Kids These Day (UPDATED)

Millennials Discover The World.

I’m the first to say that the Millennials were served a crap sandwich, if for no other reason than just by how they’ve come of age informed by the Great Recession. They are carrying a debt burden from college that no previous generation has ever carried, facing the prospect of at best marginal employment as the Gig economy takes over, a low wage, service sector McJobs (as we X-ers used to say about our own prospects as we launched into St. Ronnie’s 10% unemployment trickle-down recession) without benefits or a career trajectory, and the youngest members of their generation will probably be the first to get screwed by AI. They are ridiculously smart, maybe over-educated, and out of step for the times.

So, given my empathy for their plight, I tucked into the Buzzfeed big article of the day, How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation. –

“I couldn’t figure out why small, straightforward tasks on my to-do list felt so impossible. The answer is both more complex and far simpler than I expected.”

It’s hard to feel sympathy at first:

“I tried to register for the 2016 election, but it was beyond the deadline by the time I tried to do it,” a man named Tim, age 27, explained to New York magazine last fall. “I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety.” Tim was outlining the reasons why he, like 11 other millennials interviewed by the magazine, probably wouldn’t vote in the 2018 midterm election. “The amount of work logically isn’t that much,” he continued. “Fill out a form, mail it, go to the specific place on a specific day. But those kind of tasks can be hard for me to do if I’m not enthusiastic about it.”

Tim goes on to admit that some friends had helped him register to vote, and he planned to probably make it happen for the midterms. But his explanation — even though, as he noted, his struggle in this case was caused in part by his ADHD — triggered the contemporary tendency to dunk on millennials’ inability to complete seemingly basic tasks. Grow up, the overall sentiment goes. Life is not that hard. “So this is the way the world ends,” HuffPost congressional reporter Matt Fuller tweeted. “Not with a bang but with a bunch of millennials who don’t know how to mail things.”

…but if you persevere and read it to the end, you will discover that actually there is much in common here with other generations; Millennials just discovered it sooner:  the system absolutely is rigged against you, and if you believe that the American Dream is both achievable and your destiny, Luke, then you are setting yourself up for a big FAIL. You see, they believed their helicopter parents  that if you work hard enough that you will succeed and that everything is about succeeding. They’ve hit bitter middle age before they hit 30, and they burned out before they even started.

Here’s the crucial paragraph for me that cleared the fog:

“But individual action isn’t enough. Personal choices alone won’t keep the planet from dying, or get Facebook to quit violating our privacy. To do that, you need paradigm-shifting change. Which helps explain why so many millennials increasingly identify with democratic socialism and are embracing unions: We are beginning to understand what ails us, and it’s not something an oxygen facial or a treadmill desk can fix.”

And that’s what I mean when I say that I have great hope for them; they are smart, they are learning the essential lesson much earlier than I did, and it seems like they are actually working to make some changes and see that it is going to take a societal shift, and not only  an individual shift to make a difference.

Anyway, it is a fascinating very long read. I found myself both angry at them (the stuff about the to-do lists and why they like things to be delivered is utter bullshit – “We use Fresh Direct and Amazon because the time they save allows us to do more work.”), and then I was also angry at the world they are inheriting.

If you do decide to read it, be sure to read the comments. They were eye-opening. But don’t read the comments without reading the piece; it will just make you more angry at the Millennials.

UPDATE: Hello Crooks and Liars!

If you’re wondering where the growing Democratic support for policies like Medicare for All and student debt forgiveness is coming from, here’s your answer: Axios tells us that 20% of people between the ages of 18 and 37 expect to die before they are able to pay off their debt, and the majority of people in that age range don’t know when or if they will ever be able to pay it off.

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11 Responses to Kids These Day (UPDATED)

  1. Jim says:

    ADHD definitely has inherited component and, like Aspergers syndrome, there maybe an environmental pollution component (like there was with leaded gasoline brain poisoning in a previous era). People don’t just decide to be ADHD, obviously. My larger, extended family has people afflicted with serious ADHD and others only mildly so (in fact helping their careers) so it is also a spectrum situation, mostly undiagnosed until recent decades.


  2. When economists blithely point to the enormous gains in productivity enabling the Glorious Rise of The Economy, this is what they’re eliding: disposable laborers trained from birth to be remorseless working machines.

    And when they’re broken, they’re disposed of.

    Unless something changes, the era of drug addiction and suicide rates of today are going to pale in comparison.


    • Also, her description of paralysis doing the simple tasks, sending mail, the endless putting off of the to do list sound very much like clinical depression. Many sufferers can function just fine at work; but everything else feels like an insurmountable task.


  3. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    And that’s what I mean when I say that I have great hope for them; they are smart, they are learning the essential lesson much earlier than I did

    That’s because they have never seen a system which works. We at least experienced a world in which our parents could afford homes and college educations, even if we couldn’t.


  4. Aurora S says:

    Okay, I tried to take your recommendation and read the comments… there were just too many predictable chimings-in by Boomers shaking their canes with cries of, “WHAT ABOUT MEEEE??? YOURE NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO MEEEE AND MY UNSOLICITED ASSESMENT OF WHY YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF WHILE I SCOLD YOU FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT MY GENERATION’S UNFATHOMABLE GREED AND NARCISSISM!!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • tengrain says:

      Aurora –

      I just checked, and yes, the comments are now flooding from older generations, and are predictably out of touch and wanting to tell their stories.

      (Confession, I started down that route with my post too, but then remembered my college training: “Always remember whose story you are telling.”)

      Anyway, all of the BIG MSM blogs promoted the story on Sunday and so the Boomers got wind (see what I did there), and flooded the comments.

      But in its own way that is just as illustrative of what the Millennials are facing.




  5. ming says:

    Meh (shaking my cane). The piece doesn’t reflect the millennial’s I know and work with on a daily basis. I guess it makes me old, but I’ve never had a lot of patience for navel gazing when there’s work to be done. Feel free pile on, I won’t take it personally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tengrain says:

      Ming – I think that’s exactly the point of the article. They are already working themselves into burnout, but they have nothing to show for it.

      While one could make the case that the article was navel gazing, I will remind everyone the author got paid for it. That’s work…

      (But not to make fun of Ming: I find excessive navel gazing to be just a different form of masturbation.)



  6. StonyPillow says:

    Actually not that long, and absolutely on point. I immediately texted a link to Ms. Pillow and the Pillow daughters, with a paternal command to also click the link to the Mental Load graphic short story by Emma. That’s a better summary of some of the issues of intersectional feminism than just about anything I’ve seen, in comic form for your viewing pleasure. I just wish I’d seen it 35 years ago, I would have been a better man, husband and father for it.

    I’ll go back and read the comments tonight.

    That Firefox Pocket link to the Buzzfeed article made my weekend.


  7. Val says:

    I will soon be shaking my own cane and I also seem to be unable to mail things so maybe it’s not just a generational thing


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