Me! Me! Me!

Heard of the Me Generation? You know, supposedly an entire generation of youth who are so self-absorbed in themselves that they want it all and they expect it right now to be given to them. And the generation that preceded them that is apparently to blame because they told the Me Generation that they could do anything, and be anything, and have everything if they only put their mind to it? What do you think of that?

I hear Teachers on the radio saying they want it all too; good jobs, low-class numbers, summers off, wages that increase without end. I hear Auto Workers saying they should have it all too, with higher wages and plants that run shifts around the clock, high pensions and benefits. Then there are politicians who have the one job where they can vote themselves raises, pensions for life, get appointments to Senate that the average Canadian doesn’t even know about. Oh and there’s our Sports stars who make grossly high amounts of money for playing games. How many games does a North American player actually play in a year? Somewhere between 15 – 20 and can make millions (literally) in the process; even if injured.

Let’s not forget all the singers who teenagers catapult to stardom who make millions too, and not one of them – yes not one of them – can hold a candle to a multitude of bands and musicians from the 60’s who are still performing today 50 years later. They all want it now, the fans, the adulation, the money of course, the big houses, the pools, the sex, the glamour, and then when they get in trouble they “politely respect some privacy as it’s a personal matter”. Yeah right.

So is it any surprise that young people who are job searching don’t really perform all that well across the board in those entry-level jobs that don’t offer them everything right away? Not many take a job and are willing to ‘pay their dues’ as it were. In fact, if the employer doesn’t make it a happy place with new challenges and rewards, stimulating their employees who need a buzz every 35 minutes, those same young workers become so disillusioned.

However, put the reality of a large pool of young people who believe they can do anything and deserve everything together with a large number of employers who are cutting back frills in the workplace, lowering their staffing levels, curtailing wages, rolling back benefits and closing plants together, and you’ve got a recipe for big problems. Think down the road not too far, and we’re going to have a large number of bitter young people, many with debt from schooling, who are underemployed or unemployed, who are going to collectively feel somehow that they are under-performing and under-achieving. While the adults in their lives will be supportive, it will only be to a point. Eventually, that nurturing bubble that is built so carefully around those young people will burst, and there will be a 180 degree shift from “you can be anything you want, what will make you happy”, to “just get a job”.

There’s nothing wrong with a job vs. a career. Jobs give you experience, references, build your self-esteem, provide income, get you connected with the real world, make you feel productive; as do careers.
If you’re working with someone who ‘just wants a job’, please, please, please encourage them. Even if you mean well, don’t turn around and say, “Oh but you can do so much better dear. Wouldn’t you like a nice career? Hmmmm?” The message you send is going to be that the person isn’t living up to your expectations. Who made you God anyhow?

In my opinion I’ll tell you why so many people in their late teens and early twenties are hooked on Facebook for example. As many are unemployed, they are seeking that social interaction that older workers typically get through the workplace. More mature, older workers look forward to talking with colleagues about their weekends, their families, work projects around the home, trips they are planning, events they are going to. If young people aren’t working, where are they going to get their social needs met? Facebook. Once employed and working regularly, see if they don’t experience a decline in their social media activity.

Me! Me! Me! is really not exclusively the mantra of a single generation. Some seniors I know don’t want to pay full price for anything. “Don’t I get a discount? I’m a senior you know!” Then others expect different treatment because they are a member of a group as in, “I should get a discount because I’m a Mastercard or Visa holder you know!”. Or a frequent flyer, or an employee wanting the employee discount, or even just so-and-so’s biggest fan. If everybody moves themselves to the front of the line, all that happens is the line moves from being east-west to north-south etc., we’re all still in line.

Whenever you feel you should be getting ahead, it implies by nature that you are ahead of others. You can either work your way to get ahead, or count on luck, influence, money, bribery, association or fraud. While it might take more time and effort on your part, working your way is the most rewarding and you’ll appreciate it more.

Get going on your earning your way in this world. Take some individual responsibility. Learn how to job search, interview, conduct yourself like a professional, responsible adult. Fit in, work on your people skills, get enthusiastic. Put down all your electronic gadgets and realize that for all your socializing and zillions of friends, eventually you have to actually have person-to-person conversations with real people standing in front of you.

You certainly are a unique person…just like everyone else; and while it’s okay to shoot for the stars, there are no current employers on any of them. Get your sights set on what you can do here on Earth.

One thought on “Me! Me! Me!

  1. I’ve certainly met some younger people with a sense of entitlement, but I’ve probably met just as many older people. Many of the things older people complain about about simply progress – there is always a disruptive technology that changes how things are done, whether it’s the telephone, the automobile, or the internet, along with accompanying cultural shifts in how we interact with others and spend our free time. Today’s young people will no doubt gripe about what their children are doing differently.

    I do think that the economy has fundamentally changed, making it more difficult for younger people to succeed. It’s harder to get a job in an economy that isn’t growing as fast. As public policy, many nations are choosing to continue to pay unsustainable benefits to older generations at the expense of younger generations. I’d be disillusioned, too, if I was just heading into the job market as a new grad.


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