After graduating from being insufferable hippies, Lucy's parents embarked on their careers. As the 70s, 80s, and 90s rolled along, the world entered a time of unprecedented economic prosperity. Lucy's parents did even better than they expected to. With a smoother, more positive life experience than that of their own parents, Lucy's parents raised Lucy with a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility.
Also true? Obviously not across the board. But by and large, life was good for boomers around the time they started having and raising kids. And like at least every previous generation in the 20th Century, they raised these kids — us — to believe we could do even better than they had done.
"Where the Baby Boomers wanted to live The American Dream, GYPSYs want to live Their Own Personal Dream," WBW writes--again, not an entirely unfair assessment. It's also not a phenomenon unique to Gen Y; at the same time as we were coming of age believing careers could be meaningful, everyone was getting more into the idea of career fulfillment. The culture at large began to value personal happiness and satisfaction more than certain old-school values, because that's what happens during times of economic prosperity.
So then the WBW post delves into entitlement ... but somehow it didn't make me want to punch anybody. Perhaps because it put our generation into historical context, it didn't seem so much to be pointing fingers at us as flawed individuals but more situating us as products of unique social forces. And, honestly, a lot of us did come out of college with grander goals than simply securing a job, any job, no? I sure as hell wanted a job with a unicorn on top.
This isn't unique to our era, of course — hello, The Graduate and Reality Bites. But there are more of us graduating college than ever before, so there are probably more of us expecting at least some sort of return on our investment. Meanwhile, we've got social media to tell us who's doing better, cooler things than us at all times, which ratchets our inflated expectations up even more.
The WBW post ends around that note, and this has made some people very angry. Though last week was filled with people sharing this on Facebook with "Yes Yes YES," this week has been filled with outraged updates and articles from people who can't believe WBW didn't mention the economy!!!!! Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones writes:
You have no idea about student debt, underemployment, life-long renting. "Stop feeling special" is some shitty advice. I don't feel special or entitled, just poor. The only thing that makes me special is I have more ballooning debt than you.
He goes on to rant some more about his own financial woes, because — proving WBW's point? — Adam Weinstein thinks the post is About Him, particularly. And that seems to be the tenor of so many of the WBW post critiques.
It's true, the post did not hash out every sad figure about the economic climate in which Millennials are entering the workforce. But it did stress that our world is vastly different than that of generations previous.
I took the point of all that reality vs. expectation talk at the beginning to be something of a defense of Millennials, or at least an explanation. We were raised with expectations — not just of being "special snowflakes" but of economic prosperity, a wage premium from a college degree, a housing market that always goes up. Then everything went to hell, and the proverbial rug got pulled from underneath us. The members of older generations aren't some sort of inherently more grounded, less entitled, harder-working people, they were just raised with different expectations that turned out (for a while at least) to be true. We weren't.
So, I don't know ... maybe I'm being too charitable with the WBW comic because it made me laugh, or because I really like unicorns. Or maybe its because I thought that despite being a bit heavy-handed on the entitlement issue, it made some interesting and valid points as well. Did it make every point about Gen Y possible? No, of course not. But that sort of seems like an unfair expectation for any blog post. Hmmm, maybe that's why commenters are so unhappy?