Lately, a Huffington Post article has been making the rounds on Facebook newsfeeds. The piece, titled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy,” argues that Generation Y, those born between the 1970s and 1990s, are unhappy because of inflated expectations, wild ambition and despair when the world fails to meet our expectations and we don’t get careers as movie star millionaire CEO presidents.
“Where the Baby Boomers wanted to live The American Dream, GYPSYs (Generation Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies) want to live Their Own Personal Dream,” argues the article, claiming that young people care more about “fulfilling” careers than secure ones. Gen Y is “delusional”; we mistakenly believe that we’re all special, better than our peers and unique like beautiful snowflakes.
Ask any college student, however, and you’re likely to hear a different story.
“I don’t think we’re any more spoiled than previous generations; if anything, I think we have to work harder,” says Sabrina Abrego, a junior. “Jobs are tougher to come by, there are more bills to pay, college costs a fortune, despite typically being viewed as a necessity. I’m not sure where this supposed sense of entitlement is coming from.”
In such an uncertain economy, calling Gen Y “entitled” is akin to victim-blaming and essentially demonizes an entire group of people for simply wanting a chance to work.
Hannah Martin, junior, also disagrees with the prevailing idea that Gen Y is a victim of special snowflake syndrome. “I’m offended by it. Just to have that collective idea about all of us is really ignorant, and I think it shows on their part, not ours. They think we’re complaining about not being able to get a job, but we have to have a job to sustain ourselves.”
For fresh graduates, the job market has changed. What used to be an entry position became a permanent one, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are three unemployed people competing for every one job opening. Those who have jobs are staying in them longer, shutting out newbies looking to gain experience.
Attributing Gen Y’s difficulties to “entitlement” is a dehumanizing way to look at real problems. Recent graduates face a rough job market and a much harder time finding their way into a secure job, likely spending a great deal more time in service and retail than their parents. Older generations unknowingly helped contribute to the issues their children now face, whether by creating policies that reduced entry-level positions and promotions or by sitting on a safe low-level job. Blaming Gen Y for all of it is kicking us while we’re down.