Struggling to keep up with rising inflation and housing prices, they did amass the highest credit card debt of any generation which they still suffer under unlike Millennials.
We were told “go to college, at all costs. Take out loans if you have to, just get a degree. Industry is dead. Blue collar jobs are dead. Degrees are where the money’s at. It doesn’t matter what, just get a degree” …by Gen-Xers and Boomers. So, while our credit card debt might be a few thousand dollars lower, our debt from that degree we “had to have” is in the high 5 figures and in some cases into 6 figures. Different kinds of debt, same basic issue.
the 2008 housing crash and financial meltdown, losing over 50% of their life savings. (Millennials lost near to 0%)
Only because we hadn’t had much of a chance to build any, and now suffer the effects of the pay reductions.
I was 9 months out of college when I was laid off when the recession hit the industry I was in at the time. It put me in a weird place when I attempted to find a new job, because I was now overqualified for “burger flipping” jobs, not qualified for internships (because I was no longer in school), and underqualified for “entry level” jobs (because, thanks to the abundance in potential workers, employers could demand two years or more experience in addition to college, for so-called “entry level” jobs).
Still, different kinds of issues, but similar suffering.
As adults, they witnessed wars, terrorism, erosion of personal liberties, and a time when they had to worry if their ATM machine would literally dispense money as financial institutions they were raised to trust were collapsing.
I was in middle school on 9/11. I watched the second plane hit on the live news feed, and watched the towers collapse. My stepdad was blocks away from a thwarted terrorist attack attempt in Cleveland.
I wrote to my oldest brother while he was in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom and heard the news of the flight from where he was stationed got shot down, wondering if that was his flight and whether we’d ever see him alive. I support him now as he deals with the fibromyalgia caused by the Anthrax vaccines.
I watched my other older brother, my ex-boyfriend, and several of my classmates go to Afghanistan and Iraq. I watch as several of my friends deal with the PTSD and other effects of having been over there, several self-medicating, unable to help them. I watched more friends ship off again, just this year.
This was after I watched my uncle go to Kuwait for Desert Storm.
I watched as everyone cheered for the USA PATRIOT Act, and the implementation of “no-fly” lists and the turning of “for national security” into a synonym of “do whatever we want and get away with it.” I watched these things, old enough to care about them, but a little too young at the time to actually do anything about it. Dependent, then, on the older generations to fight these erosions.
I watched as the only thing keeping the banks from going under were the government bailouts, at a time where I was thankful just to have money to pay rent, since I was one of the many out of a job.
And all the while, I dealt with the older generations looking down on me and my peers with disdain and saying how we were lazy, entitled sons of bitches, who were given participation trophies by the very generations looking down on us, and who should just get burger flipping jobs instead of trying to fight against the very system that left us unemployed to begin with.
Generation-X took the largest loss in the housing crash, which destroyed their families as divorce rates and child custody battles ensued. (Adult things Millennials haven’t had to worry about yet).
The median Millennial age is 30, while the upper end is pushing 40. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of us are not kids. In fact, many of us have kids of our own.
We weathered the 2008 housing crash similar to you. The older ones among us found themselves underwater on their houses, just like you did.
Those of us who have married have also dealt with divorces and custody battles, but keep in mind, too, that we were the kids in those custody battles. We watched as you and your spouses engaged in bitter battles over us. We watched as you blackmailed each other and took each other to court. We watched as one parent raised us, while the other either doted on us, trying to buy our affection, or disappeared and didn’t even pay child support. We watched as one or both of our parents lost their job and couldn’t find employment again, sometimes for years, thanks to the dotcom bust.
We decided that we weren’t going to repeat your mistakes. So many of us aren’t getting married, or are putting it off, and putting off having kids. We’re continuing to rent, instead of buying houses.
And all the while, we’re told that we’re children, because we’re not pursuing the things Gen-Xers and Boomers believe are important (house, spouse, kids), and that we should grow up and partake in the very things we watched tear our lives and our society apart. We’re told that we’re being immature by seeking out alternative ways of living, because it’s not taking on yet another debt, despite the fact that, thanks to those student loans, our debt-to-income ratio means that our loan interest rates are stupidly high.
And presently, every single worry Millennials have about unsteady employment, unaffordable housing, marriage and relationships, trust in our American institutions, and whether or not we will die in a nuclear war ALSO applies for Generation-X. Except they’re older, taking care of aging parents and children, and god damn exhausted.
Unsteady employment means unsteady saving for retirement. Lack of retirement means we’ll be in the same position that the older generations are in right now — working until we die.
Everything you’ve said in this segment applied the same to your generation and the ones before it. Who do you think took care of your grandparents? And they took care of their parents before that, after recovering from the Great Depression. They did that while trying to raise you, but since industry was starting to decline, they needed other jobs, dropping you off in Latch Key programs — something you used to wear as a badge of honor, and used it as leverage against us, because we were “sheltered” in comparison, because you saw to it that we weren’t Latch Key kids like you. You swung that pendulum to the point of helicopter parents.
Some of us have older parents. We still have living, but aging, grandparents. We take care of them, too, while raising young children, paying off debts, and working to keep our relationships together.
Oh but Millennials have some student loan debt. That’s right. They post about that from their MacBooks when they sit at marble tables drinking $6 pour over coffees in our big cities which they have flocked to.
We need to “flock to” the big cities, because there are no jobs elsewhere. The good blue collar industries have died, thanks to automation, and capitalism says that it’s not worth the companies’ money to go back to the smaller towns, but Walmart and its ilk have gutted the local economies and small businesses. Our coal miner and factory worker fathers, uncles, grandfathers, were replaced by machinery, or the factories closed down entirely. There’s a reason it’s called the Rust Belt.
MacBooks are workhorses. They may cost more up front, but Apple has a reputation for lasting forever, making it a better investment than most other laptops. Besides, it was your generation that told us we needed such things. It was your generation that changed the world in such a way that we do need such things, even as you look down on us for not personally going business to business to submit applications (never mind the fact that businesses no longer take paper applications).
You were given magical childhoods we would have killed for and, as long as you keep being the perfect little worker/consumer lemmings that keep this American system running, you will stay the apple of her eye.
And who gave us those magical childhoods you would have killed for?
For that matter, how can we be both “the perfect little worker/consumer lemmings” and “lazy, entitled brats who think they deserve money for nothing”?
Sorry Millennials, but don’t even try to win this contest. The only thing we ask is just be humble for once while you’re saving the world, and talk to us.
We’ve spent the past couple of decades enduring nothing but disdain from everyone older than us. Being told that we’re children, long after we were well into adulthood. Being told that we need to stop thinking of ourselves as “special.” Blaming us for having received participation trophies as children, as though we asked for or demanded them. Being told, simultaneously, that we should go to college at all costs, but we’re stupid for having taken on the debt of college. Being told, simultaneously, that we’re stupid for trying to live on our own, but lazy, entitled, leeches for moving back in with our parents. We’ve been told we haven’t done a damned thing, while our brothers, sisters, friends are on the other side of the world, fighting a war for which we no longer even fully understand the purpose, or while we’re reacting to the economic issues by starting our own businesses, or finding other ways to bring in income. We’re told we’re “privileged” and “entitled” for working to remove ourselves from the destructive nature of factory farms and similar sources of mass production, instead trying to rebuild local ecosystems and economies, so that our own children will have a world worth living in.
We’re known among the people that study these things for being the most collaborative, communal generation. We value connections and experiences more than stuff. We don’t and never really wanted a competition between the generations, but our hands have been forced.
It’s not us that need to be humble and talk to the others. We’ve been here, trying to work with you, to come up with solutions that help everyone. It’s been the older generations that have been trying to make it a competition, who refuse to talk to us, who refuse to look at us as anything other than entitled children playacting at being adults and doing “meaningful” things, while our heads are really in the clouds.
Perhaps instead of going on about how you have it so much worse and we have it so much better, because our challenges are different, you take a moment to see the similarities in our respective challenges, to see the common ground and come meet us in it. We’ve been here, waiting, and we’d love to work with you.