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My name is Clark, and I was born on a frosty, winter afternoon in January of the ever-so-fleeting year of 1995. That makes me a Millennial, and therefore an expert on Millennials.
Recently, I've noticed that older people, mainly Baby Boomers, Gen-X parents, higher-ups at work, and a certain, ahem, "motivational" speaker named Simon Sinek, like to criticize my generation by calling us lazy and entitled. While every generation generalizes other generations, Simon likes to profit off of Baby Boomers and Gen-X readers and gullible Millennials who like to grasp simple concepts and share them on Facebook as facts.
I'm trying not to make an "alternative fact" joke.
Earlier this year, corporate motivational speaker and full-time albino ferret, Simon Sinek, was making the rounds on certain Internet culture sites, like MTV Australia, his most-viewed interview being Inside Quest on YouTube by SUCCESS Magazine contributor, Tom Bilyeu. In this interview, Simon points out the four main reasons the Millennial generation has not been succeeding in life, but more importantly, corporations, AKA the workplace.
He sums us up perfectly with the following four points:
- Failed parenting
- Technology dependence
- Impatience in an era of instant gratification
- Lack of leadership in our environments
If you agree with these four points without further explanation, you might be a Baby Boomer or a member of Gen-X, (or a gullible millennial). Let's break this down one-by-one, with his own words, before you hop on the Simon Sin-ake train.
"[Millennials] were told that they were special all the time. They were told they could have anything they want in life, just because they want it. Some of them got into honors classes, not because they deserved it, but because their parents complained. Some of them got As, not because they earned them, but because the teachers didn't want to deal with the parents."
Okay. I don't know what kind of crazy town he went to in order to get that "information," but I have never heard of educational institutions letting parents dictate where to put their students. There'd be riots. Standardized testing, which is a whole other messed-up topic, determines whether a student knows how to answer problems in their respective grade level. A non-passing score holds the student back, regardless of what their parents say.
I was personally in honors courses and no one got there by asking for it. We were tested and selected by teachers who believed we could handle more intense coursework and higher levels of critical thinking. My senior year of high school, I dropped from Advanced Placement English for a regular English class and was astounded to see the gap between regular classes and honors classes.
(And don't get it twisted, I still graduated top 11% with an Honors Diploma. *z-snaps*) Let's move on.
"Some kids got participation medals. You got a medal for coming in last. It devalues the medal and the reward for those who actually work hard, and then it actually makes the person who comes in last feel embarrassed."
He defeated his own argument here. The whole "everyone gets a trophy argument" has been beaten to a pulp. We're not stupid, even as children. Me and my sister were in a karate tournament together and both got participation trophies. I, however, received a first place trophy and my sister received a second place trophy. She was pissed. We understand the concept of competition and what winning is.
Life itself is a competition, Baby Boomers can tell you that. Remember when you went to your high school reunion and you had to lie about how well you were doing just to make it seem like you were "ahead" of your peers? Reunions are dying nowadays thanks to social media. My former classmates can see what I'm up to every day and vice versa so we feel an even stronger drive to be successful faster.
"We're growing up in a Facebook/Instagram world. In other words, we're good at putting filters on things, we're good at showing people that life is amazing even though I'm depressed."
This goes back to what I just pointed out. We feel obligated to make our lives seem better than they are because of the sense of competition we feel. We can rank our success by the amount of dollars we have, the number of followers we have, or even the amount of likes we get online. So while the fact that social media is linked to certain cases of depression and suicide, Simon immediately messes up his own argument yet again with this beauty:
"[Y]ou get a hit of dopamine, which feels good. It's why we like it. It's why we keep going back to it. Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble. In other words, it's highly addictive."
No, Simon. While dopamine is the chemical in our brains that activates our pleasure center, other things can cause dopamine to be fired off, such as eating ice cream, watching Friends, or graduating from college. Internet addictions exist, but not every millennial is addicted to the Internet or social media. A majority of us were born in an era and consciously remember living without Internet. We see it as a tool for education, communication, connection, and entertainment, which does have its advantages and disadvantages.
"We have age restrictions on smoking, gambling, and alcohol. And we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones."
Yes, we do. Most social media websites have an age restriction of at least 13-years-old. Cell phones are a parent's call. I didn't have my first phone (a silver Motorola RAZR) until 8th grade when I was 13. And even then, this was before data, so I still had to use a computer if I wanted access to the Internet. When I used the Internet, it wasn't even for social media purposes, it was for video games and YouTube videos.what
"They've grown up in a world of instant gratification. You want to buy something, you go on Amazon, it arrives the next day. You want to watch a movie, log on and watch a movie. You don't check movie times. You want to watch a TV show, binge. You don't even have to wait week to week to week. You want to go on a date? You don't even have to learn to be like, 'heeeeyyy.'"
In this so-called argument, he's describing positive technological advances as negatives. Also, Millennials are not the only ones who watch Netflix and Hulu. My parents are more obsessed with Netflix & RedBox than I am.
We still watch movies at the theater because they're new movies and that's the only place we can watch them unless we want to WAIT several months for RedBox to have them. Same with TV shows. I love Law & Order: SVU but I have to wait every week for a new episode. They said the same thing about reruns, remember?
So what if we can swipe right and left on a phone to see if we like someone? Are you telling us to go on hundreds of blind dates to see if we like someone? Or go to bars? Tinder, Bumble, etc., allow me to see what someone looks like, see our common interests, and message them to see if they want to go on a date. Even then, we have to physically go on a date. We still have to go through the awkward stages of relationships. Hell, Match.com and eHarmony are for the older generations!
"Job satisfaction and strength in relationships, there ain't no app for that. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes."
Duh, that's just called being human. Technology just helps in making it a little easier and that's not a bad thing.
"They'll never really find deep fulfillment in work or in life. They'll just waft through life."
Because of tech advances and the fact we can grocery shop in our living rooms? Maybe you're just scared of innovation and the future, Simon.
"I'm here to tell them, it's not them, it's the corporations. It's the corporate environments. It's the total lack of good leadership in our world today that's making them feel the way they do."
Mm. And let me guess, this is where you plug your new book, huh? No, I get it, I get it. You're an entrepreneur and you need to make your living. That's fine. Just don't do it at the expense of further dividing our generations with simple generalizations that include previous generations taking part in them as well.
Every time I see your viral interview video on my Facebook feed, I just want to rip my hair out. Especially if I see it came from someone my age...
We don't want to work at an office if we don't want to. The whole point of the previous generation is so we wouldn't have to do what they did. Our generation is saying if we want to make our living on the Internet, let us do it. If we want to become CEOs of major corporations, let us. If we want to spend our weekends with our Tinder date binge-watching the new season of House of Cards on Netflix (this season is amazing) while we wait for our food delivery, let us.
We know we have to work hard and pay our dues in order to get ahead. Trust me, my parents are Mexican immigrants. Just know that we have to work twice as hard to get to where current retirees are thanks to the selfish, lazy entitlement of the baby boomers. (Ding!)
They whined about affordable college, so they got it, all they had to do was work a summer job for minimum wage, which by the way, is worth more than today's current wage, adjusted for inflation.
You shouldn't hate on a new generation because they're still learning and figuring out how to do things. Technology is a tool to attempt to make life a little easier, but we're humans and we're still going to go through life making mistakes and getting our hearts broken, and taking jobs we hate because we need the money.
We are also going to quit the job we hate for one we love, because we deserve it as human beings who are on this earth for a short time. We're going to love who we love because we're not going to let religion and outdated thousands-year old doctrines dictate how we live our lives. We're going to create our own unique experiences using new tech all while fixing the economy, political climate, and literal climate the baby boomers helped to kill faster.
In the meantime, excuse me while I go finish Orange and rewatch The Office.
Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @salatkiel.