Hot take: Someone thinks millennials don’t understand things

Ooh a hot take on millennials!

This comes from Geoffrey James, a business and marketing expert, for Inc. The title: “12 Harsh Truths Millennials Don’t Get.”

Mr. James says a 14 percent unemployment rate for millennials stems “from that generation’s unrealistic beliefs about life and work.” He then couches this statement, saying “this is not true of all (or even most) millennials” but then “it’s true of enough of them.”

While that above statement shows a little nuance (if not backtracking), his 12 sweeping statements about the millennial generation’s inability to understand things unfortunately don’t project much nuance at all. Here they are:

  1. You are not special.
  2. You are not facing bigger challenges.
  3. You are not better educated.
  4. You are not more tech-savvy.
  5. Nobody cares what you feel.
  6. There are no “trophies for everybody.”
  7. You were snookered.
  8. Never work for free.
  9. Stop complaining.
  10. Stop focusing on yourself.
  11. Expect to pay your dues.
  12. Stay positive anyway.

“Stay positive anyway” may be my favorite statement, because everything preceding it is drenched in negativity and doom. This is the problem with our modern working world: Previous generations have set the workplace up in their images, creating strict rules that we all seemingly follow (judge by a 40-hour week; no emotion in business; work for crap bosses until you can break free). And we’re supposed to be happy and cheery! Yay!

That kind of workplace, though, has shown to reward people later in their career. You’re told you have to toil in drudgery for years before receiving some compensation worthy of your skillset. That’s ridiculous. Many people have advanced skills in their 20s and 30s but are unable to fully utilize them in their current situation.

That may lead to things like millennials leaving the workplace early. Another thing that leads to millennials leaving the workplace early: no money. Look, you can say all you want about the “reality” of work, but if reality is not making enough to attempt to live an independent life, then why stick around and hope your industry catches up to the cost of living?

Because millennials are shunning the workplace, they can be seen as “special” or “too emotional” or “entitled.” Yeah, and that’s good. That’s what I’d call “healthy.” Sure we received too many trophies growing up, but guess who else were pretty fixated on themselves? Our parents, the baby boomers. Sure we should learn the value of hard work, but if that hard work isn’t fairly compensating us, and if we’re finding ourselves a cog in a machine (which Mr. James seems to want), why the hell should we waste our humanity on that?

Entitled? I say millennials are trying, desperately, to understand the value of a life well lived. Are a select few trying to game the system? Possibly. But if a millennial wants to leave XYZ Data Associates to open an artisan muffin bakery, good on her. That’s called a dream. That’s called taking initiative with one’s life. If she fails, she fails, and she starts looking for a job somewhere else.

And what about that 14 percent unemployed? Have they all given up on working forever? Of course not; maybe they tried finding work for months or years but still can’t get a job. Maybe they’re assessing their life situation. But who’s to say anyone should have to follow the same rigid template we’ve been following for years; what, all because business is some idealized good?

Also it’s true, we probably weren’t better educated, but I think plenty of us know the American education system is a wreck. I know very few millennials, if any at all, who claim their education was better than other generations. Education is a real problem, though I won’t go so far as to say we were all “snookered.”

Finally, as a whole, I do believe millennials are likely more tech-savvy. Why? Because each future generation is likely to be more tech-savvy than the next. The real problem is how millennials are using their technological skills (and I’m not just talking about tapping an icon).

The Drop: We need more nuance when discussing millennials and the workplace, and recent pieces have demonstrated this. Moreover, we need to start thinking about how the workplace (like our education system) needs updating and, possibly, overhauling.

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