Toxic Messages: They Need to Stop

While turning over the idea of this blog post in my head for the past few days, I feel like I’ve written this before, in some capacity. I’m not a person who likes to complain much (or at least without rationalizing away reasons for complaint). Or ask for help, much to the chagrin of my family and boyfriend. But this recent story about a 25-year-old employee at Yelp’s firing from her job and the response of most people to it has really gotten to me.

I don’t think she should have written an open letter on Medium or rage-tweeted at her CEO. There are other reasons people have dug up on social media why she was fired and that suggest she may not be “as poor as she seems” (which ugh, let’s not get into the problems with that statement). However, a lot of the concerns she brings up about living in the Bay Area (or, in many places) are valid.

Rent prices are outrageous. Completely, and utterly. I am lucky to have the rent price I have where I live right now, even with it being raised last June. I still pay at least $400 less than most people that live in a smaller apartment than I do. I live in a quiet mountain town and it’s hard to get anywhere, but my rent is low. I’m thankful for that, honestly. But the prospect of moving anywhere else and finding a job that can pay for that is daunting.

People want to get on this girl’s case about “not planning ahead” and not budgeting for living in the Bay Area…but someone has to fill those entry-level jobs in any city. Often, for a college graduate, that is all you’re going to get. These jobs may have once been intended for people in high school or college, but people have to eat. They have to live. They have to find a job where they can get one. People love to bash on “millennials” for whatever choice they make. If they stay at home and live with their parents, they get called entitled and lazy. If they complain about the fact that they have a college degree and still can’t be paid a living wage, they get called entitled and lazy. If they have a few years of work experience under their belt and still can’t get an interview for anything above $15 an hour, they get called entitled and lazy. There’s really no winning in the situation. And that’s part of the problem I have.

No one is perfect. This girl who wrote this open letter certainly isn’t. But there’s no need for people to dogpile on someone who spoke out about it (however right or wrong her approach was) when several facets of what she said are true. People commenting on this article say “Well if you don’t like it, find another job.” When’s the last time they job-searched? Do they realize how difficult it is to do so? That even if you are working, that finding something else can take years? Especially something that pays more than you are currently making. Even if you have been paid more money in the past it’s more likely you’ll be able to find a job that pays less because you need to get something right away than something that pays you what you have actually earned through the work you’ve already done.

Ultimately, I’m just tired of being told that my generation is entitled, lazy, stuck-up, and can’t do anything for themselves. It’s a toxic message and it needs to stop. The reality of the statistics and numbers for what our generation experiences are real. Why do people think we are getting married and having kids later? Why do they think we’re not buying houses? Why do they think that we’re not saving any money? Why do they think we’re not moving out of our parents’ houses? Do they think we want this? Do they think that we’re stupid enough to not think that saving, buying a house, or living on our own are good ideas?

I don’t pretend to know what the solutions are. I only know what I’ve dealt with and what kind of situation I’m in. I don’t know the details of why a business that makes millions can’t manage to pay a living wage to even their lowest level employees. But I still think that the overarching message to millennials and the blaming of people who have no power needs to stop. We are all at the mercy of what people bigger than us decide. There are several ways to deal with it, but those methods shouldn’t come with criticism and shame. It’d be great if for a change, we could all lift each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Did you read the former Eat24/Yelp employee’s letter to the CEO? What do you think? Let me know in the comments. 

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