New York Times Bashes 20-Somethings

Generation Y

The NY Times is known for churning out bold articles, but when they published an 18-page article, yes 18 pages, titled “What Is It About 20-Somethings” online four days ahead of its scheduled Sunday magazine street publication date, their public relations department surely took their phones off the hook.

Angered Generation Y students and professionals across the country are lashing out at the journalistic publication for their bold piece that is full of stereotypes and ignorant opinions that they strategically mask as statistics or psychological and developmental studies.

Specifically the article’s condescension bashes everyone in America between the ages of 20 and 29 by saying:

“The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un­tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life,” implying graduate school is for uncommitted students, as is traveling and working hard at unpaid internships. I also am shocked the article would openly bash Teach for America, a prestigious program that is enriching America’s youth. The article is appalling.

It also defines success for us, in case we didn’t have our own opinions. “We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls ‘the changing timetable for adulthood,’” the article states. Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so.

A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s. Therefore, according to the NY Times, while I have a college degree, full time job, pay all of my own bills, I am not actually an adult because I am still working my way up in a company, not married and without a child.

The article ends with their question of “whether to allow young people to keep exploring and questioning or to cut them off and tell them just to find something, anything, to put food on the table and get on with their lives,” concluding that people in their 20s are just young adults finding their way and whether or not they need a harsh reality check.

But I believe we have a stronger grasp on reality then the writer gives us credit for. While people in their 20s realize they have made mistakes along the way, most are proud of their accomplishments and are taking steps to ensure personal, professional and economic success.








3 Responses to “New York Times Bashes 20-Somethings”

  1. John Steiner says:

    Mr. Arnett bases his book and opinion on a sample of 550 kids, this is not a reasonable size group to make a determination of a life stage called “emerging adulthood”!

  2. dREc says:

    I understood the article to be exploring a particular researcher’s ideas. The guy is admittedly not finished, working what, 10 years on it? The paper is allowed to publish opinion pieces.

    There is an emerging differentiation between 20-29 and 30-45 year olds that is slowly being recognized formally and I find that interesting; and that traditional milestones for success are changing as well, which is also mentioned in the article. This can lead to, as it did when adolescence was recognized, legislative and sociological changes over time.

    Your article here appears to reflect that you were insulted because you feel you are not being labelled an ‘adult’. Grow up already…

  3. Kelsey says:

    Wow! What a biased, untruthful, and all-around awful article. Alicia, I still think you’re an adult if you aren’t married and don’t have kids (probably because I fall in the same categories you listed). 😉


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