gandhi on that point. Western Civilization does indeed sound like it would be a good idea.

The central bank should be a public institution — but in our broken system, it's a club, a weirdly private institution, where you can't have an account, only banks can

I am one of many Australians who part-owns their own bank, and we do indeed have a Reserve account.
posted by flabdablet at 12:07 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


I always feel oddly vindicated by these stories--I have two adult daughters at home, not going to school, no jobs, and every once in a while, some coworker or acquaintance will say, "but they gotta get jobs! Your stresses that you've been talking about would be less if they [went to school/got a job/lived on their own with friends/etc.]"

And I always demure quietly: well, it's nice to have them at home; my disabled father lives with us and they help with his care; they both have (different) social anxiety issues so job things are hard... because those are so much easier than saying, "Have you LOOKED at the #@$!!%&! job market??? At the cost of school? At housing stability? How could you possibly demand that someone you care about jump into that shark tank?"

On the one hand: they're not gaining the skills that are required to claw oneself ahead in the job market. On the other: The more I look at it, the more I want to move us all to some small farm in the middle of nowhere and say "fuck this whole rat race game." I feel guilty for not preparing them better... but then I look at the news and say, "preparing them for what? Shuffling between temp contract jobs and taking on a mortgage's worth of debt for a degree that will let them make as much as I made when they were five?"

I can't fix the economy and I can't save the post office and I can't make Medicare for All happen... but I can keep these two young adults from alternating between couch-surfing and homelessness, so that's what I'm doing.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:37 AM on April 14 [30 favorites]


Luxury.

We used to have to get out of the lake at three o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, work 20 hours a day at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were LUCKY!


- via Four Yorkshiremen
posted by fairmettle at 1:35 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


Old millennial here ('82, today's my bday - yes, Ruination Day). Every time I think I'm out of fucks to give, there's a new disaster that shows me (and takes away) the things I still cared about, and erodes some more of that certainty. My resilience will have to just say fuck it at some point. My eye muscles did. My skin is going all "yeah nah I'm tired now let's sag".

My resolve? I've got a job almost literally in my pocket right now. So terrified I can't even send the pro-forma application that will formalize this and buy me 12 mo. safety. A relationship? Kids? HAHA. I'll be satisfied with the dark, damp bachelor suite for 50% of my income, may consider getting a puppy, may or may not date someone, ever again. We're all so paralyzed by trauma anyway.

Good to see some 1985 peeps on here tho. My faves <3
posted by ipsative at 1:46 AM on April 14 [14 favorites]


Isn't it cool to live in a country (USA!) that constantly blathers on about how it's the pinnacle of civilization, and loudly yells that it encompasses everything that's good and just in the world, as it ransacks and burns down its own house? This sadistic, bratty, freedom loving country ran out of other people's lives it could destroy and so has been methodically tearing itself apart in a fit of ennui.

Is there such a thing as societal therapy?
What happens when a society chokes on its delusions and lies?
Where can we collect, reuse, and recycle the good aspects that remain?
posted by nikoniko at 2:05 AM on April 14 [20 favorites]


High Millennial here, born in 1982 in the UK, so I was spared the worst of the financial crash. I was one of the very last cohorts to have no university tuition fees and practically zero-interest student loans. It's just horrific how badly things changed in just a few years. And I was lucky enough to graduate in 2004, so I had a few years to get into a good career before the 2007/8 financial crash.

I don't know how you can live through that without having a very real appreciation for historical contingency and how it relates to your own personal fortunes. It's all just luck.

At first I regretted not graduating a few years earlier, during the dot com boom of the 90s, when money was just being splashed around with abandon, but even the early/mid 2000s feels like a paradise compared to later years.
posted by adrianhon at 4:03 AM on April 14 [6 favorites]


UK also here, and it is not a good idea to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of people to try protect the shitty shell of an economy we have now. It wasn't going well anyway. The jobs suck anyway. It needs tearing down and rebuilding, which I'm hoping will happen now we realise who the actual essential workers are. And the people you're thinking we maybe should have let die so the shops could be open? It's not just "the elderly," even, it's my younger brother. It's everyone who is immunosuppressed, has lung issues, has whatever other issues. Protecting them is the right thing to do even if I'm goddamn broke and move in with my parents (who are not "elderly", but certainly old enough to have worse odds in this tging) for the rest of my life. Please don't wish my relatives dead to avoid what may or may not happen in the future.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:08 AM on April 14 [23 favorites]


I don't want to get into a back-and-forth, but this is the sort of thing I mean. It's not "wishing people's relatives dead" to ask questions about the other effects of the lockdown and economic shutdown

I want to discuss the effects of the shutdown! I agree there's the potential for things to be very bad. I'd like it better without the implication that maybe we'd have been better off not doing it and letting people die, because we're only gaining "one elderly life" or whatever.

I may be over-reacting because "let them die to save the economy!" is a thing a actual people are saying, and your comment comes very close to it, but if I'm reading things that are not there then I apologise.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:31 AM on April 14 [16 favorites]


> I honestly don’t get why people even bother to show up to listen to these old white men speak anymore.

What I don’t understand is why the age of the old white men who everybody shows up to listen to keeps going up.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:04 AM on April 14 [8 favorites]


This sadistic, bratty, freedom loving country ran out of other people's lives it could destroy

Oh come now, that's unfair. Plenty of those under its influence are still giving that the old college try all over the world.
posted by flabdablet at 5:24 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I still think those generation debates are kind of meaningless... The boomers are dying and if they're so rich and prosperous where does that wealth is going to go when they die?
It's going to be inherited by the members of Gen X and millennials. It's not about generation it never was, it's another false metric to blind people to the fact that the only metric that matter is class, whatever your generation is. The boomers were also the workers who saw all their factories closed and move to third world countries so that millennials wouldn't have to pay shit for the phones and computers they would buy in the future. Those generational conflicts are only relevant in the west anyway, that's also why they miss the point so much for me. A Chinese millennial is probably earning 10 times more than what his parents were earning at the same age, pandemic or not. Whatever is happening in the world, there's a tiny group of people that's always going to be fine and a much larger group that is going to get fucked and I don't think age have much to do with it (well in the case of the current pandemic it does though, since the people who are dying are on the "older' end of the spectrum).
posted by SageLeVoid at 5:31 AM on April 14 [9 favorites]


What I don’t understand is why the age of the old white men who everybody shows up to listen to keeps going up.

That one at least is easy. They are, by and large, the same old white men; it takes quite some while for new entrants into their clubby old club to make much of a name for themselves and by the time they have, their age has been going up for some years as well.

It's the demographic equivalent of a Shepard tone.
posted by flabdablet at 5:33 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


High Millennial here

Are Millennials like elves? Are there Night Millennials and Blood Millennials?
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:39 AM on April 14 [53 favorites]


I'm more of a Teleri elf, myself
posted by adrianhon at 5:43 AM on April 14


it's another false metric to blind people to the fact that the only metric that matter is class, whatever your generation is.

This is like saying "class, not race" except it's "class, not age". It is both class and age (and race and gender and immigration status and everything else as well).

It is true that due to capitalism's stranglehold on humanity, the 1% will do well regardless of generation, but as the article highlights, there are very real generational distinctions when controlling for socioeconomic status, starting from before people are even born (and those prenatal effects will stay with them throughout their entire lives):
Americans born during this calamity will be more likely to have low birth weights and to be in poor health generally, with lifelong effects. Children will not just endure this trauma—manifested in lost months of schooling, skipped meals, housing volatility, and increased abuse—but will carry it with them. Zoomers graduating into the recession will die sooner because of it, suffering increased incidence of heart disease, lung cancer, liver disease, and drug overdoses in the coming decades; they will also earn less over the course of their lives.
posted by Ouverture at 6:36 AM on April 14 [15 favorites]


Are Millennials like elves? Are there Night Millennials and Blood Millennials?

As a 4E fan I'd like to think I'm a Milladrin.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:44 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I'm more of a Teleri elf, myself

Huh, does that make Republicans the boat burning Noldor I wonder? Maybe just the worse traits of that lot and/or the house if Feanor most likely.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:44 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I'm Gen X, and while things haven't always been smooth and easy (see: previous downturns; general societal terribleness), it was indisputably easier for me than it is now for younger people. The people I know who graduated into the last recession still haven't fully made up for that setback, and now they are in the middle of this. (And those are people who had access to higher education; it's even harder for those who didn't have that.)

Class, like race, is a really big deal (for example, I know some boomers who are entering retirement with very little; they did not benefit much from their generation's advantages) but within the overall economic inequalities the different generational experiences really matter.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:49 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


No one lives there!
We don't need to do this. My entire quite-liberal family lives in WY, and they vote. Everywhere contains multitudes.

I get a little frustrated that the entire population of their state is smaller than the teeny District where I live (which incidentally has no real representation in congress at all), but to me that's more an argument for DC and Puerto Rican Statehood.

A big recession seems like a good time to do that, actually.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:57 AM on April 14 [6 favorites]


the only metric that matter is class

I agree with Ouverture. When trying to understand anything as complex as a society, adopting a belief that any single aspect of the lines along which that society is organized explains all or even most of how it works is unlikely to be of much use. It's a bit like trying to understand medicine while hewing to a belief that the only bodily system of consequence is the spine; we're not going to find good treatments for social cancers by mistaking them for social subluxation.

Also worth noting that class itself is a complex and multifaceted idea that refers to an emergent social property that cannot be characterised by a measurement, which makes describing it as a metric at all, let alone as the only metric, erroneous.

Class effects are certainly worth pondering, but so is everything else. Class, race, attitude, inequality, gender, opportunity, justice and so forth do not explain each other; they're all emergent, they all interact in weird and complicated ways, and all of them ought to be thought about by anybody seeking to understand the circumstances we all find ourselves in on any given day.
posted by flabdablet at 6:59 AM on April 14 [10 favorites]


I still think those generation debates are kind of meaningless... The boomers are dying and if they're so rich and prosperous where does that wealth is going to go when they die? It's going to be inherited by the members of Gen X and millennials

You're not entirely wrong, but that assumes boomers will die with assets. Some will! Some won't if they need long-term care, if their investments do poorly in this next crash, or if the housing market crashes again (though that might be all right for younger folks if they can finally buy). There's also the major difference of building wealth in your 20s and 30s, which is a nice time to buy a house, have children, invest in the stock market -- vs having your parents die when you are in your fifties or sixties, and then possibly getting some sort of inheritance.
posted by Hypatia at 7:03 AM on April 14 [13 favorites]


I was born in 90, grew up in poverty. I turned 30 3 days ago, am still living in poverty. I'm making very small, low changes in my life that are positive but I really, really could not overstate how grueling it is. I'm sick of ruminating. I'm sick of looking on the bright side. I'm sick of working 45-60 hrs a week and struggling with money. Sick of the news, the white house, my schools and my streets being filled with rapists and constantly being triggered.


My dad is a boomer, but is permanently disabled from living in poverty and being forced from a young age into back-breaking manual labor. Despite knowing him as a republican the entire time growing up, we reunited this year after a 8 year hiatus, and he said he was going to vote for Bernie. Well we all know that's not gonna happen now.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:04 AM on April 14 [12 favorites]


Born in the mid-60s, here, and certainly not doing as well as my parents did -- which is fine with me, their lifestyle was built on a lot of exploitation and extraction. To hell with that.

Is it because the first big events I remember are moon landings and the Viet Nam war? Is it because I grew up in California with cheap university and then when Prop. 13 really hit, and the money all started flowing back to the well-off, I could see that change happen in real time? My parents railed against Head Start and "Illegals" on Welfare. Why?

It seems obvious to me that austerity is a deadly move, that we need Big Government (not racist, not sexist this time, please), and high taxes on those who can afford it, and public resources like education, transportation, and health care.

But those old white men and their younger white progeny are so, so resentful of anyone Other seeming to benefit from the public trough. What do we do about them?

When we can be in the streets, we should be in the streets, demand that Biden build a Better New Deal, and that's just the first step. I think.
posted by allthinky at 7:05 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


As a 4E fan I'd like to think I'm a Milladrin.

4E fan? Oof. Talk about mythical creatures...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:16 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


I tried liking 4E but for some reason I could only do so once a day.
posted by 7segment at 7:41 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


I used to feel bad whenever I saw these types of articles, because my life as a Millenial has been a lot easier than those of my parents who are Baby Boomers. This is despite the fact that they are both much more hardworking and smarter than I am. My parents are immigrants, so they did not have a safety net to fall back on, since their parents were all in a different country and didn't have the money to help if anything happened. They were new to this country so had to spend a lot more time learning how to adapt compared to me, since I was born and brought up here. They had to face a lot more racism and xenophobia that I do, and don't have the support that I do to navigate these issues. And a lot of the xenophobia they faced does not apply to me - for example, no one will ever deny me a raise due to my accent, because I have an American accent.

It feels weird being left out of these conversations. On one hand, it should be a good thing, because it means my life is better than if I weren't being left out. On the other hand, the reasons why I'm being left out are pretty much because I'm not white.
posted by chernoffhoeffding at 8:02 AM on April 14 [18 favorites]


I think it probably depends on who gets elected.

I don't think it does. Research funding was slashed similarly after the housing bubble recession. Barack Obama with a dem majority oversaw a lot of that. The pre-recession funding rates have never recovered. Every day democratically lead state governments cut higher ed funding even absent a crisis. If you polled the university presidents leading the charge towards using adjuncts to teach cores while reducing full professor positions then I'd suspect you'd find a majority of "progressive" democrats. Will trump use this as a fascistic excuse to gut higher education further? Almost certainly. Will Biden still shrug and nod at the good sense of austerity. Almost certainly.
posted by codacorolla at 8:16 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


It feels weird being left out of these conversations. On one hand, it should be a good thing, because it means my life is better than if I weren't being left out. On the other hand, the reasons why I'm being left out are pretty much because I'm not white.

I also feel divorced from these conversations. I'm a late Gen X (1977), but for personal reasons, I've had the same disruptions as many millennials (working minimum and low wage jobs until my late 30s).

But I'm still light-years better off than my parents, who married young and divorced young - and I was raised in subsidized housing by a single parent who didn't have a high school diploma. My mom took herself to college and became a bookkeeper - but it was a long, hard slog. Whereas I didn't have kids at 17 and graduated high school, went to university and even grad school without debt (yay living at home for undergrad - frustrating sometimes but CHEAP), so I'm already on 3rd base in comparison (by not needing social assistance). We can afford a private rental without cockroaches (well, we've seen a few, but very few) in a nice area not a million miles from the downtown core and, before the crisis, I was going to take my first tropical vacation (more reef than beach oriented, but still tropical!). I feel like I was edging into middle class.

Generation really matters - epidemiologists and demographers call it a cohort effect, but class matters a lot as well. Millennials without a college education are faring even worse compared to previous cohorts than those with a college education, and the inheritance of wealth will increase inequality, not reduce it, as only some families will have assets to pass onto their children, and the generation of wealth through income isn't going to happen to even any of that out. Race also matters: in the posted articles, they point out that African Americans benefit less from the "college premium" than do white Americans.

The historian in me (said graduate degree) reflects on how the increases in quality of life for white residents of rich countries was itself a historical anomaly - the Great Compression - that was fed by policies that supported income and wealth increases for white working class people (unions, social welfare, etc.), so that a greater proportion of the expanding economy benefited labour, rather than capital. Previous periods of expansion - like the Industrial revolution - didn't benefit workers; even as more and more was produced, working class white people in c1910 continued to have a quality of life little or no better than their ancestors in 1700. The last 40 years feel to me like - not a regressing to the mean as in average, but maybe regressing to the mean like nasty? - back to the bad old days.

** I have specified white all through that last paragraph, because policies to support working class people never did include people of colour. In fact, the war on welfare in the US seems to have been inspired by the extension of benefits to African American women in the 1960s and 70s.
posted by jb at 8:34 AM on April 14 [15 favorites]


Hoo boy. I'm a tail-end-Gen Xer (1978), and I got out of college RIGHT as the dot com bubble burst, immediately followed by 9/11, endless war, and a recession. It took me FIVE YEARS to land a full time job (not even remotely in my field, but I took it out of desperation). I then went to grad school, only to graduate in 2008 in time for the next financial collapse. It took another year to get a full time job (roughly in my field, finally).

I'm very tired.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 8:38 AM on April 14 [12 favorites]


Some of who ends up with what is completely fucking random. I'm a boomer/X currently living off the proceeds of a quite nice inheritance, but only because the completely ordinary middle class Melbourne suburb in which my parents bought what was to become our family home and the sleepy beach village in which they bought the holiday house that burnt down on Ash Wednesday had got weirdly fashionable by the time they died.

My folks were born in 1929 and 1931 and both of them were high school teachers for most of their working lives. They weren't making outrageous amounts, and quite a lot of what they did make, Dad did his best to piss up against the wall on stock market speculation guided by "technical analysis". We were the middlest of middle class and the only reason I find myself in the lucky position of being insulated from the ridiculous difficulty that IT people approaching 60 years of age now have in finding paying gigs is because of what happened to happen to real estate prices in the particular spots where they chose to put down roots.

I hope to do rather better than Dad on the investment front by deliberately not trying to time the markets, and I also hope that the country town I now live in will become similarly weirdly fashionable by the time my own millennial kids inherit, but that's all it is: hope. I can't realistically expect either of those outcomes.

Things are certainly much more precarious for my kids than they were for me at their ages, and it seems to me that this is exactly the predictable and predicted consequence of the systematic dismantling of governments and public institutions generally that I have seen happening since the 1980s. Privatize, privatize, privatize has been the mantra and it's always been regressive; the free market is very good at finding innovative ways to corrupt and undermine the public good.

I recommend being much much angrier with Thatcher and Reagan and Murdoch and Hayek and Friedman than with Boomers generally, and continuing to do whatever can be done to rebuild the ethos of mutual care that that pack of short-sighted complacent greed-addled fucknozzles and their ideological fellow travellers have so wantonly torn to pieces. Of course as a perhaps-Boomer I would say that.

The rebuilding effort is not going to start at the top and trickle down; it has to start small all over the place and then join back up. Dad, to his credit, was a founding member of one of the credit unions that have since merged to form Bank Australia. Mutuals are wonderful. If you can find a mutual that's competing with private corporations to provide any service you need, pick the mutual if you possibly can. If you're in a position to get involved in starting one, do.

Apart from the damage done by neoliberalism, though, there's the population issue. There are now more than two people in the world for every one who existed when my folks made me, and that has to make it harder for everybody; the planet didn't get twice as big, and packing more people into all the population centres can't really do anything but jack up the price of real estate.

I don't know what can or should be done about the population issue beyond making radical, deliberate, considered and voluntary cuts to the birth rate in places where per-capita consumption of resources is anomalously high. Again, this isn't something that works when imposed top-down; it has to granulate widely and join up. All my kids are fosters. If you're thinking of making more, I recommend giving the same choice serious consideration instead.

Because if you think millennials are doing it tough, what's it going to be like for the millions of kids being born right now to people who are not and never will be, for any number of personal and structural reasons, in any position to look after them? For as long as I've lived there have been more of those kids than people willing to parent them. It would be good if that changed. And fostering, done right, does a better job of that than adoption.

Fostering is all about providing a safe, stable and loving environment for kids to grow up in without the assumption that they now "belong" to some family other than the one that birthed them. Fostering, done right, involves supporting kids and building the most positive relationships with their birth families that circumstances allow.

It does take a village to raise a child, but the fucking consultants have burnt down the villages. Let's keep doing what we can to build more.
posted by flabdablet at 8:39 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


I used to feel bad whenever I saw these types of articles, because my life as a Millenial has been a lot easier than those of my parents who are Baby Boomers. This is despite the fact that they are both much more hardworking and smarter than I am. My parents are immigrants, so they did not have a safety net to fall back on, since their parents were all in a different country and didn't have the money to help if anything happened.

That's because these debates, especially when they happen on an overwhelmingly white website like Metafilter, tend to assume that everyone is white and American and native-born. In reality, being a "Boomer" is an extremely, extremely different experience based on race, nationality, immigration status, etc, which all these sweeping generational statements completely erase.

I'm a millennial and my Boomer parents dealt with a lot of structural obstacles I'm not dealing with, as a native-born American citizen who speaks English as a first language.
posted by armadillo1224 at 8:40 AM on April 14 [18 favorites]


> Are Millennials like elves?

Ooh, now this is a fandom I want to be a part of. Can I be a Blood Millennial?
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:03 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Only if I get to be insufferably Smaug.
posted by flabdablet at 9:58 AM on April 14 [10 favorites]


The Drow Millennials are the ones you really have to watch for.

(The Pixies are officially Gen X by anyone's reckoning).
posted by aspersioncast at 10:01 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I'm an Old Millennial. in late 2019 I wrote this, before coronavirus had happened—

growing up you could definitely be whatever you wanted and it would work out, things would be ok, your adulthood would be fine. there was the freedom to explore and be creative, I had the privilege to learn and do things that were beyond what was necessary. I don’t know if that world was still really there in the 90s, but it felt like it was at least thru high school. in 2001 things changed with 9-11 and nationalism and things got really dark. for the first time it was embarrassing to be American, and I grew up feeling like America was greedy and wasteful in the world but not especially bad, just callous. after 2001 the culture changed; there began what would later become a strong polarization and divisiveness within the country.

the markets crashing in 2008 really defined my generation and cohort. most of us were either finishing uni or had recently graduated, and suddenly there were no jobs. many of our parents lost investments, savings, sometimes their houses. we heard about bailouts and corporate safety nets, but nothing ever came for us. just the executives who still got tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in the deals. ten years later the economy hasn’t recovered in real terms, in that the jobs and salaries that existed before 2008 never came back. so many companies have converted to contract and freelance work, so you’re in a never-ending cycle of uncertainty while you perma-temp. wages haven’t kept up with cost of living, so each year that passes you have less buying power and it gets harder to make it work.


at that time I didn't know that things would crash again, that the projects I would be pursuing in early 2020 would evaporate when faced with capital uncertainty, that I would be at risk of losing the house I worked hard for and struggled to buy in 2016. in late 2019 many of my friends were still struggling, trying to build careers and families within a system that actively resisted their progress, with a catastrophe just around the corner. just like a decade ago, and a decade before that, the corporate rich will once again pillage the people who create value and leave us fighting against one another for scraps. I would say "I can't wait for those fuckers to die" but their successors are just waiting to take up the reins of that evil.

it doesn't feel worth it. there is never any good news.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:20 AM on April 14 [13 favorites]


Personally I think Gen Z are way worse off comparatively.
Gen-Xer with a zoomer kid here and I think my daughter's generation have one thing going for them. They do not believe the bullshit for one single second. The work hard and you will be rewarded lies which we were fed bounce off them hard and seem hilarious in their lived experience.

As I was saying to a colleague "they're not snowflakes mate, they just won't put up with the bullshit us fucking rubes bought."
posted by fullerine at 12:45 PM on April 14 [14 favorites]


My wife has a friend in her late 20s who is nearing completion of her PhD. Her outlook on the probability of finding a job in academics was already realistic, bordering on pessimistic and within shouting distance of fatalistic even before the pandemic. Now she’s in full “what the fuck does it even matter if I finish?” mode, and who could blame her?
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:06 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


They do not believe the bullshit for one single second.

You don't think there are swarms of Zoomers watching Fox News? Or that there aren't swarms who listened to some podcasts about Bernie the Savior and have decided there's no point in voting if Bernie's not going to lead us all to the promised land?

I have seen a solid streak of cynicism and "don't trust The Man" in younger adults - but that doesn't give them any actual ability to tell bullshit apart from truth; they just don't have the life experience or the training for that. Those who are getting support and guidance are learning to spot propaganda; those who aren't, are learning that propaganda is everywhere so just believe whatever you like because it's all lies.

The problem isn't with teaching them to spot the bullshit. Everyone can spot bullshit. The problem is teaching them how to have a foundation of truth and ethics that will let them build a solid adult life.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:19 PM on April 14 [20 favorites]


And that is precisely the foundation that used to be there when I was a kid in the sixties and seventies; the one that got further and further undermined as eighties "economic rationalist" policymakers took to the public services with drills and explosives, privatizing everything in sight for the sake of reducing taxes on the wealthy few.
posted by flabdablet at 1:56 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying "let people die to save the economy", I'm saying that this is hard for so many people from so many different points of view, and an awful lot of people are having mental and physical health problems exacerbated by the current shutdown and we need to care about those people, too. The whole "you want people to die!" thing when you mention other issues is really... stifling.

Interesting article on the guardian on this.
The lockdown has taken on recognisable political contours: the fundamentalists on one side, putting the markets first, the moderates on the other, prioritising humans... That is the wrong way to approach these decisions, which will entail constant and painful trade-offs.
...
our recent experience of fiscal contraction and austerity was of huge numbers of excess deaths [More than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts, IPPR study finds.]
...
Likewise, isolation has its own health impact. People who were already suffering serious mental illness, or were already housebound with disabilities, have seen many of their support networks capsize overnight, which will create its own tragedies. People living in overcrowded conditions, without green space, will have a potentially devastating experience of self-isolation.
...
We were encouraged by Patel at the weekend to think of those living in abusive relationships, and perhaps stick a supportive logo, declaring “you are not alone”, in our windows. Our sympathetic thoughts are insufficient to the point of insult.
...
None of this is an argument against the lockdown, or even for a shorter period of constraint. It is not at all clear when any of the restrictions could be lifted, or in which order. It is a fruitless discussion to have before we have greater clarity on testing, greater confidence that the antibody tests will work.
...
Rather, it’s a plea for the subtlety and complexity of the question to be reflected in the way it is discussed.
Obviously, the lockdown was, and is the right thing to do, and social distancing is our only effective tool when we don't know who has it, where they are, have no treatment or sufficient protection, and the death toll is rising inexorably. Every one, a family broken, a tragedy. Questions are being rightly asked about the lack of preparation, of PPE, of testing, of how care home deaths aren't being counted in the UK (unlike other countries in Europe), why the trajectory in the UK is lining up to be the 2nd worst after the US (and for similar reasons). Why the worst burdens are most definitely unequally borne.

And how can we find a way forward, somehow, to try and weigh the unknown and possibly terrible costs of our coming choices. Not to 'get back to normal', because that world is gone.

I have vulnerable family too at serious risk, and the next few months terrify me. FWIW, I was born in '76, my wife is '79. We're incredibly lucky to both still be working. Our twins are 4, but even they are finding being locked up in a flat with no garden or school or friends incredibly hard. What impact on their lives will all this have in the decades to come?

I wish I had hope that this UK government was in any way capable of, or even willing to seek least-worst outcomes, instead of being made up of the bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings of the nuttiest or dimmest hardest-brexit-possible brigade, that were all previously found unfit for office.

But one thing is certain; the victims of this pandemic will number far greater than those counted in official covid-19 statistics.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 4:10 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]


The boomers are dying and if they're so rich and prosperous where does that wealth is going to go when they die?

For boomers who do have wealth — unless they are actually billionaires, all their accumulated wealth will be burned through to pay for medical and nursing care in their old age. There won’t be any inheritances; any money that exists will get systematically vacuumed up by for-profit health care.

As for having kids — good news if you think the population is too large: few of my millennial friends can afford to have kids, and most of us almost certainly never will. Underemployment and student loan payments don’t mix well with high childcare costs and high housing costs.
posted by snowmentality at 4:22 PM on April 14 [16 favorites]


Yup, this thinking isn't that far from supply-side economics in a way. Much of that accumulated wealth is most likely going to go to a handful of corporations, and the children who do actually come from wealth so magnificent that they inherit anything substantial are going to be the same sort of entitled pricks who "built their fortune from the ground up" that we're already dealing with.

If we're lucky some of them end up blowing money on vanity political campaigns and public art, and if we're really lucky some of them actually spend some fraction of their money and time on things that genuinely help others.

But all of them will be human, like everyone else, except their entire worldviews will be shaped by having been born into wealth and privilege.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:14 PM on April 14


> grandma living through the 18' flu, wwI, and II

FWIW my grandma was born in a very small village in far northern Arizona in 1903, went to grammar school in the proverbial one-room schoolhouse, and had to move into town--about 60 miles away, or a 3-day wagon trip--to attend middle and high school. She was one of the first daughters in the family to do so.

That high school education was abruptly cut short in 1919 when her older sister died That was the second "rebound year" of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic (sound familiar?). The sister didn't actually die from Spanish Flu per se, but it was very much a related incident--what we would call now call "excess mortality" related to the flu.

So that was the end of her education. Her dad came and packed her and her half-brother up and moved them back home.

She married a sheepherder in 1927 and started raising a large family just in time for the Great Depression to drop the bottom out of livestock prices for the better part of a decade.

The rise of World War II brought the economy back to life, to a degree. Her husband, now in his late 30s-early 40s was potentially eligible for the draft as soon as war was declared. But as he was responsible for a large family and engaged in an "occupation essential to the war effort" (sound familiar?) he received a deferment. Though, according to my mother, the family always had the impression the deferment could be revoked at any moment.

The local draft board would have been staffed by various distant relatives and acquaintances, but they would have been required to produce so many draftees at various times, and no one could predict which occupations or family situations they might decide where more or less essential. So everyone in the family always felt they were living on the bare edge--and no one was sure how the family would be able to get along if the primary breadwinner were called away to fight.

After all that, with the war and Great Depression in the rear-view mirror, the family finally felt like they were fighting back from the edge and finally getting just a little bit ahead, when Grandpa came down with some kind of a flu bug and pneumonia, but went back out to the herd anyway. It was lambing time and there was no one else to go.

He never came back. Family and friends mounted a massive search of the southern Utah background and finally found his body at the bottom of a cliff. It was the type of cliff-top trail he had taken a thousand times, leading his horse in this case, but in his weakened condition he had taken a path a little too close to the edge, slipped, and was unable to recover.

It was 400 feet to the bottom.

So that leaves Grandma a widow at age 44, in a small southern Utah town, with a 9th grade education, no outside work experience to speak of, and responsible for raising a family of eight--ranging in age 1 to 18. Of course she had always been responsible for a solid half of the household economy--the milk cow and barnyard, a large garden, canning, cooking, cleaning, sewing, quilting, etc etc etc. But with no one to tend the herd, the sheep had to be sold and that left the family with no cash income whatsoever.

Not a good place to be, with 8 young kids at home.

Within a year or two she was somehow able to land the job of postmistress in that small town--a job she continued working 5 and a half days a week, every week, into the 1960s and 70s, when I knew her. While of course also running the household, the garden, sewing, the barnyard animals, raising the eight kids, etc etc etc.

Oh yeah. In addition to all that, she was a downwinder.

No big deal, except for the brain tumor that developed from that exposure in the late 1960s, took a good 10-20 years off of her life, and made the last 12 years of her life a living hell of pain and failed treatments.

So you've got flu, excess mortality, abbreviated education, severe economic depression, loss of economic opportunity, war, more death and disease, and finally fatal (and completely preventable) government-caused disease.

Plus ça change . . .
posted by flug at 11:08 PM on April 14 [10 favorites]


Gen-Xer with a zoomer kid here and I think my daughter's generation have one thing going for them. They do not believe the bullshit for one single second. The work hard and you will be rewarded lies which we were fed bounce off them hard and seem hilarious in their lived experience.

As I was saying to a colleague "they're not snowflakes mate, they just won't put up with the bullshit us fucking rubes bought."

this is exactly to the letter what boomers thought said about themselves when they were young and what fawning opinion pieces about gen x used to say when I was young. as I remember very well, because I was younger than gen X (as then defined) and thought that people in their 20s were so lucky to have been born five-some years earlier than poor me, who had missed out on the best of everything. but I did not envy the Cynical Slackers the thinkpieces they had to endure from their elders, adulatory or condemnatory (and there were plenty of both, as much as people do like to nostalgize gen-x as always having been the perpetually ignored ones).

and neither do I envy each succeeding generation of Youth who has had to wipe the same enthusiastic effluvia off their cheeks and go on to grow up to be regular dumb people just like everybody else, no matter how fervently and embarrassingly and breathlessly their parents worshiped them. why does each new generation of old people continue to do this and why do none of them ever remember that each and every new crop of adolescents has been held out as the same great hope, and it never panned out, not one single time? it is a puzzle. though the solution to that puzzle is obvious; hale and hearty middle-aged adults in the prime of life love to worship teens because why should we, who are still alive and have plenty of power and knowledge, have to fix things when we could just hope that teens will do it for us? not now, but like, someday.

and also because kids seem more and more wondrous and whip-smart the older and slower and tireder we get ourselves, due to contrast. nothing more.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:28 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


why does each new generation of old people continue to do this

Because what can't be paid back can only be paid forward?

hale and hearty middle-aged adults in the prime of life love to worship teens

...when we're not tearing out what remains of our thinning hair trying to work out how to convince them that turning off heaters and lights when they're last to leave a room, having showers that last less than half an hour, not sending half the food prepared for them to landfill after extended periods of storage in stacks of filthy dishes in the bedroom, and storing used clothing in a laundry basket instead of on the bathroom floor are all habits well worth cultivating.

It's an odd thing, teen worship. Sits quite uncomfortably next to the other universal old-person tendency to kvetch and whinge about the Yoof of Today.
posted by flabdablet at 9:02 PM on April 15


The pitting of generations against one another neatly distracts from actual villains. I'm a Boomer, I am sorry that wealth inequality/ maldistribution, Peak Capitalism, and Extreme Right Overlords exist. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Extreme Right Oligarchs/ Plutocrats/ Fuckers just might have something to do with how fucked the world is. But shifting blame to the Boomers, i.e., Mom-n-Dad, is more satisfying. It sells well.

Here in PlagueTime, there's an equal number of articles blaming The Kids for going to Spring Breaks and Partying and stuff and blaming The Olds for not being able to read on the Web and not Isolating. Almost as if age is unrelated to Taking It Seriously.
posted by theora55 at 12:16 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


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