Lately, it seems like the media has been caught up with the lives of millennials. We’re starting our careers, getting ready to graduate from college or just starting our college careers, but journalists and researchers already have a lot to say about our lifestyles and futures.
I was thinking about this as we read The Great Gatsby, the story of a group of young adults living lavishly and completely abandoning the American Dream in exchange for money and materialism.
Before I proceed I want to say that I don’t entirely agree with the ideas of the articles I’m about to site. Rather, they create an interesting connection between us and the characters of the novel.
Last May, Time Magazine called us “The ME ME ME Generation” on their cover, and a few months earlier the New York Times asked, “Do Millennials Stand a Chance in the Real World?”, comparing Gen Y’s lifestyle to those who survived the Great Depression.
In the New York Times article, Annie Lowrey sites a Pew Research Center survey that asked different generations what made them unique. According to the results, most baby boomers gave answers related to “work ethic,” while the millennials gave “clothes.”
In the article published in Time Magazine, journalist Joel Stein argues that those of us born between the 1980s and the early 2000s are “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.” He goes on to say that people in their 20s now are three times more likely to experience narcissistic personality disorder than our grandparents’ generation.
The Great Gatsby takes place in the 1920s just before the Great Depression and portrays the people of the time living luxuriously: parties every night, expensive champagne, casual haute couture and not a lot of work to earn it all. Nick Carraway might be making his way in the bonds business in New York, however it is hardly mentioned in the book and probably carries the smallest amount of significance. Nick states that his family was “prominent, well-to-do people in the Middle Western city for three generations” and that his father is funding his summer escapades in New York (3).
This brings me to my main point: How different are we from the characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel? Basing our collective knowledge of millennials off of what is reported in the media, both groups are incredibly narcissistic, living off of the fortune and hard work of their predecessors, and trading foundational emotions for material items.
While hopefully we do not have another Great Depression in our near futures, I think the similarities are interesting.
In case you were wondering, the Pew Research Center has a fun and thought-provoking quiz that tells you on a scale from 0-100 just how millennial you are. I’m at 86. You can access the quiz with this link: http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/
– Mollie O.