Disillusionment of the American Dream
There seems to be a growing movement amongst millennials and Gen. Z. In just 20 years we’ve been through what most history textbooks would divide into multiple chapters. And at the turn of the millennia, I can vaguely remember teachers and adults (I was 4 years old in 2000) being excited about all that was to come. Then, next thing I can vividly remember is September 11th and watching those events live on TV. In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and President Bush declaring war in the middle east. After that in 2005, Hurricane Katrina hitting Louisiana, and the devastation that followed (and that is still affecting the area). The 2007/08 Recession and Housing Crisis (in which practically none are held accountable) and the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. Perhaps one of the greatest environmental disasters in human history the 2010 Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (again, no real accountability). What follows can only be described as domestic terror attacks; the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting (and Hurricane Sandy), the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the 2015 Charleston shooting, the 2016 Pulse shooting. In 2017 the Las Vegas shooting, and the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The 2019 government shutdown, which was the longest ever. 2020 between COVID and the summer BLM protests, and riots. And finally, the January 6th Capitol Insurrection.
I think people are not giving the internet enough credit for what it’s done. All the while what is going on little websites like Myspace and Facebook are breaking out and gaining a much bigger part of popular culture and expanding and getting bigger and growing.
We grow up being told how great capitalism is and are spoon-fed the “America is the greatest country on Earth” propaganda and saying anything otherwise was met with strange looks and disapproval. But then you got online and found out that people in other countries have the same standard of living we do but without the constant fear of bankruptcy. You grow up and find out that going to the doctor is expensive, don’t get sick and even if you do. Don’t go until you’re sure you MUST. Then you find out most of the developed world can go to the doctor for free, or at least for a very affordable rate. We’re taught to “work hard and be successful and you can retire at 65 and travel a little.” and once again we got online and found out pretty much all of Europe gets weeks, and weeks of vacation time a year and is doing their traveling in their 20s and 30s and loving it.
It’s tough to hear that when someone else had a kid, and it did not cost them any money. They get a year off to raise it, got free day/childcare, and goes to Spain twice a year for vacation it’s hard to still feel content with your 60-hour work week.
Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the availability of jobs but not enough of staff to fill those roles, or just no one going and taking those jobs. And why should they? Knowing what we now know, why would I apply, or want to work for a job that doesn’t pay a living wage, nor does it have benefits? The growing consciousness of how things are in other parts of the world versus how they are here in the United States, here it is very much an individual and selfish way of looking at things. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, in Europe, it seems to be much more of a group effort in society. There’s a movement happening within Gen. Z and millennials, of not wanting to be exploited like we have in the past, and it needs to keep growing until real, meaningful change happens here in the United States.