Edit Desk: Our problem to solve

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Madison Welker

I don’t usually enjoy listening to “experts” analyze my millennial generation for two reasons: It aggravates me when they are right, and it aggravates me when they generalize us as cellphone-addicted narcissists with nothing to add to society.

This summer, an Inside Quest interview with “expert” Simon Sinek addressed the classic “millennial question” of why my generation has such a bad reputation in the workplace.

It. Went. Viral.

I bring it back as I am watching friends apply for internships and jobs, and I see a few flaws in how our generation goes about it.

Millennials are seeking to work in a place where they can make an impression, where their purpose in the company is palpable. When realizing this doesn’t happen instantly, millennials in the workplace are thus labeled: lazy, unfocused, narcissistic . . . entitled.

“’We want to make an impact. We want free food and beanbags,’” Sinek said millennials respond when asked what they want in a job. “Somebody articulates some sort of purpose, there’s lots of free food and beanbags and yet, for some reason, they’re still not happy — that’s because there’s a missing piece.”

Sinek breaks millennials’ unhappiness into four pieces: parenting, technology, impatience and environment. I’d like to address them from my perspective.

Parenting

Sinek puts a lot of weight on failed parenting strategies that stem from millennials being told they can have anything they want in life.

This is a generalization I disagree with Sinek on, as he cannot assume all parents are constantly feeding their children’s egos, but I can relate as someone who wanted to be just like Avril Lavigne and was told it would happen. I think it is less about specific parenting and more about the environment in which we grew up.

We grew up learning that no matter what, everyone is a winner.

In competitions, no matter if you came in first or last place, you received a participation medal, devaluing the winner’s prize. Now, when we are thrust into the real world we expect recognition even when we come in last. That simply doesn’t happen.

In turn, we are a generation with lower self-esteem, expecting more and receiving less. That, I can agree with, but I don’t think we can blame our parents for it — it’s just how we grew up.

Technology

Ah, the root of all millennial issues according to everyone who isn’t a millennial. I will refrain from stating how technology has graced our lives and instead focus on how it messed us up just as Sinek does.

It’s no secret that dopamine is secreted when you get a notification. Sinek equates obsession with social media notifications to addictions like alcoholism. Adolescents have an unlimited and free access pass to a dopamine center as they’re going through the stresses of growing up. No wonder we’re addicted.

As you grow up, you stop only seeking the support of your parents and start to seek the support of your peers. Children these days also seek support from a third party, which has never happened prior to the millennial generation: their social media following. This messes everything up.

So now you have a generation that is growing up with lower self-esteem that doesn’t have good coping mechanisms to deal with the stress.

Impatience

If you want to order something online, Amazon Prime it to yourself — and the fact that I use that as a verb is frightening. If you want to watch a movie, stream it on your computer instantly.

“Everything you want, instant gratification. Except job satisfaction and strength of relationships — there ain’t no app for that,” Sinek said.

We don’t know how to be patient, and this is where Sinek is right in describing millennials in the work force.

Our generation just needs to learn patience. Making an impact on the world isn’t going to happen at an entry level job and as Sinek explains, life is a mountain and making an impact is the summit. Millennials often want to reach the summit immediately because they’re used to immediacy.

Some things that really matter in life, like love and job satisfaction, are messy processes and cannot be two-day shipped to you.

Environment

Sinek ends by describing what happens when you now take this generation and stick them into a messed-up corporate world.

“We’re taking this amazing group of young, fantastic kids who were just dealt a bad hand, and it’s no fault of their own,” Sinek said, “and we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about the kids.”

I don’t have much knowledge of the corporate world, so I cannot speak to the corruption. But I do have to say that just because we were “dealt a bad hand” doesn’t mean we have to sit around and do nothing about it.

Yes, it’s not our fault we grew up in the age of a digital revolution, but it is our problem to solve. It’s our job to put our cellphones down at dinner with our friends, and it’s our job to recognize and fix our inability to wait for the better things in life.

If we don’t, we’re going to have “experts” telling us we’re messing up for the rest of our lives.

Madison Welker, ’19, is an assistant news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected] 

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2 Comments

  1. Robert Davenport on

    Madison, if others of your generation are truthful about the problem, as you have been; there is a good chance of successful solution. Parents are responsible but have been working with faulty information. It is now your problem to solve

    Thanks for the general rundown on the millennial generation.

  2. It’s always funny to hear older folks ripping the millennials when they’ve provided arguably the worst leadership in American history over the past 25 years, neglecting to solve such existential crisises such as global warming or entitlement spending. Maybe they should look in the mirror once in awhile because our generation will be the first in American history to be worse off than our parents and that is not our fault. We must embrace and solve these huge and neglected problems. If they refuse to do it, we must welcome the challenge.

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