A controversial New York Times article suggests quite the opposite for Americans of Generation Y. It suggests that Americans born after 1980 have become “risk-averse and sedentary,” more conditioned to slouching instead of moving forward. We’ve been dubbed the “Go-Nowhere Generation,” with more of us living at home, checking Facebook and waiting for the economy to change instead of moving to places where we may be better off.
While some of the reasons for less movement (economic downturn, student debts, technology addictions?) ring true, I can’t agree with the vague generalizations of America’s young people. Traveling for better opportunity is less common not just because we’re stuck tweeting in front of the TV! Tom Joad and his family did indeed travel half of the US for a sunnier economic climate, but twenty and thirty-somethings in America are living under much different circumstances than the Joads of the 1930s. In this great recession, it’s the housing crisis, low wages and debt that encourage staying put instead of breaking free like the Joads. Hard working adventurers and idealists of the past headed west to farm, moved to Alaska to log, and bolted to Las Vegas to join the burgeoning casino industry. By 2009, most cities in the “top 10″ list for opportunity became those that were hit hardest by the crumbling economy.
But what about the lingo of Generation Y? An increased popularity of the word “random” contributing to young Americans relying on luck instead of effort? I don’t think so. It’s doubtful that the Disney Channel show “So Random” has much of an influence on the American psyche. And can we be sure that Facebook plays a leading role in the declining number of US drivers licenses being issued?
It’s a tough economy in the US and outside of it. It’s true that many young Americans are emerging from the standstill, and are simply underemployed and drowning in student debts which may lead to more local living. The root causes of this slowed travel phenomenon are more complicated than I know, but I can assure you that any inclination to lazily live at home and depend on “luck over effort” isn’t a result of a Disney Channel slogan.
What do you think? As like minded readers sharing a passion for travel, why do you think American young adults are in a migratory standstill? Do you think the same rules apply to other countries of Gen Y?