Social Imaginaries: Why Generation Y Are Unhappy


Generation Y were born between the late 1970s and the mid to late 1990s.  This generation have a new moniker, Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies or GYPSYs.  And according to the Huffington Post, GYPSYs are generally not very happy, for a few key reasons.

GYPSYs are the offspring of a previous generation who prosperity is unprecedented in human history.   GYPSYs have been brought up with the stories and expectations of their parents and developed their own.  Those stories are the cause of their unhappiness.

Ambition:  GYPSYs expect the same prosperity as their parents, now.  And along with that expect something else/more, i.e intense personal fulfilment.

Delusional:  GYPSYs according to the article are also delusional, brought up on the mantra that ‘they are special’. This breeds a sense of entitlement in GYPSYs, the world owes them because they are special.

Taunted:  GYPSYs are taunted through social media by their friends and by the phenomena of Image Crafting i.e people flaunting their ambitions and delusions.

Some practical advice follows, stay ambitious, stop thinking you’re special, and don’t measure yourself by everyone else.

The article had a ring of validity about it, in terms of what I see day to day with people’s unhappiness and malaise.  It reminded me of Charles Taylor’s social imaginaries.  Social Imaginaries are ‘the creative and symbolic dimension of the social world, the dimension through which human beings create their ways of living together and their ways of representing their collective life’.

It also made me think how we Christians have approached worship, and advice to our kids.  How we share stories, the social imaginaries, for what life is about that we pray into for our kids.  What do our kids get prayer for, around what story and narrative?

How much of Christian parents stories and prayers for their kids are centred on the GYPSY social imaginary - personal fulfilment and being special.  Is this the kind of story and worship that centres our kids in an understanding of who they are in Jesus, and his calling on them for life and living?

Maybe generation Y, along with their parents need to re-imagine what prosperity within the Kingdom is and what fulfilment of a life lived for the Gospel is.

For our aspirations for our kids, and our prayers, aren’t that our kids aren’t special, or can’t be fulfilled.  Rather they need to be focused around who our kids are in Christ, and the fulfilment he has for them in a life lived for him.  

Surely that would be a life not centred on a wellbeing measured by economic wealth and the money for endless self expression.  But life measured and ordered around satisfaction in knowing and living for Christ.

How many parents run around making endless investments of their time for the GYPSY story.  Endless clubs/leisure/holidays etc, the pursuit of personal fulfilment and happiness within the mantra that we want our kids to be ‘happy and fulfilled’.  

Not until parents find a new imagination for their kids, will they receive a new imagination for their lives and living.