Whiny Gen X rant about the Gen Y whiners.

So this morning I was awoken by N to ask if I had eaten a housemate’s Ben and Jerry’s. No, I hadn’t. I am lactose intolerant. Although I love Ben and Jerry’s, it is no longer worth it to me to scarf it down as it will cause my digestive system to stage a full-scale revolution for the next two days. No more Phish Food, Chunky Monkey or Chubby Hubby for me.

Mulling this over as I was getting ready for work, I started getting more and more irritated. It was 8am when I was asked about this. We had been back at N’s house for all of 15 hours after having been gone for 10 days, and already we are tracking what has gone missing? I can’t count how many times we have let go of things like jam that we had bought that has been used up and not replaced, or footed the bill for house pizza, shared weed, done the collective dishes after a joint meal, or picked people up in the middle of a fucking blizzard, all in the spirit of housemately generosity. And yet, sharing tupperware causes a fretful conversation over what is rightfully whose. The ice cream simply pushed me over the goddamned edge.

N has been talking about a sense of entitlement. And the more I am thinking about it, I am realizing: It’s a sense of entitlement that extends into Gen Y — and I am noticing it the older I get, and the more I am supervising people of this generation.

Take for instance, the conversation I literally just had with my boss. She came out of her office to tell us all that a new staff had just quit. She actually called to ask, “How do I submit my resignation?” At 18, she doesn’t know how to do this, and is therefore asking her boss how. At 18, I would have been fucking embarrassed to ask my boss how I would go about quitting, but hey, whatev. She then informed my boss that, after talking with her parents about the job, her parents encouraged her to quit, saying that she potentially didn’t do enough research about this job. They told her it was simply too stressful for her. She has been on the job for all of two days, and during those two days, she has worked 1.5 hours each day. So, she has worked a grand total of 3 hours, and has become so stressed out, her parents have advised her that it’s best she just quit. She made a mistake, they told her — better just to move on. The job only lasts the length of the semester — so it’s not like she was stuck in it permanently.

I snorted, along with my co-worker, who is 26. She is technically Gen Y. I am the last year of Gen X. Both of us are right on that cusp, not quite entrenched in either generation’s logic.

Both of us concurred that our parents would have told us to suck it up. We wouldn’t have been told to quit our jobs. We would have been told: Um, you made your bed, now lie in it. For as hard as I am on my parents, I am real glad they made me take responsibility for my choices in life; what I see happening to kids today is a real trend of duty-shirking, thanks to parental coddling.

About 3 times a week, I watch N take calls well after work hours from staff because they are calling in sick for their shifts the following day. Sometimes they are legit call-ins. Mostly, I bet they are not. Both of us work in a field where staff HAVE to show up to work because we work with individuals who require direct support so that they can go to work, get bathed, take medicine — you know, like, live. What floors me about these calls is the fucking balls-out attitude that the younger staff that get hired have: They’ll get hired, and a week or two in, they are already calling in sick. Or they are trying to take off. Or they are doing egregiously wrong stuff, you almost know it’s on purpose, and you think: They know they can’t get fired, so they just don’t care.

I worked where N works, and I had the same damn experience. The younger staff would get hired, and they’d call in whenever they wanted. I shit you not, they’d call me at all hours of the day and night: My sister just broke up with her fiance, and I can’t come to work. I have a cyst in my vagina, and I can’t come to work. I just discovered I’m pregnant, I can’t come to work. These kids, who were hired full-time, acted like work was optional. Like they were doing me a favor if they showed up. They’d be crying on the phone, wailing, screaming. I got a reputation for being a big fat bitch about call-ins. Well, y’all: I’ve heard every damn shock-and-awe excuse in the book. I have a va-gay-gay too, and it doesn’t prevent my 30-year-old fat ass from coming to work, so I guess you better get on down here too.

I don’t know where this attitude about Y’all Owe Me Something comes from. It crosses every line you can think of. Sex, class, race — But it seems more limited to age. The younger kids I work with, especially those whose parents are heavily involved, really seem shocked when you put your foot down and say: Sorry kiddo, you can’t just cry your way out of this one. Welcome to the world of an adult. Yep, a two-week resignation is required. Yep, a doctor’s note is required. Yep, if you don’t work your 32 or 40, or whatever, you are going to have to make up your hours. I ain’t your mom or dad. You can’t look all pretty and get out of shit. Do your fucking job already, and shut up.

 Y’all ain’t owed shit. Y’all need to work for what you get, and when you do get it, you damn well better be thankful for it. That’s what I was taught.

And as for people having a hard time sharing in a housemately sense: Guess what. You live with people. I’ve overlooked the reeking cat dish filled with water above the sink. I’ve been annoyed about the sexist division of labor in the home. But this is what happens when you share space with people. Ice cream goes missing. Sometimes I do more than my fair share of dishes. You live and let live. We can all play the whiny baby game and demand equal rights, but that doesn’t make for a very compatible, peaceful living environment because quite frankly, a lease and cohabitation shouldn’t have to be the length of the Geneva Convention. And everybody’s definition of equality is different. Living with others requires a certain acceptance that the washer won’t always be available, and that you don’t get to take up 3/4 of the refrigerator just because you’re a growing boy. We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

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27 Comments

  1. Sandy said,

    February 25, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I feel your pain.

  2. Jae said,

    February 25, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I understand your frustration, but casting an entire generation as a bunch of lazy prats is unfair.

    I don’t deny that young people can be on the lazy side and often expect the world to be handed to them on a silver platter, but that is not exclusive to this generation of young people; it is something that has been lamented about every generation of young people for as long as there have been young people. The Greatest Generation said it of the Baby-Boomers, the Baby-Boomers said it of Gen-X, and now Gen-X is getting it’s turn to say it about Gen-Y. Everyone always thinks that it is their generation that is the hardest-working, the most-ambitious, the brightest, and the one with th best music; those who come before are squares and those who come after are brats. And, not to sound all conspiracy-theorist, but the powers that be want to be sure we keep right on believing this stuff; that’s why there are articles, TV news segements, and even whole books devoted to how awful the younger generation is. Because if we keep fighting amongst ourselves, we will never unite to fight them.

    So yes, while there are a whole lot of brats running around now calling out sick because they’re hungover and stealing their roomate’s stuff, they have always existed; this is just the first time you’re around to see it!

    I hope you get some better quality young-workers with you, because they are out there. And that your roomate stops being such a douchenozzle.

  3. Falantra said,

    February 25, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Seconding what Jae said, but also refer to Rio’s postings on fibromyalgia at She Dances on the Sand. You have no idea what invisible barriers people have that they cover up with stories or just refuse to share. Didn’t you just post about hiding your bipolar disorder? Passing vast judgements like this without first placing yourself in other peoples shoes is incredibly disappointing. It’s no different than saying every fat person is lazy. I mean they were all raised to be gluttonous slobs and boy oh boy I’m sure glad my parents raised me up skinny so I can properly trash every last one of them with their tiresome excuses.

    From reading your blog, you of all people should know better. It’s just disappointing.

  4. peggynature said,

    February 25, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    A lot of people have never stared down potential homelessness, right in the face. You start to feel lucky you have a job at all, after that.

    I’ll take gratefulness over entitlement any day. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  5. Des said,

    February 25, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Just a random little contribution here.

    I agree with what Jae is saying, every generation thinks their generation is the “best” so its no surprise you should feel this way, I guess it’s just the order of things.

    But the girl you mention at the beginning of your post reminds me of something that happened to me. Last year I got a job at a fast food place and I worked there three months. I really hated the job because I had to deal with some nasty messes, but it was the only option I had since I didn’t manage to get hired at some of the other places I had applied.

    I made a comment to my mother about this and the best piece of advice she gave me was to just quit because “No one forced you to get a job. You’re just not cut out for that kind of stuff.” She also mentioned that it was “too much” for me. I ended up quitting the job but looking back I realize that was a really shitty piece of advice. Why the hell didn’t she say something else?

    As part of the generation you’re commenting on (I’m 19) I think the real problem isn’t about feeling the world owes us something, its that generally this generation has been raised on being comfortable.

    Personally I’m really frustrated by this. My parents never pushed me, any lame ass attempt I made at anything was “ok” and “good enough” and now that I’m trying to get into the real world I realize that I have a lot to learn. It’s embarrasing quite frankly because “zomg I actually have to do manual labor” or “eww I have to talk to people? can’t i just email them?”

    I hope that makes some kind of sense and it doesn’t come off as a justification of some kind.

    Great blog!

  6. mustelid said,

    February 25, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Falantra, if a person can’t come in to work due to fibromyalgia or the like, wouldn’t they be calling in and saying that, or possibly, “sorry, but I really do feel like I’ve been hit by a bus” if they don’t yet know it’s fibromyalgia? If you’re sick/injured/need to tend a loved one, those are all legit excuses. No need to make up some fake goofy nonsense.

    Though I have been guilty of Cranky Old Geezerdom…”In MY day, everyone who could walk to the toilet did! And anyone who was too sick/injured still wouldn’t be caught dead peeing into a bottle and just chucking it into the hall! No, they’d bring it into the bathroom, and empty it into a toilet like civilized hyoomin beyuns! And we had to walk two miles to get stoned and have sex…” All at the ripe old age of 32.

  7. Falantra said,

    February 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    You completely missed the point. It had nothing to do with actual fibromyalgia, it had to do with invisible barriers. You don’t know what it’s like until you place yourself in their place, until you live their lives, until you deal with all the things they deal with and view it from their eyes. People handle things in many different ways. For example, I dealt with really bad social anxiety when I was younger – it was *stressful* just going to the damn grocery store. I cried in the car afterwards. Am I going to be called lazy and say that I felt entitled to have someone go to the store for me? It was also something I tried to hide and would make up other reasons for “I think I’m getting sick, I shouldn’t be out running errands.” How do you know if someone has the same problem, but pushed themselves to do something new, only to find out it was too much? We don’t take the time to see things from another perspective then wonder why discrimination and violence and general jackassery is so rampant still.

  8. thoughtracer said,

    February 25, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Yes, but you get to a point where, hey: either do the work, or quit. I mean, we can’t just be making excuses for 2 out fo four shifts a week. Every human being has invisible barriers for why they can’t do something. I met a therapist once who said: We ALL can claim some sort of disability. And that’s true. We all technically could. It gets to a point where it’s like look, people: Either you want the job or you don’t. If you don’t, then quit. Don’t waste my time, the time of the co-workers, and especially, the time of the very vulnerable youth and people with disabilities who build very quick attachments to you, who RELY on you to show up because their actual LIVES depend on it.

    What if any of us who had an invisible barrier were to have it become visible, and then DEPEND on these people for our very basic needs, such as bathing and bathrooming? Is that what we want? What if my bipolar disorder got so bad I ended up disabled and needed these people to show up to my house and take care of me and they just didn’t? That’s a problem. We need to think outside ourselves once in a while. If we don’t, we are really creating a problem for society – looking out for one another is the very fabric that holds civilization together. Having an ethic responsibility to other people kind of goes towards that. There’s just a callousness that I don’t get these days. I don’t think kids are to blame: I think they were nurtured into it. And I’m sorry, Falantra, I don’t think every 19 year old has fibromyalgia that precludes them from coming to work. Do some people have some issues? Yep. It’s a case by case basis. But having been supervising people for 9 years now, which was beginning at the age of 21, I can tell you, not everyone who is calling in — and it’s been getting worse, is doing it because they are genuinely having issues.

  9. Gretchen said,

    February 25, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I agree with Jae about generational differences, and as a person at the early end of gen-Y, I have to say that we’re not all like that! I take the things I do very seriously, and am really shocked that anyone would act that way. But what does their age have to do with it? I imagine there’s plenty of people in the world from the earlier generations who have the same issues. The difference with the younger generation is just that they haven’t learned how to be adults yet (I know I’m still figuring that out!).

    Take the woman who called to ask how to submit her resignation. Should she have stuck out the job? Who knows – that’s up to her conscience. (Though I have to ask whether there’s any reason for her to do so, if a) she didn’t have a financial need to do so and b) she was really that miserable) But who else should she have asked? If I was new at a place and didn’t know anyone except my boss, I might do the same – even if it was absolutely mortifying. (Actually, I probably wouldn’t – I’d ask a total stranger before my boss. But I could see someone finding it a reasonable option.)

    I do know the other side of the story, though. When I was in undergrad, I lived in a house with 6 other college girls. 2 of them were constantly in entitlement mode, and others switched into it on occasion. It was… exciting. I’m glad I did, though. It was good to have an experience that showed me that sometimes having a clean kitchen is more important than proving to the other person that they’re not doing their fair share – but then again, sometimes it’s the other way around.

  10. annaham said,

    February 25, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    As a young person (21) who actually has fibromyalgia, I’d like to respond on some of the comments to this thread by saying yes, calling in to work is important, and usually, people with chronic health conditions are *not* flakes and are responsible about time management, missing work and the like.

    Other than that, I actually agree a lot with this post. Maybe it’s because I’m in school and see way more annoying, entitled, spoiled gen-Yers who give the rest of us a bad name, but it pisses me off so much when people my age think they can get out of doing things because they are somehow *special* snowflakes and therefore, they shouldn’t have to do any grunt work whatsoever. Most of the crap that I’ve gotten about having a “fake” illness, additionally, has come from young, entitled Gen-Y kids who, for whatever reason, are adamant that I’m making up my illness to get attention, or skip class, or whatever (nevermind that I have a 4.0 GPA and all). Maybe some of these kids have conditions that I’m not aware of, but judging from some of my experiences, the fellow Gen-Yers who have refused to take me seriously when I say that I have a disability must be in perfect health!

  11. Cath said,

    February 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Off topic, except the first line, but Lactaids! Recommended by lactose intolerant friends, I’m not myself so this is second-hand info. Enjoy your icecream.

    http://www.lactaid.com/products/index.jhtml?id=lactaid/products/dietsup.inc

  12. sso said,

    February 25, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I have to admit, there are enough Gen Yers who do fit that description that those of us who don’t get painted with the same brush. I wonder though, what does that say for the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who raised those children? Kids don’t get to be like that of their own accord, without some kind of facilitation. It seems like there is a steep decline in the amount of discipline parents give their children these days, even as far back as amongst my peers when I was growing up. Most of my friends didn’t seem to understand the concept that you simply didn’t lie to my mother or tell her NO. All she had to do was give us that LOOK, and we knew better. Today, I see children running around wild in stores and restaurants, doing things that would have landed me in seventeen different kinds of trouble at their age. Of course there are good parents and well behaved children out there, but they never make quite the same impression as the little hellion throwing food across the restaurant and darting under other patrons’ tables, while their parents studiously ignore him/her.

  13. Arwen said,

    February 25, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Having grown up in communes and spent many years in roommate situations I think that there’s an age after which sharing living space – especially perhaps kitchens – becomes a near impossibility, excepting for a very very social sort of person who has thick skin and a near joy in negotiating interpersonal conflict. I’ve seen it work, but rarely.

    I’m 33 now, and I think homesharing again – except with my husband, or maybe Extremely Special Almost a Partner Person – would end quickly in my own murder conviction. House meetings about who took the end of the parmasean. *shudder*. I have nightmares.

    As an erstwhile manager, I would highly support any employee who 3 hours into training realizes this job isn’t going to work. In my area, there’s a 90 day legal trial period where an employee can be let go for not working out, and I extend the same to workers. Especially in homecare! That can be triggering and is extremely challenging – it’s my sister’s field, so I have some idea of the level of physical and emotional engagement that can be necessary. I AM a professional, and I would absolutely not go into homecare, (or nursing), as a career — and I only learned that via my sister’s experience.

    Also, after 3 hours, calling in with a question of how to tender a resignation I think is rather responsible – because do you want her to leave immediately, (save training expenses), or to the end of the week (unskilled labour: please cover your shifts)?

    Which is not to say that I disagree that there’s a level of parental hovering and personal anxiety that seems new in the workforce – even though I quite take Jae’s “kids these days” reminder to heart. I think that particular quitting example, though, is being interpreted through a lens of frustration. It’s better to say no thank you after the first date than have your second thoughts on the day of your wedding.

    Also, if you ARE hiring 18 year olds, chances are you’re not paying them very well and they’re not planning a career around your field. It is the way the economy works that minimum wage jobs offered to teens are jobs that you have low worker retention and commitment, and the lower the wage, the lower the commitment (and the greater the risk of theft), unless you get a really good crew or the job is satisfactory on non-wage, young person levels. It may be that young GenXers saw home care as having cachet. The barista gig certainly benefited from that. My main thought while reading this post was: why are kids being hired to do essential caretaking jobs? Of course, this is the economy, I’m sure, and funding issues either on the public or private end; real wages aren’t going up, and real jobs (like homecare) are being offered to workers with training wheels who aren’t necessarily interested in a career in that field.

  14. Linda said,

    February 26, 2008 at 4:34 am

    SSO is right in that it depends on how you were raised. I think Depression-era parents tried hard to raise their kids with no economic hardships, which meant a lot of baby boomers learned their hard knocks through life. Lots of Baby Boomer parents, I think, believed that if they shielded their children from frustration, they would be “good parents.” Actually, preparing your kids for adulthood makes you a good parent, and that means letting the kids know early that life IS frustrating, and you do have to paddle your own canoe. My sister and her husband took a lot of shit from their friends for kicking their 19 year old son out of the house for breaking house rules, but dealing with the consequences of his actions made him grow up in a hurry. Bad actions–bad consequences. That’s life.

    I even know parents whose kids (successfully) guilt trip them because they aren’t supporting them in their own apartments while they party, and don’t work or go to school. Something is seriously wrong here. I think 10 years of real life will straighten them out–or make them permanently bitter–but in the meantime, bosses are dealing with it.

  15. Amelies_myth said,

    February 26, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I know you’ve just addressed this issue in you last post – I get it you’re human and feel conflicting things –
    I can understand your frustration – but I agree with the rest about painting Gen Ys with the same brush, it was actually offensive to read that stuff.

    The context of Gen Ys in America is going to be different from Gen Ys from where I’m from (Aus) But you need to remember the kind of rights being fought for by the generation before us. Our sense of entitlement comes from those fights. The fight to be a woman and be able to work, to be recognised we are actually human beings and should be paid the same for the same work. The fight for Indigenous rights. The fight for universal health care. These have all been bequeathed to us by the previous generation. Perhaps the frustrating thing for Gen Xers is that Gen Ys dont understand the fight – we got it all handed to us on a nice little platter.
    However there is certain amount of empathy and understanding Gen Xs need for Gen Ys – we wernt there. This was how it is when we got here. We are human and we deserve the right to live it with freedom and a certain standard of living. This may be perceived as luxurious by other generations who wernt afforded with this oppertunity. But this is what other Generations fought for. To make life easier for their children. For following generations to live the lives they want to live. If that means they don’t like the work that they’ve tried for 3 hours, then sobeit. It is noones place to say “they quit after three hours because they thought it was too hard – what a F*ckin cry baby” If they didn’t like what they were doing then it is their perogative not to continue. They may not learn some important life skills – but who is anyone to judge anyone else for their actions. A Gen X isn’t going to fully comprehend Gen Ys and vice versa – But try and empathise. If something is bothering you, talk to them about it – dont rant about How every one under 30 is a selfish, lazy, hipper-than-thou spoiled brat.
    Some of us understand the fight and are greatful for it.

  16. kira said,

    February 26, 2008 at 8:45 am

    I’m resistant to painting an entire generation with a single broad brush – I think it’s no better than painting any other group (women, blacks, hispanics, gays – you get the picture) with a single broad brush. I’m a pretty early-on Gen-X (35 now), and certainly when I was young Baby Boomers railed about us and how lazy, apathetic, and self-involved we were. Sure, some of us were, but we were also the generation that came out and served in AmeriCorps, we had the highest volunteerism rate of any generation for a long time (now exceeded, I believe, by Gen Y actually, but I’ll get back to that). There was a lot of individual variation, and also you’d see individuals who’d be out slam-dancing at night, then back volunteering in the neighborhood in the next morning. We just didn’t fit into the stereotypes defined by the Baby Boomers, and I suspect the same is true for Gen-Y.

    But, that said, I think there’s something to the parenting theory, as you mentioned and Des seemed to support. I’ve been working with late Gen-Xers and Gen Y-ers for years now, first supervising them in my previous work and now teaching them at my university. One thing that I’ve noticed – as have the other professors and TAs (Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers alike) that I’ve discussed this with – is that today’s students just don’t seem to want to put in the same amount of effort that we did, and don’t want to take responsibility for their efforts. Mind you, I’m at an expensive private university with kids from upper-middle-class and just-plain-rich backgrounds, and I think that has a lot to do with it. But I’ve been absolutely shocked by how many students come to me after doing poorly on an exam, expecting me to give them a better grade, or begging for an extension on a paper because they have another one due that same week (this though they knew about the paper weeks or months ahead of time). Also, several students (or, rather, their parents, usually) each year go over professors’ heads and complain to the dean about their poor grade, who invariably pressures the professor to give the student a higher grade than they earned.

    Now, I realize that I’m sounding like a crotchety old lady here. I know that college students are going to party – I certainly did my share of it when I was an undergrad, and I still go out and have a good time as a grad student. But I and all my friends knew (and know) that we still had to get the work done – if you stayed out until 2 and hadn’t started writing the paper due the next morning, you stayed up all night and wrote the paper, and took the bad grade without complaint if you did poor work. Better yet, you planned ahead and wrote the paper the night or the weekend before. You didn’t go to bed then whine to the professor the next morning that you couldn’t do the paper assigned 3 weeks ago because your friend’s birthday was the night before (and yes, I’ve heard exactly this excuse, several times). Or you didn’t go to bed without studying for the next morning’s exam, then get dad to call the dean and complain when you got a C. You put in the work or you take responsibility for the results of your lack of effort – that lack of responsibility and work ethic is what I’m seeing in many (certainly not all!) Gen-Yers, and I think (as Des alluded to) it’s because they haven’t been pushed by their parents to work to get ahead.

  17. Jae said,

    February 26, 2008 at 9:35 am

    You put in the work or you take responsibility for the results of your lack of effort – that lack of responsibility and work ethic is what I’m seeing in many (certainly not all!) Gen-Yers, and I think (as Des alluded to) it’s because they haven’t been pushed by their parents to work to get ahead.

    I would actually say this may also be happening because, in many cases, their parents pushed too much. In high school it wasn’t good enough to be in the choir or play basketball, you had to be in the choir and play basketball…and volunteer in the library and be on the swim team, and work at the GAP, and work on the school play, and be on the student government, and get straight A’s in all your honors classes, so that you could get into a good college….and collapse. In my own experience, I’ve seen many students fall into just this pattern; they go from the brightest stars to either a burned out pile or neurosis or to a drunken frat boy/party girl stereotype. And mommy and daddy, used to having their little over acheivers, do obnoxious things like call the dean to keep their child’s GPA up.

  18. kira said,

    February 26, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Jae – thanks for pointing that out, I may well have it exactly backwards. I would point out that in my experience people in my generation went through that high achievement pressure as well. I grew up in a middle-/upper-middle-class neighborhood and went to a competitive liberal arts school for undergrad, and myself and most-all of my classmates were hyper-active in high school: dance, soccer, debate, Key club, environmental club, yada yada, all while under intense pressure to pull near-straight-As so we could get scholarships to pay our way through college (at least those of us on the lower middle-class end of the socioeconomic spectrum). But I still didn’t see as much of this behavior, even though I TA’ed several labs in my junior and senior years (this is back in the mid-90s). Who knows – maybe it’s just happenstance, a product of this group of students at this university. Without more data points it’s hard to say!

  19. Kate said,

    February 26, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Rock on! I have found things to be entirely true in your post and I work with Teen Volunteers at the local library. They expect everything to be handed to them, because that’s what happens at home. I was taught you work for what you have.

    They also devoted an entire 60 minute special to this topic a few weeks ago and it was very interesting to watch. I am in shock & awe that parents go on interviews with their kids, amazing!

    Anyway, my children will be raised with the ideal that they need to put in the effort to reap some rewards. Not everything can be handed to you, otherwise you’ll never learn.

  20. sometimesispill said,

    February 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Bravo! If I hear one more thing about how we need to cater to “the Millenials” – a.k.a. Gen Y – I’m going to lose it. While not everyone born between 1980 and 2000 meets the negative stereotype, there’s a reason there are whole seminars, webinars and courses dedicated to managing & motivating the Millenial Generation.

  21. Erica said,

    February 26, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you for this post – As one of my colleagues just said, reading about other people who have the same frustrations is theraputic. I just got back from a meeting with my boss about this very subject. Although I agree with Jae that not everyone falls into this category, the folks that do make it miserable for everyone else – no one should have a sense of entitlement – whether by age, race, salary, pet’s names or anything else…

  22. Jae said,

    February 26, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    As so we could get scholarships to pay our way through college (at least those of us on the lower middle-class end of the socioeconomic spectrum).

    Kira, I think that’s where a lot of the issues we all see with entitlement come in. You worked your ass off because you wanted something, for example the scholarship, and though that doesn’t make the work you did any easier it certainly made you a see the value of your work, and work in general. But I think the same thing applies to many of the less advantaged in my generation as well.

    I can only offer my own anecdata about this, but most of the people I know took out loans to pay for college. Some worked full-time while going to school full-time, but all worked in some capacity. I’ve noticed that most people who come from that background, not only understand why we need to study and show up for work, regardless of how old they are.

    The kids I had in mind come from families where they don’t need to worry so much about scholarships and paying for college (which I believe you said is the demographic where you teach), and they (in my experience) are often encouraged to see these activities as a means to an end: to win a difficult placement in college, but they rarely are given the oppertunity to question why they even want to get into that college. The answer to them is often that it is simply what people with their money and social standing do, and they don’t care to get anything out of the experience other than the piece of paper at the end that says they graduated.

    That doesn’t make them any better to be around or work with (I know I have no love for it), but I think it helps to shed some light on the phenomenon.

    Also, this has nothing to do exactly with Kira’s comment, but just something to consider in general…There is a big difference between young workers/students who are lazy and entitled, and young workers/students who just don’t want to put up with people’s bullshit. I read an article not too long ago about the difficulities of working with Gen-Y and many of the managers quoted lamented the fact that young workers today don’t want to accept their role as coffee gophers and fax-machine jockeys and would *gasp* rather have a balance between mindless work and being part of bigger projects.

    Obviously that doesn’t seem to be what was happening in thoughttracer’s situation, but I did want to bring it up for anyone lurking out there who thinks lazy is the equivalent of not interested in doing ONLY the boring, mindless, crud that no one else wants to.

    (Sorry for the extra long comment, but this issue really gets me going sometimes).

  23. Perplexed by generation gulfs said,

    March 2, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I came across this post after a Google search for information on Gen-X&Y. I wasn’t sure which I was looking for because I was seeking an understanding of the behavior of one 26 year old.

    As an early boomer with more in common with the generation that preceded me than I have with the last boomers who are 20 years younger than me, I disapprove of characterizations by generation. Yet, I was looking for a generational understanding. The young man that I encountered was cold and came across as selfishly passive aggressive. I tried for a week to be very nice and supportive but after being treated pretty badly by the Gen-whatever, I lost my temper.

    And, yes, what I saw in the young man was a sense of entitlement so strong that nothing the workplace needed of him was important without a promise that it would benefit his perceived career path or bank account. In other words, jumping into a team and helping resolve an important breaking issue was not something he was willing to do because it carried no guarantee of reward. He would consider it only if he got credit for “leading” the effort to solve a problem he knew little about.

    This sounded to me like he wanted to contribute nothing to the effort but take all the credit for what others did. He wants a promotion to a high level after just one year of experience and I had heard that he tends to take credit for things others really did I but didn’t buy it until I had this encounter. He told me that he deserves a promotion because he is young and has more promise of future productivity than someone slightly older. People slightly older than him in the workforce had to earn promotions. I am sure they would have loved to have had the opportunity to have been promoted for their “promise” of something.

    So he was assigned to do a job he didn’t want to do. I got reports back that he wouldn’t be a team player, was trying to get others to do his part by pretending to need their help but leaving them to do the job, and one worker claimed that he did something that threatened the success of the effort in order to make a team member look bad. The later team member had not cooperated with his games. I lost my temper, which really made me worse than him.

    So I sought out Gen-X&Y information. Well, I only proved to myself that, even if he seemed to have that trait called “entitlement”, he doesn’t fit into other characteristics assigned to these generations. I’m not surprised. But, it would have been nice to have found such an easy, pat explanation.

  24. Dave said,

    August 20, 2008 at 2:13 am

    I guess I’m an “early Y” at 26. Here’s the issue I see. There is so much anger and resentment of this “sense of entitlement”. Why?

    Because you want to fire them… but can’t take the loss? They DO have leverage. They WON’T get fired. You DO need them. If you don’t, FIRE THEM! Eventually, they’ll learn the limits. If you can’t afford to fire them, you have to realize THEY DO HAVE THE UPPER HAND, whether you like it or not. The only one whining is you.

    They just realize that THEY CAN look pretty to get out of things, THEY CAN call in without getting fired. THEY CAN get away with it because you need the employees more than the employees need the job. They DO have the choice to walk away if they don’t like the job. If the alternative was homelessness, they probably wouldn’t walk away. When they have a back up plan or a safety net, there is no reason to stay. They realize that this is the truth (or you would have fired them already).

    The fact that you didn’t realize you had options when you were younger, isn’t their problem. The younger generations don’t have “entitlement” issues so much as they realize that there is no security. Therefore, if you have nothing to offer them, they don’t see any reason to perform. They will move on to something that suits their own interests. In order to lead this group, you have to show them how what you expect them to do benefits them. They aren’t afraid of sticks, so pull out the carrots… and by the way they see through “employee of the month” awards. That doesn’t do anything for the individual, it may motivate them in the short run, but it won’t keep them going.

  25. Katie said,

    August 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I think this is strange. Most of the people I know who routinely play hookie or pass their work off to other people are my 30-something employees. The girl I share a cube with almost never comes into work. She “works from home,” which is code for, “I play with my cat all day.” Another of my girlfriends at work routinely bitches about how much she hates coming in and feigns sick constantly. The management is the worst. All in their early 30s. All of them are allergic to their desks and spend most of their time running off to Peet’s or the cafe or the gym pretending that they’re “busy” and “in meetings,” but actually, no, they’re just slacking.

    The only people at my work, at least, who are routinely in their desks every morning, even when they’re sick, are those of us who are in our early 20s, who are new to the job, and who know we are under scrutiny and are afraid to leave so much as a minute before 5 for fear someone will come down on us for slacking or skipping out.

    I’ve known exactly ONE person my age who acted like that and he was promptly fired, unlike most of my older coworkers who have been here long enough that either they’re such good friends with the boss or they are the boss that nobody ever calls them out for their bad behavior. But thank you for projecting your problems with your friend’s young housemate (and seriously, if you don’t want to deal with a bitchy housemate, grow up and get your own place already) and a couple of lousy coworkers onto my entire generation. Very mature.

  26. Chathan Vemuri said,

    November 29, 2009 at 6:46 am

    lol at all this eulogizing of the “Greatest Generation”
    This was also a generation that upheld a woman’s place as within the home, stood silent as millions of third-generation Japanese American citizens were locked up in internment camps because their land of origin was at war with their country.
    I don’t deny its strengths and I don’t suggest that all of them thought this way. But many of them did and its downright naive of many Gen X’ers to worship them in this way, being blind to its very real faults and problems.
    One of the plus marks of the Baby Boom generation is their rejection of these entrenched norms.
    Every generation has its ups and downs.

  27. Becka23 said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Those of the Greatest Generation were raising the Gen Xers while the Baby Boomers who had them were out with their free love and pot smoking. Now those Pot Smoking Baby Boomers are the ones ruling our country and continuing to mess everything up for Gen X to clean up in a few years. And all the screwing up they’ve already done is the reason the Gen Y’s are as useless as they are. Hopefully, things aren’t past the point of recovery by the time all of them are too broken down to do more damage.


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