Talkin’ ’bout My Generation (and Why We’re So Pissed Off)

Hi. I’m back. Suffice it to say, most of the month of November, as well as December, have continued to be just as craptacular as the day mentioned in my last post. However, I know very few people who have not been having at least some struggles lately. Everybody seems to have their something right now. I guess that I’ve been busy grieving for the probability of the life I had dreamed of. My personal process has followed the Kubler-Ross model to a T. I think I’m somewhere between the anger phase and the acceptance phase. Can I invent a new phase called the therapeutic Internet ranting/armchair philosophy phase?

Disclaimer: I make a lot of generalizations in this post, but they are based on some sociological theories on generations. Furthermore, this post is mainly about general observations of and difficulties experienced by my generation, and does not mean to discuss, or to particularly exclude, others.

 I was born in 1979, on the tail end of Generation X.  My parents were on the tail end of the baby-boomers, born in 1957 & 1958. Personally I feel that means that I was raised to expect a shit-storm: don’t trust authority, ask questions, think for yourself, but also have a lot of hope (If you follow the right steps, you’ll make it just fine).  Unfortunately, it seems like those of us that are on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y inherited the perceptions and values of the Xers, and the economic situation of the Yers. Like a lot of my peers on the cusp of the 2 generations, I grew up feeling well cared-for and well-loved. However, unlike a lot of the later Gen Y, I did not grow up thinking that I was a special snowflake. I did not grow up thinking that the world owed me something. I certainly didn’t grow up thinking or expecting that my parents would take care of me beyond high school. I did grow up understanding that I had to earn the things that I got. And if I earned them, I deserved them. And if I didn’t earn them, I didn’t deserve them (ahem, latter Gen Y).

What seems to have happened in recent years is that there are a whole lot of people out there that, based on the old model of our society, the baby-boomer model, have earned a certain lifestyle.  They have made the investments. They have done the work. But now, rather than getting the big pay-off they get…nothing. They get over half a lifetime of indentured servitude, unhappy with underutilized skills and intelligence, making wages far lower than they should be; mainly to pay on student or housing loans that were touted as bullet-proof investments, not being able to go anywhere, not being able to do anything or buy anything. Here’s what you get for trusting authority, kids.

From out of this group of late Gen Xers and early Gen Yers comes things like the Occupy movement. We did what we were supposed to, and it didn’t pan out. In fact, our lives are worse than they would have been if we hadn’t been suckered into expensive educations or a little suburban jail cell of our very own. Now the corporations and the government have the gall to turn around and tell us it’s our fault. We’re stupid because we made the decisions that we were pushed to make. And now the economy is supposedly failing because we’re not spending. NEWSFLASH: WE DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY, geniuses!!! The earlier of us because we took student loans that weren’t supposed to be a gamble and now have jobs that don’t cover our bills (moi and a lot of my compatriots), and the later of us because we (even more screwed!) have student loans (because apparently you now need a degree to work at Barnes & Noble!) and can’t get jobs at all. And, frankly, we’re pissed. We’re grieving the lives we hoped for and didn’t get. We don’t know what to do with our rage. So we go out and march on the streets before we have really well-defined what it is we’re demanding.

All that being said, I didn’t participate in Occupy. I definitely feel the Occupy movement. However, I’m generally snobbish towards people who don’t plan, at least a little, before acting. Because they didn’t have a cohesive manifesto or action plan, the whole movement came across to the powers-that-be, and to the rest of the baby-boomers, as nothing more than a concerted temper-tantrum. Furthermore, we are in the middle of a big ol’ pile of poo right now. Seriously? The government is going to forgive all these ruinous student debts at the same time? Do you know how much money that is? You do know that the government is already in debt, right?  I don’t actually blame the Occupiers that much for their lack of cohesive thought, though. Our country is in such a mess, such a tangled web of issues right now, that it’s hard to separate them out and look hard at any given problem. There has been a long history during which things got f’d up. We’re not going to work it all out in a month.

Tomorrow: my thoughts on what, I feel, is a more rational and outcomes-based approach to protest, and its relationship to generational mind-sets.

2 responses to “Talkin’ ’bout My Generation (and Why We’re So Pissed Off)

  1. Loved this post! I was also born in 1979, and never felt entitlement. I did think that hard work would pay off though. I went and did the college thing and the graduate school thing, I took out massive student loans, and all of it was going to lead me to the life I eventually wanted to live. Instead, it all lead to debt. I even did what I was supposed to do, and bought a house. An investment! The American dream! I didn’t get a subprime mortgage. Instead, I got a really nice and secure mortgage. This was in late 2004. Than the market tanked. And my house become worth half of what I paid for it. And I now face the reality that my starter home, in a craptastic neighborhood, may be my forever home. May be the home my kids grow up in. And that sucks!!! Because if I would have waited 2-3 years to buy a house, I’d have my dream house in walking distance from Lake Harriott, and I would have paid the same amount for it that I paid for my house in forementioned craptastic neighborhood.

    I never claim to be a victim. But damn. . . the odds are stacked against me! I am also mourning a life that may never be, and trying to make the most of the life that is. T and I still drive to our favorite neighborhood in the city, and we go to open houses, and hope that someday we’ll be raising our kiddos in that neighborhood. Hope. It’s all we have some days. I feel your pain Alissa. 🙂 Hope you are well.

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