In Defence Of Millennials
A couple of weeks ago, a former manager of mine posted a link on Facebook which was entitled Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace. Initially, I did not watch the video, but as I found it appearing a few times on my feed, I eventually pressed play. Normally, I couldn’t care less about random blokes in videos on the internet and their opinions. However, this lad was getting a lot of shares. Moreover, he’d gotten a share from someone whose opinion I do respect (my ex-manager), so I decided to give it some time. I have to admit, I was not sure what a millennial was so I looked it up.
As I had my 16th birthday in 2000, I suppose that makes me a millennial.
Millennials Are Addicted To Technology
The video is essentially about millennials being addicted to technology. These technology addicts, although bright, are poorly preforming in the workplace, socially inept and not career focused. The video can be split into two main parts. In the first part (the first four minutes or so) Simon outlines what he believes are the problem with millennials and the reasons for these problems. It is this part of the video which I address later in this post.
In the second part of the video, Simon turns from accuser to sympathiser. He suggests that although millennials are all of the aforementioned things, it is not their fault. Technology and a culture of instant gratification are to blame. He suggests that the millennial generation are as addicted to technology as alcoholics that discovered booze in their teens. He concludes by talking about how it is now the responsibility of corporations to socially re-educate millennials.
I accept that people are addicted to technology. However, I do not accept that this is only a generational addiction. Having watched the video a couple of times and thought about the points that Simon made, largely, I agree with what he has said when it comes to addiction. I am not so sure about Simon’s conclusion regarding industry being responsible for socially re-educating millennials. However, I have taken issue with Simon’s initial thoughts on millennials.
The First Four Minutes – Millennials Are Bad
In the first four minutes of the video, Simon builds his addiction case by suggesting that Millennials are “tough to manage, accused of being entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, lazy but entitled is the big one.” When someone calls you these things, you cant hep but get your back up.
I started thinking, about ex colleagues of mine that are roughly my age and thinking “yeah it sort of applies to that lad, but not so much that lad…but then there’s another lad and it definitely applies to him.” Then I though about myself “Am I those things?…….nah, I’m different, I’m not like most millennials. But what makes me different?….ok so i’m not different, but surely I am not all of those negative things….F You Simon!“.
The video rolls on…Simon suggests some causes for this epidemic, “failed parenting strategies, being told that they are special all the time, being told that they can have anything that they want in life, just cause they want it. Some of them got into honours classes not because they deserved it, but because their parents complained and some of them got A’s, not because they earned them but because their teachers didn’t want to deal with their parents”.
I do remember being told that I was special. But it only happened once, and that was when I was 17 and working in a pub, and the auld lad telling me that I was special was probably about to ask for the loan of €20. I never remember being told that I could have anything that I wanted in life, not even with the caveat that I had to work for it. Lastly, I was not in an honours class to start with and nobody kicked up a fuss to get me into one.
It is a lazy assumption that a group of people have certain personality traits because of the decade in which they were born. Yes it is annoying when people take out their phone in social or professional situations, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying if the person is over 40.
I know of, and I am sure that you know of people, across all age groups that are entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused and difficult to manage. Generally, these people are referred to as ‘arseholes’, / ‘assholes’. I know that the cause of these peoples difficult personality traits is not that they were conceived when 80’s fashion and 80’s music was mainstream. I know this because I know arseholes born before the 1980’s. I cannot say what caused these people to be arseholes. Perhaps it was bad parenting, perhaps it was circumstances, perhaps it is in their D.N.A. but I cant be sure. What we can be sure of is, ever since people existed, arseholes existed. And for as long as people exist, arseholes and rude people will exist.
I have friends the same age as me working in many industries and sectors. Some of them do 60+ hours a week, some of them do 39 hours a week. Some of them walk to work and some of them spend four hours a day commuting. Some of them are working in the same field that they studied for and some of them were forced to retrain during the recession. Some of them bring their work home with them and some of them leave it at their desk at 5pm. Some of them have it easier than the others and some have it harder. All of them have smart phones and all of them are ‘millennials’.
The generalisation of my age group or any age group, because of their age really has no place in industry or society.