Almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 are neither in school nor employed.
The Boston Globe seems to think that indicates an “amiable, tech-savvy, yet minimally employable crop of Americans who will ultimately need more subsidies than a dairy farmer.”
But to me, those numbers tell a different story.
A story of kids who were promised the world, but then saw it all fall away. Kids who never had a chance in a system that locks you in to your assigned social standing. Kids who give all they can only to find that it’s not enough.
We shouldn’t be blaming the victims here.
To be fair, life’s not easy for just about anyone. If you lose your job over 50, you can expect to be unemployed for about 53 weeks, compared to 19 weeks for teenagers. But at least people rightly call that age discrimination, not a generation of [insert disparaging remark here].
I sometimes joke that I belong to Generation DNE (Does Not Exist), because I used to be in Generation Y, then Millennials became a thing. I’m still unclear as to whether I fall into that category or not.
Growing up a disillusioned radical in northern California, it seemed to me that Gen Y disappeared when They realized we weren’t going to sell out. When They realized we were angry. When we knew unequivocally that the future wasn’t as bright as The Man would have us think.
So we got edited out of existence and They went on to try subdue younger generations. Tried to make them pacifist consumers who wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at scurrilous affairs.
But it didn’t work.
Whether it’s because the economy crashed, we’ve been fighting two wars, or the fact that OH MY GOODNESS HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW MESSED UP THE WORLD IS, they too realized that life isn’t the idyllic adventure advertisers would have you believe.
But, I suppose, you can’t just edit generations out of existence indefinitely, so rather than being ignored, Millennials are being disparaged. Being told they are worthless, wrong, and a waste of space.
But that won’t work, either.
‘Cause those of us who are maybe a bit older, who were lucky enough to start building careers and paying down our student loans before the economy tanked – those of us They thought could be disappeared with a generation name change…we’re still here.
And we know it’s not the kids’ fault. We know they’re doing what they can. We know they are right to be angry and that their voices and opinions matter. And we know that The Man is trying to silence them just as The Man once tried to silence us.
And we won’t stand for it. We’ll stand with our younger peers. And we’ll know – the more They disparage, the more scared They are.