I’ve recently seen many articles once again claiming that young people are the most spoilt, stupid, and just generally terrible people around. I wouldn’t expect anything else from middle-aged, privileged writers who seem to delight in being controversial. One is Piers Morgan, part of a generation who in no way understand those younger than them. They try to take selfies, use texting language, but they don’t understand us, and they don’t like that, so they lash out.
Whatever you want to call us younger generation: Millennials, Generation Y, Generation K; we’ve grown up in completely different surroundings. We’ve grown up around social media, the internet, reality TV, increased globalisation and mobility, and although we are more connected with each other than ever before, we arguably feel less connected and more distant from the generations before us.
That’s no one’s fault, it’s just the way it is. But for older generations it’s easy for them to believe it’s all our fault. It’s easy for Piers and his generation to see our smartphones, our tech advancements and thus infer that we somehow have simple lives. But it could not be further from the truth.
For a start, we live in a society that constantly puts us at a disadvantage. After years of a Labour government that helped young people make their way in life, we now have a Conservative administration that is all about transferring wealth from young to old, poor to rich. Their welfare cuts hit us hardest, and will leave half a million more children in poverty by 2020. They’ve also trebled tuition fees, removed student bursaries, and even their “National Living Wage” isn’t in place for workers under the age of 25.
Millennials and Generation Y are coming, and have come of age, around economic decline, job insecurity, increasing inequality, and a lack of financial optimism. As highlighted by Greg Jericho, for the first time, members of “Generation Y” will be the first generation to be less wealthy than that of their parents, and possibly even their grandparents.
And when things couldn’t get any worse, we’ve been ripped out of the EU by the older generations, despite our wishes. The older generations who have lived their lives, who don’t have to worry about jobs and the economy, have piled economic misery on young people’s heads. As Charlie Cooper says, we are a generation that have grown up as EU natives, we like to think beyond our borders, reach out to our neighbours; and the Financial Times made another point eloquently:
“The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of its predecessors.”
As Rhiannon Cosslett highlights, the generations that were given everything: free education, big pensions, cheap housing, have voted to plunge the younger generations into growing debt, and growing isolation. No wonder many of this generation are not coping. As a generation, we grow up with huge economic and social insecurity, and this is leading to a quarter of young people experiencing mental health problems.
In England, there has been a threefold increase during the past 10 years in the number of teenagers who self-harm. Over half of 18 to 30 year olds say they are worried about the future, 47% say they lack self-confidence, and 42% that they feel worn down. Most believe their lives will be more of a struggle than those of their parents’; incredibly 79% of young people worry about just getting a job, and 72% also worry about future debt.
We are a generation under more pressure than any before us. We are told by those older than us that they found a job, bought a house, and raised a family perfectly fine. But in the last 30 years’ wages have stagnated, and house prices have gone up drastically. We’re named ‘Generation Rent’ for a reason. Millennials will see two recessions before they’re 30, Generation Y before they’re 20. Almost half of young people expect to put off having children because of financial pressures, and one in 12 current parents aged between 18 and 30 say they must use a food bank to survive.
This is a generation that in most ways has had it tougher than any that have preceded us. We have constant pressure thrust on our shoulders, and we are continuously criticised by everyone else. When young people are mentioned, stereotypes arise. Whether it be laziness, drinking, our social culture, rising obesity, and these are no more common in us than other generations. We as a generation have done amazing things, we explore, travel, innovate, and unlike our elders who revel in isolation, we are expanding our horizons like never before.