An Open Commentary on the Livelihood of Generation Y

There’s this article going around called Fifty Reasons This Generation Can’t Get It’s Sh*t Together And Actually Shouldn’t. Every few days I see it popping up on my facebook newsfeed from another young twenty-something who read this article and found it empowering enough to re-post it.

Well, let me tell you, I’m not re-posting this on my blog because I feel in anyway empowered. Rather, I am infuriated. I am infuriated that Ms. Lauren Martin, the author of this ever-popular article, had the gumption to make such broad assumptions about this generation, and that she did so quite unremarkably in fifty short bullet points.

I am a part of this so called generation that she is writing about. Generation Y, isn’t that what they’ve been calling it? I am a part of Generation Y and I believe this article is incredibly ignorant. Incredibly ignorant because it is filled with too many stereotypes and grand assumptions than is possible to count on two hands. I don’t identify with the so called generation that she has taken the time to unjustly label throughout this article and I know many others who wouldn’t either. For those who do…I can’t help but wonder what type of warped reality they’re living in.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think there are a lot of attributes you can claim belong to Generation Y as a whole. The fact that we are products of an ever-growing technology dependent world is one of them (and a topic for another conversation). However, claiming that this generation doesn’t give a fuck about pretty much anything (because, that’s the message I took away from this article) is wrong.

Sure, sure, there are some people my age that have this outlook (obviously, Ms. Martin wouldn’t have taken the time to write this article if she didn’t see it happening around her…or at least in the media), but this my friends, is what I like to call a subset of a larger population.  Furthermore, this “don’t give a fuck, fuck the routine” subset is present in some way, shape, or form in every generation. Here’s a wake up call to anyone who found inspiration in this poorly constructed article: WE ARE NOT SPECIAL. We are no different from the generations that came before us. Sure, we live in a different environment, constructed by the specifics of new events and ideas that are constantly shaping and reshaping our lives, but that doesn’t change the fact that every generation has their “fuck the administration” subset. Seriously, do some historical research. Take the beatniks of the 1950’s and 60’s, led by the likes of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and the hippies of the 1960’s and 1970’s. These groups were stereotyped with the same characteristics that are attributed to this generation that I am supposedly a part of, courtesy of Ms. Martin…and stereotype is the key word here. Yeah, these subsets exist, but how much of what we perceive of them is based upon a reality? Another question to consider: is it possible these subsets are conforming their lifestyles to that of what is expected of them? I’m not going to give any answers here, as  I sure don’t have the authority to do so.  The important thing is that though these groups were perceived as lazy by their parents, they all thought they were doing something new and special. I seriously have to laugh out loud at number 3–like buying weed is a new phenomenon. Watching an episode of Mad Men can easily prove how long people have been buying and smoking that stuff.

Another reason I have a problem with this article is that the author is working under the assumption that one cannot be passionate about their career choice (#6  We’re following our passions rather than a steady paycheck). I don’t know, maybe I’m just overly optimistic, but I think it’s possible to do both, and that’s what I’m going to be working towards after I graduate from college. It drives me off the wall that she claims “We’re taking jobs rather than careers” (#7). This assumption that working a steady job cannot be fulfilling is so wrong. Yes, many people do find themselves in careers that they are unsatisfied with. That is not always the case though. My boss over the summer, who is the curator of Postal History at the National Postal Museum, loves what she does. That became apparent to me in the first day or so of working under her. She lives and breathes Postal History, and her love for it got me excited about it. Please, Ms. Martin, please tell me how this is wrong? My boss certainly wasn’t collecting dust at the Postal Museum (see #25), nor was I while I worked under her. The experience I gained (and I did gain plenty of then, again see #25) working at the Postal Museum is something I will NEVER take for granted. As for this sentence: “What does it mean to be a generation that doesn’t hold steady jobs and one that spends years jumping from apartment to apartment?” I think I can easily attribute that to youthfulness rather than a problem of our generation. Our generation, Ms. Martin, is at a point where many of us are trying to figure out where we belong. It’s unlikely we’ve actually been jumping from apartment to apartment for that long…after all, the oldest of us are just past thirty!

This isn’t an article about Generation Y. This is an article that was constructed on the basis of stereotypes and assumptions. The comments Ms. Martin has about how wrong marriage is only further convinces me of this (See #20 and #42). Case in point: I logged onto facebook last night to find two engagement announcements in a row on my newsfeed; the number of people I know who are my age and who have gotten married or engaged within the last year is an incredible number, yet Ms. Martin wrongly implies that everyone in this generation has negative views of marriage. Perhaps my little corner of the world is just different from the rest…but somehow, I highly doubt that.

No, this article isn’t about Generation Y at all. It’s not even about a subset of a population. It’s about stereotypes and assumptions that are thriving in the realm of social media more than anything else. In fact, this article is extremely dangerous because it is only adding to this thriving image that has popped up about Generation Y. Let’s stop trying to figure out what’s wrong with this generation and let time tell how we’ll really contribute. We’re still young. We’re still trying to understand ourselves. Of course we look like we have nothing figured out, because we don’t…but I would argue that we don’t have to have everything figured out by this point. Personally, I’d prefer not to be bunched into this group of stereotypes. I’d rather live my own life, thank you very much.

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