We are Generation Y – that’s what our generation has always been called. It’s what we’re used to hearing, apart from being called millennials. However, we are also commonly known as the most “babied,” narcissistic, selfish, and unhappiest generations. Researchers and critics have written about our generation in various capacities. They have talked about our opportunities, our faults, our accomplishments – anything they could possibly analyze. However, some of the biggest findings that have been associated with Generation Y are our levels of motivation, or lack thereof. Even though we might argue that we are not all self-absorbed or unhappy – to an extent what the researchers are saying makes sense.
First they claim that our generation is sheltered. American sociologist Kathleen Shaputis has labeled our generation the “Peter Pan” generation, basically describing us as more babied than previous generations. One of her main points was based on how long we end up living with our parents before moving out and living on our own compared to other generations. Due to expensive schooling, housing and the mess that the economy is in, what other choice do unemployed graduates really have? Yes, maybe we are more parented than our parents were, but is that our fault? Either way, it doesn’t really matter – the reality is that we are very sheltered.
Our generation is also self-absorbed. Thanks to the various social media platforms that we’re all mostly active on, all we do on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages is post pictures of ourselves and let everyone else know what’s going on in our lives. Seldom do we actually care what’s going on with others (so long as their Facebook pictures don’t have more likes than ours). It makes us egotistical. It makes us narcissistic. It also makes us pretty shallow. How often do we see pictures of our friends that haven’t had at least one filter added to it?
Apparently both of these characteristics lead to unhappiness. With unemployment rates so high, tons of debt and not really knowing what we want because we’re so absorbed in ourselves, I would agree that yes, we probably are unhappy. But there’s more; not only do the flawed characteristics of our generation imply that we are unhappy, it also implies that we are only this way because we’re wildly ambitious. Being so focused on following our heart, we fail to desire what our parents dreamt of having – economic prosperity. How does this make us unhappy? While the baby boomer generation was so focused on living the American Dream and being able to provide for themselves and their families, Generation Y is more focused on living our own personal dream. The dream of having a secure career has been replaced with having a fulfilling career, which for most (without hard work and determination) is hard, if not impossible to find. We are a lazy generation and even the wildest, most entertaining career has hard work required that no one wants to put in. So how can we be happy with such high expectations for ourselves?
Generation Y-ers are also a little deluded. For whatever reason we feel that we are better than we are and that we deserve more than we should. In reality, we are not entitled to anything – we’re actually just broke. Still, our parents, our peers and our professors keep pushing us, adding to this pressure. With all this added stress, it’s also discouraging when our parents expect us to be more well off than they are (because that was a reality for them and their parents) while we end up renting out their basement for almost a decade before we move out on our own.
Maybe our generation is unhappy for those reasons, or maybe it’s because we spend more time taking “selfies” than living in the moment. Or it could be because we “hook-up” more than we fall in love. Maybe it’s because we don’t like to fix things when they are broken. Or it could be because we spend more time doing meaningless things than spending time with the people we love and who love us back. We spend more time behind computer screens than we do making change. We are constantly being told to do something with our opportunities but are stuck between being financially secure and following our dreams. We are one of the most accepting generations, but is that because we actually accept everyone around us or because we compromise our own values to fit in with the rest of society? We, as a generation, are stuck between what we want to be, what’s expected of us, and who we really are. Maybe that’s why we’re so unhappy.