By Jeff DeGraff, Professor at University of Michigan
“18-35? You Are Generation Screwed!” was emblazoned on the cover of Newsweek last year. A little light reading, a sufficiently controversial subject and a Tina Brown screamer—I just couldn’t resist. The basic argument goes like this: Boomers got lucky and were born at the right time, made a lot of money (and lost it) and will live much longer than any previous generation. Oh yah, and there are a gazillion of us. We brought our kids up with an impossible to replicate standard of living and made them listen to our aging hippie soundtrack. Remember what little Emily said to you the first time you turned up the volume to hear Bob Dylan screeching “How does it feel?” So basically they are poor and pissed and have opted out of our “you can do it if you just work hard enough” Utopian love fest.
The truth is most of us save a few misanthropes who all seem to have a radio program want our young people to excel and would be aghast to find out that we have become the Man that’s holding them down. Yet, according to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust the generation gap between Millennials, someone who was born after 1980, and Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, is the largest on record since Nixon ran against McGovern. The idea that my generation is walking in the shoes of Tricky Dick is appalling but maybe, just maybe, accurate. The omnipresent ear buds, the indecorous tattoos and the accompanying slacker attitude may be the Millennials’ version of tuning-in, turning-on and dropping out. The more we get angry the more they disengage…….