Unlucky, Screwed Generation Denies Its Unlucky Screwedness


There’s a cottage industry (consisting largely of “journalists” in their fifties and sixties) that specializes in measuring, magnifying, communicating, and bemoaning the dismaying, horrifying, and apocalyptic future upon which the so-called “millennials” shall be crucified, to redeem the sins of the Baby Boomers. 

It’s done a good job of molding the narrative. By now, we’ve had four years to stew in our own impending demise. We’ve been the “Screwed Generation.” We’ve been the “Unluckiest Generation.” We’re “not special,” even though we think we are. Our narcissism is going to destroy everything. Our lack of engagement and obsession with money will flush everything down the toilet. We came of age in the twilight of the “American Empire,” which was undone by the same causes that undid the Romans and the French and the British.

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory…” 

Sorry, wrong reference.

The point is that hope is lost and the world is dark and everything’s going to hell in a hand-basket and China will conquer the world and we’re all going to be living in “Soylent Green,” where you’ll end up being eaten, in cracker form, by your daughter because apples will be rarer than highly enriched uranium.

Luckily, as a generation of deluded narcissists, we’ve totally not gotten the message. That’s the key finding of a recent poll by the ever-so-reliable folks at Gallup. The poll showed a large majority of 18 to 29-year-olds (73%) would characterize their financial situation as “getting better,” with 48% of 18 to 29-year-old respondents also characterizing the current state of their finances as “Excellent/Good.” Contrast that with the 65+ cohort, a bare 23% of which characterized their finances as “Getting better.” 

In other words: Grandma needs a hug; you don’t.

Why, though? If the American Dream is a myth and “sh*t is f*cked up and bullsh*t” and we’re all about the destruction of hierarchies and plutocracies and hegemonies and paradigms, why not subscribe to the very common, prevailing wisdom that everything’s going to go to hell no matter what we do or that things need to get worse before they get better? Maybe it’s just that optimism and youth go together? Or not. Or maybe we’re just lowering the bar on what success looks like? Or maybe we’re just auditioning for the “Hobbit 2”… a lot.

They’re all legit possibilities. Maybe all are true. Maybe none. Maybe we’re just all tired of being in crisis mode, all the time, perpetually reminded (usually by rich Social Security recipients) of the likelihood of our and the country’s failure. Or maybe people think individually rather than by “Generations.”

Maybe we all get up in the morning and think about our own lives rather than get together and have a big old millennial pow-wow and put together a list of our grievances and failures and obstacles, with corresponding GIFs to illustrate our woe.

They’ll have to have another thousand Gallup polls and cable news panel discussions to figure that one out.