Are Millenials self-absorbed punks, or are we just jealous? If I had a dollar for every story I read about today’s coddled, entitled youth…I’d probably have enough money for a real blog design. In other words, the topic comes up a lot, usually from geezers like me. Just check out this lengthy article from the New York Times (plaintively titled, “What Is It About 20-Somethings?”) that asks whether “Emerging Adulthood” is a valid stage of life, or simply another case of secondary affluenza.
I must admit that I’ve been tempted to whip out the punk label from time to time, but I’m starting to feel like it’s largely a matter of jealousy.
I recently heard from a young fellow I know who apologized for taking a while to respond to one of my messages. “Sorry,” he said, “I’ve been doing a lot of promotion for a blog post, and my boss was in a bad mood.”
On the one hand, I sympathize with the boss, who is probably a geezer like me who remembers when young people who worked focused on their work, rather than on growing their list of Twitter followers. But on the other hand, if I had the same opportunities, would I behave differently?
When I was 21, my main concern after work was getting a date. Only professional journalists wrote articles, and it was a busy week if I spoke with more than five out of town friends.
Now, my 21-year-old friends have thousands of Twitter followers, hundreds of friends around the world, and have been building a personal brand since they were 12. Should I be surprised that they act differently?
One geezer’s self-absorbtion is another Millenial’s rational self-interest. Just as we no longer expect to marry at 15 and work in the fields until we die, who is to say that the expectations of youth are wrong or even undesirable?
Heck, I know that they are desirable, because I tell people all the time, “I envy today’s youth.” (More specifically, I envy Ben Casnocha, but then again, who doesn’t?)
Sports may be the aspect of our society that is most obsessed with and protective of the past–just look at the interminable hand-wringing debates over steroids and baseball’s home run records–yet even there, the envy comes out. As Charles Barkley put it, after hearing that Dirk Nowitzki was going to opt out of a $21 million annual salary to get an even bigger contract, “Mama, why did you have to get pregnant so young!”
Ultimately, “Because I didn’t get to do it!” is an unconvincing argument for why today’s youth should forgo opportunities we didn’t have.
That being said guys, stop living with your parents. It’s seriously creepy to bring dates home when Mom and Dad are sitting on the couch.