Are We the Lost Generation? (A Response)

Despite the numerous titles our generation has received over the years, it appears we’re no longer the “lazy generation” “Gen Whine” or “Generation Limbo.”  Now, we have been graced with the title “The Lost Generation.”

According to new census figures released Thursday, Sept. 22, Generation Y is struggling to leave home, find work, and begin a family in record numbers, in addition receiving less-than-hopeful prospects for the near future.

A recent  Atlantic article discussed the reasons for associating the Millennial generation with this new title:

Fact: Only 55% of Americans aged 16-29 have jobs.
Fact: 5.9 Million Americans between 25-34 live with their parents, a 25% increase since 2007.
Fact: Between 2000 and 2010, employment for young adults declined 18%, the lowest since World War II.
Fact: 20% is the amount of young men living with their parents, which is twice the rate for young women.
Fact: The poverty rate for people under 30 has reached 37%.
Fact: 44% of people aged 25-34 are married, a record low considering 57% of people that age were married in 2000.

But does this make us lost? And if so, how?

Let’s start with the obvious reason for these depressing statistics: The Great Recession. The first problem? Unlike our parents, who were able to get jobs young and begin saving for their $401 K’s and retirement funds before they were 30, our generation can’t even get  jobs at the Gap, never mind start saving for the future.

This has an effect on the second problem: student debt. The amount of student debt this generation has accumulated far out-weighs what any other generation before us could even imagine. For our parents and grandparents, attending college was something to commit to for four years, not 40. Tuition hikes have been the downfall of this generation, despite the fact that we are the most educated generation America has seen. Even if we could get a job to keep our heads above water, the dark shadow of student debt will be following us for decades to come.

Fact: “Two decades after graduating into a recession, an unlucky generation can continue earning 10 percent less than somebody who left school a few years before or after the downturn,” says the Atlantic’s article.

In addition, there was a piece of that article that stated something ironic and true, something I personally hadn’t fully realized before: “For Millennials, this is the great irony of the Great Recession. A crisis that started in the housing market could wind up having the most lasting negative impact on the one generation that didn’t own any homes before the bust.”

Here’s the problem, though, with the newly bestowed Lost Generation title… Who says we can’t recover within the next decade?

Yes, Millennials are in a bad place right now (much like the rest of the country), and yes, we are struggling to find jobs, pay off loans, and make it on our own, but to claim the Great Recession will scar Gen-Y for decades to come seems like a bit of an over-step. There have been generations of past century that have been deemed “lost.” For example, the young adults coming out of World War I (the generation we are now being compared to) were pretty lost, and yet a couple decades later, they recovered and gave birth to the Great Suburbians (the Baby Boomer generation), the most successful generation in our history.

Gen Yers have been described as the largest, most diverse, most open-minded, most tech-savvy, most eco-friendly generation in America.  Like I wrote in a post titled “A Millennial Response to Huff Po’s Delia Llyod’s 5 New Facts About Our Generation,” in May, our generation has been brought up in a time of incredible change, making it nearly impossible for people to pinpoint us as a whole. We are still evolving, and Millennials have surprised America over the years, so who is to say we can’t come out of this in the next decade? Where’s your faith?? 

The most notable thing about this generation is our ability to adapt quickly. We are the generation of entrepreneurs, start-ups and we always have a back-up plan. Yes, we take risks, but we also know we may have to create jobs, work odd jobs, and do things unassociated with our bachelor’s degrees to get by until the economy turns around. We get that.

To say we’re “lost” is a bit of a reach. We know what we want to do, we took out loans to attend university and get degrees. The economy is what is holding us back, and while the press can claim we are postponing adulthood, it only seems that way because we don’t have another option at this point. We are haunted by student debt, a terrible economy, the highest poverty rate in years, and an unemployment rate that continues to cripple society.

Millennials may seem “lost,” but our generation is unique and different, which may explain this new association. They just want to put a label on us.

Just because we aren’t successful straight out of college, making high salaries, saving for retirement funds and beginning a family by the ripe age of 30, does not necessarily mean we are “lost.” Generation Y is unlike any other generation America has seen, so the fact that we aren’t following the footsteps of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations shouldn’t surprise anyone, for we are making our own path and making due with what the current economy has given us.

What do you think about this new title associated with millennials? Are we really lost? 

Lexis Galloway Recent Suffolk University graduate and current Cambridge resident, I'm an aspiring journalist/novel writer and I can't live without coffee and my macbook. Oh, and I'm also TNGG's Current Events Editor and writer for TNGG Boston. @lexgalloway

View all posts by Lexis Galloway

9 Responses to “Are We the Lost Generation? (A Response)”

  1. Sheilah

    This generation is definitely not Lost! They are the most adaptable, bright, diverse and imaginative generation ever! They are our future and they make it very bright! We are in good hands America!

  2. mike newman

    while there are many in my generation that are lost/lazy, there is hope. suffering through tough economic times not only makes us stronger, it makes us become more creative and think outside the box. it will take us longer to reach our goals, but as we know the tortoise eventually wins the race. eventually i think you will see our generation become successful in many ways not ever before seen in this country. once we can get our feet planted firmly on the ground we will fix the problems that the generations before us screwed up.

    in my case, going to college put me into a deep, deep hole with a mountain of student loan debt and a worthless education that was a total waste of time, money, and energy. after graduating in 2004 i found myself in a position very similar to the millions of other people in my generation. instead of taking the convention, hopeless path i took a detour and fell off the grid.

    as a result i now find myself in a position to potentially make a positive difference in this world. i’m currently in production on a feature-length documentary about the need for higher education reform in this country. it’s titled THE ELEPHANT ON CAMPUS. my goals with the movie are to raise awareness, inspire change, and hopefully help prevent others from falling into the trap of believing the myth that college is the only path to success.

  3. Federico Capoano

    This is the generation that will bring change into this God forgotten world.
    A very hard task indeed, but there’s hope!

  4. anoymous

    We are not the lost generation. We are the one responsible for
    getting this economy back into shape.
    When are older generations the gambling generation who tried
    to win big but lost bigger, put us in this situation.

  5. Connected but alone? A response « minh.pham.

    [...] calls us “digital natives,” there are certain pressure to the generation whose unemployment rate is the least promising in the last few decades. But what exactly does that say about us being disconnected? We yearn for a technology that will [...]

  6. timetobeawomannow

    Time To Be A Woman Now?

    Age: 27
    Sex: Female
    Location: Lost

    All of my life I have been different. Yes it’s the usual story of a not so perfect modern family with a not so perfect, troubled misfit teen playing the lead role in a movie that’s not really about anything. I guess that’s fine for the average 18/19 year old but for me..? Not so much.
    I was talking to “spirits” and seeing strange lights in the sky at age four. Apparently my mother found a bunch of letters i’d written about death and other morbid topics when I was six, stuffed inside my piggy bank. Apart from going to school my time was spent sitting in my room alone writing, listening to sad songs and writing down the lyrics. Oh, sleeping! Can’t leave that out. Most of my life, if not all of it I have been sleeping.
    At fifteen my GP determined I had depression. What do we use to treat depression? Anti Depressants ofcourse!

    Narcassistic mother: Check
    Absent father: Check
    Mental illness: Check
    Alcohol addiction: Check
    Pain killer addiction: Check
    Abusive boyfriend: Check
    Suicide attempt: Check
    Love but do not recieve love: Check
    =) Beautiful Baby Boy: Check
    =) Gorgeous Baby Girl: Check
    Parents divorce after 30 years of marriage: Check. Check. CHECK!

    One year ago I was working in a nursery with a big bunch of noisy, wonderful little children. One day I simply never went back. Now I never leave the house. I feel like im going through the “change” at 27.
    I’m on a cocktail of drugs, my favourite is an anti psychotic which I recently noticed has turned my urine bright green. Of course I mustn’t get used to my superheroish green pee, even if it is the only positive I can pull from taking these drugs. It is now suspected that I have Borderline Personality Disorder, for which my specialist says, “the drugs don’t work”. Yes, I did tell him that I had been previously informed of this by The Verve. A few days ago I woke up in a cold sweat. I had nightmares of death, torture, war. I turned on the TV, more death, torture, war.
    Previous generations,.you have let us down. Why didn’t you warn us? Why did you allow us to bring our own little bundles of joy into this darkness?
    Kelly Clarkston sang,
    “Because of you, I find it hard to trust
    Not only me, but everyone around me
    Because of you, I am afraid

    I watched you die, I heard you cry
    Every night in your sleep
    I was so young, you should have known
    Better than to lean on me

    You never thought of anyone else
    You just saw your pain

    Because of you
    I never stray too far from the sidewalk
    Because of you
    I learned to play on the safe side
    So I don’t get hurt

    Because of you
    I tried my hardest just to forget everything
    Because of you
    I don’t know how to let anyone else in

    Because of you
    I’m ashamed of my life because it’s empty
    Because of you, I am afraid

    Because of you”

    She was right.

    Awakening: Check
    Time to be a woman: NOW

    What do you mean time’s up?


Leave a Reply