Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. – George Orwell
Wait, umm, should I do it? Yes I think I should… It’s time…
The moment I’ve been waiting for, to post a rant!
Now keep in mind this article I'm responding to was written in the summer of last year, so I'm a bit late. But I think it's still relevant. So without further ado, here's my response to criticism of Generation Y:
Am I the only Gen Y’er here who’s sick of hearing about how we’re the entitled generation?
I just read an article by Gen X entrepreneur Jason Nazar, who seems to have a “stop whining, pussy” attitude towards all Millenials: 20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don't Get. Seriously, if I see another person write another article about how we’re so entitled, and about how we sit around picking our asses while we expect our careers to be handed to us on a silver platter, I think I’ll start picking my ass more while waiting for my career to be handed to me. Did I mention the article said that our generation shit talks too much?
Maybe these kinds of articles rub me the wrong way because I’m different than most Millennials. Maybe I’m one of the few who actually worked hard to get a degree. Scratch that, two degrees. Maybe I’m the only one who worked a series of boring office jobs only to be slightly disappointed when I finally learned that the career I had worked so hard to start was based on an outdated system where you become nothing but a cog in a wheel. Maybe I made the mistake of dreaming big, and believing that I might get to work on something inspiring, and of benefit to the world. Maybe the fact that I was so successful in school gave me a false hope that not only would I succeed in my career as well, but that I might actually get to practice it in a way that still left me with a sense of humanity.
Did I mention I studied Mechanical Engineering? I guess you were only talking about those idiots in the Humanities. They’re the real suckers! At least I had the option to live the real dream, working at a boiler company focusing on stress analysis of the second nut on the manhole cover of reactor #32-C.
I guess hoping that we might actually enjoy our jobs after years of hard work is like expecting to win the tour de France the day after learning how to ride a bike! Grow up Millennials!
Sorry Billy, but after telling you to do 10 years of Medical School, even though you said you wanted to be a painter, you can’t get a residency position, because there’s just way too much competition!
You’d better try harder and quit your whining! 30 is the new 20 after all… or is it 50 is the new 18… well I did work with mostly 50 year old men at that one engineering job in co-op, and the job certainly did make me feel more like a middle-aged man than a teenager.
But who’s pointing fingers here, certainly not me. When life hands you lemons, you should become an entrepreneur and take the world by storm! You might not get a decent job, but who wants one anyway when you can be the next Bill Gates, or more appropriately, the next Mark Zuckerberg! Forget taking that gap year in Australia you’ve been talking about and start making some adult choices! If you actually were working hard enough, you would already have invented some kind of innovative website where you can do things with computers and stuff.
What is that website called again? Ahh, yes, Twitter! Can you remind me what it’s about again? Aww fuck it I was never good with computers anyway; you Millennials are the ones who grew up with that crap!
Maybe everyone needs to start writing about how the world is changing and things are different now. Every generation has had its problems, and has had a very unique way of dealing with them. These coping methods are pretty specific to what was going on at the time. What ever happened to hippies anyway? And why did some of them go from being environmentalists to becoming venture capitalists? (Not that there's anything wrong with venture capitalists.)
I actually remember one awards dinner I attended, where an older mechanical engineering alumnus said that our generation worked too hard. He viewed the top students in engineering as a sad sack of nerds, lacking some necessary life skills. He said that back in his day all he had to get was a 70%, and that they would go drinking at the pub instead of going to class. He thought we were worrying too much about marks and wondered why. It’s a valid question. Why did I work so hard? Why did I get straight A’s when I could have used that time to do what they used to do? I could have joined a frat and enjoyed years of torturing 1st year students by making them eat live goldfish. I could have focused on getting laid rather than almost developing a stomach ulcer over a math exam. I suppose hindsight is 20/20.
Again, maybe I’m getting all worked up over this for the wrong reasons. Maybe my story is pretty specific to that of a high-strung academic turned run-of-the-mill Millennial freeloader.
But maybe I’m starting to relate much better as a Millennial for a reason. After all, I’m on the cusp of this generation, and I can actually remember when the Internet was invented! I have an older brother who was born in the late 70s, and I can remember the years of having to read a book while waiting for an appointment, rather than being lost on an iPhone. To this day I will sometimes just sit and observe the sights and sounds while travelling on a bus or a plane, without feeling symptoms of technology withdrawal. You would think maybe I’d sympathize more with Gen X. Wait what was Gen X known for? Wasn’t it Douglas Coupland who coined the term Generation X in his book on the subject? Didn’t the book refer to a generation who grew up in difficult economic times, were lost in apathy, and were forced to work at McJobs?
Did things change? From where I’m standing, the description of Gen X sounds a lot like my generation; growing up in difficult economic times, forced to work jobs we’re overqualified for. If Gen X was defined as a generation of grunge-listening, coffee-drinking, flannel-donning slackers, then I suppose we can call Millennials a generation of indie-music-listening, PBR-drinking, vintage-clothes-and-large-glasses-wearing slackers; maybe with a slightly higher dose of naivety, and with bigger dreams for themselves.
Gen X Grunge: Pearl Jam
Indie Dream Pop: Beach House
I suppose things changed for Gen X, and certainly for Mr. Nazar. Or maybe he was never part of the whole Gen X thing in the first place. Maybe he never felt lost, apathetic, or forced to work at McDonalds. Wait, what’s that? Jason Nazar is only 34? (Or maybe 35 now, since the article was posted in July, 2013.) He’s pretty darn close to being a Millennial himself.
I guess there’s a strict cut-off date of 1979, after which you are considered spoiled and entitled. Before that you liked grunge music, but made all the right business decisions in your mid 20s, when you finally traded your flannel for a sport coat. You became successful entrepreneurs, but Millennials are headed for failure and regret!
How about this: rather than labeling each generation with a catch phrase about their inadequacies or about their particular situation, maybe we should focus on the direction we’re moving as a society, and why youngsters might be feeling a certain way. For every “entitled” Millennial out there, I guarantee you there’s a hardworking, determined, and ambitious young person, who’s getting tired of working hard for nothing, and who’s beginning to forge a new path. Why have a career you hate, when you can’t even keep a job you hate? Maybe we’re learning at an earlier age that it’s important to do what you love, and that life is short. And that if you can’t do what you love, then at least having a life is more important than working 60 hours a week to impress your boss.
At the end of the day, we all have to choose a path. We all have to learn our lessons, and we all have to live with the consequences of our actions. A life of productivity and hard work is definitely better than a stagnant one. But maybe gaps on a resume and one year stints at a job shouldn’t be seen as red flags, but as reasons to ask questions. And if a troubled economy is forcing us to develop more creative ways to make a living, then maybe that’s a good thing.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Albert Einstein
For more reading on the subject, here are a few articles defending Millennials:
Oh, and the author of the Forbes article actually had the audacity to post this video about Millennials:
But at least there's this, a response to the above video: