Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Finding that road, take a left, take a right?

I have been one of many expressing concern, frustration and amusement at the MEllennials, who for the record are now the largest population of their equally maligned cohorts - the baby boomers. And like the boomers, the millennials are a disparate group of individuals over 4 million in number. So to say there is a single stereotype is equally as frustrating and diminishing as has been done to boomers over the years. I again like to point out to the varying groups of both old and young that watch, listen or read that affirms, confirms and upholds their views as they have come to learn, know or believe. And that has not changed as it is largely parents and in turn the absorption or rejection of said views as we well know and have in turn done ourselves. I imagine Glenn Beck's children actually becoming open minded intelligent individuals or well not. It is 50 percent chance either way. No heavy algebra required.

I am clear that I do see the tail end of this cohort to be the most oppressive, fearful and admonishing scolds that seem to combine the worst traits of both conservative and liberal that no science lab could create. The repressing of free speech while demanding gender neutral pronouns and bathrooms, while espousing their wisdom on finding one's life's message and global tolerance, while speaking no foreign language what.so.ever.

I meet and yes actually like many of the meme's. I find them open minded, truly curious and often inspired by creativity in ways that one forgets. They do laugh and many don't, just like real people. Some are smart and some are dumb and some are just normal like everyone else. That is the issue I think that in that large of a cohort how does one distinguish oneself? As my mother used to say, "go ahead act different just like everyone else." She also said that the perfect person is dead. A sixth grader understood that immediately as meaning that now you don't upset everyone and can be remembered as perfect. Almost all my other wisdoms (yes plural as in more than one) seem to come from 6th graders. And on that note: Yes, say hi in hell to Antonin Scalia, Nancy Reagan. I gave up the whole don't speak ill of the dead years ago it is quite freeing. They were far from perfect alive and let us remind us of that in death.

But in my encounters with this group I think the idiots stand out. And then again they do in any generation. Will they figure it out. Eventually many do. And many don't. We were the hippies who lived in parks, did drugs and had random sex. They are today's vagabonds and many homeless.  We became CEO's, Oligarchs, Workers, Mothers, Fathers, Nurses and Doctors.  We made waste and we fixed waste. We made computers and we made them better, faster and smaller. And guess what the millennials are doing that only we did it first and that is the problem. How do you distinguish yourself when the road is not less travelled?



Generation Y, Curling or Maybe: what the world calls millennials

Titles – and insults – around the world reflect the reality of life for young adults, from debt and joblessness to housing

by Kate Lyons
UK Guardian
Tuesday 8 March 2016

They are Generation Curling in Sweden, Generation Serious in Norway, and even Generation John Paul II in Poland. The Chinese call them ken lao zu, or “the generation that eats the old”, and the Japanese have a term scolding them for not giving undivided attention to anything: nagara-zoku, “the people who are always doing two things at once”.

More prosaically, in the US they are called millennials and in the UK and Australia they go by Generation Y. Around the world there is no shortage of descriptive epithets for those born between 1980 and the mid-1990s.

In many cases, the names reveal something of the specific problems they face, whether that’s debt, lack of housing, unemployment, or something less tangible such as indecision.

For some, it is all of the above. In Spain, they call young adults Generación Ni-Ni, a demographic driven by national economic ruin into a limbo of neither work nor study – ni trabaja, ni estudia. The term even inspired a television show of the same name in a country where young people suffered most in the recent financial crisis.

Spain’s youth unemployment rate hit a peak of nearly 56% in 2013 and has only slightly recovered. The number of Spaniards aged between 18 and 29 who experienced serious deprivation – meaning they couldn’t afford to heat their home and buy meat or fish at least every second day – increased by 20 percentage points, from 8% in 2007 to 28% in 2011, the sharpest rise in the EU.

This group also goes by the name Mileuristas because the average monthly salary for young people has dropped to €1,000 (mil euros) though, as Spanish millennial David Gonzalvo says, even this is optimistic: “Before the 2008 crisis, it [€1,000] was considered a low salary, but now with €600 and €700 per month salaries, it is sadly considered a blessing, as is having a full-time job in Spain.”

Still, it could be worse. In Greece it is. This is the Generation of 500 euros, named for a scheme in which the Greek government employed young graduates for a salary of €500 (£395) per month.

In Germany, they have been called Generation Maybe, a group who are well educated, highly connected, multilingual, globally minded, with myriad opportunities, but who are so overwhelmed by the possibilities available to them that they commit to nothing.

Thirty-year-old Sara Munder epitomises this great fear of missing out. She had a stable job as a financial controller in Frankfurt, but felt trapped by the nine-to-five lifestyle and quit to move to Latin America. After holidays and volunteering in Brazil and Ecuador, she missed the stability and higher wages of Germany and returned home. Back in her old job, she immediately yearned for the laid-back lifestyle of South America and things that used to bug her about her work began irritating her afresh. She is considering quitting again to run a hostel by the sea.

“We are sleepwalking through a networked world of opportunity and feel insecure in the face of the plethora of options ... We no longer know what to do,” wrote journalist Oliver Jeges, who coined the phrase Generation Maybe. “We want to be there and not miss anything anywhere.”

A Norwegian newspaper called them Generation Serious for their lack of hedonistic tendencies and fears of terrorism.

It is perhaps these troubles and their concern about the future that lead millennials to be, by and large, a serious generation, less prone to either the wild optimism or hedonism of their forebears, leading Norwegian millennials to be christened Generasjon Alvor, or Generation Serious, in 2011.

This, after all, is a group of people whose defining geopolitical moment was 9/11 and the “war on terror” that followed. Terrorism is to them what the threat of nuclear war was to boomers and older members of Gen X. Instead of armaggedon pamphlets and sirens, they have airport security, metro lockdowns and constant warnings to report suspicious behaviour. They have grown up with images of mass murder – in universities, nightclubs, army barracks, trains, buses, museums, cafes, beaches and city streets – and therefore have everywhere to fear. In some senses, this is Generation Terror.

“It’s like our generation’s JFK moment,” says Londoner Jac Husebo, 30, an actor and writer, of the day the twin towers fell. “I remember exactly where I was. Of course I do. I came home from school and heard my mum shout. I panicked because I thought I was in trouble. I was just in a state of shock.”

But terrorism soon became an expected part of life. On 7/7, Husebo was 21. “I was in a pizzeria in Budapest and the waiter turned around and said ‘London’s been attacked’ and we weren’t surprised. It was the next place.”

For his generation, Husebo says the fear of terrorism has led to rising levels of racism and fear – “you do catch yourself on the tube, wondering about people” – but he acknowledges such fear is not unique to his generation. “Now it’s the Islamists, before that it was the Soviets. I don’t think any generation hasn’t lived under a state of threat or fear.”

Very few of the nicknames for Gen Y are sympathetic. In Sweden this is the Curling Generation, named for the sport in which teammates furiously sweep the ice in front of their stone to make sure its journey is smooth and unhindered. The parents of millennials have cleared any obstacles from their children’s paths, allege their critics, refusing to set boundaries, defending them to teachers who try to discipline them, even going with them to job interviews.

“We pad their world in every possible way, we pamper them from the beginning,” alleges Swedish psychiatrist Dr David Eberhard, who argues this parental sweeping has led to a generation of mollycoddled subadults who are psychologically knocked out by relatively minor blows such as the death of a dog or a boss telling them off.

In Sweden they are called the Curling Generation, as parents sweep their paths free of obstacles. Illustration: Janne Iivonen

Yosuke Nishimura, a 27-year-old university graduate, is typical of Japan’s yutori sedai, or relaxed generation. He has spent his time since university working for a few different companies, but says he is ambivalent about spending his foreseeable future job-hopping and living with his parents.

He does not have a girlfriend and has never thought about settling down. And while the postwar generation were devout savers, Nishimura says his bank balance returns to close to zero every month after he has paid a modest sum to his parents and spent the remainder on evenings out with friends and financing surfing and fishing trips.

“It’s not about being selfish – I just belong to a generation that does things differently,” he says. “The baby boomer generation had everything mapped out for them, but, for good or bad, we are more interested in enjoying our moment of freedom.” Freedom only goes so far, however. Nishimura is a pseudonym. He does not want to be identified.

In China, they are a generation profoundly shaped by the politics of their country. The one-child policy, introduced in 1979, the year before the first millennials were born, means China’s is a millennial generation that is unbalanced – with an estimated 33 million more males than females – and, in many cases, lonely. As well as being disproportionately male, these Chinese millennials without siblings are the “little emperors” or, as they are known – ken lao zu – the generation that eats the old, named because they are happy to live parasitically off their doting parents. One survey found that 70% of young people in China thought nothing of asking their parents to give them money to buy a house.

For Poland’s millennials, the death in 2005 of John Paul II, their homegrown pope and the only pontiff they had ever known, was such a shock that it unified and defined them, the sociologist Paweł Śpiewak surmised, leading to them becoming known as Pokolenie JPII – Generation John Paul II.

Whether Generation JPII was a real phenomenon or just a media invention is up for debate. There are accounts of young people at his funeral events wearing T-shirts proudly announcing they were of the JPII Generation. Others resist the label. One Polish reader told the Guardian: “It didn’t really catch on. Maybe Poland is predominantly Catholic and the reaction to the pope’s death was huge, but it wasn’t a defining moment really. Important but not defining.”

In the English-speaking world, young adults are named less creatively. They are millennials because they came of age as one millennium ended and another began, or Generation Y, because they follow Generation X. If they had been named in the Grecian style, for the major issues they face, they might be called Generation Rent in the UK and Australia, and Generation Debt in the US.

Young adults in Britain have been hit on two fronts, by vertiginously steep house prices and employment difficulties. In 1991, 67% of 25- to 34-year-olds were homeowners in England; by 2011-12, this had declined to 43%. Those who cannot afford to buy must rent and those who rent face grim prospects, with tenants spending an average of 47% of their net income on rent – 72% for those renting in London.

On top of this, young people in the UK are nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than those in other age groups, an inequality mirrored in most other countries. In all, 14.4% of 16- to 24-year-olds aren’t in full-time education or employment, compared with 5.7% of the total working population, the largest gap in more than 20 years.

In Australia, where the freestanding home on the quarter-acre block has long represented the Great Australian Dream, young people have found themselves locked out of the housing market, and the national mythology that goes with it.

Whereas it took about four times the median household income to buy a home in Sydney in 1975, it now takes 12 times. Alexander Allen, 25, was only able to buy a property with a A$50,000 (£26,000) loan from his parents. He had to work three jobs to pay his mortgage. “I was basically a poor person,” he says.

In the US, the millennial generation is one defined by debt. More than 40 million people have student loan debt, owing an average of $29,000 (£21,000) each and a combined total of more than $1tn. The cost of a US college education has skyrocketed since previous generations went through university, increasing 1,120% from 1978 to 2010 and, with a perilous job market, they are finding it increasingly difficult to pay off their debts.

“[Millennials are] not only taking on debt at a higher rate, they’re paying it off at a slower rate. These poor kids come out of college with the equivalent of a mortgage already,” says Lucia Dunn, an economics professor at Ohio State University.

Perhaps one of the most fitting names for this generation, then, is the Echo Boomers – partly because the increased birthrate in the 1980s and 1990s means Generation Y is about the same size as the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946-64), and because they share many of the same values. While millennials don’t want to repeat the boomers’ failings and are scathing of them for hoarding wealth and ruining the environment, in reality they want many of the same things: in Britain or Australia, that’s homeownership; in the US, to escape debt; in Spain and Greece, to have a job and any sense of a future.

It seems that what millennials want, as well as flexibility, fairness, and tolerance – all touted as strengths of this generation – is for capitalism, which they think worked so well for previous generations, to fulfil its promise to them.

“The difficulty the Spanish (and many European) youth face to mobilise is that they want to live like their parents, in a world of consumer capitalism,” writes Spanish academic Antonio Alaminos. “They do not want to end it; it is capitalism that has broken up with them.”

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