Millennials at Work: Young and Callow, Like Their Parents
The headline says it all. This week, American Public Media’s Marketplace is teaming up with the Gray Old Lady to produce a series of stories about the economy. The first: “Millennials at Work: Young and Callow, Like Their Parents“. You should read it (or, do like I did, and listen to the Marketplace podcast).
Socrates complained about Plato’s generation, and Plato complained about Aristotle’s, and Aristotle complained about Alexander and so on. One generation grousing about the next reads like the Book of Chronicles. And when I one day complain about whatever we’ll call the next generation (Post Millennial? Gen Z?), I’ll be a hypocrite just like people who complain about my generation. Just a few years ago, Gen Xers were shiftless, lazy and disengaged. Before them, the Baby Boomers were too busy really listening to Aoxomoxoa to worry about jobs. Of course, we tend to think quite highly of the Greatest Generation, but they were probably known as the Greatest Disappointment to WWI vets. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that young people are brash and lack experience.
Fact is, humans are hard wired to look for causal reasons for why things are and to make contrasts between themselves and the Other. We accept narratives rather than think critically, especially when those narratives explain our own superiority. The tired narrative that millennials were coddled as children by soccer trophies for participation makes a ton of intuitive sense, but not any actual sense. if the little trophies we got – and threw out – really made us complacent with mediocrity in anything, you’d think it would manifest itself most in sports; just talk to any young Phils’ fan about the upcoming rebuilding year and you’ll see where you can stick your complacency.
Perversely, the old guard loves to say how easy this generation has it compared to them. Next time you hear someone complain about “Kids these days”, just remind them they didn’t have it as bad as these Four Yorkshiremen. Then tell them to shut up.