Millenials | Classes Online

I want to stand up for the Millennials.

A recent article on 60 Minutes highlighted the unusual approach of Millennials (that is, kids born between 1980 and 1995) to their new workplaces. In very broad strokes, the article describes an entire generation of Americans from varying cultures, locations, and economic circumstances as self-absorbed, unaccustomed to criticism or loss, lacking in work ethic, and demanding workplace perks. Unsettled, probably older, viewers left the following comments on the 60 Minutes website:

“What a sad state we’re in! No wonder our country lags behind. It’s time these ‘little darlings’ had a wake up call. As a nurse manager, I work with some of this privileged group; thankfully, they are in the minority… Children of this generation were raised with overindulgence in every aspect of their lives. The pampering should not be continued in the work force.”

“This story was so full of self-indulgence that it made my stomach turn. I wouldn’t hire one of these spoiled little brats to walk my dog much less play an important role in my company. Hard work and dedication isn’t a bad thing and I don’t feel I should have to hold weekly costume parades around the office or provide bouncy balls as furniture in order to get my staff to do the job they were hired for.”

Ouch! The displays of pent up aggression toward Millennials goes on and on. No thanks to 60 Minutes for scaring the Centrum Silver out of all the crotchety, aging baby boomers out there; they have successfully discriminated against an entire generation of people.

I have two points for 60 Minutes and all those who responded far too hastily and in an unfair fashion to this unflattering news article: 1) Millennials are as diverse as any generation before them and therefore cannot be generalized as they have been here and 2) a change of perspective would do our country and economy some good.

To clarify, this article really highlighted a few Caucasian young adults who seemed to be middle- or upper-middle class. It completely left out Millennials from lesser economic circumstances. It left out minority Millennials. It left out those who actually go to work and work their tails off. In the end, the impression was given that Millennials have somehow formed one uniform body with a uniform code of conduct and collectively submitted their unreasonable demands to the bosses of the world.

This is just not the case.

Before we even discuss the validity of the Millennials’ worldview, let it be first stated that the ideas they espouse toward work, family, and community are as diverse as they are. To assume that they all share this one worldview is ignorant, insulting, and, let’s face it, just plain lazy journalism.

Next, let me remind the aging boomers out there who responded so scornfully to the article that, once upon a time, the baby boomers came on the scene and shook things up. Some of the best social developments of the twentieth century (i.e. civil rights, economic reform) are their legacy. Guess what? Their parents and grandparents were scared to death of their new attitude, too. But there can be no doubt that more equality exists in America today because of their “radical” ideas.

Seeing as so many of the comments echo the idea that these spoiled brats need to learn how to do good, old-fashioned work, I want to propose that maybe there is a better way than the “good, old-fashioned” way. I point to the generation of boomers who grew up and learned to put up with jobs with oppressive environments, mediocre pay, and commanding bosses. Not surprisingly, huge numbers of these boomers found themselves on anti-depressants or in therapy by the end of their professional careers. Business as usual hasn’t been too kind to us as a country. I repeat: there must be a better way.

On the other hand, take a look at the innovations this generation has created thus far because they refused to do things the “good, old-fashioned” way. They are idealistic, creative, and globally aware. They could end up fixing the problems their parents left them (i.e. pollution, economy, crime, war) or, at least, they are more likely to than their parents.

So, perhaps, like every generation before us, the old generation needs to trust they have done their job and give the reins to the next one. Like it or not, these kids are growing up and our future will be in their hands.

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