This article examines shifting representations of youth in post-handover Hong Kong in order to develop a framework for understanding the process by which some youngsters become hidden or marginal in the public consciousness while others remain highly visible. We compare two youth labels that have captured the public's imagination over a 14-year period: the Post-80s Generation and Young Night Drifters (YNDS, also known as nonengaged youth). The more recently created Post-80s label to describe Hong Kong's youth, we argue, reflects an emerging vision of influential politicians, cultural and business elites who idealize or, as we put it, 'genericize' the city's youth as not only highly educated, entrepreneurial, and self-reliant, but also politically compliant and patriotic. This vision, we argue, eclipses another reality, identified by social workers and faced by many youngsters in the territory who have failed to achieve the necessary educational qualifications to participate in the knowledge-based economy and still rely on welfare, personified by the Young Night Drifter label. This analysis leads us to question the power dynamics behind frequent claims about certain youngsters being representative of a particular generation.