Monday, August 20, 2012

Now Whiny Entitledness is a Virtue?

We generally have a stereotype about the "millenial" generation--that is, those born between 1980 and 2000--in that they're for the most part stupid, entitled, and one hundred percent useless and horrible.  This is overly sweeping, of course, because those ranks obviously include smart, hard-working and decent folk who unfortunately get tarred with the same brush.  As a Generation X-er, I remember bristling at the whininess of the slacker-grunge folks back in the '90s who made us all look like cynical douchebags, and I'm sure Baby Boomers didn't much like being lumped in with the self-righteous hippies who ruined Democratic conventions and made hygiene uncool.  So I'd like to think that the Millenials are being unfairly categorized by the worst among them.

And then comes this idiotic article, written by a 30 year old writer who somehow was given page space by the Washington Post.  To sum it up--yes, Millenials feel entitled to their "dream" jobs (which the writer seems to define as any job that doesn't really pay or have much demand in the market, such as working for a nonprofit cause, or being a career counsellor) and want to be given as much respect for their opinions as those who have more experience than them.  However, this is a good thing, because this means employers will have to start making positive changes to the workplace, like adding worker benefits and praising the opinions of newer employees!  The Millenials, at least the demanding, entitled ones, are latter-day Rosa Parkses, by taking a stand that will improve society.

Or, maybe they'll make employers consider the cost-benefit tradeoff and decide between hiring (a) someone just out of school who majored in crap because it's what interested in them, with no key skills, and who expects extra benefits and being able to leave the office early and get credit for their ideas that they just came up with after two weeks on the job, or (b) some high-skilled immigrant from India who's actually happy to have the job and put in what it takes to keep it.  Tough call! 

The article also praises kids who move back in with their parents so that they can take the lower-paying "fulfilling" job that barely covers their student loan payments.  I can certainly understand doing this when you have to--student loan payments are a serious burden and getting worse--and the tuition cartel is a major hindrance on the current workforce.  And it's great if parents are there to help out their kids this way.  But the example in the article--of the girl who turned down higher paying jobs in this situation, despite her mother suggesting she take those opportunities so she could move out finally--only shows that the mother is a doormat who doesn't know how to tell her kid "here's your first rent invoice for using our basement.  And I only take cash, not job satisfaction."

Millenials do have some tough challenges facing them--entering a very tight job market and in many cases with severe debts for educations that are of increasingly questionable value--but rather than "embrace your unjustified sense of entitlement" I'd suggest "make some smart decisions so your life and career won't have to be harder than necessary."  Such as "be careful with debt" and "live cheap at first" and "pick a job more for the skills you'll gain than for how happy it makes you right now" and "make yourself valuable".

But hey, I'm not a 30 year old writer for the Post.

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