Ahh, Generation Z. Gen-Z. The Zoomers. What are we to do with these aimless, listless, device-addicted young losers?
The world is theirs yet rather than looking forward to the future with hope and joy they’re too busy feeling oh-so-sorry for themselves. Boo hoo. They’ve apparently discovered that life is tough. Well, here’s some breaking news, kids: life is tough – tough for everybody.
Every generation has its own challenges to confront and hurdles to clear. We Boomers got through OK and you don’t hear us complaining. Yet that’s all Zoomers do. Whinge whinge whinge. Woe is them. Life is so hard they barely have time to check their TikTok feeds. What a bunch of sooks.
Isn’t this fun? It’s so easy to stereotype young people, which is probably why we do it. There’s no effort involved and the sense of superiority is intoxicating. Now, who’d like another glass of high-end spumante while we watch the sunset from the deck of our split-level holiday house with the ocean view?
Still, is there cause to hit pause when it comes to dumping on Zoomers? For one thing, spitting bile isn’t very nice and it’s certainly not a good look, especially while sipping high-end spumante.
Another more compelling reason is that it’s not very fair – or, indeed, fair at all. Boomers didn’t have it easy. Let’s make that perfectly clear. A lot of very hard work went into those nest eggs. As for the ocean view, we earned it.
But we did have it easier. Let’s make that equally clear. For that we must give eternal thanks to that beautiful, miraculous gift – The Inflation Train. Oooh, The Inflation Train. The mere mention of it makes the eyeballs roll back in delight. Thanks to The Inflation Train a home bought in the year of Return of the Jedi for, say, $50K could sell in the year of The Rise of Skywalker for…for…a lot more than $50K.
And as a principal place of residence, that juicy capital margin is totally untouchable. Yup, no tax. Pure gain. Is it any wonder Zoomers think of Boomers as Scrooge McDuck gleefully rolling around in mountains of gold coins?
Each generation is supposed to have it better than the previous lot. That’s long been the measure of a successful and equitable society. Yet we’ve somehow worked it so that Zoomers are worse off – far worse off, as it happens – than we ever had it. They’ve got so many monkeys on their back that there’s no room left. Just leave a number and they’ll text you when a space becomes available.
One King Kong-sized simian is the debt students accrue from the fees they must pay for having the gall to want a university degree. So, with graduation comes the burden of paying back tens of thousands once – or, rather if – the Zoomer lands a job. And that job is likely to come without job security, a concept many Boomers took for granted but which is now sinking in the rapidly shifting sands of the gig economy.
What a great way to start out in life. Debt wasn’t an issue for Boomers because the idea of uni fees was science fiction. Many still struggle to understand it, how it came into being, and why it persists.
Our biggest concern was staying awake during lectures, chatting up members of the opposite sex, and deciding which party to go to come Friday night. Yeah, we studied, we sweated over essays, we sat exams. There was plenty of sleep deprivation, black coffee, and prayers for tests that were multiple choice.
But once we did the hard yards and got our mortarboards that was it. We were free. Getting a place wasn’t such a big deal back in the 1980s because, along with no uni debt, we also didn’t have to knock heads with this thing called the housing crisis.
For those who don’t know, a housing crisis is a sweet set-up where decades of breath-taking political incompetence results in an entire nation finding itself with more people who need houses than there are houses to put them in.
Now, that’s terrific if you happen to own property because it fattens your assets very nicely, thank you very much. If you’re a young’un looking for a place, however, it’s a big serving of stiff cheddar for you. Bon Appetit.
So, is it any surprise that young people don’t expect to ever own their own home? For Boomers, The Great Australian Dream was pretty much The Great Australian Given. You worked, you saved, you got a loan, you got a place. Then you worked some more, cleared the loan, and got the split-level beach house with the ocean view.
For Zoomers that quaint notion has been replaced with a life of scrounging to pay ever-rising rents in an ever-shrinking housing market. Or, worse still, moving back in with mum and dad.
On top of all this Zoomers are wrestling with a crippling mental health crisis. Not that Boomers didn’t have bouts of depression, loneliness, isolation, self-loathing, resentment and alienation. Only not at this scale.
It’s often said Zoomers are living with the mess we left for them. That might be partly true or even totally true, but no matter. Whatever the case Zoomers will sort their way through. They’ve got no choice.
Their generation, their problem. What a compassionate sentiment that is, especially while giving them a hearty “good luck” wave from the comforts of the deck with the ocean view.
It’s enough to make you gag on your spumante.