Huffpost recently posted an article called ‘Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy.’ And the Internet exploded. Some people identified with it and took comfort in its message. Others took offence and argued against it.
Despite this, the general consensus was that Generation Y (people born between 1983 and 2000) is less happy than they expected to be.
In the piece about GYPSYs (Generation Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies), the central claim is that people in this generation are unhappy because the realities of their lives are worse than they expected them to be.
This isn’t necessarily untrue, but, according to those who disagree, the reasons for this breakdown in expectation vs. reality aren’t what the article says they are.
Deconstructing the article
HuffPost’s piece indicates that there are reasons for GYPSYs’ unhappiness:
Claim 1: Because they’re over-ambitious
According to the article, Gen Y expects the same economic prosperity that their parents enjoyed as well as a career that fulfills them. (Supposedly, Baby Boomers never got to enjoy both.)
The argument: Gen Y have been taught that the best way to achieve success is to set goals. And they set them high. Because that’s what their parents, teachers and elders told them to do. It’s a learned skill that started falling out of favour when the economy did the same.
The article doesn’t acknowledge the fact that ambition drives change and Gen Y has forced employers, organisations and individuals to be more flexible. It also doesn’t mention how socially aware Gen Y is, and that their ambitiousness extends to social causes.
Claim 2: Because their self-entitlement makes them lazy
The article (and its tidbits of advice) infers that Gen Y would be happier if they didn’t expect so much and just worked harder.
The argument: Gen Y can’t afford to be lazy. Older generations assume they are because to them, working digitally and having flexible hours means they aren’t hard workers. But wages are flat despite inflation and to have any measure of wealth requires them to over-work.
They also assume that, because they spend their years after school in university, they’re avoiding doing hard work. But for any Gen Y to even compete in today’s market, they have no choice but to be over-qualified and over-educated. And they still aren’t guaranteed work the way Baby Boomers were.
Claim 3: Because they’re delusional
Huffpost’s article describes how individuals within Gen Y have an inflated sense of self. The implication here is that each GYPSY thinks they’re superior to the people around them.
The argument: Okay. Fair enough. But what the article doesn’t talk about is how GYPSYs became that way. The suggestion seems to be that Lucy and her friends decide to believe they’re more special than anyone else when they wake up in the morning. There’s very little mention of how the socio-economic, cultural and parental influences guided them to have this kind of psyche.
Claim 4: Because they’re taunted by social media
In this section, the author describes how Facebook Image Crafting (a term possibly made up by the writer as part of a passive aggressive blog post about his/her own Facebook friends), has caused Gen Y to be even more unhappy. The article says,
“Social media creates a world for Lucy where A) what everyone else is doing is very out in the open, B) most people present an inflated version of their own existence, and C) the people who chime in the most about their careers are usually those whose careers (or relationships) are going the best, while struggling people tend not to broadcast their situation.”
The argument: What Facebook is the writer using? Because people use social media to complain, bitch, vent and commiserate all the time. They’re just as likely to post something negative about their lives as they are to brag about something else.
Just who’s delusional now?
In addition, the degree of connectedness between Gen Y individuals has led them to be more selfless than the article claims. They use social media to report crimes, raise money for non-profits and advocate for human rights.
Immediate access to things, people and events – created by digital presences – makes individuals want to be involved. Obama based his campaign on this. Dictators have been overthrown because of this. But maybe the writer knows something Barack and his team of digital geniuses didn’t?