Recession Generation: “The End of Disney World”

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USA Today examines the impact of the recession on younger folks—Millennials or Gen Y, as they’re known. Or will they be known as the “Recession Generation”? Hard to say. No one thought of WWII era folks as “The Greatest Generation” until decades after the war. The immediate impact of today’s hard times: We’ll all probably hate the shockingly spoiled kids on Bravo’s new show “NYC Prep”—where one 17-year-old brat says things like “I treat my clothing like my children”—a bit more than we normally would have.

In a survey of people ages 18 to 29, 60 percent said they were being dealt an unfair blow by the recession. But “the end of Disney World”—the way one psychologist describes the recession’s impact on younger people—very well may teach kids some good lessons. Firstly, that life is not an amusement park. Or perhaps, in a way it is just that, so long as you understand that the people running the rides will take every dime you have.

Young people also see opportunity today: 44 percent say they might be able to afford a home now, after the real estate crash; and 34 percent say their friends are interested in entrepreneurial work. The recession could be just the push some people need to start new businesses and be creative—things they might otherwise have never done, like this sort of stuff.

The big question is: Will the recession leave a lasting impact on how people spend (or save, as it were) their money? Sure, we’re all scaling back a little now, but my feeling is many people still don’t understand how privileged they are, kids especially—the point I was trying to get at a couple of days ago.

“I just think we’re having to get used to living a little less luxurious than we grew up,” says one 21-year-old man in the USA Today story.

This is a good thing, I say. Something that’s long overdue.

“A lot of us have seen our parents live paycheck to paycheck, and we don’t want that for us,” says an 18-year-old girl in the story. “Our generation is learning, but I don’t think we’re learning quite as fast as we should. Once we get jobs and get settled, I know I’m going to be a little tighter with my money, so I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.”

Amen to that. Let’s hope the lessons last.

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