The Millenial Resource Network

Welcome to The Millenial Resource Network, an online resource for people of all generations to learn about the Millenial Generation.

Millenials will find links, articles, and blog posts mainly written by other Millenials which will show them how to get along in a work place still dominated by older generations. Non-Millenials will be able to use those same resources to gain insight into the mind of a Millenial and the best way to deal with them in the "real world."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Won't sell 'em no dreams, but the inspiration is free..."

If you are active in the Gen Y/Millennial realm you have no doubt seen this article in the NY Times... and if you are a Gen Y/Millennial you are not really happy about how this article portrays our generation.  I mean really, first of all turning your nose up at a $40K job is THIS ONE GUY'S decision, it certainly isn't indicative of the views and characteristics of an entire generation.  Moving beyond my first-blush irritation with the slant of the article it got me thinking about what I had read about the optimistic views of Millennials and I wondered should Gen Y be bearish or bullish on the American Dream?

After turning this thought over in my head time and time again I reached a conclusion, an epiphany really, achieving the American Dream depends on what the dream means to you.  The NY Times writer clearly moves along the lines that financial success and materialism are the American Dream.  His view isn't wrong either Lifestyle matters after all. In the last 50 some odd years since the end of the Great Depression, Americans have been both the Jones' and the family trying to keep up with them.  Now I would like to point out to all the Gen Y antagonists that the 50 year run I am describing falls clearly within the realm and financial decision making time line of the Boomers.  However so as not to turn this into a Gen Y vs. Boomer debate, I will concede that Gen Y certainly profited from this aggressive pursuit of the American Dream by our parents.  In fact I will even go so far as to suggest it is because Gen Y was so passive in LIVING THE DREAM that many of them (us) aren't quite as fully prepared for the "real" world as we let on.  As a result a lot of Gen Y lives at home with Mom and Dad, still being a part of the American Dream, without ever having to go out and achieve it.  And before the chorus of "not me, I worked hard, I struggled, I pay my own bills" starts let me just add that there isn't anything wrong with living at home.  The "real" world is too hard for EVERYONE right now, yet alone someone with no money, no job, no experience, high debt, and whatever the hell other millstone you may have tied to you.  Which are "real" world problems. These "real" problems which people tell you aren't really that big a deal are being exacerbated by the reality that your boomer parents can't afford to retire.  This means that you can't get a job, because no one can move up in their current company and/or you are competing against people with fiftyleven times the experience as you because of all the Boomers and Gen Xers out of work.  So you become bearish on the whole thing and you start to realize that the American Dream has turned into your personal American Nightmare.  1, 2, Freddy's coming for you... and just like in Nightmare on Elm Street, if you die in this Dream you die for real... or do you?

Well as the second writer suggests, if you are like most Gen Y, you eventually realize you won't die at all with this iteration of the American Dream.  In fact the American Dream isn't dying or becoming more elusive either.  You are young.  You are healthy.  You are smart.  You are energetic and passionate and driven.  You are bound and determined to fix the flaws of society and the inequities of the world. Optimism swells inside you, the world is a messed up place but you think it can be fixed.  As a result of this rising tide feeling you become bullish on the idea of the American Dream. You see past the Lifestyle Branding aspects of the Dream to the deeper core value of freedom to make your own way in this world.  You see how the American Dream affords you the opportunity to be down to your last dime and bounce back like it never happened.  As your mind races through the greater inspirations you hit your own epiphany...

To me you should be bearish on the American Dream as a Lifestyle Brand, but be bullish on being inspired by the American Dream...

What are your thoughts on the American Dream?