So this dumb opinion piece on what’s wrong with my generation happened. Pretty much all articles that make sweeping generalizations about anybody are flawed at the heart. This is no exception. Most I can write off as just another denizen of the internet weighing in with their special snowflake opinion, but this one was actually getting re-posted. A lot. By my Facebook friends. So I thought it might be important to point out why this is not, in fact, real life, and is, in fact, utterly insulting.
Let’s take a look at this guy’s argument, point by point.
- Wait But Why Dude: “Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s. She’s also part of a yuppie culture that makes up a large portion of Gen Y…I have a term for yuppies in the Gen Y age group—I call them Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies, or GYPSYs. A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story.”
Actual Twenty-Something Who Lives In Real Life:
- Nice job picking a racial/ethnic slur as your cutesy acronym.
2. WBWD: “Before we talk more about Lucy, let’s quickly figure out if you, the reader, are a Gen Y Protagonist & Special Yuppie. The Gen Y part is easy—you have to have been born sometime between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s (there are various opinions on the exact range of time, but this is the most common). As for the Protagonist & Special Yuppie part, let’s lay out some guidelines. You’re probably a GYPSY if:
- You went to sleep-away summer camp during your youth.
- You’ve won a number of meaningless awards.
- You studied abroad during college.
- You, after graduating college, considered (or will consider) big, famous cities like New York, San Francisco, LA, or DC, or small, fancy cities like Boulder or Santa Barbara as the only acceptable places to move (i.e. you feel like too special of a person to move to somewhere like Cleveland).
- You have disdain for a restaurant like The Olive Garden or Red Lobster.
- You need to have an iPhone and wouldn’t consider an Android phone.
- Foodie is a word you’ve ever called yourself or anyone else.
- You’ve been to a therapist without any severe mental illness.
- You have started your own business or have plans to do so.
- You regularly talk or think about your passions.
- You’ve ever had a blog. Shit.”
- Omg THANK YOU, internet dude! I’ve always wanted to know if I am a yuppie!
- How many of these bullet points, exactly, do you have to accumulate before knowing you’re a yuppie? Is it ok that I didn’t study abroad? Does it count if I only ironically refer to myself as a foodie? TELL ME, OH WISE YUPPIE ARBITER.
- What if I considered the cities you mentioned because I am a homosexual and they’re the only places where I don’t have to wait for a twice yearly “ladies’ night” to hang out with the two lesbians and solitary bisexual chick in town? Or did you not realize that it sucks to be totally isolated from people who understand you/want to date you?
- ESPECIAL LOL for thinking being an entrepreneur makes you a yuppie. Is the beeper king a yuppie? What about Good Ole Tom?
- My favorite, though, is “You regularly think or talk about your passions.” You regularly think or talk about your passions. I’m sorry, WHAT? Are there people who DON’T do this? Is there like a contingent of salt-of-the-earth Amurricans who ONLY talk about things they DON’T care about?
3. WBWD: “Now that you know where you fit into all this, let’s get back to Lucy. Lucy’s enjoying her GYPSY life, and she’s very pleased to be Lucy. Only issue is this one thing: Lucy’s kind of unhappy. To get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place. It comes down to a simple formula:
Happiness = Expectations – Reality
It’s pretty straightforward—when the reality of someone’s life is better than they had expected, they’re happy. When reality turns out to be worse than the expectations, they’re unhappy.”
- If Lucy’s enjoying her life, and happy to be herself, why is she unhappy? If she is unhappy, it’s probably because outside factors are influencing her state of mind. Seriously, think this through. If you like your life, and you like yourself, but you’re unhappy, isn’t the rational assumption that something that is not your life or yourself is making you unhappy? Like, maybe Lucy’s crushing student loan debt is worrying her. Or her aging, stressed out parents calling her every day worrying that they won’t have enough money to live on once they retire? Or maybe it’s that she gets cat-called every day on her way home! Or maybe she’s worried about her friends who are struggling to find work. Or maybe her landlord won’t fix anything in her house, goes out of the country for long periods of time without warning, and refuses to give her a copy of the lease. Or maybe all of those things. Even relatively privileged people have debt and families and shitty landlords and lots of grinding problems that are beyond their control.
- That is a really stupid definition of happiness. I can think of about a million better ones. Let’s try a few.
Happiness = Security + Opportunity for Personal Growth
Happiness = Knowing What You Want + Having the Resources to Pursue It
Happiness = Being Loved + Doing Meaningful Work
4. WBWD: Tl;dr: “The Great Generation,” Lucy’s grandparents, were obsessed with economic success. They raised the “Boomers,” Lucy’s parents, to pursue “good” jobs/careers (illustrated in this article by a green lawn.) The economy was great until about the time that “Lucy” went to high school/college. Lucy’s parents thought the economy would be great forever! They said “Lucy, go to school. College will get you a good job. Don’t worry about your major. Don’t worry about your debt.” This left GYPSYs feeling tremendously hopeful about their careers, to the point where their parents’ goals of a green lawn of secure prosperity didn’t really do it for them. A GYPSY-worthy lawn has flowers.”
- This is a dumb metaphor.
- If your parents tell you that you’re going to have a decent career if you go to college, and you believe them, that makes you an entitled yuppie? I don’t follow.
5. WBWD: “The GYPSY needs a lot more from a career than a nice green lawn of prosperity and security. The fact is, a green lawn isn’t quite exceptional or unique enough for a GYPSY. Where the Baby Boomers wanted to live The American Dream, GYPSYs want to live Their Own Personal Dream. Cal Newport points out that “follow your passion” is a catchphrase that has only gotten going in the last 20 years, according to Google’s Ngram viewer, a tool that shows how prominently a given phrase appears in English print over any period of time. The same Ngram viewer shows that the phrase “a secure career” has gone out of style, just as the phrase “a fulfilling career” has gotten hot.
- Are we seriously nostalgic for the American Dream of the fifties right now? The American Dream was “Buy stuff you can’t afford on credit so your wife will look more impressive than the other wives in your racist rape-den of a suburban neighborhood!” FUN FOR EVERYONE!
- “Follow your passion” is a trite phrase, but it’s not bad career advice, if you don’t take it super literally—which most people above age five manage not to do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to make money doing something that makes you happy.
- Is he actually arguing that getting a secure job (which doesn’t even exist the way it did in decades past thanks to extremely anti-union, pro-“business” legislation) that bores you is better than spending the 40 hrs a week most people have to work to feed themselves doing something mildly interesting?
- Passion and security are not mutually exclusive. I’m a bookkeeper. It is not wildly exciting work. But I’m working for an organization that works on education reform, something I’m immensely interested in. I’m not passionately fulfilled by paying bills, but I’m not compromising. I work for an organization I believe in, and I have a job that’s reasonably secure.
6. WBWD: “But something else is happening too. While the career goals of Gen Y as a whole have become much more particular and ambitious, Lucy has been given a second message throughout her childhood as well: You’re special!”
- Yes, telling your children they’re nothing out of the ordinary and should never strive to lift their heads above the crowd is an excellent parenting technique.
7. WBWD: “This would probably be a good time to bring in our second fact about GYPSYs: GYPSYs Are Delusional. “Sure,” Lucy has been taught, “everyone will go and get themselves some fulfilling career, but I am unusually wonderful and as such, my career and life path will stand out amongst the crowd.” So on top of the generation as a whole having the bold goal of a flowery career lawn, each individual GYPSY thinks that he or she is destined for something even better—A shiny unicorn on top of the flowery lawn. “
- I am exactly the same as everyone else! There is no reason for me to try to achieve greatness or pursue a unique life path, because I might become “unhappy,” thereby forcing some middle-aged blogger to write a whiny piece about me illustrated with MS Paint drawings! Let me soothe him by getting a “secure” job and buying an Android phone.
8. WBWD: “A second GYPSY delusion comes into play once the GYPSY enters the job market. While Lucy’s parents’ expectation was that many years of hard work would eventually lead to a great career, Lucy considers a great career an obvious given for someone as exceptional as she, and for her it’s just a matter of time and choosing which way to go. Her pre-workforce expectations look something like this: [graph of quickly peaking “career path”] Unfortunately, the funny thing about the world is that it turns out to not be that easy of a place, and the weird thing about careers is that they’re actually quite hard. Great careers take years of blood, sweat and tears to build—even the ones with no flowers or unicorns on them—and even the most successful people are rarely doing anything that great in their early or mid-20s.”
- I will throttle the next person who tells me I have to work for my career. I have to work to PAY THE BILLS, motherfucker! It is insanely difficult to get hired in my city, even having graduated from an IVY with HIGH HONORS, for an ADMIN POSITION. And my city has one of the highest employment rates in the country right now. I don’t know any people my age who are not viscerally cognizant of the fact that a shiny career is not going to get handed to them on a silver platter.
- I think what you meant to say is: A very tiny proportion of 20-somethings believe success will be handed to them, but the rest of us are frustrated that the economy tanked just as we were graduating with thousands of dollars in student debt, and no one wants to hire our overqualified, desperate asses no matter how many “entry level” positions we apply to!
9. WBWD: “Paul Harvey, a University of New Hampshire professor and GYPSY expert, has researched this, finding that Gen Y has “unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback,” and “an inflated view of oneself.” He says that “a great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. They often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting.” For those hiring members of Gen Y, Harvey suggests asking the interview question, “Do you feel you are generally superior to your coworkers/classmates/etc., and if so, why?” He says that “if the candidate answers yes to the first part but struggles with the ‘why,’ there may be an entitlement issue. This is because entitlement perceptions are often based on an unfounded sense of superiority and deservingness. They’ve been led to believe, perhaps through overzealous self-esteem building exercises in their youth, that they are somehow special but often lack any real justification for this belief.”
- Yes, the entire generation is resistant to criticism. That seems like a solid claim.
- LOL yes, PLEASE DO ask interviewees if they “consider themselves superior.” Please also ask them if they have affiliations with the Aryan Brotherhood. Please film this and send it to me so I can DIE LAUGHING while these poor kids sit there going “Why the fuck would anyone in their right mind ask me a question like that?”
- This dude, and apparently Mr. New Hampshire Research as well, really seems to think there is an army of clueless narcissistic airheads wandering around just ITCHING to tell potential employers how superior they are to the lesser humans. I would like to watch a television show about this, please. Unscripted.
10. WBWD: “GYPSYs are TAUNTED. Sure, some people from Lucy’s parents’ high school or college classes ended up more successful than her parents did. And while they may have heard about some of it from time to time through the grapevine, for the most part they didn’t really know what was going on in too many other peoples’ careers. Lucy, on the other hand, finds herself constantly taunted by a modern phenomenon: Facebook Image Crafting. Social media creates a world for Lucy where A) what everyone else is doing is very out in the open, B) most people present an inflated version of their own existence, and C) the people who chime in the most about their careers are usually those whose careers (or relationships) are going the best, while struggling people tend not to broadcast their situation. This leaves Lucy feeling, incorrectly, like everyone else is doing really well, only adding to her misery.”
- THE DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA: Is your tween sexting? Is your twenty-something crying because her boyfriend’s sister has a better-organized Pinterest than she does? MORE AFTER THESE MESSAGES.
- He has a sort-of point in that people do polish their online images. We’ve all felt kind of glum from time to time because someone seems like they’re having more fun than us on Facebook. But for the most part, envy or frustration is not based in fantasy, it’s based in reality. When I hear that my friend has scored a coveted journalism position, I’m not jealous because she LOOKS happier/more successful than I am, I’m jealous because she IS.
TL;DR: This guy is kind of racist, super patronizing, doesn’t understand what a yuppie is, and has a lot of really stupid thoughts about what is “wrong” with a group of people who probably don’t exist in real life, and if they do, they’re quite a small portion of the population. So, if you read this and found yourself nodding along, you should probably make some middle-class/poor friends. Then you can read this to them and when they stop laughing while staring into your eyes and stabbing a teddy bear with a butter knife, maybe y’all can go get some Fro-Yo. You know, another thing “our generation” just can’t get enough of.