I’m not sure if I should be annoyed or pleased by the TIME magazine article about my generation. I just finished reading it and haven’t given it time to fully sink in through my brain goo just yet. I know that I am miffed. I know that I believe it is written by a bunk-ass prick that can’t be trusted because he didn’t cite a single source for any of his dozen claims to have “data” supporting his theories about us. I know that I should probably have some pride in who I am, and kick him in the ass, but… I’m just not sure he’s all that wrong. Sure, my generation seems self-centered. We do have this crazy idea that we deserve what we’re worth. Unlike the generations that come before us, we’re not willing to eat shit just because everyone always has. We know what we’re worth, and we want it. Something that drives me insane is the pervasive belief that people my age are self-entitled simply because we want something. My dad gives me crap about it all the time, although, it is genuinely hard to tell if he’s screwing with me or if he’s just old. To that generation, we haven’t earned the right to think of ourselves as their equals simply because we’re not the same age. The idea that someone is better than you solely because they are older is something that I, and most of my generational peers, have decided is complete and utter bullshit. We don’t respect you because you’re older than us. We respect the people that are genuinely better than us. When I was still working in an office, I worked with a man that was my father’s age (A Baby Boomer) and a man that was roughly 15 years older than I am (Gen X). Both of them acted as though I was a “punk kid” with no knowledge or understanding of the business or the world around me. I’m not going to claim that I was as good as either of them at my actual job. I don’t feel like that would be a true statement. As far as being an order-taking cube monkey went, I was pretty sub par. What I will claim, though, is that I was better than them in a lot of ways at the auxiliary functions of my job. I listened to them and respected their opinions on the the aspects that they were genuinely more knowledgeable than I was, and I expected to have that reciprocated. It never was. So, did that create a sense of entitlement in me? Yes, it did.
I think the problem that exists in this world is our understanding of entitlement. We tend to through that word around far too often. We assume that anyone that feels like they deserve something probably hasn’t earned it. We assume that everyone just wants to want. I think that idea exists because of the consumer culture that America created in the 70s and 80s. I don’t feel like that same culture exists in people of my generation. I believe my generation wants what they’ve earned. We work and want recognition for that work. The real problem is, the moment you say, “I deserve recognition,” you are passing into the realm of entitlement. No one can ever demand anything without crossing that line. So, I suppose I am entitled. I want every person’s achievements to be seen for what they are.
There are, of course, broad social issues that seem to perpetuate the stereotype of selfishness. I don’t believe that this is actually created from a drive for what we want for ourselves as much as what other generations see it as. The best example I can think of is Universal Healthcare. Most of the people in my generation believe in universal health. We believe that everyone should have the right to affordable medical treatment. Perhaps that is a moment of our entitlement, but I don’t personally believe that it comes from a desire to have something given to us. I, myself, believe that there is ample proof that UHC is the most economical way of handling medicine. Medicaid and Medicare are extremely expensive programs that bog down our government and economy with underpaid medical bills and extremely costly administrative nightmares. I believe there is ample evidence that UHC is a less expensive alternative that simultaneously creates a medical equality in a nation’s citizens. If there is one thing I do feel unapologetically entitled to, it’s equality. The members of my generation believe in giving everyone a fair deal. If that is entitlement, then guilty as charged.
There is a downside to all of this. There are aspects of my generation that I can neither explain or defend. The endless obsession with reality television and “selfies” are among them. Nor, can I defend our apparent lack of ability to organize and define what we stand for. If you ask me one day what the most important problem I face is, it will be different the next day. We have a idolic sense of society, civilization, and reality. That is a problem. We know how the world should work. We know that the world doesn’t work that way. We haven’t yet accepted that we can’t just make the world the way we want it by positive thinking alone. We’re still pretty lost in the 60s…. or maybe the distant future utopia of Star Fleet. We’re ready to accept the world we’re moving into. We’re ready to embrace a postconsumer economy, a world of universal equality, robot brains, etc, but we’re not ready to accept that we don’t live in that world yet I urge the members of my generation to accept that we have worked for what we have, but we don`t have everything we want yet. NO ONE IS GOING TO GIVE THOSE THINGS TO US. And they shouldn’t. So, Fellow Mellinials, it is time for us to maybe embrace that our parents, grandparents, and even our Gen X older siblings, have some things they can teach us. The world we live in, The Global Society of the Information Age, is ours, but it is built on the foundation they gave us. We might be the architects of destiny, but they’re the ones that put in the grunt work. Show them a bit of respect, bite back the sarcastic quips, and learn what you can from them while you can. Pretty soon, it will be our time. OUR TIME, down here. It’s still their time, THEIR TIME, up there. So, be cool to the old dudes. They’re still trying to figure out how to live in the world that we were raised in. Think Tarzan. We can show them a whole new world, but they know our roots.