90s Kids and Our Failure as Competitive Humans

As someone who is sometimes referred to as a “90s kid,” I have to wonder why.

I’ll admit: I love the 1990s. Movies and music of the decade are classics in my mind; it was a time of relative peace on a personal scale; and I’m a young adult suffering from the same affliction that many millions of other people my age are currently suffering. That is to say, the Baby Boomers sitting atop the rest of us keep saying something to the effect of, “The current generation is the first ever to have a worse world than the one before it.”

This is somehow blamed on the lazy, indolent, ignorant attitudes of Generation X, Y, and Millennials. The article I linked here from “realtruth.org” is… mildly interesting in its depiction of this generation. And that’s all it is. All I’ll say about casting blame is this: does one blame a baby for neglectful parents?

But I think the problem is different. Yes, I love the 90s for the media and what it represents as a carefree childhood. But I also love the 00s for being that decade that most formed my basic personality and the 10s for being those where I took many steps toward being an independent person within American society.

The problem is in the assumption that we’re somehow worse off than our parents and grandparents. This is wrong on many levels.

As a species, we’re doing better now than at any other time in human history. Global poverty, death from curable diseases and infant mortality are all down; basic education and access to food and clean water is up worldwide. We’re doing well and I hope we continue this trend moving forward regardless of what such people as Donald Trump insist.

It is true that many people my age have a hard time finding and holding posts of employment. It is true we’re in debt up to our eyeballs. It’s even true that some of us are unable to find a way out. But why?

I could point out that the economy is not the economy of my father, a man who worked a 40-hour workweek three months of the year as a young man and funded his four-year college education on those wages alone. I couldn’t work a 40-hour work week for ten years (avoiding tax laws and without a single holiday) and fund my four-year college education.

Incidentally, that kind of work at just above the minimum wage (I used $7.45 per hour, $0.20 over minimum wage in Florida), before taxes, comes to just under $144000, which is less than three-quarters of the total cost of my education. In that tax bracket, the actual income is more like $100000 over ten years.

I could point to the boogieman of the Millennial: the wealthy. This mysterious, seemingly all-powerful and untouchable minority of humans who have been systematically taking away the rights of workers by way of lobbying Congress to line their pockets.

I could even point to the Boomers themselves. My generation was promised the world on a silver platter and we fell for the rhetoric hook, line and sinker. Our parents and grandparents swore up and down that with a college education and a little luck, we could all be President of America and Emperor of the Moon all in one go. They were wrong, but we’re managing as well as we can.

I have a BA in digital art. I make pretty pictures, annoy conservatives, tell my friends how much they mean to me and write short stories in my free time; and work for my uncle in demolition. I’m not great at my job, but I’m learning and I hope I can be of some real value to his company. I have an apartment, electric and water bills; home internet and a phone. I’m staying afloat. I’m not saving money, but I’m not coming up short either.

I’m surviving. One day, I hope I can thrive. But whining about the economy or the Boomers isn’t going to get me anywhere. Going out of my way, saying the right thing to the right person, trying to make other people’s lives a little better if only by being their outlet… that’s how I’m going to save the world: a little at a time.

I don’t just preach noblesse oblige, but I know I can’t use money to uphold that belief; so I just act as well as I can to and for others, and try to do better than my parents and their parents. So far, I think I’m succeeding.

Enough for tonight,

-M

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90s Kids and Our Failure as Competitive Humans

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