Young people today are getting screwed. How to save yourself

The Wandering Engineer
11 min readJul 5, 2023

Let’s be honest, young people today are getting screwed by society. There are so many factors in the world today that are actively working against Millenials and Gen Z’s compared to previous generations, especially if you live in the West.

My shallow understanding of world history is that history often comes in cycles and it always repeats itself. What goes up must come down.

“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”

History manifests itself in different generations of people, where each generation fits a certain archetype based on the period of time they came of age (see the Strauss-Howe generational theory). I think we are at the point now where hard times are happening, just when Millenials and Gen Z have come of age.

From the Great Recession to the once-in-a-century pandemic, younger people who grew up and came of age during these challenging times have had their entire lives altered negatively compared to past generations who grew up in better times.

Now as an older Gen Z watching all of this unfold, it’s easy to get sucked into all this negativity and feel hopeless for your life. However, like any generation in the past, you can always strive for success. Sometimes it means putting your feelings aside and working hard. Every generation has faced its fair share of problems, and there are bound to be successful individuals from each generation.

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but the facts are undeniable, there are many factors actively working against young people today. I believe you need to understand these issues before knowing how to solve them.

Our quality of life is the lowest it has been since the post-WWII boom. It is simply a reflection of the greater economic cycle — What goes up must come down.

The United States once accounted for 70% of the world’s GDP right after WWII. Now that number is about 24%. It is natural as the rest of the world has rebuilt and caught up in productivity, while the US slowed down due to various reasons (Cold War, various other wars, de-industrialization, etc.).

Explaining this in simpler terms, back then you had more resources divided amongst fewer people. Now you simply have more people (from the Baby Boom and mass immigration to North America), and fewer resources relative to the rest of the world. The size of the cake is smaller and you have to cut more slices, so of course, everyone gets a smaller slice, so therefore, your average quality of life goes down.

As a result, younger generations are making increasingly less money relative to the cost of living, as well as facing stiffer competition for basic resources (wealth, land, education, professions, etc.). People have to pay more for the same amount of resources. Things become more expensive, and labour becomes more abundant and replaceable. The average, middle-class person in the West is simply being given a smaller cut of the cake. Upward mobility is also becoming increasingly limited.

I believe the post-war prosperity and stability in North America is an anomaly in a generally poor, unequal, and violent human history. That kind of distribution of wealth in the general population was unprecedented. The times of the average family being able to buy a house, two cars, and have three children on a single income were highly unusual. The consumption-driven American Dream was simply not sustainable in the long term. The wealth needed to be spread out across the world.

What is happening now in the West is simply a mass transfer of wealth, from rich nations to poorer, developing nations, and from the masses to the elite, ruling classes. Every economic recession is just the acceleration of this wealth transfer.

You will own nothing and you will be happy

This quote is not an empty statement, despite what you think of its origins. It has been like that throughout most of human history, and what we have in the past several decades is simply a blip in the overall trend. We are now simply reverting back to the historical mean — feudalism. Reversion to the mean is not just a mathematical theory, it’s a very real thing.

As a result, more and more young people are becoming hopeless and desperate for basic survival. Many are debt-ridden and working themselves to the ground. Mental health problems run rampant in the youth, and more people are giving up on things such as home ownership, starting a family, or a civilized life altogether and turning to substance abuse to numb themselves. There is a lot more anger and social unrest.

It has been like that for much of humanity, where most people outside of the ruling/upper class lived in poverty and slavery, never owned anything, or were fighting for basic survival. It’s just that the current generations of people who have never experienced such hardship in their lifetimes are having a difficult time adjusting to the status quo. They were also being told lies (such as the Canadian and American Dream) all along by the media and not realizing that they had been lied to.

Most of us don’t have the ability to fix systematic issues. Now if you’re not born into wealth and status, there are still ways to get ahead before it’s too late. It might be painful and it could mean giving up your passions and putting aside your feelings, but poverty is even more painful. Get off your ass and find a job.

You need to make yourself valuable by improving yourself. Learn in-demand skills, get into a high-paying profession, or solve a problem that society needs. Start a business. The money will come when you make yourself valuable. Once you have it, then invest your way through owning assets, especially land. With the relative global instability, I believe land will only become more valuable as increasingly more people pour into North America each year. Strive to become the ownership class.

Once you have the means, help out your community and give away to the people in need, or use that money to do more meaningful things such as solving a problem. Put that money into use instead of indulging it yourself.

Technology has also advanced so much in the past several decades, from personal computers to the Internet to Artificial Intelligence. But this rapid, unchecked technological advance also has great consequences.

One of the main effects is the virtualization, commoditization, and subsequent de-personalization of human relationships. Younger people are simply spending less time in the real world but rather immerse themselves in the virtual world driven by personal electronics, the Internet, and social media. And it will only become worse as virtual reality and brain-computer interaction become more prevalent.

I believe this de-personalization is causing many societal issues right now, ranging from the lack of intimacy and friendships to the breakdown of the traditional family structure, deteriorating social skills in young people, as well as rampant mental health issues in the youth.

Humans are inherently social creatures, and we need a good amount of social interaction to stay healthy. Before the rise of mass technology, socialization was the means to stay connected with the world and receive dopamine, which drives our feelings of happiness and satisfaction.

With socialization becoming increasingly virtualized, it also becomes “easier”. As humans are lazy by nature, they choose the path of least resistance to gain easier access to dopamine (instant gratification), which means cutting down on in-person socialization as that takes more effort. They develop dependencies on technology to keep up with the dopamine hits, which turns into addictions. The media also feeds these people all this negativity through technology, which is addictive. It is no wonder why you see so many today addicted to video games, social media, or the Internet in general. Even though it is less harmful than other substance addictions, the effects, especially on the human mind, are nearly equally as powerful.

As a result of this and decreasing quality of living, the state of mental health in youth today is worse than ever. As dopamine abuse can weaken dopamine receptors in the human brain and thus permanently damage the human brain, issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, ASD, and other mental/neurological disorders are more prevalent than ever in younger generations today.

More and more youths are lacking interpersonal skills from being isolated and mentally unhealthy, thus becoming anti-social. You see this in the increased occurrences of mass shootings in the US and skyrocketing suicide rates worldwide. People are more distant and disconnected. People are becoming mentally weaker and more ill-equipped to deal with problems (and work on improving themselves). People cannot take disagreements and opposing viewpoints and engage in healthy debate so they start “canceling” each other. It leads to more people ending up in desolate situations.

People then become hopeless or become more hostile toward each other instead of working together to solve these problems. You see this in the increased social unrest and conflicts in recent years (Russia-Ukraine War, BLM riots, France riots, etc.), as well as more people worldwide choosing not to participate in society (such as the Hikikomori in Japan and lying-flat in China). People are also becoming less physically healthy as technology enabled people to stay indoors and not exercise, especially those who are already mentally unhealthy. Rates of obesity and various diseases are going up, and life expectancy is actually trending down in the last few years.

You also see this reflected in the alarming decrease in friendships and intimate relationships in younger people today. People are having fewer close friends than before, and up to 12% don’t even have a single close friend (3 times that of 30 years ago). Even existing friendships are becoming a lot more commoditized as they exist out of material need rather than social settings. Healthy friendships and relationships are essential to mental health and building communities, and loneliness is directly contributing to a lot of the social problems that we have now, and worsening the feedback loop of widespread mental health issues.

Moreover, with poor mental/physical health and social skills, decreasing quality of life, as well as the rapid virtualization of the dating scene via dating apps, more people are becoming unattractive, single, and not pursuing sex/relationships/marriage than ever. Up to 2/3 of young men aged 18–29 are single. Again, this is a major stressor that leads to mental health issues. The desire to reproduce is our core biological need, and more people are being shut out of that. Without that need fulfilled, there is increased hopelessness and frustration, which leads to problems such as suicides, substance addictions, people not choosing to participate in society, as well as increased violence.

Extending this further, it is directly contributing to the loss of the traditional family structure that has been ongoing for the past several decades. Fewer people are starting families and having children, let alone having the means to maintain a family. More than half of all marriages end in divorce. Birth rates are plummeting worldwide. The family is the basic unit of a healthy society. Whereas in the past when families enabled people to work together and be respectful, people without families can be much more carefree and irresponsible, which only further fragments society and deteriorates interpersonal relationships.

It also allows people to be more easily controlled as individuals have less power than groups. Talk about divide and conquer. Single, lonely, and family-less individuals are more easily brainwashed, misinformed, and have their rights stripped away from them as they have less ability to fight back.

This is problematic as more and more people are now in a corrupted state of mind where they are poor, hopeless, angry, with no responsibilities or attachments, and believe they have nothing to lose. These people are easily brainwashed into a cause and are ready to fight for anything. This is how extremism, revolutions, and wars have started in the past. This is how people like Adolf Hitler got into power. I believe what we’ve seen in the past few years with COVID, BLM, Cancel Culture, and Ukraine was just the beginning.

Having talked so much about social sciences, how can you be prepared and not sucked into all this? It all starts with yourself.

Stop being an NPC and having this victim mentality that I am getting screwed by society or whatnot. Stop complaining about your problems. The world is f***ed up, everyone has problems, and you are not unique! Get up and start owning your life. You need to take action to better yourself regardless of what is happening around you.

You need to first become competent. Set goals of what you want to become and work towards these goals. Learn skills and develop discipline and responsibility. You need to have the skills, knowledge, and discipline to solve your own problems, as well as be able to help others. You become more independent, powerful, and less susceptible to external forces of control.

Next, go out and actually interact with people in real life. Develop social skills, and get physically and mentally healthy. Good interpersonal relationships and good mental/physical health are essential to being a functioning human being. Don’t become a slave to electronics and the media. Develop yourself, especially your own interests and critical thinking skills so you don’t get sucked into the masses.

Once you have the social skills and develop the means, make friends, go on dates, find a partner, and start your family. Be a leader in your family and community. Keep yourself in a clear state of mind so you are not easily swayed by all the negativity and the media's brainwashing.

Then, become self-sufficient. By that, I mean first becoming financially independent. Be able to live off passive income. You can achieve this through investing, especially in real estate, or starting a successful business. Then, slowly build your clan and community. Work together with the community to build the necessary infrastructure to survive challenging times (think of community gardens, off-grid electricity, emergency shelters, etc.).

Finally, create a positive influence in your community. Help the people in need. Educate your children and others to be more loving and personable. There are more reasons now than ever to become distant, hostile, and antisocial, and we certainly need more love in this world.

While this post sounds like a lot of fear-mongering, if you look at ourselves and then look at developing nations around the world, we still don’t have it too bad here.

Although the standard of living has objectively decreased since the 1970s, most of us still have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and don’t have to worry about death all the time. In many other countries, these are luxuries. Countless people are still migrating to developed nations seeking a better life and, in many cases, escaping war and death.

Appreciate what we have folks. You never know until you lose something.

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