Somewhere between being anxious about my future and determined to succeed, Investor Uprising editor Noreen Seebacher emailed me a New York Times article headlined "The Go Nowhere Generation."
After reading the title, I was inclined to believe it was just another "back in my day" article, a biting commentary about the laziness of the young generation. "Generation Y? More like Generation Why Bother!" And then old people everywhere laugh and lament the nation's youth as they have since Plato's day. I was partially right.
According to Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz, the article's authors, Generation Y is literally going nowhere. The number of 18-year-olds with driver's licenses has dropped from 80% in the early 1980s to 65% today. The number of 20-year-olds moving to a different state to find employment has dropped by more than 40% during the same time. Even bike sales have dropped! Surely that says something significant about the character of Generation Y.
"Perhaps young people are too happy at home checking Facebook," the authors quip. The Internet, studies naturally show, is the reason the world has changed since the Internet was invented. But considering we can easily access the Internet with our highly portable, and cordless smartphones, I'm going to contend there's a better explanation somewhere out there.
Generation Y is no stranger to criticism, though. Actually, generation Y has been the target of a lot of awfully mean criticism. We're pampered and coddled, we take too long to grow up. Our apparent aversion to relocation flies in the face of American tradition, built on the courageous voyages of the pilgrims, World War II soldiers, hippies, and other Buchholz-approved "movers and shakers."
This new trend is simply un-American. But then again, America hasn't really been America lately, has it?
"The sins of the father," as they say. I'm loath to push the blame onto older generations, but what do you expect when every kid has a shelf full of "participation trophies" by the time he enters middle school? "You're all winners," they say. There are no bad students, only bad teachers. And bad students are put on Adderall until they're good. Was it like that back in your day?
Which came first, the coddler or the coddlee?
Then again, there's always the off-chance that nothing is wrong. Is a decline in the number of 18-year-olds with driver's licenses really an indication of anything? Nothing, besides our strong environmental consciousness. Doesn't a $25,000 student loan debt average and a poor job market count for anything these days?
But maybe generation Y's "inability to grow up" is more a function of modern financial truths than an innate lack of maturity. There's a significant overhead involved in even qualifying for a chance to get a good job today. Is it a surprise that we move out later when we leave college with mortgage-sized debt and no employment?
But we do leave. University of Minneapolis researchers found that, regardless of age, parental assistance began to taper once the child began to assume greater responsibilities. Forming a family, making better wages, or whatever the cause may be, the children do leave the nest when they are capable.
Things just work differently now than they did back in your day.