I’m one of those people. You know the type: the Facebook dependent. It’s how I send and receive invites to social gatherings, annoy friends with pictures of my dog, and yes, keep tabs on people I otherwise would have lost touch with years ago.
Today, one of those old friends posted a link to a Huffington Post article. “Great!” I thought, “What does this relevant and entertaining news source have for me today?” So I clicked the link and prepared to be enlightened and entertained. Unfortunately, I was just insulted instead. See, the article in question is entitled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html)
“Self,” I asked upon reading the title, “are you unhappy?” And no matter how many different ways I rephrased the question, the answer was the same: uh, no. I’m actually pretty darned pleased with all things life.
I read the article, though, and I have a few massive issues with his/her conclusions (note: the author appears to run a site called waitbutwhy, but does not identify themselves by name).
To be transparent in all of this, I admit that I find the whole “Generation Y” grouping much too large to actually measure any commonalities with accuracy. I mean, we’re talking pining hardcore Nirvana fans in the same group as people who weren’t even born when Kurt died. It just doesn’t work. I’m in there somewhere in the middle though, so I’m looking at this article as it applies to me and those I grew up with rather than those I’ve taught – some of whom are also in the same generational grouping.
The article had me in its initial description of who a Gen Y person is. Grandparents from the Greatest Generation? Check. Hard working, Baby Boomer parents? Check. But that’s where correlation between the article’s description and my upbringing end. According to the author, Baby Boomers all found prosperity in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, which “left them feeling gratified and optimistic.” Only that didn’t happen for everyone, for a variety of reasons. It’s almost implying that this entire generation grew up spoiled and that child poverty was eradicated under the nurturing of the Boomer generation, but that’s clearly not true.
And it all went downhill from there. First, it claimed that we were ambitious, which really left me confused. I think my head actually tilted to the side, kind of like my dog’s when you hide her ball behind your back. It’s a complete “WTF just happened?” move. “Wait a tick,” thought I, “Isn’t the stereotype that we’re supposed to be entitled and lack ambition? I thought ambition was a good thing in a capitalistic society?” It turns out we just have the wrong kind of ambition.
See, we want to be fulfilled by our careers. I won’t even dispute the author on this one. Now, I know that I’m biased here since I’m on my third career before the age of thirty, but I’m really stumped about what’s so terrible about wanting to actually like how you spend your day/life, and I’m also absolutely certain that I’m happier now than I was in career #1 or #2. I was miserable as an office lackey, then I sought career fulfillment and now I’m not. This does not compute with the article’s premise; wanting career fulfillment made me happy, not sad.
But that must be because I’m delusional. Ouch. Talk about a negative connotation with that one. This is what I was expecting to see though. It’s the argument that we’re entitled and expect to start out in management with minions fawning at our feet. Please tell that to my friends who have worked their way up the corporate ladder one rung at a time, or better yet, to my friends who choose to not even use their university degrees, opting instead for an unrelated, low-responsibility job that makes them happy. Oh wait. I forgot that we’re not supposed to be happy in our jobs.
Don’t worry though; I won’t know that you’re happy in your job. Apparently it’s only the successful who talk about their jobs, and that makes us feel bad, which in turn makes us unhappy. I don’t know who this dude/dudette’s Facebook friends are (because Facey is to blame for all of this, donchaknow), but they’re clearly not mine. The only job related things on my Facebook feed are rants about work and hilarious stories of things gone wrong. I mean, I consider myself to be relatively successful, and an “Oh great. Got sneezed on again. Awesome.” status isn’t about to make anyone sad about what they’re missing out on. Oh yeah, laugh it up. It happens.
But I shouldn’t fear! Oh no. The author has advice for me. Goodie! Apparently I’m supposed to stay ambitious…but I’m not supposed to pick a direction. It seems that if I dive in somewhere and try hard enough, things will come up flowering and fulfilling. Uh, no. This is what I call settling and complacency, not ambition. It’s the equivalent of diving into a shallow pool and hoping for the best. (Hint: nothing good comes from ignoring a “No Diving” sign).
Oh, oh! I’m also supposed to stop thinking that I’m special because “I’m an inexperienced young person who doesn’t have all that much to offer yet” and I can only get become special by “working really hard for a really long time.” There’s only one issue: I do have something to offer. I’ve been in the workforce for fifteen years. I’ve earned two university degrees. I’ve bought and sold real estate. I’ve had three careers. I’ve loved and lost family (human and furry). I’ve traveled. I’ve made hard choices. I’ve… Well, I’ve lived. How dare you tell me that my life means nothing?
Confusingly, though, the final piece of advice is that I should just ignore all others and do my own thing. Will do. Starting with an inane, judgmental article by an author who won’t even put their name to it.