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Culture

The 'Oh, the Humanity!' Generation

America's young people are plagued with First World "problems" brought by luxury.

Arnold Ahlert · Mar. 25, 2019

As the saying goes, there are problems and there are problems. In a nation like America, much of what we obsess over is a luxury made possible by the First World conditions under which we live. In other words, we can “stress out” about that which is largely unimportant because food, clothing, and shelter is a done deal for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Unfortunately, one generation of Americans has largely overlooked the largesse they seemingly take for granted. A survey of 2,000 Millennials commissioned by CBD oil company Endoca reveals that one-third believe their lives are more stressful than that of an average person’s — and 58% believe life is more stressful now than it has ever been before.

Here’s a list of the top 20 things that engender “historic” levels of angst for a generation seemingly ill-equipped to cope with the vicissitudes of everyday life:
1. Losing wallet/credit card
2. Arguing with partner
3. Commute/traffic delays
4. Losing phone
5. Arriving late to work
6. Slow WiFi
7. Phone battery dying
8. Forgetting passwords
9. Credit card fraud
10. Forgetting phone charger
11. Losing/misplacing keys
12. Paying bills
13. Job interviews
14. Phone screen breaking
15. Credit card bills
16. Check engine light coming on
17. School loan payments
18. Job security
19. Choosing what to wear
20. Washing dishes

Other stress-inducing factors that did not make the top 20 list were just as indicative. Nearly one-in-five consider getting zero “likes” on a social-media post to be more stressful than arguing with a partner. Thirty percent believe slow WiFi is more stress-inducing than slow traffic. Twenty-two percent believe arriving first at a party is more stressful than a job interview. And more than one-in-three believe sticking to plans is more stressful than abandoning them.

“Many feel their overall stress level is caused by the accumulation of daily micro-stressors…” reports columnist Ben Renner.

Micro-stressers? Enter Psychology Today columnist Jasmin Tahmaseb-McConatha, Ph.D., who defines the term as a “continuous low level of anxiety emerging from my confrontation with numerous day-to-day hassles,” that “create vulnerability, anxiety, and feelings of loss and marginalization.” She adds, “It is clear that feelings of vulnerability which emerge from our confrontation with daily micro-stressors are not easily discussed.”

Until now.

Remarkably — or maybe not so much — the above list reveals a couple of things. First, note how much of Millennial stress centers around technology, and more specifically, cell phones. Five of the above top 20 stress-inducing factors were related to that attention-grabbing piece of hardware.

Yet is that stress, or outright addiction? Health journalist Catherine Price, who authored How To Break Up With Your Phone, offers compelling evidence that cell phones, and the social-media apps they contain, are designed to addict people. And Western Washington University psychology professor Ira Hyman, Ph.D., asserts that young Americans are most vulnerable. “Teens and young adults are natives in the land of technology,” he writes. “They have grown up with cell phones and the internet. Their social lives are tied up in these machines; they live across the internet and airwaves.”

And what are the internet and “airwaves” saturated with? A cornucopia of real and imagined disasters in the oldest “if it bleeds, it leads” tradition of ratings-driven information dissemination. The digital age has also upped the ante on hysteria in the form of “clickbait,” as in something designed to drive increasing levels of traffic to a particular website, via an enticing, but often misleading, statement or headline.

Thus, there is a certain amount of legitimacy that a generation which has never known anything other than the digital age is inclined to believe the world is a far more ominous place than it actually is. Yet any sympathy one might feel for Millennials in that regard is almost totally mitigated by factor number two: an eye-rolling lack of perspective, driven by a monumental level of historical ignorance.

How many Millennials know that 29,000 Americans, many of whom were in their age group, were killed storming the beaches of Normandy during WWII? How many could even conceive of being forced by utter destitution to stand in bread and soup lines awaiting their next meal, or living in the shantytowns precipitated by the Great Depression? How about something as simple as being required to register for the draft, or waiting in line for gasoline during the 70s, when Americans were assured the world was running out of oil? The Cuban missile crisis? For 13 days Americans waited to see if world-ending nuclear war would break out.

“Really, the solipsism of these millennials is absurd,” writes columnist Quin Hillyer. “By almost every [measure] imaginable, Americans today live in a veritable Nirvana.”

Unfortunately, Nirvana is in the eye of the beholder, and nothing is more inimical to the interests of the American Left than people largely content with their lives, largely resistant to the siren song of “fundamental transformation.”

Yet one Millennial believes the Left, which has cultivated his generation’s penchant for pettiness, will lose an “eminently winnable” 2020 election as a result. “High on kale and identity politics, we demand that our candidates check each and every box on our customized purity list,” writes Millennial Christopher Dale. “No sin is too venial to escape excommunication.”

Customized purity, and the insufferable arrogance it engenders, are apt descriptors of a generation that believes the world will end in a dozen years — again — unless they save it. That such a “noble” effort seemingly demands the wholesale elimination of power-limiting constitutional institutions?

The loss of Liberty is a reasonable tradeoff for saving the planet.

Save it for whom? Certainly not the “privileged,” the “toxic,” the “deplorable,” the “bitter clingers” or the trans-, homo-, xeno-, Islamophobic Americans too backwards to know how backwards they are. Certainly not for those who have the unmitigated gall to believe speech isn’t limited by “hate,” or that the right to self-defense against tyranny shouldn’t be limited by “benevolent” tyrants themselves. And most certainly not for those who possess the one attribute Millennials conspicuously lack, even though it would mitigate a tremendous amount of that aforementioned stress: a sense of humor — including the ability to laugh at oneself.

“Across the United States, high-profile comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry the Cable Guy and Chris Rock have said they are avoiding campuses because of student hypersensitivity,” The Wrap reported in 2015.

Four years later — after one of the most virulent and coordinated hatefests ever directed against a sitting president — one suspects things are more “stressful” than ever for those who are also “natives” in the land of political correctness.

“Stress isn’t an abstract issue — it’s a significant problem and doesn’t necessarily have to be caused by one large inciting incident,” says Endoca CEO Henry Vincenty. “No matter what’s causing our stress, we should take care to be proactive about finding solutions before it begins affecting our health.”

Growing up would be a great place to start.

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