I’ve heard it all when it comes to my generation, people born in the years 1985-1995, otherwise known as the Millenials, Generation Y, and my personal favorite, Generation Me. We’re spoiled. We’re lazy. We’re selfish. We’re entitled. We’re responsible for the way our society is “the way it is.” We skip class to watch the Bachelor and we drink too much Moscato and we can only pay attention to things for 5 minutes at a time. Whether it’s having “premarital relations,” texting during meals, or just all but throwing the concept of chivalry out the window, there are plenty of cited examples of the decay of society as we know it, and it’s all our fault.
Look, I get that we have some annoying tendencies. Every generation has their way of making life a little more miserable for everyone else. But perhaps the most annoying tendency of our generation is that we’re turning on ourselves. WE’RE the ones saying how much our generation sucks, not just our parents and grandparents. Everybody knows that, as far back as human society has been a thing, older generations have loved to harp about “those damn kids on my lawn.” Adults complaining about kids is just an innate part of human society. But the kids aren’t supposed to complain about the kids!
That’s why when I see articles like the TSM column, “Why Our Entire Generation Needs an Entire Ass-Kicking, Pronto” it honestly kind of pisses me off. I saw this article shared by entirely too many of my Facebook friends, and it’s sad, because people seem to genuinely believe that our generation is nothing but a bunch of lazy wise-asses. People forget that there are actually a lot of really great things unique to our generation.
One big complaint about Gen Y seems to revolve around our work ethic–or, more accurately, our lack of one. The aforementioned TSM article says that, “most young Americans think they can ride the coattails of previous, hardworking generations,” and that we need a wakeup call because, “most young people in America are selfish, lazy, and think Jimmy Johns should deliver sandwiches straight into our mouths.” Um. Okay. First of all, who the hell is this girl hanging out with, because I know a lot of college students, and yes I know a few lazy ones, but on the whole, I go to school with some damn hard-working students. Just among my friends and people that I know personally that are MY AGE, I know people that complete triathlons, are presidents of student organizations, actively seek out internships (and no, not just because their dad knows somebody), go on backpacking trips all over the world, work in research labs, and basically run a lot of shit in a lot of different places. I even know people my own age that have started their own freaking businesses! I know people that leave their rooms at 7 am and don’t get back til 10 or 11, every single day. Basically, I know a whole lot of people who aren’t trying to ride the coattails of previous, hardworking, generations. They want to make their own name for themselves.
The TSM author also touches on media and technology and how that’s made us lazier–a common theme that we’ve heard time and time again. The fact is, yes, we waste too much time on Facebook and Pinterest and what have you. But do you REALLY think that our generations prior were working absolutely nonstop, 24 hours a day, with no breaks or rest? Leisure time is a natural human want. Our ancestors weren’t on Facebook in class, but they probably wasted plenty of time doodling or writing notes. They weren’t playing videogames after school, but they were throwing a rubber ball around. Granted, their leisure time was much more active, and of course that’s an issue today, but in terms of WORK ETHIC, I think that our generations will come out a lot more even than this girl seems to think.
I will agree, however, that media and technology have definitely increased PERCEIVED laziness. You see posts about people being lazy all the time on Facebook or Twitter or wherever. Hell, I do it all the time! I’ve posted statuses about taking 8-hour naps, ordering Chinese delivery from a place that’s 0.1 miles away, not having done laundry for 3 weeks, finding a 2-week-old Subway sandwich underneath my bed, and they’re all true. It would be easy to just look at those posts and assume that I’m just lazy, disorganized, disheveled, or what have you. And yeah, I kind of am. But I get stuff done, too. The difference is that I don’t post about the productive stuff–working at a research lab, being secretary, going to board meetings, doing homework, etc.–because who the fuck wants to read about that? I like posting about being lazy and seeing other people post about being lazy because it’s funny, but at the end of the day, there’s a whole lot of shit that I actually do. And I’m DEFINITELY not unique in that sense. So yes, social media has definitely increased the PERCEIVED laziness of our generation, but you can’t say that it’s increased the actual laziness.
Also, I particularly like the line in this article, “My grandmother raised THREE children and worked THREE jobs.” Great! Good for your grandmother. That must have been really difficult and it’s amazing that she was able to do that. But why is that specific to her generation? There are Gen Y people doing that, too! There are people in EVERY generation doing that! Does this author think that basic human struggle doesn’t apply to Gen Y? Does this author think that Gen Y people think that human struggle doesn’t apply to Gen Y? Because we don’t. We’re pretty aware that there’s a lot of sucky stuff going on in the world (thanks to technology, actually, so there’s that). Yeah, some of us are absolutely oblivious dumb shits, but there are oblivious dumb shits in EVERY generation.
And finally, although the TSM article didn’t mention this (obviously), Gen Y is probably the most tolerant and open generation that there’s ever been. No, we’re not perfect, but we’re far less racist, sexist, homophobic, singlist, ageist, and whatever-ist than our ancestors prior. I should of course clarify that there are always going to be exceptions–the majority of the adults I’ve met have not been racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. (at least openly, anyways), and there are plenty of people in our generation who are just huge douchebags. I’m not going to sit here in La La Land and tell you that our generation is perfect and that there’s no racism or sexism or homophobia anymore, because we all know that would be a load of bullshit. But on the WHOLE, we’re making great progress.
So, in short, think twice before calling Gen Y a bunch of lazy wise-asses. And BlingleWhiteFemale, get some new friends.
Feature image via The Social Network