The American Dream is out of reach for so many of the millennial generation. Between stagnating wages and the insane rising costs of living – and, well, everything – it can seem like the goal of living at the standard of the previous generation isn’t going to be possible. Millennials are having to adapt to the world around them, and a large part of that adaptation is reconsidering the things that have been taken for granted all along. It seems like every element of the way previous generations have lived are on the table for examining and reevaluating.
This rethinking of the fundamentals of life goes deep for the millennial generation. They were promised greatness and in exchange are having to work harder, longer hours for significantly less reward. Is it any wonder that everything from relationships to home ownership are being reworked to fit into the new paradigm that forlorn generation must deal with? Most millennials have given up on what they see as the great American pipe dream, and have embraced new ways to do things. The two factors that contribute to these new lifestyles are economic and environmental awareness. Here are a few ways they’ve adapted.
Relationships Are Different Now
One of the most shocking norms that have been reconsidered is how relationships are structured. A growing number of people are embracing non-traditional relationship structures like polyamory and other kinds of open relationship. Ethical non-monogamy, that is an open relationship structure in which all parties are knowledgeable and consenting, is becoming an increasingly popular option for millennials. Many of them have asked fundamental questions about why monogamy is the assumed norm, and have determined that they would be happier trying out a freer structure for relationships. Despite conventional wisdom regarding the efficacy of open relationships, many are finding that this structure provides more happiness and stronger relationships overall.
While polyamory and other forms of non-monogamous relationships are founded on ethical principles, there is an economic angle as well. This angle isn’t just the obvious observation that more people in a relationship mean more economic security for everyone. It has been suggested that economic pressures contribute to open relationships in a few ways. For example, people are more willing to explore alternative relationships in roughly the same rate that they’re willing to reconsider economic structures. There is a correlation between being critical of traditional capitalism and willingness to consider or engage in a non-traditional relationship structure like polyamory, as you can see here.
The grouping up of the millennial generation isn’t relegated only to relationship structures. More and more are turning to living with friends as the only realistic way to own a home. Many of that generation are saddled with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt, debt that isn’t going away any time soon. That debt can make buying a house a near impossibility, especially with the skyrocketing costs of homes across the country. The paradox is cruel; if you want to work in a job that can help you afford a home, you’re living in a place where the homes are too expensive to afford anyway! The solution many are coming to is that having multiple close friends go in together on buying a house is the only practical way to make it possible.
It’s not just buying a house that’s changing, it’s maintaining it. Millennials are by and large far more serious about environmental concerns than previous generations. They’ve embraced the reality of climate change and the dangers it represents. They’ve changed the way they approach their personal carbon footprint, and are taking steps to minimize their impact on the problem. They’re switching from traditional lawns to alternatives, which considering the low costs of artificial turf and the impact of cutting out mowing the yard, is a pretty smart move. They’re also carpooling more often, which has led to some found family structures to include going in on buying a communal vehicle instead of multiple ones.
There’s a going joke that millennials are killing the (insert anything that isn’t doing well here) industry. The truth is that they haven’t failed industries, industries have failed them. The mentality of an entire generation killing industries is usually framed as a failing on that generation’s part, and that mentality reveals a deep sense of entitlement on behalf of those industries. Millennials don’t owe any particular industry their loyalty by default and reevaluating that relationship has led to new developments in entertainment. Board games and other tabletop games, including Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying systems, have become extremely popular ways to come together and enjoy time with one another. Millennials tend to value experiences more than things, as you can see at https://www.inc.com/anne-gherini/cash-in-on-experience-economy.html, and entertainment that lets them share experiences with one another are more desirable than buying things. The common thread between all of these things is clear: connection and community instead of rugged individualism is how a forlorn generation overcomes its challenges.