Are We an Anxious Generation? I Now Depend on Satirical Anxiety Memes to Get Me Through the Day

So, as far as I know, I’m a Millennial. I come under the age bracket which ranges, roughly, from those born in the mid-eighties, to just before the millennium and apparently, that means I’m essentially, a liberal, lazy, narcissist.

Despite specifics ranging across regions, our fundamental traits are: we understand and use technological and digital communication and media; while still remembering a time without it. We are educated, optimistic, achieving. We switch jobs throughout our careers, are confident, tolerant and want to legalise weed – but hate religion. We are also sheltered, entitled and can’t take criticism.

Therefore in Sweden, we are dubbed the Curling Generation. Apparently, we’ve had all obstacles cleared by our parents; who overtly defend us, don’t criticise us and personally attend our job interviews. Because we have helicopter parents, we are completely knocked by little things, for example, simply being told off.

Sounds like we’ve got it easy.

And yet, I saw a report by Sky News the other day which detailed how the current UK demographic of 16 to 25-year-olds is the most anxious it has been in the last ten years.

Indeed, 1 in 4 university students will have a form of mental health issue.

I mean, is it really that surprising? Our age group, well, all of society, are facing social, geopolitical, environmental and economic issues on macro and micro scales.

On the macro top end of the spectrum, we are facing everything from Putin, Trump, Brexit, President Assad, and global warming.

And on the other end, we have zero hour contracts; we are generation rent (in 1991, 67% of 25-34-year-olds owned their homes; contrastingly, in 2011-2012, only 43% did). We face rising student loans, racism (1 in 4 Muslim students will face Islamophobia), unequal pay gaps and the highest unemployment levels.

Noreena Hertz corroborates with me in her article ‘Think Millennial have it tough? For Generation K, life is even harsher’ for The Guardian.

She deems this age bracket as Generation Terror, due to 9/11 and the plethora of images of mass murder. The Cold War of the Doomsday Clock, sirens and political boxing defined older generations, but now we live with extensive airport security, transport lockdowns and constant threats on major cities by lone attackers. This fits with Norway’s perception of us as Generation Serious. Hertz also describes us as Generation K for Katniss Everdeen; she too lives in an unequal and dystopian society.

She also alludes that we are chronically stressed by education, appearances, loans. 40% of her 2000 strong study of teenagers were severely concerned with terrorism. She also argued we were a generation who dislikes or mistrusts institutions and believe the ‘game is rigged’. Only 6% of her study said that large companies would do the right thing, by contrast to 60% of adults. Instead, we perceive them as exploitative and see the appeal of politicians, such as Bernie Saunders and Jeremy Corbin, who promise to tackle the corruption and social injustices.

And we are also lonely, regardless of our access to digital communication, we try to optimise all forms of interaction. 80% of those surveyed preferred real socialising to the faceless chats online.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

I think our generation is doing some things right. Firstly, we are increasingly becoming, through public demos, social media and organisations, politically aware. Society’s reaction to this has been quite jarring, which I think is best optimised in the reaction to the youth vote during Brexit, the General Election, and on a smaller scale, the recent Octagon Occupation.

I would also say we are a demographic fighting to break down barriers, stereotypes and inequalities.

We may hate ourselves, but we want to help others and create a better tomorrow.

So yeah, our age group is stressful as hell. But we’ll internally scream while uploading a tweet, writing an essay, face timing the gang and eating our weight in Fortune Cat.

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