A Response from the Millennial Generation to the Rest of Us

Posted: May 14, 2012 in Other Musings
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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So I know that most of my writing has been on the Mobile Enterprise, but this is one of those “other musings.” I was with friends this weekend and shown an email that one of their sons (Spencer) wrote in response to a forwarded WSJ article letting him know how lazy he and his Millennial generation is. It struck me, not just because the writing’s funny, but because it reminded me so much of how everyone talked about my generation (Gen X) back in the 90’s. We were all going to turn out to be nothing because we were lazy, didn’t follow the rules and just didn’t understand the way things were done. To that we said, guilty on the second two fronts, and we set out to change the rules and the way things were done and have never looked back. As this next generation starts to infiltrate the workplace, I can’t help but think things are about to change all over again. To see this all you have to do is look at what mobility and social media have done to change the entire landscape of our lives. With that said, I have reprinted Spencer’s email in its entirety. While the opinions expressed here are Spencer’s and not necessarily mine, I think that this has a bit of something for everyone and is just a glimpse of what’s to come from this next generation.

Begin Email:

This is a response to this article forwarded to me from *****. The initial email read “tough love but true.”  This is the second email like this I’ve gotten from them so felt the need to reply.

Stephens: To the Class of 2012 – Attention graduates: Tone down your egos, shape up your minds.

I have read probably about 7 or so similar articles regarding the “millennial generation” this year and they all have been highly entertaining.  For the most part, I have found them humorous and representative of the immortal old man sitting on his porch, shaking his fist at “those damn kids” and reminiscing about the days of cheap gas and hard work ethics. The main points of all the articles I have read seem to suggest that my generation is: lazy, over confident, has an over inflated sense of self-worth, and has no idea how to function in the professional work environment.  Whatever, OK, opinions are nice; I can respect them even if I don’t agree with them. This article, however, goes to new lengths in blatantly waving a partisan agenda by adding a new characteristic of my generation’s failure: apparently, it’s all our fault we are in a terrible economy because we voted for the crazy black man who has single handedly destroyed the American economy.  Awesome.

As we should all know, good economies come and go and have almost nothing to do with what president or party is in office. Remember the 1990s when you all got rich, banks handed out loans like candy to anyone with a pulse, everyone was happy, and none of those pesky liberal millennials were old enough to vote?  Oh yeah, a democrat was president.  Minus President Clinton’s presidential affair that seemingly offended every American’s outstanding sense of moral decency, I’d say things were pretty good.  Remember good old Republican Herbert Hoover?  Pretty sure he oversaw most of the worst economic recession this country has ever seen, and it wasn’t until a DEMOCRAT FDR instilled his “socialist agenda” that the country started to pull itself out of the depression.  With this in mind, do not mistake my writing as having a partisan agenda.  Both Republican and Democratic leaderships have overseen times of both recession and economic expansion, and there have been great leaders for both parties.  I am simply a political and economic realist who couldn’t take this author’s argument seriously within 10 seconds of opening the document.   The basic principle of a free market economic system is that they go up and down over time; they don’t stay constant.  Is Stevens honestly suggesting that Barack Obama has the mystical power to blatantly manipulate the invisible hand that guides a laissez-faire economy, a power that no man has ever had since Adam Smith came up with the term in 1776?  There have been economic booms and busts throughout our country’s history, and they have each occurred under both Republican and Democrat leadership.  We have all taken econ 101 haven’t we? I know I have, but then again I have a useless degree and over inflated grades so what do I know.

This particular article was also especially interesting to me because it seemed to be largely a thinly veiled military recruitment flyer. “Wearing a uniform helped her figure out what really distinguished herself as an individual” is one of the concluding sentences of the article. Really?  If suiting up and flying to a country that doesn’t want us there to fight a war that cannot be won is the only way to save myself from the horrors of my vote choice and my generational based disease of artificial self-confidence, then I wish I had gotten that memo sooner.  I could have saved myself 50 grand and all the damaging undeserved boosts to my ego the California education system has instilled in me over the years.

More on that, where is this over inflated sense of self-worth of the millennial generation every intellectual conservative journalist seems to be rambling about? I’ve never made a sports team in my life. I’ve never received a trophy or award for anything. I’ve been a mediocre student my entire life. When I got accepted into UC Davis, which isn’t even that great of a school, I thought it was hilarious because I thought that there was no way that I would get in to a school of that caliber.  I would LOVE to have the sense of self-worth the author seems to be painting my whole generation with.  Maybe he can call a few of them for me and my peers who are struggling to get jobs and have them rub some off on us?

Now, I have never been one to make a completely one-sided argument, so I will agree with some of the author’s points.  I have always believed in the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality that is evident throughout Steven’s argument.  No one should expect the world or anyone else to owe him or her a living.  Hard work does get the job done.  With that being said, I find the timing of this article, and the countless others I have read with similar points to be rather amusing.  Maybe these articles would have been more effective if they were distributed when we were younger,  or at the very least when we entered college.  Instead, they seem to be proliferating as we are all graduating and entering the job market for the first time and seeing how bad things truly are.  These articles are basically saying: “Hey, you know that expensive degree you just got and everything you have ever been told about yourself?  Yeah, its worthless, and so are you, and so is everything you have been taught.  Good luck!”  That’s just rubbing salt in the wound and its timing is God-awful.  If Generation X didn’t want Generation Y to have the characteristics that “we” possess, maybe they should have skipped on the fake compliments and support for things their kids were terrible at.  The thought process shown in these articles is akin to teaching a kid to play chess, then taking him to a boxing match and chiding him when he gets knocked out. It just doesn’t make much sense.  But I digress.

In conclusion, what I see in articles like this is a case of the “ten miles in the snow generation” rearing its ugly head.  Every generation always thinks they worked harder and lived a tougher existence than the one below them.  I know Generation X is mad about the economy and are looking for someone to blame, but I don’t think pinning it all on the political decisions and work ethic of a bunch of college aged kids and younger is the way to go.  I assure you, there are plenty of millennials who voted for John McCain who are just as arrogant and worthless as millennials who voted for Obama.  Anyone who thinks otherwise (like our dear author) is just spewing rhetoric that has little basis in fact, and displays a complete and utter lack of political and economic understanding that I thought the Wall Street Journal would be above.

Now, I am going to go finish my 5 page paper that’s due in 10 hours, rewrite my resume and cover letter that I need to turn in for my professional writing class, and apply for a few more jobs (maybe the manual labor job that requires a 2.5 college GPA and letters of rec: how’s that for representing the job market?). Though I will probably spark up a **** and take a few shots first because hey, I will probably just get an A anyway for mediocre work so why not.


A lazy/mooching/overconfident millennial

Spencer Winding
University of California, Davis
Political Science Major with a History Minor (worthless!)

  1. Blaming Gen Ys for the world’s problems is foolish, as is expecting them to behave like other generations when starting work. I talk about this in my four part blog series “Gen-Ys Need Special Handling When First Entering the Workforce” at http://www.solidthinking.org/weblogdetails.php?bid=110

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