Australians aged 18-35 are panicked about finances and being killed by terrorists. These, according to Deloitte research, are their chief concerns.
Never mind that Australia, compared to the other 29 countries surveyed, enjoys a relatively stable government, a safe and naturally blessed environment, and good health and education systems.
For most young adults, the future is gloomy.
Deloitte spokesman David Hill says their angst is unwarranted, that “the younger generation have never had it so good”.
Why, then, aren’t they happy?
Let’s tackle the threat of terrorism first. It’s minor.
Certainly, the world is not as secure as once thought, but to entertain the Pauline Hanson line of Australia being overrun by Muslims who, by association, are terrorists is unrealistic.
So is relying on social media — which is rife with mistruths and sensationalism — for credible news.
Mr Hill says social media is responsible for elevating terrorism to the list of key concerns, at the expense of climate change, which rated highly when the same survey was done in 2014.
Reality is something Gen Ys appear to struggle with.
Lazy yet impatient for promotion, celebrity-obsessed, materialistic and demanding of instant gratification — these are just some of the characteristics attributed to their cohort.
If this is true, they didn’t become this way by accident.
Early Gen X and late Baby Boomers have excelled at intrusive parenting, rushing in to save their little darlings from failure, criticism or hardship.
Well-intentioned as they may be, these are the mothers and fathers who have automatically accused teachers of getting it wrong because their child couldn’t possibly have behaved badly or deserved to have been dropped from the sporting team.
These are the parents who have done their kids’ assignments for them — anything to stave off the potential pang of failure.
And if their offspring happen to fall foul of the law, it’s the police’s problem.
They’ve cocooned their kids away from the necessity of personal responsibility.
Look at how many children live at home into their late 20s, spawning what sociologists call “failures to launch”.
On top of this, many people in their forties and fifties have shown just how ready they are to indulge themselves.
In stark contrast to their own parents, who lived through the Great Depression and world wars and learned what it meant to do without, they have set a clear example that more is better.
A house for four people with only one bathroom? No walk-in robe? No shiny new appliances? What is this, the 1940s?
One car per family? Dining out only on special occasions? Please!
Over the years as our homes have become bigger, so have our expectations.
This helps explain the credit card debt crisis and our propensity to spend more than we earn.
It’s why we “invest” in designer labels (especially where the name is writ large for all to see) and why holidays at home are considered boring.
I generalise — as do demographers in assigning traits to various generations — but if we’re to believe that Gen Ys are miserable then we are part of the malaise.
We have taught them that they “deserve” to have whatever they want, that they’re “worth it”, as marketers of everything from cosmetics to cars reinforce.
So now, in 2017, as real estate prices and costs of living continue to climb, is it any surprise people are primed for disappointment?
The Deloitte survey found only eight per cent of millennials in Australia believe they will be better off than their parents, against a global average of 26 per cent. Only four per cent think they will be happier, compared with a 23 per cent global average.
I can’t help wondering if we lowered our expectations and restrained our spending that people wouldn’t be more satisfied and less stressed.
Last month, a study revealed Gen Y workers forked out $794 a month — or $9528 a year — on things like barista-brewed coffee, energy drinks, cafe lunches and personal grooming.
That compares with $624 for Gen Xs and $320 for Baby Boomers, according to the Galaxy Research poll commissioned by ING Direct.
Caffeine alone chewed up $92 a month, prompting calls to Gen Ys to grow up and start saving.
ING’s John Arnott says young people are unwilling to forgo luxuries which over a year amount to “a small fortune”.
Demographer Bernard Salt maintains the money they’d save by not ordering $22 smashed avocado on toast several times a week could “go towards a deposit on a house”.
It’s not as simple as this, of course, and generational traits don’t apply to all who fall into a certain age bracket, but in assessing the future and our place it in, a good dose of reality goes a long way.