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“For Those Who Did Everything Our Parents Told Us To Do… Now What?”: 80 Relatable Posts About Millennial Struggles

You might’ve done everything ‘right’ growing up: you studied hard, got the degree you wanted, worked your butt off. But even if you did everything that your parents told you to do, success isn’t guaranteed The post "For Those Who Did Everything Our Parents Told Us To Do... Now What?": 80...

You might’ve done everything ‘right’ growing up: you studied hard, got the degree you wanted, worked your butt off. But even if you did everything that your parents told you to do, success isn’t guaranteed. Heck, sometimes, a comfortable middle-class lifestyle seems out of reach. And there you are—well-educated, with a strong work ethic—unable to find even a low-income job to pay your rent. And it isn’t all your fault: the world has changed.

These and other struggles that millennials, especially working-class ones, face are documented on the ‘Lost Generation’ subreddit. It’s an online group, founded in 2009, in the wake of the previous financial crisis, that has nearly 262k members and calls out capitalism, income inequality, and how unfair the system can sometimes be. We’ve selected their top posts for you to see, dear Pandas. You’ll find them below, as you scroll down.

Some of you highly-educated Pandas will have noticed that the subreddit’s name refers to the Lost Generation that was in early adulthood during World War I. The term refers to how disoriented, wandering, and directionless many people in the postwar period felt. Feelings that some millennials (aka Gen Y) and members of the younger generations embody as well.

Bored Panda reached out to Eddy Ng, the Smith Professor of Equity & Inclusion in Business at Queen’s University, for his insights on how the financial crisis of 2008 restructured the economy and affected millennials, as well as the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequality. Bored Panda also had an in-depth discussion with the head moderator of the r/lostgeneration subreddit, u/Adahn5. Scroll down for both exclusive interviews.

#1 How Capitalism Cause Generational Gap

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“We had the global financial crisis which led to many millennials who were employed being displaced. When the economy recovered, it changed structurally, and many quality jobs were lost,” Eddy from Queen’s University told Bored Panda. He explained that this then led to the emergence of various precarious jobs, the gig/sharing economy, and the rise of digital labor. The result? Income and social inequalities for those unable to join the new economy.

Eddy pointed out that some racialized groups, e.g. Black and Brown workers, fall into a poverty trap and are unable to climb out of it. The expert stressed that financial literacy, while helpful, might not be enough for people to pull themselves out of poverty. “You need to have the resources to, for example, access training and education,” he said.

Meanwhile, fast-forward to the present day and you can see that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the factors that contributed to income and social inequalities. “Workers work more hours with lower pay in order to survive. That leaves little time to accumulate the necessary resources for skill upgrades or retooling for the new economy. This is the poverty trap I alluded to,” he said.

#2 Just Work Hard And You’ll Succeed

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#3 Anytime Now

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Meanwhile, redditor Adahn5, the head moderator of r/lostgeneration, told Bored Panda that they consider millennials, aka members of Gen Y, to be born between 1981 and 1996. They noted that some of the ambiguity about who might or might not be considered a millennial stems from whether or not someone grew up near the beginning or the end of the generation. What’s more, those growing up with siblings may have been influenced to have different identities, too.

However, the moderator thinks there’s a certain element of subjectivity here, too. “From our perspective, if you consider yourself to be a millennial, you’re a millennial. Though when it comes to the subreddit, we try to cultivate a sense of working-class solidarity that intersects with this generational experience, more than just making it drily about the clichés or memes of what it means to be a millennial,” they told Bored Panda.

#4 I Feel Motivated

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#5 I’ve Been Trying To Explain This To My Parents For A While

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#6 The Dream Killer

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According to Adahn5, neoclassical or classical economists tend to argue that a lack of financial literacy might be the main issue that millennials face. “But the truth of the matter is that this perspective ignores greater, macro-economic and historical development of capitalism. The contradictions present in this system, such as the need to seek greater profits by offshoring jobs, the articulation of austerity measures that would cut public services and assistance programs, often coinciding with the drive for greater privatization and financialization of what were once public services, hand-in-hand with a freezing of wages since the 1970s, would better explain the burden that Gen X first experienced, that millennials were saddled with, and that Gen Z were effectively born into.”

In short, the subreddit broadly believes that there are socio-economic problems present that can’t be solved just by improving financial literacy on an individual level.

I was curious to learn more about the online community’s history and Adahn5 kindly explained the roots of the group and how things changed. All of the current moderators weren’t there at the founding of the sub back in 2009, right after the recession. It was at the time that “American millennials were very starkly shown that the promise most of them were held to, that if they studied hard, got into college, and graduated with a decent degree, they would have a guaranteed job, turned out to be false.” The financial situation was tragic and the repercussions were catastrophic.

#7 Translation: Ok Boomer

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#8 *squid Game Theme Intensifies* “Billionaire Laughs In Capitalism”

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#9 Have You Realized Skills Of Average Person Have Increased But Wages Still Remain D Same!?

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“The subsequent debt that most were saddled with, combined with the badgering of their parents and the mainstream media portraying them as lazy, entitled, or unrealistic, lead to the feeling of discontent that fueled the initial impulse for the subreddit’s creation.”

According to the head mod, the members of the r/lostgeneration community have become much more class conscious, has shifted from criticizing Baby Boomers to incorporate anti-capitalist theory, and focuses on working class solidarity across generational lines.

“There’s been a shift in understanding that much of the ideology arrayed against us isn’t solely based on generational disagreements per se, but also in capitalist hegemony. Our parents and grandparents, for example, particularly if they already held some conservative viewpoints before, fall easy prey to mainstream media narratives that exemplify the talking points expressed above. That the kids of yesterday made the wrong moves, chose the wrong degrees, were coddled and thus developed faulty characters, and that they ought to blame no one but themselves for their lot in life,” they explained.

#10 Lifecycle Of A Millennial

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#11 I’ll Give You Something To Cry About

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#12 When I Magically Become An Adult In 3 Month

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The head moderator added that they’ve noticed quite a lot more people questioning the system we’re currently living in every time there’s an election cycle and equality-conscious politicians like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US lose. “Their defeats have only led to further questioning of the system and deeper criticism of the socio-economic system and the state apparatus on which it depends,” they said.

Redditor Adahn5 also shed some light on what most of the members of the subreddit are like. As you could expect, a lot of them are (over)educated. “The people who frequent the sub are intelligent, critically-thinking young folk, overwhelmingly educated,” they told Bored Panda, pointing out that many have at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree while some even have PhDs.

“They realize the core issues that they face are not of their own, individual making. Any political organization or party seeking to develop a set of popular policies would do well to incorporate and adhere to a platform that incorporates the needs of young folk. If they did, they would have at their back a great number of highly trained, articulate, and competent workers whose only desire is a bit of comfort and for their lives to have meaning and purpose.”

#13 Surely A Coincidence

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#14 Less Yachts More People Able To Afford Food And Have A Roof Over Their Heads

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#15 The Struggle

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At the core of the ‘Lost Generation’ subreddit lies the belief that millennials struggle far more than previous generations. Despite being educated and following their family members’ advice, they’re not all enjoying the same success as their loved ones. In short, they were promised the world but realize to find that carving out even a small scarp of muddy land on God’s green Earth for themselves can be tremendously difficult to do.

Finding a job was hard enough. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and sent shockwaves through the labor market. If that wasn’t enough, some millennials feel like they don’t know what to do with their lives even if they manage to get a stable job, buy a house, get married, and have kids. Directionless? Like the actual Lost Generation from a hundred years ago? Perhaps.

The subreddit frowns upon any posts that have nothing to do with working-class millennials “or their shared experiences.” They also don’t allow any so-called ‘Boomer Ideology’ in their group. “Poor-shaming, bootstrapping, anti-millennial rhetoric, or using stand-point epistemology to justify inequality, injustice, or oppression, is not sanctioned,” the moderators explain.

#16 Being A Millennial Rules

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#17 Saw This One On Twitter The Other Day

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#18 Pay People What They Are Worth!

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Naturally, there’s no place for any hate speech or oppressive language on the sub. And the moderators note that “anti-working class rhetoric and ideologies” aren’t welcome either. In other words, new members are expected to be polite and to toe the subreddit line carefully. Whether or not this stifles genuine discussions about capitalism, generational differences, and economics is another question entirely. Hopefully, the subreddit engages with those who genuinely want to discuss these things and isn’t just an echo chamber for its members to vent.

Eddy, who was previously the James and Elizabeth Freeman Professor of Management at Bucknell University, also shared his thoughts about millennials during an earlier interview with Bored Panda. To be fair, there are various interpretations about who can technically be considered to be a millennial, depending on who you ask. There is also some overlap with Gen Z and we can even talk about older and younger millennials as well. In short, when it comes to millennials, things aren’t as clear-cut.

“Millennials have been defined by demographers in North America as those born on or after 1980/1981. Generally, they have been socialized during the turn of the century with technology influencing everything they do. Because they have been raised in a relatively middle-class environment, they tend to be over-parented (the terms ‘helicopter parents’ and ‘lawnmower parents’ were coined to describe the parents of millennials),” Eddy explained to me earlier.

#19 Mad Max Hours Who Up?

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#20 Just Make It Illegal

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#21 Millennial Culture

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“As a result, millennials have higher self-esteem compared to previous generations. They tend to portray themselves as assertive, ambitious, and achievement-oriented. The general public and media have also referred to Gen Z (those born on or after 1995) as millennials. We should bear in mind that the oldest millennials are now about 40 years old (from the Gen Y cohort).”

Eddy went further in-depth about millennials. “Because millennials were raised in very different environments (middle class, over parenting which is a part of the self-esteem movement), they do not conform to the more traditional approaches of doing things. For example, there is less respect for hierarchy and ‘doing time’ as technology has changed the way we work,” he said.

“This inevitably creates a faultline in the workplace between older and younger generations of workers. Older workers (e.g., boomers) are rule-bound (they created the rules!), millennials ignore them and rewrite these rules. For example, older workers strictly observe the 9 to 5 workday, millennials would stream into the workplace at 10 but work during their ‘waking hours. Previous generations find these behaviors to be irritating,” he said.

#22 Workers’ Passion Shouldn’t Be Exploited For Profit

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#23 But Did They Really Try Making Coffee At Home?

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#24 Minimum Wage Earners Can’t Afford A Two-Bedroom Rental Anywhere

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“Every generation is focused on themselves—even boomers and Gen Xers. It’s really interesting hearing Gen Ys (older millennials) complaining about Gen Zs (younger millennials). ‘Kids these days…’ Part of this can be explained by the anxiety or fear of being displaced,” the expert explained.

“Boomers considered themselves as ‘the greatest generation.’ This (irrational) fear is most acute when technology changed how we live and work. Millennials, having been born and raised in a digital era, are much more adept and versatile in incorporating technology in everything they do. The boomers find it more difficult transitioning from their pre-technology ways. They still wear an old-fashioned analog wristwatch (to tell time) and don’t understand why millennials need to be plugged in through their smartwatches.”

#25 Gatekeeping Through Irresponsibility

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#26 Go To College, They Said. Get A Job And Buy A House, They Said

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#27 Vanilla Wafers Are More Than Half Of What Minimum Wage Workers Earn In An Hour

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Meanwhile, financial expert Sam Dogen told Bored Panda that building wealth requires four things: belief, grit, time, and community. He also notes that a lack of financial education might be the biggest obstacle to climbing out of poverty and building wealth.

“We learn things like chemistry, geology, and English in high school and college, but there are no mandatory courses on personal finance. For example, if more people thoroughly understood their mortgage contracts before signing, the housing crisis between 2008–2010 may not have been as deep,” he told me.

#28 A Choice?

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#29 Explains A Lot

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#30 Let’s Be Honest, If We Don’t Prioritise The Environment Over The Economy Soon, We Are Fked. Sincerely, The West Coast Currently Smothered By Dust And Ash

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“If more people knew they could negotiate a severance instead of quit with nothing, more people would have a more comfortable financial runway to take their time and find a new job or start a new business that is truly meaningful to them. The more people are empowered with financial knowledge, the better financial decisions they can make to ultimately live the lives they desire,” Sam said.

#31 Hindsight Is 20/20

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#32 ‘When I Was Your Age I Only Made $6/Hour’

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#33 Family Dependent Surpasses The Great Depression

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#34 The Avocado Toast Superimposition

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#35 Every. Election

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#36 Don’t Forget Their Morning Routines

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#37 3rd Party For 2024?

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#38 Not To Mention The Debt

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#39 Priorities

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#40 Have You Ever Got The Feeling Like The Game Is Rigged

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#41 F**k Boomers

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#42 Mission Impossible

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#43 The Amount Of Truth In This Statement Hurts Me

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#44 Why Don’t You Kids Travel More

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#45 What Will They Try Next?

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#46 Political Evolution Of Millennials

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#47 That’s Already Happening

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#48 I Think This1% Are Unaware Of Other People

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#49 Capitalism Is The Best! There Is No Alternative

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#50 Even When They Mean Well, They Just Don’t Get It

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#51 “1200 And Good Luck!”

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#52 Our Demands

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#53 Our Sad Reality

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#54 Workers Deserve Better Than This

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#55 Thought This Belonged Here

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#56 Why Is Sleeping In Your Car Illegal?

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#57 It Isn’t Adding Up

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#58 A Typical Landlord’s Response To The Coronavirus Epidemic

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#59 “I’m Completely Out Of Touch With Everyday Working People”

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#60 Facts

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#61 We Have Been Conditioned To Ask For The Bare Minimum

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#62 Because We Know The Rules Didn’t Work For Us

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#63 How It Started, How It’s Going

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#64 Samsung Increases Suicide By 600%

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#65 Six Dollars

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#66 1986 vs. 2016

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#67 It Makes You Wonder

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#68 One Law For Them, Another For Us

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#69 Democracy Dies In Darkness. But Also In The Extremely Bright Light Of Oligarch Propaganda

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#70 Disgusting

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#71 Mission Accomplished – Covid-19 Edition

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#72 Get Wrecked

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#73 We Need Not Just Living Wages, But Thriving Wages

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#74 They Literally Run The World

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#75 They Are Villains

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#76 Worker Shortage Is A Corporate Pr Spin For Capital Strike

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#77 Peak Late Stage Capitalism

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#78 Community Organization Is Needed

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#79 Precisely

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#80 It’s A Weird Coincidence, Guys

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