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Dear pundits:

I know you think we’re a bunch of spoiled, entitled brats. You think we sit around obsessing over gadgets. You think we don’t give a damn about anyone other than ourselves. You think we only leech off our parents. So aside from the folly of stereotyping an entire generation, tell me, how often do you actually talk with young people? Because that’s not the Generation Y I see.

Yes, we are staying with our parents longer. And I know it’s supposed to be a bad thing, as years of fictional losers on television have taught me. But what about family values? Do they suddenly expire at age 18? I am of Chinese descent, and my parents have no such concept of this. In fact, a lot of the world still encourages young adults to live with their parents. So why does this automatically imply an infantile mentality?

Okay, I know what it’s really about. Jobs, right? With youth unemployment rates being about 15%  in Canada, you think we’re just lazy or too proud to accept any sort of opportunity. Well, first off, yes, you’re right. For a lot of us, it’s more an issue of underemployment, of letting our skills go to waste. Weren’t we always taught to follow our dreams? That we could be anything if we worked hard enough? We did what you said. We went to university because you said it would get us jobs. But no, it turns out you have to pick the right degree or else it’s “worthless”. And even then, we climb all the way up to a Ph. D and yet no one wants us. How are we supposed to score when the goalposts keep moving all over the field? And on top of all that, if we didn’t have the benefit of parents who cared about not leaving us saddled with spending most of the rest of our life paying our debts off, well, we just got ourselves into a potential financial quagmire just to serve fries at Burger King. You sneer at us in Quebec. Those brats, protesting over increases to the lowest tuition in the country. Well, guess what? It’s still a lot. And we’re not stupid. We have the Internet. We know that in places like Norway, it’s zero.

But, you say, there’s plenty of jobs! Move over to Fort McMurray and you can make tons of money off the oil sands! And contribute to the destruction of our environment? We see the threat of climate change approaching ever closer and we know we’re going to bear the brunt of it just as we’ve bore the brunt of the economic downturn. And we’re out there leading the Occupy movement, speaking out about reproductive rights, getting involved as much as we can on top of our education. What are we met with? Encouragement for not being apathetic? No, we get ridiculed, dismissed as idealists, or worse, as, you guessed it, spoiled and entitled. So we’re accused of being entitled for not caring, and being entitled for caring. Hmm…I wonder why so many youth are apathetic.

Generation Y has inherited a broken world. Most of us are trying to get by with so much against us, particularly those that were not born rich, white, and male. Many of us see a more equitable and just world that could exist, one which doesn’t have to be built on the hardships of billions of people. So sorry, we can’t accept your mixed messages. Mock us all you want. We’re not going to listen. We have our hearts to follow.

Generation Y

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