Millennials are the largest generation, but we aren’t getting married and having kids like they used to. We aren’t buying homes (gasp). Studies show that we are also putting iconic American establishments like JC Penny, Hooters and Applebee’s out of business.
What is wrong with us?
Our parents want us to buy into the American dream, procreate, stake a claim in the soil, buy a house and make our children follow in step. While some of us do settle down and do have children in the similar style of our parents, many millennials have made the choice to either put off or abstain from marriage and/or children.
Does that make us selfish, entitled and ignorant or simply responsive to social conditions built far before our time?
We are unique in the fact that our early and formative years were never without the widespread access to computers and search engines. Millennials have chosen to seek out, Google search for and pay for unique, tangible experiences before, or in lieu of, settling down to pop out a cash-guzzling child.
In less than 10 seconds, we can find out that round-trip plane tickets to Nicaragua are cheaper than one month of preschool, not including the accoutrements required of a child. We understand that children might not buy happiness all the while being exposed to high-definition drone images of the Maldives.
Those whose coming-of-age is itself the digital age have more access to information and novel ideas, have bigger decisions to make and have more complex questions to ask that no other generation has grappled with. With this responsibility never asked of any generation before us, millennials are expected to innovate and adapt to a fast-changing world but still retain traditional values that our parents hold.
So why aren’t we saving up to buy that perfect three-bedroom house with the beautiful crown molding? Because we can see how many awesome things are out there, and we see how hard, almost inefficient, it is to be satisfied with the notion of the American dream.
Millennials spend money faster and travel more despite having low wages and fewer vacation days. We are more likely to go to have college degrees, yet a larger proportion of us are living in poverty. As education and cost of living increase, the feasibility for the average person to graduate from college without any student loan debt dwindles. All the while, 40 to 50 percent of American marriages end in divorce. Basically, the idea of both enjoying life and social mobility is as obsolete as the iPod Mini.
So why do we do what we do?
Drake says it best: “YOLO.”
You only live once. Might as well enjoy that local craft beer today instead of saving for a down payment.
Asha Chandy graduated from UC Irvine and came back home to become a grant writer for Bike Bakersfield. She enjoys writing, baking desserts, and playing with any and all dogs. The views expressed in this column are her own.