Yesterday I tweeted a link to an article that has had as much of an effect on my thinking as my favourite academic paper of all time, Unskilled And Unaware Of It. While Unskilled makes the point from a psychological perspective that people are not as self-aware as we would believe, this article made me aware of a generational mindset that exists in people my age and maybe in myself.
It’s worth reading and, for all its polemic and mock-rage, the Glengarry Glen Ross speech stands out as a youtube video genuinely worth watching, if that’s not an oxymoron.
The author is right to say that our generation is one who were raised in the belief that easy money was coming our way. Born in the eighties when greed was good, and raised in the shadow of the nineties when everything was possible, we came to maturity in a new millennium when it seemed we were moving forward to a better world.
So what happened? We were duped. The easy money we bought our degrees with, whether it was private or socialist, ran out. I heard the best example of this on a facebook post that was passed around a few months ago. I can’t source it, but the gist was, “When we were young, we were told to go to university if we didn’t want a job in McDonalds. Then we graduated, and asked what jobs were available. They said “flipping burgers in McDonalds”. We said we didn’t want to do that. They said, “don’t be picky”.”
Sad but true. We are the generation Y, who thought we could do everything – that we could be weekend warriors and party-goers and earn 50K a year, do better than our parents and retire to luxury. And we were sold this dream wholesale, because the previous generation believed it, too. There was immense pressure to do well academically and go to university, and here we are. The city I live near, Edinburgh, has the most unemployed graduates per head of any city in the UK, or so I’m told.
So what happened? Sure, there’s an attitude problem. We might be the Generation Y Bother?. But it could be because we were fooled – all of us, old and young. It’s not the fault of one generation, but of a whole society geared to success and unable to deal with failure. We believed the world would continue as it was, with infinite prosperity for everyone, but in this we were mistaken.
So the blame can’t be solely laid on “Hipsters on Foodstamps”. They were, after all, raised on a diet of aspiration. It’s not wholly their fault they bought the dream. And a degree doesn’t validate what you can do, only what you know. But the trial of life is to adapt to situations and continue to evolve with the times. I guess that’s what we need to do. We need to shelve our ideas of owning our own home and earning 20K our first year out of university.
But we needn’t shelve them for very long, I feel. The nature of the economy is that it changes abruptly. And I think good times are just around the corner.
I’ll get off my soapbox now and leave you with some boobs. Here’s Christina Hendricks with the weather.