Kids These Days
I’m coming up on a milestone birthday here. In a few short months, I turn 30. And while I still feel 16 years old most of the time (I hear that never changes), a funny thing has happened as I creep closer and closer to that new decade: I’m starting to grow frustrated by the generations following mine.
See, there’s a new generation coming into the workforce—Generation Z—and trust me, as a millennial, I can say this with full confidence: They’re the worst. Entitled, lazy, don’t understand the value of hard work, addicted to technology.
I’ve even found myself sincerely uttering the phrase, “Kids these days … ”
And again, it bears repeating, I’m a millennial—formerly the worst!
The last phrase is key. Because don’t those adjectives I used to describe Generation Z sound strikingly familiar? They’re almost verbatim what has been used to describe millennials—and almost every generation before that one.
Don’t believe me? Well, I did a little research.
In 1907, The Atlantic published an article on the death of marriage that squarely put the blame on “the latter-day cult of individualism; the worship of the brazen calf of the Self” (heavy much?).
In 1976, New York magazine proclaimed the 1970s as “The Me Decade,” populated by a generation of young people seeking awakening and freedom from the shackles of corporate America.
And don’t even get me started on Gen Xers! According to a July 1990 cover of TIME, titled “Proceeding with Caution,” they were a bunch of narcissistic screwups who couldn’t make a decision to save their lives.
I could go on, but I assume you see the pattern by now. Turns out, every single generation has been declared the “me” generation. While there are surely differences among those different generations—it’s why my dad (a Baby Boomer) fairly recently asked me how to copy and paste in a Word doc, and why our vice president of content, Bryce Evans, frequently doesn’t understand my abbreviations and acronyms (he’s what we call an old millennial (JK, Bryce!))—the differences might not be that vast and we don’t need to treat every new generation like a foreign species.
Yes, young people can be frustrating. There’s a very good reason for that—it’s because they’re young and often lack experience. But they’re also often creative, idealistic and passionate. They might even help your business evolve and continue to grow. At least, that’s what’s posited in FenderBender’s main feature this month, “Managing Millennials.".
As millennials overtake the workforce, it’s time to put aside those stereotypes and instead focus on both how to appeal to that generation, as well as how to work together to build a modern workplace that is sustainable for the future.