Generation Gaps

I realize this topic might be somewhat controversial, but my intention isn’t to stir the pot.  It’s more my own observations of things and my take on those observations.  Part of the larger problem of things today is that things often get painted with very broad brush strokes, and to label something as one thing will miss the bigger picture.

I will start by saying that I fall into the Generation X category of things.  I’m 44 (45 in a few months), and I think that I’m solidly in the middle of that generation.  My parents are part of the Baby Boomer generation having been born in 1947.  I suppose my son is technically a Millennial with a birth year of 1999 (I’m getting this information from  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/).  So, my perspective on this is as a bit of an outsider in this generational battle.

This all leads me to state that I believe that Millennials get a bit of an unwarranted bad reputation in the US these days.  The perception put forward is that they are lazy and entitled.  They want everything handed to them. They need safe spaces and protest every last little thing if it is seen as an affront to them.  There have been plenty of examples of these things.  Stereotypes come from factual evidence, so I will not argue the fact that this happens on a somewhat frequent basis.

My personal experiences and observations are quite different from that, though.  The company I work for is well-known for hiring young people, especially those straight out of college.  I’m one of the old farts.  The Millennials that I work with directly and indirectly are some of the smartest and most talented people I’ve ever been around.  Regardless of their job, they are very motivated.  Now, I know that the sample is somewhat skewed towards that, as they aren’t going to be hiring people who don’t have those qualities.

My measuring stick on these sorts of things are helpdesk tickets and other requests for help.  I’m not talking about my computer is broken type things.  Those will happen no matter what.  No, the tickets I’m referring to are those looking for “extras.”  Things like special hardware requests or other odd requests in general.  I see some, and the rationale behind some of them are solid, but in other cases the rationale is flimsy and comes across as entitled.  We try to accommodate the best we can, but we do have to say no in some cases.  it has been my experience that for the most part, they accept no as an answer and life moves on.

The company I came from was made up primarily of Baby Boomers.  It is part of an aging industry, and my former employer seems to be struggling to keep up with the competition.  Change is hard, and it felt like some of these older employees were not very amenable to change.  The department I was in used to provide such things as kleenex, desk calendars, and other various sundries.  As budgets became tighter, we lost those things.  Well, a handful of folks swore that it was the end of the world with the way they carried on about it.  It was really kind of ridiculous.  They felt they were entitled to these little things.  The irony is that they are likely among the same people railing against Millennials and their “entitlement.”

I guess my point in this whole rambling mess of a post is that there are people of all ages that act this way.  I think the teeth gnashing of older generations about younger generations being ungrateful, lazy slobs has been going on since time began.  The main difference between past times and the time we are living in now is that many of these small, isolated incidents get blown out of proportion thanks to social media and the rapid speed with which this sort of stuff goes viral.  Life still goes on and the world still turns.  Everyone just needs to relax, take a deep breath and enjoy what you have.

Anyway, that’s enough of my middle-aged ranting for a cool and sunny Saturday morning here in south central Wisconsin.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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