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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
3 months ago

The expectations we internalised — that the world was our oyster, that we would have it all
Yeah, see, the expectations I internalized were the product of the other Nineties–the Nineties of Nirvana and Radiohead, of Married…With Children and The Simpsons, of the washed-up flotsam of the Sixties and Seventies and Eighties that surrounded our slightly baffled and chastised parents. If you grew up in the wreckage of the New Age, you imbibed cynicism with your Cheerios. Not once, not in my entire life, not even when I was young and it might have been both understandable and forgivable, did I ever think that the world was my oyster and that I might “have it all”. Maybe because I wasn’t upper-middle class, I don’t know.
I would say, looking back at things at the age of 40, that I’ve led a life that’s pretty okay-crappy. No kids and a series of joe-jobs, never married, never owned a home–but that’s entirely my fault. My fault and my choice. I’m mature enough to admit that now. Maybe if I’d done things differently–internalized those expectations which you did–my life might be different. Probably better. But now that I’m older, I’m more comfortable with crapitude, both my own and that of my life. I don’t expect much from life going forward. Things are trending downward, I know that. And it used to bother me. It used to bother me a lot. But I’ve learned to adapt. The only regret I have in life is that I was born too late to see the Moon Landing, our greatest achievement. But hey, there’s always YouTube.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 months ago

…didn’t happen RWH. The flag was a giveaway.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
3 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Oh really? Then where the hell did they film those MTV commercials?

Jim M
Jim M
3 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

No, the Moon landing really did occur. You think the Soviet Union would let that fraud be perpetrated? The Indian moon satellite has pictures of all the landing sites. https://science.nasa.gov/resource/apollo-11-landing-site/

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
3 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Tell that to Buzz – even in his nineties I’ll bet he’d deck you, and good on him, of course it f*****g happened.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago

You always amaze me RWH, with your incisive humour and thoughtful comments.

“… I’ve led a life that’s pretty okay-crappy. No kids and a series of joe-jobs, never married, never owned a home–but that’s entirely my fault.”

Does any of this matter? We all have this internalized standard we think we should achieve, but there’s something to be said about living in the moment and finding pleasure in what we do.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Well said. I perhaps delayed facing my own responsibilities, and therefore hampered my own successes, but I treasure my adventures in the 90s and 00’s, now that I’m a married father in the utterly soporific American suburbs.
I’m also grateful that, for whatever reason, I was able to move on from Nirvana and Limp Biskit to John Coltrane and Bach, and from Jack Kerouac and Hermann Hesse to Ian McEwen and Cormac McCarthy. Refinement gives life some meaning beyond both adult consumerism and mindless youthful rebellion, particularly in our relentlessly secular age.
Part of being an adult is taking your pleasures where you can.
Another set of pleasures is being lucky enough to cover all of your bills and raise a family. I’d say circumstances can play almost as important a role as very hard work. The cast of Friends were rarely in the office, and how they supported themselves in one of the world’s most expensive cities was mystifying to me. Manhattan at the time was safe and glittering, but it was also entirely a city for the ambitious, unless you were one of the very few people whose circumstances were exceptionally fortunate.

Fredrich Nicecar
Fredrich Nicecar
3 months ago

Ian McEwen ! The most overrated writer of all time !

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

It’s between him and Martin Amis.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

A rare point of agreement between us. Although I’ve met him briefly and think he’s a nice enough guy*, I’d like to nominate Jonathan Franzen for most overrated.
*in addition to his smarts and talent

Last edited 3 months ago by AJ Mac
Richard 0
Richard 0
3 months ago

Hear hear! Just finished reading his latest ‘ Lessons’ Awful! It’s the 4th or 5th book of his that I’ve read – in the hope that there might be something I’m missing. No more, Mr McEwan.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Yeah, I could never figure out how they supported themselves either. And the women lived in a nice, HUGE, apartment for anywhere in Manhattan!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Exactly!

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
3 months ago

Yes not that many of us conform to the supposed norms of ‘our’ generation. My parents were young in the 60s, but the hippy stuff had little effect on provincial life in the north of England.

I was born in 1970, not sure if my generation here in GB are supposed to have been privileged, older folk said we were. I remember family dysfunction, class resentment (my family were neither clearly working nor middle class), being hungry a lot (parents not financially responsible, plus just not that much food around in rural northern England in those days), not having much sense of control or direction (partly my own flaws), episodes of living rough and sleeping on floors and in digs, drifting around after low-paid jobs, but tighter social bonds. In all a pretty miserable childhood/youth, but apart from the unsupportive family aspect (a matter of accident of birth, it happened and happens), it was materially far better than the historical norm.

What can you do, apart from make the best of the hand you’re dealt? The sooner that’s realised, the better. Working with builders on construction sites gave me some direction and was my time to toughen up and grow up, after a good few years of bitterness.

Hope you’re ok there. I just had a fall from scaffolding and trauma to head, no brain damage or very serious injuries but a spell in an A and E Recovery Ward with men with broken spines, fourth heart attack etc. drives home that if in ok health and at least one person loves you (sometimes), we are blessed.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon Barrow

God bless you, Jon!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
3 months ago

It’s brave of you to share about a rather “unsuccessful” life on this site, where most folks say they’re happily married with wonderful children! However, from my perspective, you’re still pretty young, only halfway through your life, and things will, inevitably, change for better or worse. If you have any dreams at all they may well, yet, come true. Good luck!

Tony
Tony
3 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

We all need hope to live. Some of those hopes can be shed when it is replaced by a better and truer hope. Truth still exists and should be sought with hope.

Tony
Tony
3 months ago

At least you know it and confess it. Therein lies hope for the future.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

how can we explain the fact that we feel like such losers?
Start with indoctrination disguised as education. Stir in a pinch of the obnoxious habit of viewing all past people and events through the lens of the present. If your view of Friends is that a bunch of 20-something white people did not constitute diversity, then you’re doing it wrong. Besides, the 90s had more than its share similar all-black programs that were also monochromatic. And?
Millennials and, to a much greater extent Gen-Z, have had the luxury of marinating in first-world problems. Unfortunately, they seldom have the self-awareness to realize it. I hate to break the news, but people in emerging economies don’t really care about “global boiling” or whatever the euphemism is today. What they recognize is a prosperous turned pretentious West telling them that they cannot use the same sources of abundant, accessible, affordable energy that we took for granted.
Maybe indulging in perpetual grievance was not the ideal lifestyle choice. Maybe seeing everything as somehow tied to race, sex, or colonialism blinds one from reality. And maybe seeing tv shows as something other than tv shows is not terribly healthy. My kids are Millennials. They have somehow managed to escape this existential angst with the oldest sounding a bit like me in asking, what happened to the country since I was a kid? He looks at many in his peer group with the same skepticism and confusion that Kat has, and it’s hard to blame him.

Alabama Slamma
Alabama Slamma
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Millennials have been mal-educated, for sure. They were taught a bunch of stuff that simply wasn’t true: Peak Oil was supposed to have been reached in 1999, and Manhattan was supposed to be under water by 2010. It’s worse with Gen Z. I work in aerospace, and we’re having a lot of trouble finding younger people to hire. Many of them seem to think “diversity” makes airplanes fly, rather than the physical realities of lift and thrust. They pretty much believe in magic, while dismissing the physical laws of the universe as “dead white men racism”.

Tony
Tony
3 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Is that why some of them believe they can change their sex?

BradK
BradK
3 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Slamma

Many of them seem to think “diversity” makes airplanes fly

Thank you for making me spit out my coffee. That was brilliant. We really do have two consecutive generations of adults brainwashed in dangerous woke nonsense, accompanied by near zero practical knowledge or life skills. That many are carrying 6 figures in student debt for the privilege of this mal-education, as you say, is a cruel perversion.

Perhaps the recent scandal at Harvard, that smug epicenter of woke, will finally trigger some serious re-alignment? Or at the very least, a wholesale reassessment of the value proposition of an Ivy League diploma.

Tony
Tony
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Their is hope that the nations of Africa are rejecting aid tied to mass abortion, LGBT and zero carbon deception pedalled by the west.

Gayle Buhler
Gayle Buhler
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Totallly and completely agree with you. First became aware of the problem when my Millenial niece attended the same university that I did in the 1970s. The nonsense she was being taught and spouted as a consequence of was shocking. I know now it is worse.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 months ago

The data which the author links appears to tells us the exact opposite of what she claims.

The summary of the paper it links to clearly states that with the exception of upper middle class professionals, a position which a much smaller proportion of millennials have managed to obtained than the boomers, the millennials are doing worse off across the board, with lower middle class and working class millennials having lower rates home ownership, family formation and higher rates of negative net worth than their boomer peers.

Nor was this surmised to be due to cultural changes.

“There was limited evidence that this gap is intrinsically driven by changing work and family patterns. Rather, the economic rewards for secure, middle and upper-class lifestyles have increased, while those for less stable, working-class trajectories have either stagnated or declined.”

So not only have proportionally less millennials have gained access to the professional classes, but those who did not, are worse off than their boomer peers but this is not evidence of inter generational inequality because the small fraction of millennials who did make it into the professions have shared in the boomers prosperity?

Tarquin’s had inflation busting pay growth every year in daddies law firm so this more than makes up for the fact that the rest of you have been on stagnant real wages all your working lives and are objectively worse off than your parents generation.

It invalidates the rest of the article when the author appears to have either not read or comprehended the material they’re basing their argument on.

T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

These “statistics” are a Mystification. Most of terms that you’re referencing aren’t fixed definitions. For instance, when you refer to “upper middle class professionals” what exactly does that mean? This is subject imposed on object. Its taking what appears to be an objective idea (upper middle class on a distribution curve) and then adding a subjective term like “professional” which should apply to pretty much any sedentary, non-labor desk work. So it’s not that professionals are doing worse, its just an expansion of the term professional. It’s bringing a larger group of people into the equation making the comparison untenable.

Any discussion on whether a certain generation is as successful as its predecessor that fails to analyze both consumer spending and government spending is going to be invalid. Millenials don’t have less than their parents. They have much more. They just have higher expectations of what “society” should guarantee them and this is reason real wages can’t keep up with inflation.

In the 1960s the poorest people weren’t running around with the best technology but now basically everyone has smart phones, computers and big screen TVs. Everyone expects that either they will personally secure housing and health care or the government will do it for them. So even people on the lower end of the income distribution curve are still able to access consumer goods that used to be available only to people that could afford them.

When you continually use government policy to intentionally spread wealth to create an “equal playing field” you will get inflation which is effectively a tax on anybody not getting government assistance.

So of course home ownership among “working class” people is going to be lower because government policies have driven up costs across the board and created a cyclical effect.

Last edited 3 months ago by T Bone
Tony
Tony
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

The cost of home ownership is basically the land and not the building which can be put up quite cheaply. Unfortunately on a small island as Britain that will be the case.

Chipoko
Chipoko
3 months ago

… and its [Friends] notably non-diverse depiction of life in New York.
What a typically smug, Woke side-swipe!
Friends was a fun series enjoyed by millions around the world who did not complain about its “notably non-diverse” portrayal of young professionals in New York (even though there was some definite diversity along the way). Japanese don’t do diversity. Indians don’t do diversity. Africans don’t do diversity. Chinese don’t do diversity. We have succumbed to the tyranny of a Woking Class ruling elite that seeks to undermine and destroy our very sense of identify by diluting it with increasingly large doses of ‘diversity’. The latest travesty is the diversification of Agatha Christie stories on film.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
3 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

It’s also not true – the Friends had very different and distinctive personalities, tastes, mindsets, and occupations. That’s precisely what made the characters, and their predicaments, so compelling and funny.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
3 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

“Woking Class ruling elite” Yes!
Any problem if I steal this idea, Ă  la President Gay?

Chipoko
Chipoko
3 months ago

Feel free!

Tony
Tony
3 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

Men are men and women are women whatever their colour. Manipulating because of skin colour doesn’t help anyone in the end. All we can do is deal with racism in ourselves. Trying to manipulate it from outside doesn’t work for them or us.

Geoffrey Barker
Geoffrey Barker
3 months ago

I still don’t get it…absolutely loved the 90s.

Ailsa Roddie
Ailsa Roddie
3 months ago

Agreed. I don’t recognise any of this 90s angst from myself or my millennial peers. I think we are much more likely to assume that the 90s was better on the whole – better fun, better culture, better balance of technology etc. We feel grateful that that was the childhood we had and we try our best to recreate it in small ways for our own children today, even though it is difficult in the sanitised and technologically saturated world of now. I think the author has spent too much time on social media where a minority of people spend a disproportionate amount of time finding a way to make everything formerly good somehow sinister. I find it hard to believe that it reflects how most people really feel.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ailsa Roddie
Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
3 months ago

Thank God I’m Gen X, when adults were still expected to behave like adults.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
3 months ago

While I think it may be true enough that American Millennials aren’t quite so financially hard done by – from a Canadian perspective, our sense of decline is definitely not just rhetoric over reality. We are truly far worse off (generally, though individual experiences can obviously vary wildly) – largely due to the absolutely ridiculous state of our housing market.
I’m not as familiar with the UK’s economy, but from what I’ve read, it seems to have more in common with our Canadian situation than it does with the American one discussed in this article.
All this to say, though I think the author and I are about the same age, this is one of those things that I really don’t relate to. An interesting divergence between seemingly similar cultures and cohorts, I guess! You definitely can’t always apply a generational experience across different but similar countries as universally relatable.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
3 months ago

Much of our current misery in the States stems from two things, IMHO. The decline of the nuclear family, for which I mostly blame our intrusive, incompetent, and controlling governments (I lived in New York and Massachusetts, not freewheeling Texas, nor self sufficient Maine) and their regulations, laws, and tax structures guaranteed high prices for things like housing, fuel, and food.
I loved driving up the QEW to hip, bustling Toronto in the 90s, to see bands like Radiohead and Oasis, I adored Ontario’s beaches on their two Great Lakes, and I loved rock climbing at Ontario’s Rattlesnake Point/Buffalo Craig.
But I was always agog at how expensive most of Ontario & TO metro was, particularly for the young. And their government, though perhaps less hostile to its own citizens than New York’s, was at least as intrusive and expensive, and at least as indifferent to its younger citizens, if not much moreso.

Last edited 3 months ago by Andrew Vanbarner
J. Hale
J. Hale
3 months ago

That’s quite interesting. Canada has a small population and lots of room. So why the housing crisis? Also Canada manages to stay out of the type of “Forever Wars” that the U.S. blunders into. So you would think there would be money for housing.

JP Martin
JP Martin
3 months ago
Reply to  J. Hale

Housing is very costly in Canada; I experienced this when I lived there. Canada is highly urbanised, with most of its population concentrated in population centres not far from its southern border. To this you can add very high immigration levels (almost exclusively to the same urban centres), restrictive land use regulations, and insufficient construction of new housing.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
3 months ago
Reply to  J. Hale

Canadian homes are costly despite plenty of land, mainly because our economy relies heavily on continuously increasing home prices. This issue is exacerbated by factors like NIMBYism, inadequate and misdirected political efforts on affordability, and policies that inflate existing property values while discouraging new construction. https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/canada-has-addiction-to-high-housing-prices-researcher-1.6561677

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
3 months ago

You might want to mention the influx of billions of mostly Chinese money into the housing market, especially jn Vancouver. Further, money laundering through the real estate market is also a huge problem.

Cassander Antipatru
Cassander Antipatru
3 months ago

<i>I’m not as familiar with the UK’s economy, but from what I’ve read, it seems to have more in common with our Canadian situation than it does with the American one discussed in this article.</i>
The British government is currently undertaking a bold experiment whereby they import millions of people a year whilst simultaneously making it next to impossible to build new houses. The effects on the property market have so far been much as you would expect.

aaron david
aaron david
3 months ago

My son is 28, and has moved to one of the most expensive cities in the world, the above mentioned NYC. No, he cannot afford a “house”, but most people cannot there. But, drive to Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and a million other small cities, and you can buy a house for around 100K(us). Are there jobs? Yes. Is there a night life? Yes. But, it isn’t the coolest place to be, not like SF, or LA, or NYC, and so on. I don’t know what the costs are out in Canada’s sticks, but how are the prices in Medicine Hat or Thunder Bay in comparison? How are housing prices in Cardiff or York compared to London?

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
3 months ago
Reply to  aaron david

Virtually all of the UK is exorbitant (as someone above mentioned, mass immigration and new builds not keeping pace is one big reason). You can still get a house in some places near me (eg parts of Burnley) for under 40 to 50k pounds but these are places or areas with few decent jobs, a largely underclass type population, poor quality of life, etc. London is an outlier, for years foreign ‘investors’ have bought houses there to move wealth out of their own countries and as a bolt-hole in case things go sour at home, no ordinary Brit could buy a property in most parts of London now. For ordinary ppl to buy a house in an ordinary area they preferably need family help, two incomes and a commitment to large mortgage pymts.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 months ago
Reply to  aaron david

agreed ! – plenty of housing in big countries – UNLESS you feel entitled to live in a trendy spot. However in small counties like NZ there actually are NO cheap houses anywhere now – time for young kiwis to move to big counties like australia methinks.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
3 months ago
Reply to  aaron david

I would say the most notable thing about our housing crisis is that it has expanded far beyond urban centers:
“The bank warns most of the country has seen frothy gains, with a few exceptions. However, Ontario is pushed to an extreme, with home prices 55.4% higher above the trend, as of Q1 2022. It’s worse in Southern Ontario, with Toronto (+41%), and its exurbs (1 to 2 hours away) rising 76.3% overvalued. Cottage country (+63.6%) has also gotten ahead of itself, and won’t have fun discovering where its true value should be.” https://betterdwelling.com/canadian-real-estate-markets-up-to-76-overvalued-correction-through-2023-bmo/
I also think it’s quietly correcting/crashing at the moment (over a year since the article I just linked to outlined the level of froth), but the prices are still ridiculous even after correction.
An example is this bungalow in a tiny town of 4,000 people 3 hours outside of Toronto – the price has come down, but it still recently sold for more than half a million. https://housesigma.com/on/bancroft-real-estate/24-vanluven-lane/home/kbEDRYap08O31VaB?id_listing=J6Em7b2rQBg7XBeq
Even in Thunder Bay, which is way, way more remote than your Cardiff or York, the median list price of homes was $355,918. https://www.houseful.ca/market-trends/thunder-bay-on/#:~:text=The%20median%20list%20price%20of,%25%20month%2Dover%2Dmonth.
To restore any sense of actual value in our market, a massive, ruinous crash is beyond necessary, at this point.

Christopher Theisen
Christopher Theisen
3 months ago

As usual Gen X gets ignored. Me and my friends entered the California workforce in 1990 and felt really fearful about our ability to recreate that lifestyle of coolness and financial ease. No wonder we give Millennials the side eye. They were not the first generation to figure out that a university degree was no longer an automatic guarantee of anything. We could see the cost of housing ramping up. Social cohesion going down. Those Gen X who found work in Tech were lucky and became wealthy, but they were at best a high profile minority within the generational cohort. Most Gen X got cynical about capitalism and what it took to succeed. I went to a prestigious university and economic insecurity after graduation encouraged me to join the military. We Gen X’ers could have turned out to be professional navel gazers like the Millennials. But our one piece of luck was becoming adults before social media made it so easy to grouse and complain. Deconstructing the awfulness of everything required universal smart phone penetration and social media powered by hyperbole.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 months ago

Excellent article, particularly the insight contained within the final two paragraphs. I’ll extrapolate it a little more and say that the practice described here:

“The self-described “smol bean” who uses “adult” as a verb also maintains a teenager’s belligerent stance toward the world: a conviction that society doesn’t understand you, has left you behind. Millennials may not actually be materially worse off, but our expectations still don’t line up with reality. We still feel disempowered, disenfranchised, and victimised.”

….is a self-reinforcing system: the more a person does it, the harder it is to break out of the habit.

But it’s also true, I think, that it isn’t a new thing: there have always existed environments where people too old to be anything but an adult nevertheless refuse to grow up: academia is an obvious example, where the ivory towers academics inhabit are proof against the dangers of ever having to test one’s ideas against reality.

Anyway, Kat Rosenfield has knocked another one out of the park here.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I’d agree with that point about academia, but would expand it even further: to include a great many in the teaching professional who went from sixth form to university/teaching training college to schoolteacher with virtually no contact with other types of working environment in between.
A fair number of those in my sixth form (back in the 1970s) did exactly that, and one might almost have predicted who’d do it, their sense of insularity and comfort in the confines of a school almost requiring them to maintain the same environment throughout their working lives.
Whenever i’ve met them (by chance), they’ve invariably married other teachers, and remain to this day peculiarly naive about the wider world around them whilst feeling entitled to believe their opinions have greater weight than others, presumably through being immersed in a world where their adulthood stood in contrast with school-age children.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
3 months ago

Millennials the most suffering generation? Kidults, let me introduce my father. He was born in time to lie about his age and join the army in 1914. So, from then until 1918, people were trying to kill him. He rejoined civilian life in time for the Depression. He got through that to find that Hitler was making the sequel to WW1. That over, it’s austerity. I’m born and life improves except he now finds that freedoms he fought for twice have now not only meant that he’d never had it so good, but that teenagers like me were letting their hair grow over their ears. Now that is really a tough life.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Nice fairytale!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
3 months ago

The millennial generation of joyless, priggish scolds makes me very grateful for my 80s heyday.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
3 months ago

“Be careful whose [revisionist history] you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. [Revisionism] is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the [non-conforming] parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”
Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young, Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune [my personal tweaks are in brackets]

Last edited 3 months ago by Cantab Man
N T
N T
3 months ago

How did this piece come into being without reminding everyone about the nightmares caused by parents forcing their offspring to wear…
PLAID???
Or that photo in the yearbook of them sporting a mullet? Letting themselves be talked into giving up clearly superior vinyl for clearly inferior cassettes?
Tennis! Racquetball! ROCKY II! THE HORROR!
Come on.

Last edited 3 months ago by N T
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
3 months ago
Reply to  N T

I tried to learn the Macarena! The MACARENA, people!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago

You might at least be content with having failed.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago

Every school disco! The boys dance was always about a second behind the girls

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago
Reply to  N T

It’s too obvious! Everything went to hell in a hand-basket when men stopped tucking-in their shirts. Our mothers warned us but we refused to listen!

Louise Henson
Louise Henson
3 months ago

You don’t sem to be capable of thinking about anything but yourselves, and then only with self-pity. I’d say that’s your problem. Grow up!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Louise Henson

I always found the 90’s to be fun. The drunken drug fuelled debauchery of Britpop and the rave scene, Euro 96, irreverent telly. I enjoyed it all

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 months ago

The economic inequality between generations is a half-truth. The half-lie is that the younger generations will inherit the wealth of their parents if they were born on the right side of the haves vs have-nots divide.

P N
P N
3 months ago

If you’ve got time to worry about all this nonsense then you’ve got too much time on your hands and that in itself is a reflection of how comfortable you are.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

This was not, shall we say, the best article I’ve read on UnHerd.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
3 months ago

Wasted ten minutes of what remains of my life reading the first few paragraphs. Oh, Unherd, you can do better – you used to do better- than this vacuous, pointless, stuff.

Gordon Beattie
Gordon Beattie
3 months ago

Fredrick,
SPOT ON! What drivel
I was relieved to read your comment.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

Time to move on, including from in-depth analyses of the recent past in which the newly middle-aged are marinating. Far better to mull the consequences of the War of Jenkins’ Ear than dwell on the unspeakable sin of “heteronormative bigotry” even though it brought us to the Bud Light moment.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
3 months ago

Good God !!!
This article and the comments sweat nihilism…..hell of a read to finish the year. There must be an eggnog pool somewhere where I can drown myself with a ton of led !!!
When I think about my grandparents and parents and the lives they had, the wars, deaths, loss they had to endure and never peeped a word of despair……I feel like shouting: get a f….g grip. Get a sense of purpose, whatever it might be…..Frankly At least for the western world, we’ve had it so good. Peace since 1945…….watching other countries slaughtering each other……on our behalf …..that’s how we fight wars nowadays.
No life is perfect …..live with that and carry on

Last edited 3 months ago by Bruno Lucy
ALLEN MORRIS-YATES
ALLEN MORRIS-YATES
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Was it Field Marshall Montgomery that liked to say “stop whining and get a grip”. Anyway, I find myself saying this to myself quite often these days – I find it helps. Happy new year to you all 🙂

Last edited 3 months ago by ALLEN MORRIS-YATES
Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂşa
Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂşa
3 months ago

It is a vexing question, isn’t it? What to do with ideologically, which is to say objectively, liberal/left-wing people, who nevetherless, for one reason or another, be it natural aging or nostalgia, are temperamentally conservative? On the one hand, such instinctive conservatism is positive, or at any rate useful, both as opposition to further social degradation, the inevitable social consequence of the liberalism and leftism our societies have suffered for quite some time, and as a temperamental bulwark once a much more objectively conservative (i.e., right-wing) social order has been established or restored.

But, on the other, as it so often happens, conservatives should not in any way confuse these outpourings of nostalgia with genuine conservatism, for these people are and remain liberals, liberals of the Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Felipe González type.

Last edited 3 months ago by Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂşa
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago

“Metacritical limbo”, with cooked-up ironic detachment. To reference a orange juice commercial from my earlier era of fraught mass-culture nostalgia: “It’s not just for breakfast anymore”. Nor is it confined to millennials.
Another entertaining and highly readable entry from Kat Rosenfield, who is among the very best regular contributors here, especially (though not only) from a literary point of view.

BW Naylor
BW Naylor
3 months ago

Of course the millennial is more concerned with how they are perceived than the actual wealth they have. lol. What a myopic view, typical of millennials. Friends was actually a ground breaking TV show for having diverse and openly gay characters and jokes, a stepping stone to these minorities actually getting their own prime time shows. Does the writer think society decides to be more diverse and it happens over night? It’s not linear, and it takes time… and there are many levels of inclusion that need to happen before momentum builds. The fault of the millennials, is that they think there is only one solution to each problem, but the complexity of our issues require many and varied approaches.

Last edited 3 months ago by BW Naylor
David Anson
David Anson
3 months ago

I think the challenge for Millennials is how our world view, based on a contagious optimism of the post Cold War era, consumerism and more invested parenting, has shaped our expectations. We have gained tremendously on our parents generation which we should be incredibly grateful. However, we find ourselves more lost and less grounded. Accepting that we have to make the best of our chances, focusing on community and family is a better ticket to wellbeing.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
3 months ago

I definitely give this article the award for best picture.

Last edited 3 months ago by Phil Mac
Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
3 months ago

I am still ruminating (yes, exactly like a cow) about this disenfranchisement, hard done byment, general unhappinessment of millennials and on down the line. As a rule, I think it makes sense to look at a whole group of really unhappy people and think, well, SOMETHING, is going on. I’m just never fully satisfied by the explanations (criticisms, sermons, justifications) being offered. Although I think most of them come into play and do have some truth/merit. But more too, right? And the most more too is Godlessness. We creatures get suffering no matter what, but peace is only available in Christ. Owning a house is great, or even being able to pay the rent, fair wages too, but then WAY more important for “well-being” is intact families, meaningful relationships, a sense of humor re: chance and necessity…but I think maybe millennials on down don’t know how to value what actually matters—like if I live with my extended family because 7 billion single person/single family residences are not a realistic goal in a finite world, I must be a victim of some kind instead of the beneficiary of stable relationships. Like I said, still ruminating. And how would they know what to value? I mean, they get sold values like everything else. And the marketing people know what they’re about.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate Madrid

Of course, their parents and culture should have taught them what to value. (God, themselves, eachother, creatureliness, the finite and limited that makes everyday and every human a gift) But what a pluralistic commercial culture teaches one to value is individual choice as evidenced by Brand, closely associated with ideological Tribe. Subaru vs. Ford.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kate Madrid
Cassander Antipatru
Cassander Antipatru
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate Madrid

I think a big part of the problem is that society doesn’t really have any life scripts for young people any more. In generations past, there was a fairly clear set of expectations which worked OK for most people — work hard at school, get a good job, get married, buy a house, have a couple of children. But now economic changes have made it harder to get a good job and buy a house, cultural changes have made it harder to meet potential partners, and the whole idea of a cultural life script is rejected as oppressive and heteronormative. It’s no wonder that people are feeling increasingly lost and adrift.
This also, I think, helps explain why so many millennials keep valourising childhood and adolescence. Somebody once said that the reason Americans set such store on “the college experience” is that, for a lot of them, it’s the only opportunity they get to live in pleasant, walkable, human-scale communities. In a similar vein, I’d say that, for a lot of millennials, adolescence was the last time they had a proper life script, with clear goals and obvious hurdles to clear in order to reach those goals.

Cassander Antipatru
Cassander Antipatru
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate Madrid

I will add — in many cases, the life scripts millennials received were inaccurate. For example, when I was in high school we were constantly told that going to university would get us a great job, and also that it didn’t really matter what we studied, because employers were looking for transferrable skills. In reality, of course, so many people now go to university that the value of having a degree is being inflated away (a lot of the “graduate” jobs I applied to were the same sort as my parents had applied to with just their A-levels), and most employers are not at all willing to hire someone based on transferrable skills and train them up on the job. When people invest several years and thousands of pounds getting a degree only to find out that the promises of a bright future were all lies, it’s not surprising that they should end up feeling bitter and hard-done-by.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
3 months ago

Yes, we haven’t been cultivating meaningful hope and meaningful acceptance very well for decades. Working (for the vast majority of humans) is really hard and largely unpleasant and there has been super unrealistic messaging around this in our culture. And school (itself) isn’t anything like unpleasant enough to prepare young people for exactly how unpleasant working life is. And if you have no metaphysics, if you have nothing to work FOR (kids, spouse, aging parents) beyond material gain, I don’t really see how anyone could stand it. Man is born to suffer as the sparks fly upward is firmer ground than follow your dreams but a robust metaphysics contains both.

Nathan Arsenault
Nathan Arsenault
3 months ago

good article cheers

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
3 months ago

Very nice picture. Was I supposed to know how it is related to the topic of the article or was it put out only to allow me to savor it?

laura m
laura m
3 months ago

As a mother of married millennials and having worked in the public schools during the ’90s, I find the essay illuminating and relevant.