More on Millennials


I know, I know, why keep beating up on these kids? Because it must be done and as much as I’d like to walk away, I”m pulled back constantly. Ok, first I should mention that part two of the article I first referred to has come out this week. What’s fun is this article shares some of these kids’ point of view. How precious.
“We can come off as flighty, but that’s really our quick attention span… We need to multitask to stay constantly engaged.”

Notice how she not only defends a negative behavior but then potentially blames the employer for it. Flighty due to a quick attention span. Alright, I can certainly see that. That’s a weak defense for being flighty since I consider a quick attention span as a negative behavior that could and must be corrected before I’d hire you, but then there’s “We need to multitask to stay constantly engaged”. For starters, we’re clearly using different definitions for “multitask”. When I use it, I’m talking about doing more than one thing at a time. Now that’s what they’d no doubt say as well but with my definition there’s something implied that I feel is missing in theirs, and that’s that each thing done is done well (and not done “good” you butchers of English). This actually is a major crux of the disconnect with these punks.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT DOING SOMETHING, IT’S ABOUT DOING IT WELL!
But aside from this disconnect, there’s the assignment of blame, the all to frequent treat one gets when dealing with Millennials, the aversion to accountability. Notice this girl says she NEEDS to stay constantly engaged, so she’s saying that it’s the employers’ fault that they’re flighty because they’re not being properly stimulated. Hey listen up cupcake, you know what’s stimulating and might keep you engaged? FUCKING DOING GOOD WORK! Backing up my claims is this comment, “Millennials are masters of ‘continuous partial attention’”. Yeah, no shit.

Now there were some great comments to my previous post on Millennials. The Sacred Slut provided a link to this report on self-esteem myths. I love this:
Individuals who have an unjustifiably high opinion of themselves can, in many cases, pose a far greater threat to those around them than people whose sense of self-worth is unusually low.
and am frightened by this:
Young people with very high self-esteem are more likely than others to hold racist attitudes, reject social pressures from adults and peers and engage in physically risky pursuits

Can anyone say “driving and text messaging”? As if it hasn’t been shown that most Americans are too stupid to talk and drive, these kids text message and drive. I see it, and I hardly go out. I can only imagine if I was driving to and from an office everyday. Of course the report mentions reckless driving and drunk driving, but text messaging is a biggie. Of course it’s a UK report and perhaps the Brits aren’t as stupid or bloated with self esteem as our Millennials. I just have to cite two more things from this report before moving on:
Widespread belief in ‘raising self-esteem’ as an all-purpose cure for social problems has created a huge market for self-help manuals and educational programmes that is threatening to become the psychotherapeutic equivalent of snake oil. In America, the State of California even went so far as to invest significant public funds in trying to raise the self-esteem of its citizens.”
and
“Perhaps we should be more willing to accept that very high self-esteem is as much a problem in need of treatment as exceptionally low self-esteem and be more open-minded about the benefits of moderation.”

Let me return again to the Millennial from the Dallas article:
“We’ve been conditioned not to fail, and it tends to happen infrequently. So when it does, we don’t always know how to deal with it the first time.”

I also said I’m pulled back constantly to this topic, and today I received an email linking me to Killian & Company Advertising, specifically a page of some of the best excerpts from some of the cover letters they get. Now by best I don’t mean best qualified, but rather best examples of idiocy. There are way too many choice clips there to pick just one to include here, but I would like to quote what the agency says at the end of the page:
True story – many college teachers have told us variations of this story: they red-pencil and downgrade students for glaring errors in grammar, usage, spelling. Students go to the Dean to complain. Dean reprimands the teacher for being hard on tuition-paying future donors. Teacher (not tenured) shuts up, fumes, then collects samples to send to us.

Eerily moments before receiving this email I wrote a response to Sacred Slut about how colleges and universities have played a part in this Millennial nonsense. Here’s what I wrote:
The competition of course has gotten steep to get admitted these days, and one of the things that’s become a way to stand out is being involved in a ridiculous amount of activities. What does this mean? Well it shouldn’t take much thought to realize that a kid involved in 10 activities can’t possibly be anywhere near as good at or knowledgeable of any one of them as say the kid who is involved in only one or two, yet who gets admitted? The jack of all trades kid. Once again, what’s esteemed is not ability or mastery but merely participation and time spent.

But there is that issue the Millennial mentioned, the inability to handle failure. She incorrectly stated that they’re “conditioned not to fail”. It’s more like padded and protected from any possibility of failing. The part about not being able to handle failure is correct. As seen in the ad agency’s comment, they overreact in school and instead of being reprimanded they’re coddled and as a result, the standards go down because teachers are either unwilling to deal with the tirade or will simply get thrown under the bus by their school heads. To this I bring you to another example, one you might have seen on Friendly Atheist, where he links to this post by an Assistant Professor of English bemoaning the headaches of how his students, when given an essay assignment on something like Romanticism, turn in christian testimonials. Now what troubles me the most is his reaction to it. I quite bluntly asked whether these punks get big red “F”s or not and his response was that instead he justifies their grade on things like their lack of quote evidence for their claims (in this case their christian testimonials). Why? Because to fail them for simply disregarding the assignment and turning in christian testimonials would no doubt cause a stink and instead, citing lack of evidence is considered “a little less touchy”. Fucking outrageous! The man admits:
I can’t help but roll my eyes when Blake and his visionary cosmology, or Wordsworth and his “semi-atheism,” or heaven forfend, the outspoken atheist Shelley, are revealed to be Christians along the line Joel Osteen and Jerry Falwell
but is going to instead focus on lack of quoted evidence? Fuck me! That shouldn’t be the meat of the argument but rather the support, the condiments if you will, for the real meat which is completely disregarding the assignment as well as clearly not grasping the content of the class.

So let’s sum up what we have here:
1. A generation incapable of claiming responsibility or accountability
2. A generation that has a quick attention span and lacks focus
3. A generation that feels doing several things badly simultaneously trumps doing any one thing well
4. Colleges are partly to blame for encouraging #3
5. A generation so molly coddled that they can’t face failure without a meltdown or tantrum
6. Schools flat out won’t or are reluctant to fail the kids in part because they don’t want to deal with the tantrums of the kids
7. #6 gets cranked up a notch when religion gets thrown into the mix, in which case the religious either get an all out pass or you have to jump through hoops to justify failing which in no way refers to their religion or else you’ll get an tantrum that overshadows #5

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20 Responses to “More on Millennials”

  1. Great post. The whole millennial generation needs Ritalin. They’re not “multi-tasking;” they’re just incapable of focusing. That inability may be traceable back to their Sesame Street years, which could be another rant for you (or me).

    When I was in college, I always seemed to be doing six or seven things at once. That was back in the days before the word “multi-tasking” was used. But the phenomenon is as old as history.

    There was one big way that my generation was different from today’s, though: Even when we multi-tasked, we always knew which one of the things we were doing took top priority. We had a sense of proportion.

  2. Mrs. Chief is going through this with her kids. They come back each week for lessons showing little or no improvement. Either they practice something once or they don’t practice at all. This past week she started asking them, “do you remember what we went over last week?” Over half said, “no”.

    Another fight she’s getting into with a parent is the parent thinks their kid isn’t getting instruction in a few different things. Mrs. Chief covers those things but it’s all part of the teaching. In other words, she doesn’t ring a bell and say, “now I’m teaching you theory” or “now I’m teaching you fingering”. According to the parent, and the feedback in general she gets, this is what she’ll have to start doing. Plus, she’s starting to think that the last 5-10 minutes of each lesson will now consist of a rundown of what was just taught along with VERY SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS for what to do until the next lesson and exactly how to do it.

    So what’s wrong with Sesame Street? I’m a product of that, although I liked The Electric Company more (a little edgier).

    Like I said in the post, you and I have that implied idea in our multitasking definitions that they don’t, the idea of doing each thing well. You’re right though, I neglected to also include the concept of prioritizing. “Sense of proportion” is an interesting way to phrase it.

  3. The following idea about Sesame Street is not original with me; it’s been floating around for a long time. You’ve probably even heard it in one form or another.

    The problem, in brief, is that everything on SS is presented slam bang. Some segments tie together; some don’t. Kids are not encouraged to take their time to digest anything or to use their imaginations. They’re led to make certain connections but not given the mental space to make others.

  4. Oh, #5 and #6 really piss me off. When more than half the class gets an ‘A’ for an assignment, the grading system (C for average, etc.) becomes meaningless. And just yesterday, I had people bitching at me about getting a ‘B’ on a unit test, because it’s going to ruin their 4.3 GPA or whatever.

    #3 is really idiotic, though. “Oh, I don’t have time to sleep because I’m doing 100 things today,” to which teachers usually reply, “I understand,” instead of what I would prefer: “Well, maybe you should consider reducing the number of activities you do and focusing on academics. I’m not going to give you a free pass because you have poor time management skills.”

    Grr.

  5. I have a friend who teaches at a university. The guy is from Holland, so he often asks me things about American culture that he’s not clear on. One of the things, after hearing so many students complain about not having time for anything, was whether we learn in school here about how to organize yourself, manage your time, prioritize, etc. When I said no, he was quite shocked then suddenly realized why his students complain so much so he took it upon himself to have a go at trying to teach these concepts.

    As he started laying out some basics, he tried to apply it to one student to make the concepts tangible, so he asked, “what time did you get up today?” The student said “11″. Well that immediately prompted him to ask, “what time did you get to bed?”. The student then said, “around 3″. Well my friend felt he had to ask what kept him up so late, thinking he must have some tremendous workload, or maybe a job to help pay for school. The answer? Video games. The rationale? The student felt that he was entitled to that pleasure since he works so hard. This of course lead to yet another explanation I had to make of current American culture, the feeling of entitlement to pleasure. Btw, this is why everyone is in debt, the root of the sub prime mortgage fiasco, and a subject no doubt for a future rant.

  6. I have 2 of these millenials in my house.. One eighteen who I tell daily to get the hell out! He wanted his freedom now LEAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes I say exactly that.. ‘if you don’t like it LEAVE!’

  7. I, too, have two millennials in my house. Both are atheists. Both are busy with school and extra-curricular activities (son with volunteer work, daughter with band, chorus, drama). Both respond effectively (not positively) to criticism. I do, however, see the short attention span and utter blamelessness in my kids friends (my kids see it too). I also see the same traits in our current administration: no matter what happens, its not their fault, its Clinton’s fault, it never happened, its a state secret. Damn. Bush has a 20-year-old’s brain stuffed in between those ears. And Cheney (and the press) is the authority figure who lets him get away with it. Again and again.

  8. Not that I condone this, but I friend of mine from high school was basically thrown out when he was 18 and made quite a nice life for himself. I greatly respect him for that. The reason why he was thrown out is because his family is crazy irish catholic, meaning not only was his mom a baby factory (12 kids I think) but she took in foster kids as well. There simply was no more room in the house so at 18, you’re cut loose, probably with the hope that you’ll find a nice catholic girl and repeat the cycle. Another reason I respect him – he’s not repeating the cycle. ;)

    As for Bush, I think a 20 year old brain is generous. I’d say more like 7 maybe. Cheney and Rove on the other hand are aware of how society is, the current state of the media and how the Democrats have no balls and exploit that to get away with what, in many cases, I’d call treason.

  9. Competely off topic: due to reasons beyond my control, The (Parenthetical) Atheist has now become (((Billy))) The Atheist (http://iambilly.wordpress.com/).

  10. I’m a Millennial but I don’t find myself falling into these categories at all. Thankfully. But I was always told that I was an “old soul” even at a young age so perhaps I was just born too late. I did well in school until my later years of college when I slacked due to complete lack of interest in some of the classes required for my major and dealt with the consequences.

    I currently multi-task (who doesn’t) and do each thing well, in my opinion. The only thing I want to do but can’t seem to get myself into is exercise.. but I’m sure I’m not the only one. :)

    But, I agree with the majority of the observations about my generation.

  11. PhillyChief – your article says it all! Thanks for checking out mine over at the Information Paradox.

    I find myself having little tolerance for this generation. I swear the next time I hear the phrase ‘it’s not fair’ my head is going to burst into flames. Enough already!

    Guess what kids – life’s not fair. It’s hard and you have to actually work at it. However, these twatwaffles get out of college and are utterly perplexed why they aren’t making 80K while surfing the web. So they go to HR and complain. And then I end up with half their work on top of my own because I actually know how to budget my time. (Rant over, sorry)

    The fact that these kids are unable to handle the consequences of their actions is terrifying to me. That would be akin to shooting someone between the eyes and then saying ‘they got in my way’.

  12. I’m self-employed. I honestly have no idea how I could deal with these kids in a work environment. If I ever get big enough to have permanent employees, I think I’ll be fucked. Judging by what I find online and the little shits who write me looking for jobs and internships, I’d be locked up for assault or homicide.

    I like your blog. I have to learn how to have buttons at the top like your blog. When it comes to web design, I got the design thing down. That whole coding thing? Blech!

  13. I must admit to being frustrated by this whole concept of Millenials. I’m in the generation, but I don’t think I fit the stereotype very well at all. I understand the desire to rant and rave against my peers who ARE this way, but beg of employers to consider potential employees as individuals (…and, yes, I know that sounds exactly like something a real Millenial would say!). I’m a very hard-working kid and just want a steady job where I can excel. My talents lie towards research and politics. I’m well-educated (and earned those marks and degrees), but I fear the reason I’m not hearing back about my job applications is simply my age. It stings, being lumped in like that. I was the weird outsider kid in school and didn’t fit in with these stereotypical Millenials then. It pains me to be grouped with them now.

  14. There’s always been the catch-22 of needing experience before anyone will hire you. That’s probably gotten worse because of your peeps, kiddo. Tough break. It means you have to pay your dues and get some crappy jobs, internships and such under your belt first. I’d say #1 mistake your group makes is thinking that you’ll immediately make some fantasy figure income fresh out of college. I actually saw this 10 years ago when I was still a tad green, dealing with interns who assumed I must have been making at least twice what I actually was. When I heard them say what they were planning on getting when they graduated I almost pissed myself laughing. I don’t know where you all get that shit. I graduated college in ’92 and no one I knew had any crazy ideas like that. It’s like your generation is completely out of touch with reality, and I am FIRMLY a member of the reality based community so I have no patience for that shit.

    I also think the very idea of paying your dues is somehow unknown. I didn’t get REAL work using my talent until about 4 years out of college. Until then I chased down every lead, took every crazy job, spec project, you name it. If anything, it makes me very appreciative for where I am now. Let me tell you something, you try setting fucking tombstones for a year and go get ANY job where you’re behind a desk all day and tell me how bad that desk job is, cupcake. Yeah, that’s right. I broke my back carving, etching hauling and setting fucking granite so when I hear any of your generation whining from your leather chairs in front of your flatscreen tvs about how rough you have it while your mom is making you a sandwich, I just want to bitch slap ya all.

    Anyway, yeah, I feel for you getting lumped in with that lot but hey, if you’re even the least bit responsible you should fucking shine and the world’s your oyster so get over it. ;)

  15. I would LOVE any opportunity. Internship, paid, whatever. I’m applying for just about any job I could concievably be qualified for, and a lot of which I’m technically overqualified for. All I want in terms of pay is enough to live in a box and eat ramen. I tried to explain this to my mom, but she assumes because I’m almost done with my master’s I ought to be earning the big bucks. I’d like to be earning any bucks, really.

    Sadly, the world is not my oyster. My peers seem to greatly enjoy the fun double-whammy of nepotism and overselling themselves. The kids with good jobs have them largely because they know someone and weasle their way in. Everyone else pads the resume and cover letter to the point that an excellent but honest cv most likely gets tossed in the trash. I can’t blame prospective employers for it–how they hell can they possibly know that I worked my ass off in college and really did any of the leadership things I claim? It’s a catch-22 alright: I get lumped in with these punks and summerily dismissed, but I don’t like them or identify with their whole ethos.

    My field is also one that requires a government security clearance for most jobs…which you can’t get unless you already work for the contractor or government agency. Some days, I think I’d rather just go work at Starbucks–in fact, I’m heading over to the local stores and applying on Monday. At least I’d be making some money while waiting for the “Sorry, but this position has been filled” letters.

  16. Pardon. I should type with my grammar hat on. Forgive the errors–the first being “and a lot of which I’m technically overqualified for” (should be “for which”), and am now embarassed. I try to prove myself a rational human being despite my age, and I do it with some really shitty grammar.

  17. Padded resumes and nepotism are nothing unique to your generation. I wouldn’t say you should lie, but you should inflate the good stuff. I’m hardly one to give resume advice, but I think you’d be surprised to know the things that perhaps you take for granted and downplay or don’t bother to mention about yourself are actually top selling points.

    When I graduated, the economy hadn’t yet turned around. It sucked ass like it does now. Anyway, it was sort of a sick joke seniors made at my school of posting their job rejection letters on their doors. 20-30 or more were pretty common.

    If you get an internship anywhere, really take advantage of probing people’s minds, watching what they do, etc. Sad truth (I witnessed this) is a lot of internships are bogus and companies just want coffee runners. In those cases, you have to take matters into your own hands by approaching people with questions or literally plague them with requests to volunteer to do this or that, even if on your own time, and plague them with questions. Sadly, it doesn’t hurt to blow smoke up their asses before, during and after the plaguing. ;)

    I’ll give you one example of my experience and one of a couple of interns. My first job doing on-air graphics was for a company with their heads fully up their asses. I was hired to do a stupid thing all week yet I could do a week’s worth of work in about a day. I filled the other time learning the other stuff that they had, asking other people questions (sans smoke blowing, because I can’t play that game) and started sticking around fto hang out with the night shift to absorb how some other guys do what they do. 8 months later I got a better job with double pay doing what those night guys did and more. That’s taking what no one was going to just give me and running with it.

    That job I got, also, bosses had heads up their asses (I find this to be a pretty common business fact). They got interns solely as coffee runners. Two I remember were friends. One actually had skills and was pissed he was just doing menial shit. The other, little or no skills, was a very friendly guy who yucked it up with everyone and blew smoke up people’s asses. Guess who got a job? The worst was when sunshine couldn’t hack it, rather than fire him they brought in the other guy (because I told them HE was the one with skills) for a couple of weeks to fix sunshine’s problems and then kicked him to the curb again.

    Welcome to the business world. It sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it, so you have to do what you can to survive it.

    Have a nice day.

  18. Clarity note: The interns were friends of each other, not with me, and the kid with skills? Last I heard he was selling real estate instead at the Jersey shore. I have no idea what happened to sunshine, and both companies I mentioned went tits up, whereas I’ve been in business for myself for almost 10 years. ;)

  19. As if it hasn’t been shown that most Americans are too stupid to talk and drive, these kids text message and drive. I see it, and I hardly go out. I can only imagine if I was driving to and from an office everyday.

    I see the same thing. Luckily I have a bus whose route is pretty much door-to-door between home and job, so that’s what I use. If some celltard gets distracted and rams the bus, scratch his/her SUV, but I won’t get hurt.

  20. I think it was New Jersey who recently passed a law against it. I find it appalling, actually. Texting is quite ridiculous, but I see no reason why someone couldn’t talk on a phone and drive simultaneously yet most can’t and because of this, if I were to ever do it I could get pulled over and fined. Unbelievable.

    Also, I think the driving and phone thing should be thrown into their faces every time they yammer on about multitasking as proof they really can’t

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