So I think that by this point many people have seen this terrible and really insulting characterization of Gen Y’ers. I am just old enough to be an 80s baby but not old enough to remember the decade, so this article was targeting me and many people I know very specifically.
This post isn’t going to be about rape or BDSM. But shit’s intersectional, ya know? And sometimes a girl just has to blow off steam when classism and ageism like this is getting shilled all over the internet as though it is anything other than pure hatred and smug superiority.
See, whoever is behind the Wait But Why blog, isn’t trying to reflect reality in a meaningful way. (As one of my friends put it, it is post about demography and economics that utterly ignores demographics and the economy.) My number one issue is that the foundation for their narrative is only even true for middle class communities, and especially white middle class communities. So other communities of Gen Y’ers whose parents have been poor and marginalized the entire time? Totally ignored here.
But even if we look at middle class communities (my parents were once, so I feel comfortable speaking from that place) … still not accurate! It is possible I was raised to feel I am very special in a way my parents weren’t, (but if you’d ever met my parents, you’d share my sense of skepticism…) But I was also raised, in a quantifiable and definitive way, without some things my parents had…
The percent of a semester’s worth of tuition that a Pell Grant will cover has gone down precipitously in the past three decades. The likelihood that a recent PhD will find a job upon graduation has similarly gone down. A tenured academic position ought to define the notion of stable or secure career. But among people my age, hoping to be a life long academic is denigrated almost as thoroughly as aspiring to “merely” be an artist. I know public school teachers who are overwhelmed with debt, because maintaining a career as a public school teacher now requires a master’s degree that not all school districts will pay for. Most major and well paying industries want you to have an internship before you break into the field, and those are all unpaid.
So many people my age have given up hoping that the rules are the same as they were before. You need money to make money, and most of us don’t have it. In lieu of the sense that hard work will pay off with economic stability, we have settled for the notion that hard work might pay off with a modicum of personal fulfillment. Of course many of us also feel unhappy—most people do when they have trouble making rent and have no sense that they’ll ever be able to get a leg up financially .
I’m sure the ‘Lucy’ described here exists, but she is as rare as the very wealthy are. (In fact, rarer! Even the very wealthy tend to have at least one modicum of self-awareness…) Lucy doesn’t characterize my generation. Most of us would be more or less okay if we didn’t spend our careers vomiting rainbows onto flowers. But the boring job at Whole Foods, while being infinitely stable, still pays shit. So if rolling around in flower paint while waiting to find out if we “make it” pays just the same and is more fun, why the fuck not? It’s not like having hopes for your life is actually a bad thing, and it’s not the same as being lazy.
To those who are spreading this craptastic article all over the internet: just stop. It isn’t cute or clever. You aren’t somehow a better person for noting what is supposedly wrong with an entire generation. You’re just shitting on other people’s live and hopes and dreams and economic troubles. I’d rather be a hallucinogenic unicorn than a raging asshole, but if you save us both the trouble we could skip forward to the part where most of us are people who are just struggling to make it. Snarksy out.