Friday, June 6, 2008

The "Millenials" are Coming.... speak out!

CBS News republished an updated edition of their assessment of the new generation entering the workforce. It's called "The 'Millenials' are Coming," a sound similar to the alarming cry of Paul Revere.

This is a risk on my part to see who will comment on an article like this. But I'd love to hear from those age 15-28 (and those who work with them) and throw your ideas about this generation into the mix.

In many ways, some of the aspects of this article are welcoming to me. That modernity has treated the workplace like a dehumanizing machine, I like these ideas of putting a human touch back into resourcefulness. The financial bottom-line may not be the only bottom-line necessary to call it 'productivity.'

I understand the concern as well (the delayed moving out on one's own, the demand for easy-going work, the lack of urgency to find work, etc) and the comparison to the Greatest Generation. After WW2, America emerged as a world-power and we've used it to develop technology and consumerism. So the habits of consumerism are all over the Millenials, whether they know it or not. Plus, I think the problem is deeper and involves more than a Mr. Rogers approach (as the article points out).

I work with teens all the time all over the country (and my book is an engagement into their questions, written in ways they understand). They talk to me and my wife, when we are at speaking events, and many write us emails about their daily struggles and questions. We've seen a wide-spectrum of the Millenials in high school and college, but I want to hear your take on it.

Is the "Coming" of the Millenials a good thing, bad thing, something we should be worried about, something we should celebrate? If you are a Millenial, are you frustrated with your peers, find the concern no big deal, think you are ready for the wider world (and why)?

I know the article is a little long. But read what you can and post some comments. You can even make it anonymous, if you don't want anybody to attach you with your opinion! :)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"So who's to blame for the narcissistic praise hounds now taking over the office?"

good question

"Zaslow says that the coddling virus continues to eat away even when junior goes off to college. "I heard from several professors who said, a student will come up after class and say, 'I don't like my grade, and my mom wants to talk to you, here's the phone,'" he says. "And the students think it's like a service. 'I deserve an A because I'm paying for it. What are you giving me a C for?'"

obnoxious

""I think we were told when we were little, 'You can be anything you want.' And then they went on and on and told us this," he replies.

"Big lie, right?" Safer asks.

yup, big lie.

"For all the complaining, Dorsey and Healy believe their generation will transform the office into a much more efficient, flexible and yes, nicer place to be. But until then, a message to bosses everywhere: just don’t forget the praise. "

perhaps, but "millennials" signify the beginning of the end of the United States...their spoon-feed-me approach to life will be no obstacle for rising dictatorships in foreign lands who seek our destruction. they will no nothing of sacrifice or commitment or patriotism. "Everybody wins" is both false and the foundation of socialism.

--Somewhere nearby

Dale Fincher said...

Anonymous, so, for what you see, are you saying the article is accurately describing the millennial generation? Any parts where you think the article is inaccurate? How do you interact with millennials?

And if, culturally, there is to be any 'blame,' who is to blame? Mr. Rogers? Baby Boomer? Or do you think it might even go back to that duty generation that raised the Baby Boomers? Or earlier?

And maybe the millennials are the surest protection we have in this nation.... do you think rising dictatorships want these types of millennials in their workforces either? LOL ;o)

Anonymous said...

I think the article is superficial and not representative of all Mills, and the article entirely misses the reason (aside from those who raised Mills) they are ME centered.

1. pragmatic, instead of intrinsic, values.

2. immanence without transcendence.

3. 1+2 = Sisyphus (a la Camus) as representative of life's sense of meaning.

4. 3 leads to: (hopefully) existential crisis and (unfortunately) pure, unabashed egoism.

One of my classes (anonymity is perhaps fleeting at this point) launched into a mild existential crisis after discussing the myth of Sisyphus... many feel there is no meaning to life, and from that they conclude that its "get all you can" while you're alive.

In their Biology classes they are told the purpose of life is reproduction (only). If this were true, and do hear me on this, I would have committed suicide ten years ago...

education: meaningless
relationships: meaningless
job: meaningless

life: meaningless

Sad.

"And maybe the millennials are the surest protection we have in this nation.... do you think rising dictatorships want these types of millennials in their workforces either?"

Not if they only want our resources... Saruman: "find the one who carries the ring; kill the rest."

--SN

Dale Fincher said...

SN, nice reference to Saruman! I likey!

I want my readers to hopefully chime in on your assessment, and in the meanwhile, I want to add that many think the same of the Baby Boomers (BB).

There is a narcissistic thread running through the BB generation (not all of them, mind you), that the GenXers really spoke out about. And the GenXers have developed a reputation of being more critical than contributory.

And the Mils, while they do hold to a theraputic deism, many want to go make a difference in this world, even selflessly. Many are focussing on social justice, here and abroad, and finding their voices.

I am amazed how many Christian youth complain that they can't go deeper in the church. Instruction for youth and challenges to youth are replaced with happy time. Now, I can't blame the students for their teachers. It comes from a generation prior and an assumption of what kids can and cannot do. Many adult 'leaders' are not equipped to give the kids what the kids are hungry to have. And in my experience in travels, many adults don't want to be challenged in those ways either. I've had parents tell me that it is uncomfortable asking the hard questions because they haven't asked those questions of themselves.

Now there's something in this that needs unpacking.

When I look at my mother's life (she flew to Jesus almost 5 years ago), I see how the generation prior to her also was deficient in certain values that were passed along. I am thankful for the Greatest Generation's determinism through the Depression and the War but many carried very goofy Kantian assumptions about life and a mechanized future. Even their theology did not feel comfortable with nuance and many found emotional intelligence suspect.

Today many find emotions to be higher than reason and nuance more important than stating things to be so--that's another problem. Yet I find no generational examples of appropriate humanness in the 20th century. Only particular examples within each generation.

Much happened in the 19th century in the church and the culture that we're reaping into the 21st century. And that cannot be overlooked either. Our our grandfather's grandfather should be examined too... Maybe he helped make the Mils! :)

Musing...

Amy said...

OK, so being born in 1980 provides an interesting problem for me--am I Gen-X'er or a Mill? Depends on who you ask, I suppose.

But according to this piece I am a Millenial, so I will comment. I am really tired of people describing Gen-X and Millenials as "lazy" and "self-centered". Guess what? There are lazy and self-centered people in EVERY generation.

I worked my butt through high school, college, and graduate school while working at various jobs and being very involved in my church. I had a work ethic even as a small child doing odd jobs (like taking care of the neighbor's dog when the family went on vacation) and proudly got my first job at 14.

Most, if not all, my friends have led the same lives. A few have had a more glamorous upbringing, like the one described in the article; however, that doesn't represent the majority...at least around here.

I work on several projects at the same time while my roomie works a FT and a weekly job as do two of our good friends who fall into the age bracket. I am tired of people acting like we get life handed to us on a silver platter because we don't.

We don't get the dream job with a B.A. or even a M.A. We have to work just as hard, do jobs that are just as menial, and pray to God that we get ahead.

I hear that these things exist but I never see them. With the youth I've worked with or with the college students I talk to now...no one seems to have these issues. Sure, the college freshman get a little whiny about having too much work to do, but they're freshman--they learn.

It always seems like generations are defined by the its most radical members. Like it seems all baby boomers were pot smoking hippie war protestors--not so. Or that everyone who lived through the 70's did LSD and went to disco clubs--also not true.

For every one person that fits into a stereotype, there are ten that don't.

Dale Fincher said...

Amy, great words! That's what I'm looking for. And I totally agree!

Jodi H. said...

I suppose I'm a Generation X'er since I was born in '79, but either way, I don't entirely agree with this article. I think the Gen X and Mill Gen. are very split between the lazy, coddled types and the hard-working types that know that they actually will have to work a lot harder than their parents to get anywhere. Our generation practically must go to college and incure lots of debt at a very young age, so how is it reasonably possible for these kids to move out on their own, buy a house and be independent in their 20's? I think many kids today have resigned themselves to just that: many more years of school, incuring burdening amounts of debt, only to barely scrap by in the years to come. What's exciting about that? I think it is frustrating and disheartening for these kids to see college graduates that cannot afford to buy a house or live independently. What's to work hard for if you can't get what you want or need by working hard? Really. 18 year-olds in the "greatest generation" could walk out of their parents house and get a job for life that provided for both a wife and kids. Can you image that kind of freedom for an 18-year-old now? I personally know many today that would leap at the opportunity to get a good job and be independent and get married and have kids younger.

On the other hand, I do tend to see more of a snotty, careless, me-centered "whatever" type-attitude with more kids in this generation. I'm wondering if these types of behaviors will diminish with maturation and an increase in responsibility... (?) I suppose only if there are serious and tangible consequences to such behavior, like losing a job, etc.

Angela said...

I haven't gotten to the article yet, but I want to respond to SN's biology/meaningless comment.

I believe we are all just biology and that when death comes, that is the end, period. However, believing that is not "sad" and does not necessarily make for a shallow human. In my opinion, cherishing this life and providing for others in it is the only means to preserve one's sanity when faced with such a meaningless existence. To bring happiness to the universe while believing that the expiration of one's biology and therefore everything associated with it (i.e.: the soul) is truly selfless.

Anonymous said...

Angela,

"In my opinion, cherishing this life and providing for others in it is the only means to preserve one's sanity when faced with such a meaningless existence"

So are you saying that life is meaningless, and that the outworking of a biology-only world-view is insanity?

"To bring happiness to the universe while believing that the expiration of one's biology and therefore everything associated with it (i.e.: the soul) is truly selfless."

But if Darwin is correct, we ought to be selfish, not selfless. and we shouldn't aim at producing happiness, but survival, and not for others, but for ourselves and our progeny. Terms like happiness, selfless, and cherishing life don't mean anything from a biological standpoint; to insist otherwise would be inconsistent and wishful thinking...

SN

Dale Fincher said...

Angela,

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate what you have said. Even Millenials who believe we are mere biology still find a way to be hard-working and selfless. So even an atheistic worldview stands up against the findings of this article.

The further conclusion I think you have to wrestle with is how biology actually gives meaning to us. You admit there is biology and you admit there is meaning. The difficult thing is finding the link between the two without saying, "It just is." Nobody has been able to find "it just is" without doing serious damage to meaning and forsaking experience and reason. My book on Living with Questions tries to embolden the reader that their questions are not in vain but carry us to better understand who we are in this world, body and soul. I believe biology only explains one part of this world. Philosophy and theology, human experience, relationships, history, and reason has done a good job showing there is much, much more.

Life is richer than we allow it to be. Fuller. But we must be open-minded that there is more to this world than biological systems to find it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Dale Fincher said...

SN, go easy on Angela... :)

She's still figuring this out. And she hasn't yet learned the connection between the ontology of a thing and it's function. But there is great hope... she has to work this out for herself. A pragmatist (which postmoderns are) is simply happy to know that taking care of others brings a sense of well-being. They care less that it makes no sense with biology.

We need to point out that well-being is only the start. There may actually be goodness in taking care of others. Well-being may be connected to a larger world...

Dale Fincher said...

What I hear from you Amy and Jodi is similar as it pertains to the job market. I have no idea who can demand their jobs today, unless they are extremely specialized in their fields (which Millenials are not, yet).

And making money in the old days was much easier than today. We could write counter-articles about the selfishness of empire building of the last century to even the score (LOL). With the pinched middle-class, this story will continue until the middle-class becomes extinct.

My grandfather was very successful at his business, but the laws of changed so much today that he would be hard pressed to be successful. And that goes for us all. Regulations, red-tape, endless accounting for the IRS, growing taxes (federal and state and estate and FICA and unemployment and and insurance and sales and property and ...), it is a constant discouragement for entrepreneurs who have vision but don't have accounting skills. Large loans are needed to start small businesses or a streak of luck in the stock market or discover oil on your property.

Then there's the outsourcing that replaces many menial jobs today. And as those outsourced countries grow more developed, we have to either find more cheap labor somewhere or watch the economy implode (I think 1/3 of the American economy is dependent on consumer spending, I last read in WSJ, which means retail goods HAVE to remain less expensive).

Then there are college loans and expensive housing where the jobs are located and higher gas prices... while we need to remain aware of the goodness of God in the land of the living, we don't want to paint a pretty, sunshiny picture of difficult road in this 'land of opportunity.'

All that rambling to say, I agree with you. It's a tough world to work in these days. I grow weary of some of the new mantras in the culture that Americans are 'richer' than the rest of the world and so need to donate more money to the rest of the world. (many Christian leaders, so-called, are picking this trend up too, publishing it as if it was a new idea... giving is talked about in churches than saving and investing, which is a very popular topic in scripture). I don't buy the trend.

Americans make more but Americans spend more too. A jug of milk is $6 at my local grocer. I'd rather have a cow to milk, but that requires more expensive property to buy, to pay to maintain, and pay taxes on. That makes milk even more expensive. I'm weary of the bloated numbers and all the talk about Americans being rich.

Okay, I'll shut off the world-valve for now...needless to say, let the Millenials who have it EASY stand up for themselves! Where are they? :)

Zed PR said...

The picture you show is of my PR team, taken to illustrate a press release offering some advice, as a little fun, on keeping your dignity intact at the office Christmas bash.

We are a well motivated, enthusiastic bunch. The average age of the people in the image is well over 40.

Having the chance to let off steam with some fun bits is a good balance to the fact that they slog hard the rest of the time.

We're in PR. There are probably more of the idle, self centred, me focussed people in our industry than in any other.

But there have to be. Our job is a mix of diplomacy, journalism, telesales, crisis management and yes, sometimes, brinkmanship. You need a thick skin and relentlessly positive attitude to survive.

In our organisation, we have an additional pressure: doing all of the above ethically.

I am lucky to be working with an incredibly bright, energetic team and I'm not sure that using their picture to illustrate an article about a group of people whose description I certainly don't recognise is fair to the readers.

Although if having fun while your working is a sin, we're guilty as charged!

Claire Thompson, MD
ZED PR
www.zedpr.co.uk

Dale Fincher said...

Claire,

Thanks for your comment. I chose the picture just to illustrate people having fun in the workplace. I grabbed the URL off a google image search (I didn't copy/save the image, but just linked it to your site). And it isn't meant to be negative in any way, just like the rest of the pictures in the post. In fact, most of my readers, including myself, think the article I published is plugged into reality.

Glad to hear you guys have a good time in the office. I think it's the more human way. And your words give us all some more insights too!

Thanks for stopping by. If you'd like me to remove the photo and replace it with another generic photo of people having fun in the office, I can.

That everyone on the picture is over 40 attests to the fact that more than just Millenials can enjoy life and, apparently, it keeps us looking younger! :)

~dale

Zed PR said...

Thank you for posting my response.

The picture was provided by us for use in the media, so no objection to it being used - and flattered that you chose it.

The joy of having a media in a democracy is that it may choose to interpret as it sees fit.

Debate is a good thing. Without it, we, and our clients, many of whom challenge the status quo, probably wouldn't exist.

Keep it going!

Jake said...

I stumbled on this post while doing some research and I realize I'm a little late to the party, but figured I'd give my two cents as a Millennial (22 years old, fresh out of college) and hope it went through anyways.

That article was infuriating. The kids they spoke with were infuriating. The conclusions drawn by the author about us were infuriating.

I don't know who those kids are who don't mow lawns because "mowing lawns does not get you into Harvard," but growing up I had to mow lawns AND get a job. Every one of my friends had a summer job, most worked during the school year as well.

Sure those kids exist, but they're the kids who can afford not to have a summer job because their parents pay for their summer expenses. It's a class thing.

What I think Baby Boomers forget about our alleged narcissism is that they created it!! We grew up being hovered over, coddled, and worried about by our parents and now that we're out of the house, our parents are worrying that they didn't do an adequate job preparing us for the "real world."

I don't mean to be so angry here. But I don't think that the rise of a generation raised on the internet is the demise of the Republic and our economy. Maybe we haven't been criticized enough growing up, but we can learn, everybody does.

From a Millennial to Baby Boomers: Please, please, please stop worrying about us. We'll figure things out. We always do.

Dale Fincher said...

Jake, I think you are justified to feel so misrepresented.

I do think our parents' generation need to look to the cultural revolution of the 60s to better understand how we got here. It's not like Millenials created their generation out of thin air! LOL

Thanks for letting your voice be heard.