Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I read an article yesterday, and I can’t find it now, so apologies for the lack of a link.

The gist was that 20-somethings are having a harder time than older workers when it comes to job prospects in our fun economy. The article and subsequent comments basically devolved into a cross-generational flame war, but the main thing I got out of it was this: recent college grads are pissed because life didn’t turn out the way they were told it would, and it’s everyone else’s fault.

You could kinda see this coming. This is the front end of the generation that, more than any before it, hasn’t ever been allowed to fail. Don’t keep score; that will hurt feelings. Everyone gets an award at the assembly! Just go to college and everything will be fine. Take another loan; you’ll be making eleventy billion dollars a year when you graduate! Easy, right? The world is your oyster, right?

As annoying as this is, all the blame cannot be heaped on their shoulders—it’s merely what they’ve been taught. The self-esteem movement has gotten out of control, and we need to correct it.

No one is really THAT special.

Failure is a powerful teacher. Yes, you learn not to repeat your mistakes, but you also learn something more profound: humility—and, if you’re lucky, a sense of personal responsibility.

I’m not piling on the twenty-somethings. Far from it—I remember what was said about me and my Gen-X peers when we were in/graduating from college. Apologies to Dennis Green, but somehow we turned out not to be what they thought we were.

I’m just saying—couldn’t the life lessons have come a bit earlier for these folks? You know, maybe BEFORE the roof over their heads was at stake???


TBinKC said...

This is what happens when yuppies bear and raise young.

I work with Millenials/Gen Yers/whatever you want to call them. I've seen the sense of entitlement everywhere. At work, interns and new hires come in expecting to jump to the top of the ranks (or at least get the best assignments) without learning the business. Hell, it happens in the improv world, too—25-year-olds know everything, and get insulted if you imply the might have something to learn from the ancient ones (anyone over 35).

I work in a creative field. I understand that sometimes a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective is just what you need. But providing those things doesn't make you smarter than everyone else—it's part of learning your gig and paying your dues.

I probably thought I knew everything when I was in my mid-20s, too. But the difference between Gen Xers and this one is that we knew other people did, too.

I'm going to go put on a flannel shirt and listen to some Nirvana now.

TBinKC said...

OK. That probably came across as unnecessarily bitchy. I work with a lot of people in their 20s who I absolutely adore—probably because most of them don't have the weird entitlement thing going, unless they're hilariously self-aware about it.

The ones who think nobody over 30 ever comes up with a good idea, though, make me want to poke them in the eyes.

JJSKCK said...

Well, I knew everything when I was 23. I think everyone did. I hear it in coffee houses, I hear it in bars--everyone's theory of the world, what things do and don't work (and why), how they'd change everything; they've got it all figured out. That part makes me smile knowingly. It's part of coming into one's own from an intellectual standpoint.

It's the sense of entitlement that I just can't stomach. When I hear someone complain that they owe $40k for a Master's degree they don't even use (then...why'd you get it?), or that they passed on a 2000 sf "starter" home because the kitchen was dated, I literally want to punch them. Your parents started in a 600 sf apartment, and your grandparents didn't buy a house until they were in their 40s, and you're complaining because the vanity top isn't granite? Forgive me when I don't buy the fact that the world is conspiring against you.