{Confessions of a PRetty Social Girl} Welcome to Generation Recession

Image by Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved 2009.

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times in these cities to which we, Gen-Y, are living. Last week, I asked if the recession was good for Gen-Y. This week I would like to talk about the repercussions.

Enlightened or traumatized? That is the question.

Image via Disney.

I read an article in the New York Times called “Generation OMG” —

In 1951, Time magazine set out to paint a portrait of the nation’s youth, those born into the Great Depression. It doomed them as the Silent Generation, and a generally drab lot: cautious and resigned, uninterested in striking out in new directions or shaping the great issues of the day — the outwardly efficient types whose inner agonies the novel “Revolutionary Road” would dissect a decade later.

Insane isn’t it?

So what of the youth shaped by what some are already calling the Great Recession? Will a publication looking back from 2030 damn them with such faint praise? Will they marry younger, be satisfied with stable but less exciting jobs? Will their children mock them for reusing tea bags and counting pennies as if this paycheck were the last? At the very least, they will reckon with tremendous instability, just as their Depression forebears did.

Just like the 1930s, the 2000s are a challenge to the “American Dream.” Call it whatever you want — but disposable incomes only exists for the exceedingly rich, and when you hear them complaining that they’re not spending money because they “lost two million dollars last year,” then you know something’s up. And if that isn’t enough already, I don’t need to give you statistics about a shrinking middle class — the contrast between rich and poor, even the Digital Divide — it’s not what it used to be.

And if you aren’t alarmed already, you should be because America was built on the middle class. We’re in a worldwide recession and the Third World debt isn’t getting smaller. This is important because it will affect how we, as a superpower, spend what money we have at home and abroad.

In terms of Gen-Y, I feel that the recession has taken this fairytale image of exciting jobs, glamorous meetings and an exciting life waiting to be lived and altered it.

Instead of starry-eyed, earnest post-grads, we’re living at a time where these young adults are taking on part-time jobs and terrible jobs, in some extreme cases, just to make money. Not because they want those fabulous $500 Jimmy Choo shoes, but rather, because they have $80,000 USD or more in student loans to pay back.

It’s sad, scary and undeniably disheartening. Most of all, I don’t even think that’s the worst of it.

But, just like those before us, who were shaped by the Depression and altered by the war that followed, there is hope.

Image via WeHeartIt.com

According to the article, research shows that in the 1980s, those 20-somethings that came out of that recession were a) least likely to invest in the next decade and b) were held back, unlike their predecessors. However, similarly, Gen-Y, aka Generation Recession or The Next Silent (have you heard that?), have the possibility to turn out remarkably resilient despite economically troubling times.

So I guess, my question is, are Gen-y the new Silent Generation?

  • Hard working (“Plan C”)
  • Lots of activists (Gen-Y is the most socially conscious generation in decades)
  • Artists and a “new” way of life (social media and web 2.0, anyone?)

I’m not trying to label, categorize, or cookie cut. But some of the similarities are so striking, that it makes me wonder about my future as I grow into adulthood. A lot of these members of the Silent Generation moved back home after college, were highly dedicated to education and spent a lot of time ‘thinking’ in order to get away from the realities of their everyday life.

Doesn’t that sound familiar to you? At least in the slightest?

We are a generation of blogging, a higher number of us than previously have our graduate degrees before the age of 25 and guess what? Most of us, are living at home. It’s not even ‘frowned upon’ so to speak anymore, because for the majority of the 20-something population, there isn’t a choice. And of those that move out? Well, at some point, how many cases do you know of where they moved right back on in with mom and dad?

Did you know that Gen-Y is sometimes referred to at the Pater Pan Generation or the Boomerang Generation for those very same reasons? (Shaputis, Kathleen. The Crowded Nest Syndrome: Surviving the Return of Adult Children. Clutter Fairy Publishing, 2004.)

On that note, wasn’t it the musings of the Gen-Y that ushered in the labeling of the “Quarter Life Crisis?”

  • never feeling successful; “not good enough”
  • frustration with the working world
  • tough time finding a career path/end point
  • insecurity about life in the long-run
  • financial-related stress (school loans, etc.)
  • etc.

Whoa.

Image via WeHeartIt.com

Darwinism

I don’t know if you believe in Darwin’s teachings, or how religious you are — but I wanted to share with you something that has been on my mind for months…

If the Third World debt isn’t getting smaller, our national debt is getting bigger, to the point where some are calling us The United States of America-China, then are we experiencing what animals experience in the wild?

You know how forest fires happen naturally? It’s mother nature’s way of rebirth — are we living in such a time? A time in which our actions, the actions of those before us, have reached their peak and have spun into the decline? It’s where in order to grow again, we must fall first?

It’s kind of like survival of the fittest in a sense: what if the powers that are beyond us, are weeding us out?

Image via WeHeartIt.com

Brave New World

But when it comes to raising their children, the pendulum has swung. Today’s youngest children — the recession babies — are being raised in the same kind of protective bubble as the Depression babies…

That caught my attention. My biggest questions is, what does that mean?  And my biggest response is, sure…but no.

Why?

Because of the Internet.

Gen-Y’s access to the web, to connection, to being these Trophy children, so to speak, is different that any other generation before. So while yes, there are similarities, I don’t think we should be judging ourselves based on those that came before us. They were them, we are us.

We shouldn’t forget them, we should learn from them; all the while, developing who we are.

All of this generational banter is great, and makes for some awesome conversation — but, instead of stereotyping and trying to predict a future and a present that is still happening — why don’t we just try to live it?

It’s like the movie Enchanted, while I love it, it’s the irony of my childhood and if you’re 20-something and reading this, it’s the irony of your childhood too.

Like Baz Luhrmann says,

“A life lived in fear, is a life half lived.”

That’s my challenge to myself and my challenge to you, my fellow unemployed Gen-Y peers: forget all of the banter, go out there and just live 🙂

Sx.

**Special thanks to Christina K for sending me the NYT article to read **

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Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

Comments

  1. Great post! Reading posts about how difficult it is for Gen Y can be so depressing. I think every generation has their own issues & struggles to deal with, and I agree with you in that instead of focusing on the problems, Gen Y should just get on with it and live their lives.

    Let's define ourselves instead of having others define us.

  2. “Let's define ourselves instead of having others define us.”

    Well said, Sheema. I think it's so important to not let the books define us,
    but let us define the books.

  3. “Let's define ourselves instead of having others define us.”

    Well said, Sheema. I think it's so important to not let the books define us,
    but let us define the books.

  4. Great post! Reading posts about how difficult it is for Gen Y can be so depressing. I think every generation has their own issues & struggles to deal with, and I agree with you in that instead of focusing on the problems, Gen Y should just get on with it and live their lives.

    Let's define ourselves instead of having others define us.

  5. “Let's define ourselves instead of having others define us.”

    Well said, Sheema. I think it's so important to not let the books define us,

    but let us define the books.