Update, 2019: Wow, I developed this post into a book! You can order it here!
I was in graduate school when I first heard the term “millennial.” It was at a conference. The session was about how to serve millennial students, because they have different characteristics than the Generation X students that went before them. It was here that I first started hearing things like “millennials need to be recognized for participation,” “millennials feel they are special,” “millennials are sheltered,” “millennials are likely to have helicopter parents,” and more. Society as a whole loves to hate on the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999), calling us “special snowflakes” and sarcastically referring to us as “social justice warriors,” calling us out for “being offended by everything” and, everybody’s favorite, pointing out how very entitled we are.
Here’s the secret: We’re not.
The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting.
Glad you asked. I learned about gaslighting within the last couple years as I explored topics surrounding emotional abuse and narcissism. Gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of making someone question their own sanity. It’s an emotional abuse tactic. It can also be described as “the attempt of one person to overwrite another person’s reality” (as defined in this article from Everyday Feminism).
Have you ever gotten into an argument with a parent, boss, or romantic partner about something they’ve done that upset you, but by the end of the argument, YOU’RE the one apologizing for hurting their feelings? This is often a result of gaslighting. They flip it around and become the victim, and your original feelings never get resolved because the conversation always descends into the other person’s victimization.
As one example from my life, when I first faced up to the fact that my first marriage was in real trouble and I was considering divorce, I (very calmly) asked my ex-husband if he’d consider marriage counseling. His response? “I cannot believe you can even ask that of me.” He was so offended by the suggestion that something was wrong that I questioned the validity of my feelings. “Oh my god,” I thought, “I must be terrible. Is anything even wrong or are my expectations just crazy?” This is an example of gaslighting.
Now imagine a similar scenario where you are applying for a job, but the job requires a college degree, but you can’t pay for a college degree without a job so you end up taking out massive loans. Then when you graduate, you still can’t get a job without experience. So you end up in a minimum wage job (or three), making ends meet and barely making your loan payments. You say something like, “the minimum wage needs to be raised, people can’t live like this,” only to receive a barrage of old, crotchety white people yelling at you about how gosh-darn ENTITLED you are, and how THEY got a college education working part time and how it’s your fault for taking out the loans in the first place.
This is what I’m talking about. Generations before us completely drove the bus into a lake and it’s somehow our fault everybody’s drowning.
What are Millennials really like?
So if millennials aren’t a bunch of spoiled brats with an entitlement mentality who need a trophy just for putting on pants in the morning, what are they?
I am in a Facebook group of geeky women (mostly moms) from around the world, and our group is capped at 500 members. When it was discovered that two of our members were actively fighting to get out of physically and emotionally abusive marriages and needed money for legal help and deposits for moving, the group arranged a massive auction and hundreds of members donated their belongings and purchased in the auction to raise thousands of dollars.
When another member of that same group was faced with an unimaginable loss and an enormous bill, we had more auctions and helped her get through the worst moment of her life as best we could.
I have shipped pet supplies, groceries, books, clothing, and more to broke friends whose kids and cats were hungry, who have experienced loss and just couldn’t get up to “adult,” and to people who needed to receive a message to pull themselves out of a bad place.
I see us raising money for funeral expenses, medical bills, emergency surgeries for beloved pets, and more. I see us trading services or goods for other services or goods. I see us sending money via PayPal to make somebody’s day a little easier. I see us buying things from work-at-home-moms on Etsy or Facebook rather than support large corporate stores.
Once, I could feel a cold coming on but I was out of grocery budget, and a friend shipped me a box of tea from Amazon. I’ve sent her groceries and pet supplies when her budget was tapped. This is our generation.
We barter and trade, we lift each other up when we need it, and we empower each other. We have each other’s back.
But what are they reeeeally like?
Anecdotal evidence aside, here’s some science.
First of all, it’s important to note that there are some 80 million people in the millennial generation, making us the largest cohort in history. This makes us very fun and easy to study. I pulled some data from a 2012 report from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Millennials are tech-savvy, having been raised in the most technologically advancing decades of recent human history. We are optimistic (41% report satisfaction with the way the country is performing, compared to 26% of people over 30). Please note that this data was from 2012 and if I were a betting woman, I’d bet that fewer millennials are pleased with how the country is doing at this particular moment in time. 2016 has been rough.
“Young people are more tolerant of races and groups than older generations (47% vs. 19%) with 45% agreeing with preferential treatment to improve the position of minorities.” Not only are millennials the largest demographic, we’re also the most diverse. We are 60% non-Hispanic white (compared to 70% for older generations), 19% Hispanic, 14% black, 4% Asian, and 3% mixed race. Eleven percent of us are born to an immigrant parent. So the generation that hears “Why are you kids so offended by everything these days,” is offended because we’re sick and tired of seeing minorities vilified and punished by systemic racism within the system.
Millennials are multi-taskers. Multi-tasking is actually harmful to the brain and leads to a huge decrease in productivity. But, you know, we gotta work all these jobs and get everything done, lest we die penniless in the gutter.
Millennials are engaged and expressive: 75% have a social networking profile, 20% have posted a video of themselves online, 38% have 1-6 tattoos, 23% have non-earlobe piercings. The research indicates a trend toward “self-promoting,” which some skew to mean that millennials are self-confident (OH NO, THE HORROR) and self-absorbed. Others take this data to conclude that millennials are identifying their passions and making their own path instead of following others’ paths for them.
Millennials get their news from TV (65%) and online sources (59%).
Millennials may be the first generation in over 100 years to have a decrease of their average lifespan.
Millennials have a high graduation rate from high school (72% in 2012) and college enrollment rate (68% in 2012). Over half (58%) of millennials that enroll in a four-year college graduate within six years.
Millennials have an average of $25,000 in student loans. There is more student loan debt than credit card debt in the United States. Tuition rates are rising faster than inflation. However, enrollment continues to increase and there is a trend that jobs are paying more for more educated applicants.
On and on and on and on. Read the full report linked above for more statistics and research.
Millennials struggle with mental health
Most millennials I know struggle with mental illness to some degree. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more. I wonder how much of that anxiety comes from being told that wanting a living wage, affordable college, or adequate healthcare means that you’re being a spoiled entitled brat. It really doesn’t. The generations before us HAD a living wage, affordable college, and adequate healthcare. But now, inflation has far surpassed the minimum wage, college tuition and loan interest rates are through the proverbial roof, and medical bills are the top cause of bankruptcy in America.
These things were not caused by millennials, but after being raised on a steady diet of “you’re entitled,” we don’t even need to hear it from other people. We believe it about ourselves. As a society, we now romanticize struggle, busy-ness, and “the hustle.” If you’re not losing sleep and working two or three jobs, you must not want it enough.
What if we’re actually not crazy? What if wanting to work one full-time job and have the ends not only meet but actually overlap a little is NOT an entitled pipe dream?
The sheer stress of existing in today’s world is enough to give anybody an anxiety disorder. Add the fact that we’re told over and over again how we need to just bootstrap it, because generations before us handled life just fine, and you have a recipe for disaster. The generations before us could afford college tuition on minimum wage and didn’t have bosses who expect us to be tied to our devices at all hours.
I often feel this way about our financial goals. I have a full-time job and bring in extra income from freelance marketing work and resume writing. I make “good money” by most standards. And I catch myself thinking I should be working a part time job in the evenings or on the weekends to make our financial goals happen faster. But at what cost? I know for a fact that my mental health would suffer if I did that. I can’t even imagine the psychological stress of people who have to work multiple jobs just to meet their basic needs. We’ve got people working two or three jobs to feed their families that they barely see. That’s not even getting into the cost of child care.
More reading on millennials and mental health:
- Mental Health Issues and College-Age Millennials, Psychology Today
- A generation on edge: A look at millennials and mental health, Vox Magazine
- Are Millennials Really the Most Mentally Ill Generation?, Moods Magazine
Conclusions (for now)
The millennial generation has been tasked with fixing the broken system we inherited and chastised for not doing it right or for daring to suggest improvements.
If you think we’re doing a bad job, ask yourself how it got this way in the first place.
521 thoughts on “The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation”
oliagarchs run this game , have been and wont relent…Gen Xers , millenials all irrelevant…
enjoy your chai…
Special snowflakes and SJW are clearly easy enough to see on places like Tumblr. Their ideology is irrational, they are crazy, and they are millennials. That being said only a small percentage of millennials are SJW. SJW are just a vocal minority.
Secondly millennials are working 3 minimium wage jobs to pay off college debt because they chose to major in something useless. Turns out that art history degree wasn’t a wise investment. How many millennials that got degrees from the top 20 list on Forbes are working minimium wage (few if any). OR go into trades (welders can make 6 figures).
“preferential treatment to improve the position of minorities” So 47% of millennials support racism.
“Millennials may be the first generation in over 100 years to have a decrease of their average lifespan.” because they’re fat.
I say all of this as a 24 year old with an engineering degree. I worked harder than almost all my peers from kindergarten to now (which really wasn’t that hard), I went to a state college, got a useful degree, paid for college COMPLETELY by myself working in a lab and at McDonalds, and am now renting while I save the money to buy a house outright with cash.
The simple fact of the matter is I saw and see my peers blaming everyone but themselves. Yes Baby boomers are failures that never accomplished anything and didn’t need to; to achieve success given the growth of the economy at the time. That being said millennials aren’t working that hard and I say that as someone who easily worked harder than most of my peers and was still not working as hard as I could.
Millennials need lose their entitlement. Baby boomers had it too but they had economic growth on their side. Millennials will have to earn what they want just like every generation before the boomers had to.
Narcissistic milenial engineer has the milenial generation figured out. Good job.
“Special snowflakes and SJW are clearly easy enough to see on places like Tumblr. Their ideology is irrational, they are crazy, and they are millennials…”
You white bro?
“Secondly millennials are working 3 minimium wage jobs to pay off college debt because they chose to major in something useless. Turns out that art history degree wasn’t a wise investment. How many millennials that got degrees from the top 20 list on Forbes are working minimium wage (few if any). OR go into trades (welders can make 6 figures).”
So you’re okay with liberal arts degreees costing an arm and a leg? You don’t want an educated population? You don’t see any issues with the rising cost of tuition and the dereliction of the American university?
“preferential treatment to improve the position of minorities” So 47% of millennials support racism.”
“Millennials may be the first generation in over 100 years to have a decrease of their average lifespan.” because they’re fat.”
Did they even teach your critical thinking in your little engineering classes?
You’re stuck in the same trap we all are. Don’t kid yourself. You’re renting. So are the rest of us. You’re pure not ahead of anyone by any means. Nice try though.
YOu racist? #SJWALERT #FOUNDONE #PUREWEAKNESS
>Don’t kid yourself. You’re renting. So are the rest of us.
Sniff, snivel, sob. We bought our first ratty fixer-upper for a mere $50K from a seller who held the paper two years so that our combined income would grow and allow us to refinance with FHA. Stop your sniveling and get to work.
What bullshit I know at least 5 people with welding specializations that were promised jobs after graduating and are not forced to work min wage.
Take your dementia elsewhere gramps, you obviously have no grasp on reality.
let me guess, youre a white cis male? check your privilege
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”
Three years later, have you grown, even a tiny bit? Or have you just become an even worse person?
This article hits on so many points, a lot of which I am dealing with right now. I have always hated the idea that you require a college degree to be “successful,” and I still don’t believe it to be true for the most part. That said though I am a millennial who is trying to figure out how I am going to go university now and get a degree, because any job that’ll give you decent living requires one. And I guess I am entitled, because I don’t want to work 2 or more jobs and spend my entire life working for someone else and end up on the streets when I retire. I want to work a job that allows me a decent life as well be able to afford a hobby, maintain my health and see a couple corners of the world.
Ok that’s great BUT, make sure to thoroughly research how much money you can make with whichever degree you choose! So many ppl choose their passion – phsycology, history, fucking basket weaving – and are left making excuses about how millennials got screwed. Choose something lucrative then do your passion as a side hustle; it’s unfortunate but it’s real life. Good luck.
You know what though, when I was in high school, all I heard from adults in my life was, just go to college, follow your passion, and everything will work out for you. Are you really going to blame children (which high schoolers are) for being in a position of making major life altering decisions? Are you so arrogant to say as a child (again, even 18 year old seniors in high school kinda are) should be held fully responsible?
We did the rational thing and trusted the adults in our lives, who we had no reason to not trust. It’s nice you have the magic formula figured out, but don’t act like we should have already as kids without adults informing us properly.
Man gaslighting is a really popular trend right now….But cultural gaslighting isn’t a thing. I think the author is trying to describe discrimination….of course there would be millenials that feel like our discrimination is special *eye roll*
Older generations always criticize younger generations, and they always have. “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise,” said Socrates in about 400 B.C.
I’m a late baby-boomer who raised two millennials and taught thousands of them in public schools for over 30 years, and I think millennials might just be the greatest generation.
What I can’t understand is how one generation can excuse itself from its responsibility for the next. I mean, who raised the young people and created the world they live in? Who put higher education out of reach and refused to raise wages accordingly? A previous commenter called Caitlin out as s bigot for the “old, crochety white people” characterization, but I assert that there’s a difference between being a bigot and being observant and aware.
Thank you for this. As a millennial, I can’t tell you how rarely I hear this kind of balaced perspective from someone in a previous generation. I really do think millennials have great qualities, and it kills me to see our generation being so torn down. We already have enough opposition as we try to make our way in this world, and while I get that every generation criticizes the next, this just seems… extreme. I really don’t get the disconnect in understanding from the previous generations.
I would just add that voting Democrat would address so many issues Millenials worry about– fair living wages; the right for women to have bodily autonomy without State oppression and ownership of their reproductive rights; environmental degradation; racism and all forms of bigotry. I could go on and on. Your student loan debt, that some company is charging 8% interest? Mine was all subsidized, and I paid it off a decade sooner than I would have at current interest rates. This is a policy decision made by government in service to the financial sector eager to make billions off of your generation’s desire for an education. Please, Millenials, as a Gen X and a fan of your generation—VOTE!!! Stop the Republican agenda, which is now in full force and having a profoundly negative impact on all our lives. You are struggling in large part because of the Republican big money infestation of “all for me, none for you” values into our great democracy. Let’s turn it around in 2018.
PS It ain’t easy being an Xer, either. Sandwiched between the two largest generations in history. Sob. Anyway, I do agree I had it in many ways much easier. I wish you guys could have experienced a time when NEARLY EVERYTHING was made in America and made right. When jobs were unionized and working conditions fair. When houses were affordable for almost everybody. When gas was cheap. When healthcare was expansive and before it was taken over by Big Business for profit. Before the internet, when it was more face-to-face. When streets were considered safe and we kids all played outside. Before parents were afraid of razorblades in candy and we went trick-or-treating without worry, instead of safely indoors and sanitized. Yeah, to tell the truth it wasn’t bad at all. But to each generation their own. You all represent the future. You ARE the future. Into your young hands and minds rests the awesome responsibility of leading humanity [one day] into a brighter day. And you must do this in the face of the authoritarian powers that be, which have a vested interest in consuming all resources for themselves, leaving nothing for others. They have had their day. My generation is coming into full power now. We do have different values. We will totally have your back. Hang in there!!!! Love, X Fem
It seems as though the original blogger and most of the following commenters think that they have it worse than the previous generation, that they are more underappreciated, toil harder, have less resources, and are always left with the burdens caused by the previous generation(s). However, they also assume they are more intelligent, more empathetic, more socially aware, and always ready to assume the role of rescuers of the world’s plighted. I say, let’s just give them all a trophy and be done with it !!!
I think there are a lot of good points made in this article, and would further claim that a lot of the gas lighting is a play by entrenched political players to maintain power. The younger generation is, in general, more progressive and yet very significant in size. So it would be convenient to diminish the perspectives of millenials in order to maintain the status quo.
On the other hand, I have noticed that sometimes millenials can be more resistant to critique in learning environments and perhaps sometimes over-sensitive to their detriment. I think, however, this is at least in part to the currently popular idea that learning should be completely run like a free market, a way of thinking promoted by school administrators which unfortunately seeps into the way people think generally.
That said, millenials are far more fun to hang out with than old curmudgeons.
I agree with your comment more than any other. Millennial are being led into subconscious division based on race, class, sex due to the fact that we pose a threat to current status quo in political hierarchy.
Great article. Felt like it completely relates to me. I work 3 jobs (one is professor at a college), one is full time (self employed), and I go to school full time (graduate school) where I am to get two master degrees.. and still am not sure Ill get anything or any job really out of it. Really just a risk.
Those who are saying suck it up, or that the great depression had harder times.. clearly don’t get it.. nor do they want to. The 1920s was a complete different time. What people don’t see is there was a lack of standards, educations, expectations and on and on than there is now. Now we have less college enrollment because our generation is finally saying ‘forget it.’ These kids (myself included) are expected to have 7 years of experience for an entry level job and multiple degrees.. but no one is willing to take on that risk to let these people gain experience.
I liked this article, and as a millenial I feel like finally this is the life I live. When the older generation rags on my friends and I it absolutely disgusts me. If they want to try living my life then they are free to step on in and see how easy it is. No, really. I dare them.
If there’s one thing I was disappointed about it was that only 47% are on board with being tolerant with people who are different from us. 47% might be an improvement from 19% but that’s still nothing to be proud of. I expected better of my generation.
The generations before us could afford college tuition on minimum wage??
We worked hard and we struggled and we sacrificed. We made difficult choices, like one spouse sacrificing so the other could attend college. Staying in an unfulfilling job to maintain health insurance coverage for our young family.
Do you want a cookie or something? You sound very patronizing.
Fool. Your responsed belies your own attitude of entitlement, emboided in the concept: “I see it; I want it; I DESERVE it!” GROW UP.
Yes, previous generations literally could afford college tuition on minimum wage. If you started (public) college in 1976, it’d cost you an average of $8,445 for four years. If you started in 2011, it’d cost you $71,142. If you work minimum wage (ignoring taxes and assuming every penny goes to school), you’d have to work an average of 16 hours a week from 1976-1979, or 48 hours a week from 2011-2014. (All the relevant data are easy to find. The NCES has all the data on average college costs, and the DOL has the historical minimum wages.)
But remember, that was ignoring taxes and any other living expenses. If we assume you can put half your pre-tax pay towards school, that becomes 32 hours of week in 1976 and 96 in 2011. The first is doable (it is quite a few hours to work while attending school full time, but it can be offset by saving up in high school and working extra during the summer), but the second one obviously is not.
At what point did college stop being affordable on minimum wage? Without working out how much the taxes would actually be or running through every single year, it looks like somewhere around 1995 if you were fortunate enough to not have major living expenses, probably closer to 1990 if you did. In any case, it sure the heck isn’t now.
My dad got a 4 year engineering degree for under $10,000. He worked at a grocery store to pay for it, had zero debt when he graduated as a C-student and was immediately handed a $50,000 job filling out paperwork in an air-conditioned office and retired at age 50 after watching his salary increase 400% over the next 20 years. “Oh boofuckinghoo it was soooo hard we made sacrifices.” Yeah, you sacrificed the financial stability of future generations by allowing your government to print money and devalue to the currency by 98%. Get a fucking clue troglodyte. This is the shit I don’t get; millennials come on here and talk about actual problems they’re facing, and all boomers do is taunt them like the narcissistic fatasses they are. They don’t have any solutions to the problems they caused because they’re too outmoded and stupid to come up with any. Meanwhile younger generations are actively and desperately trying to find a ways to create some sort of future that doesn’t involve the entire extinction of the human species and most of the life on this planet, but we’re the entitled ones? We just want a stable economy that isn’t being drained by millions of fat feminist men who have been sitting around watching football being commanded by their psycho wives. But hey, what would you expect from a bunch of hippies? The part they’re too stupid to understand is that the extent of their mistakes haven’t been realized yet because they’ve been propping up their unsustainable system by printing money, creating millions of useless convenience products, and engorging themselves on this planet’s finite resources without giving a second thought about maybe conserving some of it so their progeny could survive through at least the next century. But hey, at least the economy will collapse while they’re still alive, and they’ll get to suffer dearly for their mistakes as their civilization of idiocy burns to the ground. We’ll dance on their ashes a create something better without them.
This response assumes that people are already coupled up by the time they get to college. That’s not the usual experience. Even people living at home with parental help still barely squeak by and have to make “difficult choices.” People I know shop at Goodwill for clothes. I knew people who only ate one meal a day all the way through college.
Another millenial here. For the most part I think this is a fantastic article, and really articulates the problem well. I do have one fairly major criticism though, which is that the example and definition of gaslighting you give kind of undercuts the argument. I don’t know the full situation about you and your (ex?)husband, maybe there’s more to it than what you write here but taken at face value it seems ridiculous to cite the incident you mention as ‘gaslighting’ and ‘a form of emotional abuse’ when it’s simply one person having an emotional reaction to something another person says. Humans have to interact with each other, sometimes we say the wrong thing, sometimes we have strong reactions to other people’s opinions, sometime we rub each other the wrong way but IMO to label things like that to be emotional abuse is going way, way over the top.
You also quote the definition as attempting to ‘overwrite another person’s reality’ but when you reduce that to simple disagreements or debates it becomes problematic, because it goes with the assumption that YOUR reality is empirically more correct than the other person’s… which is impossible to ascertain without debating it. So, isn’t it actually kind of narcissistic to never question your own version of events/reality/opinions? Anxiety is horrible but IMO a certain amount of self-criticism or the ability to question oneself every once in a while is healthy. Like, have you ever met someone who never doubts their own opinions/beliefs about things? They tend to be obnoxious as hell.
Anyway – sorry for going on, that just bugged me a little. I agree with literally everything else in the article though, you’re absolutely right about the problems we’re facing. My two cents – every generation feels this way about the younger generation, but for us the problem is particularly pointed because, as a generation, we have all comforts and no stability. No ability to save, no chance of buying a house, years before we can pay off student debts etc, but we’ve got iPhones and Wi-Fi and Uber etc, and, yeah, at least we’re not fighting a World War or living in the Great Depression (although, give Trump a couple more years…). So while we look okay on the surface, our lives are all about the hustle.
Excellent piece. A couple of missing pcs of info: college costs went up because the states and feds stopped funding it (and colleges also started providing “luxuries” like private rooms, phones, and baths). Colleges and universities used to get over 75% of their funding from government, but the Reagan admin changed all that. That’s how my boyfriend in the 1970s could work summers and then live all year on his own in a cruddy house and go to the university in the academic year. That’s how my dad could pay 10% of his income for my college, but my son’s college was 100% of my income. Now colleges get very little from the government. You pay for the full ride, even though society as a whole also benefits. One reason it changed was from the Vietnam War. There was little leverage over protesters who burned their draft cards; nowadays (it changed under Reagan/Bush) a male — and probably soon females– cannot get financial aid for college without registering with Selective Service. See how the military drives things? Speaking of which, when you file your tax return last week or next week, look at the Total Tax line. 52% of that goes to the military, and your US military budget is more than the next 20 countries combined. Is that right? Time for a change for the better.
Excellent call outs, thank you!
who published this? as in author?
That’d be me… hello.
We brought our 25 year old daughter up to know how to do and maintain a budget, write a resume, shop for best deals including all forms of insurance and be aware of her surroundings at all times to stay safe.
She came home with a retail job at 16 and never looked back. Graduated with honors from college, searched fir a job and is now working in a position that will lead to a better one. She moved out and got a roomate to help with bills. She has debt but also a plan and we tried to lead by example. I imagine we’re a little unique but its too bad schools don’t teach kids what parents should and often do; it’s a competitive world and there are very few participation trophies out there. Kids have to learn to make their own way, pass their knowledge on and pay it forward.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this, it was wonderful to read a genuine and insightful description of the new generation. I admire the Millenials and I fear for them too. I wonder if the system is too broken to fix, or if the greed of the previous generations will continue to erode the opportunities that remain to repair it.
I spent two grueling years after college graduation working 60 plus hours a week for minimum wage ($3.15 – $3.45 an hour) going full time to grad scool because that would keep the student loans at bay, just because that much saught after college degree in education (no teacher shortage then) DID NOT immediately yield a job. And for the record, minimum wage was NOT enough to live on EVER. I’m 3 years away from retirement as a public school teacher, and $6K away from paying off my student loans.
That problem of jobs with college degrees pay better, then you get the degree, and now they only seem to be hiring those with degrees and experience; it has always been there, for every generation. Guess what, when you get older, the problem changes. It becomes, now they don’t want to hire, and pay for experience, newbies are cheaper; they are hiring fresh out of college. Where do you suppose the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” came from?
The simple truth is, EVERY generation has had struggles that seemed novel, unsurmountable, and catastrophic, to that generation. Time and perspective often demonstrates that, there is nothing new under the sun; only a re-birth, or re-churning of what has gone before. Humans develop and evolve through the survival struggle.
Trivializing mental health doesn’t help anyone, or your argument that is equating clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc., with a lifestyle result of being raised on overachieving and how that creates a cognitive dissonance with the kinds of results you see in the economy as it stands.
Excellent post! !
It’s all pure grade F unadulaterated BULLSH|T. GROW UP YOU BABIES! Thank your faKebook “god” that you were not born at a time when you had to serve in WW-II, Korea or ‘Nam.
Thank you for this article it’s really refreshing. I’ve am a Canadian millennial reading up on millennials and most of the articles on the Internet about us don’t address this mechanism.
My thoughts are twofold about this predicament.
First, I think we are the most pathologized generation in history, and the most highly marketed to by big pharma, the media etc. and are taught at an early age there’s something wrong with US if we express dissent or don’t fit in, and are given pills and therapy to cope with an increasingly extreme psychological, financial,and political environment.
There are legitimate mental illnesses that need medication, (I have schizophrenia, for example) but I think a lot of the depression and anxiety people experience can be attributed to the unhealthy environment were forced to deal with in the 21st century.
Hello? Who wouldn’t be depressed and anxious?
Second, millenials are the most disengaged generation from the political system, meaning the majority of us don’t vote. We have greater access to information about politics, more of us are educated than previous generations, yet we are increasingly apathetic when it comes to actual voting. Some call it apathy, but I think it’s closer to a boycott. It says a lot about millennial ‘s faith in politics.
As far as I can tell, well either completely revolutionize the system or descend into an Orwellian dystopia. Maybe it’ll be half and half. Time will tell.
Thank you so much for writing this! It addresses so much of what I’ve been thinking and feeling, to an almost uncanny amount. I see people in my generation continuing the myth that we’re entitled, but I see so much of the opposite, and have thus been wondering if we’ve just been told we’re lazy and entitled so much that some of us have started to believe it. I think I probably did, too. But looking into facts and research supports my belief: we’re overworked, underpaid, with terrible mental health, etc. And then we’re gaslit and discriminated against on a cultural level. I’ve heard it put something like this: the house was on fire when we inherited it, and now we’re being chastised because we can’t stand the heat and are being blamed for the fire.
Thank you! I like the fire analogy too.
I wish I could remember the stats for the higher percentage of accumulated knowledge which millennials were required to master as compared to the previous cohort — the trend increases exponentially with each generation – and is, in itself, a significant everyday stressor in the lives of students.
Thank you for reading! This is a great point, it seems like the educational standards and information our young generations are expected to learn and retain is constantly increasing. It is definitely a huge stressor.
Thanks for sharing the Gaslighting blog!
The whole “American Dream” is a crapshoot.I bust my ass working a job I hate, while my dream is slowly drifting away. I see successful people everywhere and think to myself, “I wish I won that lottery.” I’m 25, and I have no hope for my own damn future because I know that things are only going to get worse. Everything is money, and money is harder and harder to find. So I live day to day, getting by, and resisting the urge to put a bullet in my head or drink poison because I know it would devastate my mom.
Are you able to see a therapist? It’s extremely difficult to exist in a mentally healthy way with so much stacked against you. 😦
I’m glad the concept of gaslighting is becoming a part of our conversations. This is a real nasty thing to deal with and ruins people’s lives! Thank you for writing such a great post.
Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen Z, etc, etc. I can’t say that there aren’t drastic differences between the generations, because there is. And I am not one to complain, but every generation has had a way different experience in life. To you Baby Boomers, quit pointing fingers, it’s really unbecoming and it’s not any one generations fault that the economy is in shambles, even if it was, what would it matter now? The pointing fingers stuff is at best childish and doesn’t solve a thing. Honestly just shows me your not wanting to work with the rest of the country to fix the situation, so quit bullying us to get it fixed on your terms unless you’re going to get your hands dirty too. I have a little sister who is Gen Z through and through. And I am extremely proud of her ability to have what criticism is thrown at her roll off her shoulders. I also raised her to be that way. While working full time and graduating high school with honors. It wasn’t easy and I have lasting mental and emotional health problems because of it, but I would not change it for the world. Someone had to take care of her and teach her how to survive. God knows our parent’s wheren’t going to. My sister has watched me be criticized, put down, abused not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. She has seen me be discriminated against, lied to, manipulated into things by older generations for their own gain. She has watched me fight tooth and nail just to barely make it and seen me struggle with depression and anxiety caused by living in a world that doesn’t want us around. She also knows that I wouldn’t change any of it for the world, because I took on all the abuse and things done wrong to me so that she wouldn’t have to. She knows that went through a lot to do my best to protect her from having to deal with the same treatment and the effects of it. She shocked me the day that she finally informed me that she had known what I sacrificed and endured so she didn’t have to. Now, she is the first one to come to my defense and stand up for me when I am being treated wrong, and she is the number one person who tells me how important I am to her and to the world whether they realize it or not. She is the only person who has ever done anything like that for me. So while everyone is throwing hatefulness and contempt around like it’s the new fashion… Think about this, pointing fingers and acting childish and foolish isn’t helping matters any for anyone, in fact it’s making things worse. When all the generations decide it’s time to grow up and start working together for everyone’s best interest is when I will start having faith in our country again. Until then I remain sourly disappointed by all of the generations, including my own.