Thanks for the great responses and conversation. It gives me a lot to think and reflect on about what part my generation might play in its time.
As for what I think of my generation, I don't know what to think. I believe it is atleast as diverse in its opinions and strengths as any generation before it. My generation has near unlimited choices in selecting what media it consumes and where it gets its information. Making TPTB irrelevant (cable news, for instance) is certainly a great strength of the millenials. How this plays out in the coming hard times I've yet to see.
I see no 'core values' in my generation. Whether sex before marriage is right or wrong is a personal choice for most. Accepting money from the government is normal, as my $20,000 in debt is all in the form of federal student loans. I read accounts from the 70's and 80's of men who worked their way through school and had savings to spare. Now, it's accepted that if you don't have a great scholarship and/or parents financially well off to near-fully support you an additional four years, your chances of a degree are slim (which, just to remind, now has the purchasing power of high school diplomas in days past).
I see no 'core values' and so I see little reason for my generation to bother resisting the government. It's funny for me to listen to people who speak of some next armed revolution in America, or seccession or some such. Wherever that talk comes from, I certainly don't hear it from my peers. We as a whole are desperately focused on establishing ourselves in our interpretation of the baby boomers before us. We want families (though we wait to marry, taking longer to start careers because of educational requirements). We largely want to make the world a better place (much to our credit, though we've a hard time defining 'better'). As a generation we expect the government to support both of these notions of ours (not neccessarily 'do them for us,' but we expect the government to be a useful tool instead of a passive bystander [for the love of all that's decent don't flame me on that one; I'm just reporting what I see in the group, not my own personal views]). Also, we grow up knowing that authority can royally screw you over at will, having gone to public school where self-esteem and the notion of safety were both bitterly defended (explanation lacking, but I'll assume it's understood what's meant).
As I think about it, I think I see those two things defining my group.
A) Unheard of power as a group, gaining and disseminating information en-mass at will without the permission or well-wishes of TPTB.
B) A lack of a core ethic outside of, dare I say it? The power and freedom of the individual (though that phrase will mean contradictory things to different groups).
Occupy Wall Street and, yes, the Arab Spring are examples of the kinds of things my generation can do. My generation is seen as being more liberal, but it should also be remembered that Ron Paul was vastly supported by teens and twenty-somethings, more so than any other age group. In the Republican party, I see baby boomers holding to arguments over abortion, social security ("Don't touch it"), illegal immigration ("They're illegal", even though they'll soon be the majority), a strong defense, and a hate for Obama that I honestly just don't understand. The millenials in the GOP are the ones who shout "End the Fed," and who most actively argue for a new paradign, not for a change of rules within the status quo.
Alright, I've spun enough. All of this is me saying I've no idea what to expect from my kin, though I can see them being either very strong or very weak. A useful prediction, eh?
Aaron, based on the length and vehemence of your posts on the topic of “hate speech” and human rights, I’ve concluded that these are hot button issues for you. I debated at length with myself about replying to your last post on this thread – but you called me out by name… I sincerely wish I could agree with you about “the number of bigots is shrinking”, but that hasn’t been my experience.
I’m not clear on how you made the leap from A to B (A being my stated opinion that hate speech does exist and that the previous posts on this thread were not examples of hate speech, and B being what appears to me to be a full on diatribe against human rights activists in general and gay rights activists in particular). The logic behind that leap, within the context of the thread, eludes me.
I wonder if you are aware (or care) that what you said sounded an awful lot like – the world would be a better place if those pesky homosexuals would just shut up, stay in their place, and stop whining about unfair treatment. Your statement “The number of bigots is shrinking, but the number of lobbiests, -ists, coalitions and organizations is not. They're still making demands, still asking for things in excess of what a citizen is entitled to and are conveniently making a political environment ripe with "us and them" thinking.” sounds like you are blaming the victims for the problem.
I don’t know whether you hold these beliefs out of ignorance or out of intolerance, (it’s also possible that I am completely misunderstanding you) but my experience has been that constructive communication rarely happens when emotions run hot. Instead people usually dig in and become more and more entrenched in their views. Therefore, I propose that we accept that we have vastly differing opinions, perspectives, and experiences on the topic of hate speech and human rights, and move on.
Silence equals death. With respect, Sirocco
ps FAlley, I apologize for my part in hijacking your thread…
I'll tell you something I feel as a millenial. I'll share it because I figure it's indicative of atleast a segment of my demographic, if not a large part of the demographic.
I feel like an absolute failure. I am educated, of decent character and cannot find prospects for myself. I am existing off of the well-wishes of rich baby boomers because even as I have the right credentials and training, I cannot find work for myself. I know that the work I can't find is not good work. I've invested in training and skills to do a profession where I can expect to earn $30,000 median income, and I cannot find work in that profession. IF I do find work in that profession, it is my dear hope to have a wife and eventually children. I have a hard time seeing myself supporting a decent woman and family on a $30,000 salary, and that's when I can find a place to hire me.
I'm restless and angry. I have $20,000 in student debt for an incomplete degree, and that's before I have ever once payed for a roof over my own head. I am 23, I have a law enforcement license I have invested into, and it is now being suggested to me that I take federal money and more years of my life to go to more school for another profession because maybe that one will have a stronger demand when I finish.
I am angry that I have jumped through hoops I was told to jump through and invested where I was told to invest and then it doesn't work out. If I sound like I have an entitlement mentality, then I apologize for my ignorance. I feel like I tried to make something work and have fallen off the straight and narrow path to success. I feel left behind. And rightly or wrongly, it only makes sense that I am angry that I cannot seem to find a way to support myself in the basics of a good and decent life.
That is what I feel as someone born in 1990. Your experience may vary.
I have found the educators have a product to sell, so they sell as much of it as they can. I was taught many things in my trade that there is no chance that I will ever use.
I have learned to become an autodidact.
You are, and all the Millennials are, in my opinion, the victims of bad policy and worse execution by not just the Boomers but the previous and intervening generation ( Gen X?)
It’s not your fault. This is all not your fault. The previous generations left you a mess because they were short-sighted and some of them were incredibly stupid, selfish or both. They took us off the gold standard and chose fiat money. They ran up debts that cannot be paid, and they treated finite resources like crude oil and fresh water as if they were disposable and infinite.
You Millennials all must feel like kids who’s parents got a divorce and they are wondering what they, as kids, did to cause it. You did not cause it. You are the victims here.
The nicest thing my step-daughter and eldest son ever said to me and my husband was that our generation had screwed up, but not him and me personally, We had not run up unsustainable debt and we voted against those who would run up debt. We lived simply, were careful with our resources and gentle to the planet.
It says something that I take pride in not being representative of my Boomer peers in that regard. What it says is…you’re not a failure. It’s not your fault. Although I personally was not an instrument in that, on behalf of my peers and my parents’ and grandparents’ generations, I am deeply sorry.
FAlley, not that this will be any consolation, but – you aren't alone in your struggle to find a way to support yourself. I've ridden the bus into town for work, and back, for the last 12 years. After the crash of 2008, the demographics of the riders changed noticeably. Before the crash the passengers used to primarily be women ages of 45 and older; but, almost overnight the route added a large number of younger folks headed into the local univeristy. At the same time, I was reading "Survival +" by Charles Hugh Smith. In the book, Mr Smith was discussing debt-serfdom, the end of paid work, and the horrible bind that the younger generation will find itself in as they follow the standard wisdom to go to (traditional) college, at great cost, to guarantee themselves a (traditional) job – except that the world is changing, and what was SOP doesn't work anymore. I looked at my fellow riders, the young ones, and I had to stop myself from calling out to them – "do you folks have any idea what you are in for?!"
I'm angry too. I'm angry at the government and the mainstream media for lying to us and carrying on the pretense that everything is "normal." If we at least had honest information, we could make informed decisions based on valid data.
Our world is changing. The "rules" and "truisms" and SOPs we've lived under for the last few generations is falling apart. Its time to recognize the change and work to change our expectations to match the new reality. There are no guarantees anymore for any of us. If you haven't read "Survival +", I recommend it. I found it enlightening as to our present situation.
Here's bit of philosophy for you that has helped me – the end goal is not as important as the path you take to get there. Find out what you love, and pursue that passion all your life. Stay true to your values, but keep an open mind – there is a lot to learn. Cultivate humor and optimism. View accidents and challenges instead as opportunities. Friends and family are far more valuable than money.
You are not a failure. You are facing hardship (debt, difficulty finding paying work, difficulty finding meaningful work) – this does not make you a failure. Not even close. The only thing that can make YOU a failure is if you give up on yourself. Don't give up on yourself. You may not get from today to tomorrow by the route you had planned, but I'm pretty sure you will get there. And when you look back, you may be very thankful for the unexpected twists and turns that your path took.
You are not alone.
You are not alone.
Take a look at these people. All of them are young, smart, hard-working. You are not alone. It is not your fault.
Not Where They Hoped They'd Be (June 15, 2012)
You are not alone.
Personally, I didn't graduate college until I was 25. I got a full-time job after that and started socking away money towards paying off student loans, a vehicle, retirement savings, regular savings. I lived with my parents until I was 30, paying rent and helping with bills. I didn't marry until I was 34. I'm sure you'll reach your milestones earlier than me. And if not, no big deal.
Did you know that the average age of first marriage for men, in a survey of records from 5 English villages between the years 1600 and 1649, was from 26.7 to 29.2? Mortaliy rates and job prospects weren't as excellent then as they are today.
Hang in there. You are not alone and you are young. You still have a lot of years in you yet.
From the perspective of a Gen-X'er (on the tail end born in the mid-70's anyway), in economic terms I don't see much difference between me and my similar-aged friends and coworkers and the Millenial generation. My age group has typically had or still has high student loan debt (sometimes a little less than Millenials but sometimes just as much or more due to the push for additional schooling to become more 'employable'), we are just as much on the hook for social retirement and health-care program costs with very little prospect of receiving any benefits, we also have less conventional economic opportunities as the generations before, and our level of representation in higher business and political circles is still very much in the minority. The one major advantage my age group has is that most of us have had some opportunity to establish job history or careers, even if they are lower-paying (true inflation-adjusted) and with little or no job security compared to previous generations. So conventionally-speaking, if Millenials are 'screwed', my age group is merely 'mostly screwed'
BUT…. like Sirocco and others mentioned, this is only in terms of the conventional economy and way of life. The Millenials have a potential advantage when it comes to adapting to whatever new economy and living situations that will come about over the next decade or so. Millenials have even fewer ties and dependence to the status quo and materialism than my age group does, and so they have the potential to be the most successful in the new world. So the biggest reason Millenials might feel as they are failing is because they're being pushed into a system that doesn't work for them. It almost seems like being told to that they way to 'be successful' is to borrow a lot of money and go to a Vegas casino and hit the blackjack tables. Sure some will succeed and win, but most will end up broke and now being in hock to the big loan sharks. So to 'succeed', I suspect many Millenials (probably many in my age group too) will go into business for themselves (in some cases formal businesses but most I suspect will be informal and under-the-table businesses) offering whatever services or products they are most familiar with. I suspect we may see an economy fractured in two…. one being the current kind of economy with most participants being in the older spectrum, and the second being a partially underground economy where most participants are younger. And while I suspect the there will always be an economy similar to the current one, it is due to shrink substantially and most of the ones already in it will be very reluctant to give up some of their stake to make way for many of the younger generations. For my part, even though I have the option of staying in the system, I see a future where most workers (white or blue collar) will be increasingly given the short end of the stick (by gov't in some cases and employers in others) and have less and less control over their lives. I did the unthinkable this day and age and quit a high-paying (if not necessarily stable) job to try to walk a different path. I miss the steady paycheck, but very little else.
Lastly in regards to where fault lies, while I also feel ripped off by decisions made when I was a child or even before I was born, I find it's best to accept the simple truth "life is not fair" and deal with things going forward. Yeah lots of people (boomers included) were screwed by past decisions they had no say in, but that's life. A fresh way of thinking and a clean slate of sorts is required in order to find the least painful path through the mess, otherwise the blame game will stall all progress. That's not to say that we forget the people directly responsible for creating policies leading us here, especially since some of them are still in power and making things worse. But for the average person who is willing to at least discuss changes to replace this failing system, it doesn't matter to me if they are my age or 18 or 80.
Nickbert inspired my to take us back a little farther.
The Boomers were born from 1946-1964. Our childhoods were the height of the Cold War. We grew up knowing that at any moment we could die in a nuclear war. During the Cuban Missile Crisis it nearly happened. We would have 15 minutes warning at most, and if at school no chance to say goodbye to our families, or die with them. I never expected to reach adulthood.
The Civil Rights movement created serious social turmoil and anger that erupted in massive riots and many burning cities over multiple years. We had the Counter Culture revolution of the young, and the Generation Gap of “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” In 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated, and Bobby Kennedy a few weeks later as he ran for president. In the fall was the “police riot” against demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention. The feminist movement created turmoil in the roles of the sexes. From 1963 to 1975 everything was up in the air.
As young men reached 18 they became subject to the military draft. Millions were called up and shipped off to Vietnam where over 50,000 died. There were vocal protest demonstrations across the nation for years, and the largest demonstrations in US history happened during this period. Tens of thousands of young men went underground, fled the country, or were imprisoned. The nation, and families, were torn apart and the level of anger and hatred was palpable. Many of us wondered how we could ever find a place for ourselves in such a broken system, or get it to leave us alone. We didn’t think much of the world our parents left us. Many rejected it and wandered during our formative years. Plenty lost their way and died young. Others became broken relics and objects of scorn to younger people because they weren’t “winners”.
As we entered our work years the economy underwent a sea change with the first Arab oil embargo in 1973. Real income adjusted for inflation has essentially been flat ever since. A man had to get a promotion to increase his buying power. For the first time mothers in mass left their children at home so they could take a job. For many it was the only way to obtain middle class status for the family. Job security disappeared and even many of the earlier boomers found themselves out of a job in their fifties with no prospects for re-employment. Most people with pensions were converted to 401ks and lost much of their retirement money in the crash of 2008. What’s left of their life savings now receives negative real interest rates unless they take excessive risks.
Now the Greatest Generation – boy did they have it good! Married women didn’t have to work and men’s real income doubled from 1947-1973. Of course as children all they knew was the Great Depression, when some Americans actually starved. And as early as age 17 they were fighting a long World War. If they survived there were a few years of economic turmoil and great inflation as the economy converted to peacetime production. And everyone was terrified it would slip back into a deep depression again. For three years in the early 1950s my newlywed parents had no place of their own even though my dad had a good job. They had to rent a series of upstairs bedrooms and share a bath in other people’s houses because housing was so short in the city. This was not uncommon.
After a few years things got pretty good for the Greatest Generation. They lived well and had lots of healthy children. Of course this was during the height of the Cold War, and those children grew up and totally freaked them out and … well, just go back and read the beginning again.
Boomers have not distinguished themselves with virtue. But they didn’t sabotage you either. People everywhere just want to have a decent life, which usually includes marriage and children in modest comfort. This takes our best efforts and we really don’t have much influence over the trends of history . We just try to make the best of the world that was shaped by those before us.
Millennials, my children, are indeed getting a raw deal. It make me angry but it has to be dealt with. Whining won’t help. Assuming a victim mentality brings certain defeat. You are extremely lucky compared to people caught in past wars. And there is nothing you can do against a nuclear missile. Your future may be tougher than expected, but it is one you can make better by your own efforts. You should be able to survive and have a long and decent life.
Being young can be tough, but you have great strength and resilience. Being old is tougher. Learn as you go so you’ll be ready for that.
Best of luck to you.
I was truly excited to see your post appear recently. In the year that has passed, I came upon the most amazing book by authors Strauss & Howe called "The Fourth Turning" ~
In this work — written in 1997 — the authors caught the good fortune of the generational buzz started by Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" in 1995 ~ they took their research deeper, covering the role of all generations at any one time throughout the past 500 years of Anglo-American history. What their research revealed is truly amazing.
They reveal to us what the Romans understood fundamentally – that our history is categorized by repeating cycles. The Roman term was SAECULUM ~ roughly 80 years or the length of a long human life. In this 80-year period there are four turnings of roughly 20 years each. Within each turning you can envision four interactive generations stacked up and progressing over time: young adulthood – adulthood – national leadership – elder statesman. The authors also give each generation a name which best describes the collective personality – they call it an Archetype (Artist, Prophet, Nomad, and Hero)
I could bore you with the book review, but let me summarize:
1. The long arm of Anglo-American history and similarly, the 1200-year run of the Roman empire bear out this cyclical view of history. America has enterred the Fourth Turning (Crisis) and we have some rough waters ahead (10-15 yrs).
2. The WWII Generation who were kids during the great depression and carried liberty to Europe and lead to the Nazi's were called the Greatest Generation. Despite all that was thrown at them, they remained remarkably optimistic. You are exactly in their shoes per the cycical sweep of history. The WWII generation fit the HERO archetype. The Millenials will play this role. That's what the long march of history bears out.
What does that mean?
Despite the slinging of toxic thoughts by others in this thread, here's what you ought to understand. Your generation will be the first to reject the failing systems that we all know are unsustainable (perhaps Occupy are the shots heard at Bunker Hill). The Silent generation will pass from the scene (but thank you Ron Paul!). The Boomers will weep & wail for their 401k, but you don't share this loss. The Gen X'ers will scatter as per their trend, seeking their own individual way and not providing national leadership…or at least they won't provide national energy that is to be harvested to enable true transformation. As in nature, so too is it true of human institutions, that death & decay are prerequisites to rebirth.
You are not a failure. Wait – let me try this millenial lingo: OMG – YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!
The systems (monetary, governmental, economic, etc) around you have reached their natural limits as our human hands have been guilty of overreach, the end result is decay/default. The systems are failing. We are living the symptoms, trying to tweak the unsustainable (tax code?). You are an aware seeker ~ and what you're finding in your deep dive will bear fruit. It won't be easy. You will help others see clearly. You will emerge a leader among friends & community. You will demonstrate the antidote to the unsustainable debt-based American-lifestyle that has permeated the past 40 years.
Let me refer readers to an instructive video given by Neil Howe & William Strauss as they present the story of their research. I find this stuff fascinating. I hope you can absorb it as much as I did, and that it helps shape your narrative. Avoid the fruitless blame-game of who squandered what. Reject all the toxic thoughts shared within this thread. They only cause anxiety and lead to an unproductive narrative.
This video is a 1997 C-SPAN interview. It is quite instructional and will give you the gist of the book. Still recommend owning/reading the book. From this point – there are many other videos of similar content, but I found this one to be most helpful to lay out the basics.
Last note – my wife is a teacher and so I am blessed to get to hang out with millenials (other young teachers) – in fact, my two sons are born into the tail end of the generation. I can't think of a better group of people to be around. Appreciate your integrity in laying out your thoughts to this audience.
Dan ([email protected])