Friday, June 18, 2010

Generation Y: Spoiled Rotten!

Courtesy of the indispensable Al Fin, I read two articles that describe the spoilt brats that make up the so-called 'Generation Y'. It's not pretty.

From England, the Telegraph reports:

Those who were born into "Generation Y" have an over-inflated sense of entitlement [but] lack the work ethic to achieve their goals.

They also hate being criticised, it is claimed.

Researchers believe that the problem stems from being constantly told from birth they are special and as a result now believe it - and will ignore anybody who says otherwise.

But far from making them happy their approach to life leads to higher levels of depression and "chronic diasppointment" as unjustified levels of self-esteem masks the ugly reality.

Academics have concluded the values drummed into their grandparents, such as a strong work ethic and self-sacrifice, have been lost in the relentless quest for self-fulfilment.

"Generation Y" or Gen-Yers refers to those born between the 1980s and 90s who are now in their 20s or approaching their 30s.

They are also known as the "Millennium generation" or the "Boomerang generation" because they keep moving back home with their parents in young adulthood due to financial or commitment issues.

They are marked by dependence on technology, delaying of adulthood, a casual approach to life and placing a higher value on self-fulfilment than previous generations.

Members have long complained they have been unfairly characterised as lazy but the new research appears to prove that the stereotype is actually true.

Professor Paul Harvey, of the University of Hampshire, carried out a series of studies measuring psychological entitlement and narcissism on a group of Gen -Yers and found they scored 25 per cent higher than respondents ages 40 to 60 and 50 per cent higher than those over 61.

In addition, Gen-Yers were twice as likely to rank in the top 20 per cent in their level of entitlement — the "highly entitled range" — as someone between 40 and 60, and four times more likely than a pensioner.

Professor Harvey concluded Gen-Yers are characterised by a "very inflated sense of self" that leads to "unrealistic expectations" and, ultimately, "chronic disappointment".

He explained that the 20-somethings of today have ‘an automatic, knee-jerk reaction to criticism,’ and just dismiss it.

"Even if they fail miserably at a job, they still think they’re great at it," he said.

There's more at the link.

On our side of the pond, the Indiana Journal Gazette reports:

A report from the Economic Policy Institute on the class of 2010 says it faces the worst job market since the end of World War II. The institute is a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C., that researches economic issues.

Authors of the study say it will take "years for the labor market to recover from the damage induced by the recent recession."

In short, institute researchers believe graduates are entering the employment market at a particularly bad time, although poor job prospects are not their fault.

"It is tough out there, there's no question, but there are jobs out there," Obringer said. "That's why you have to have your résumé, cover letter and interview skills down."

Even so, last year, IPFW Career Services saw job fair participation drop 34 percent with 1,180 students suiting up for interviews. The trend seems to be continuing, Obringer said. She said graduates are "discouraged."

"They don't believe the jobs are out there," Obringer said.

. . .

Researcher Paul Harvey says that kind of mindset is becoming rare among young people, who also feel "a sense of entitlement" going into interviews.

"There are those out there that feel it wasn't this hard for my brother or sister, so why is it for me?" said Harvey, assistant professor of management at the University of New Hampshire.

"It is a bit depressing, certainly frustrating for them, and they're not used to" rejection.

Students today, Harvey said, might have been coddled by well-meaning parents and others "and now are facing economic reality."

Again, there's more at the link.

I'm afraid I have very little sympathy for the whingers of Generation Y. I learned from my parents' example. They came out of World War II without even the equivalent of a single Grade 12 certificate between them. In about fifteen years, working part-time, studying part-time, and raising a family, they each got a Ph.D. in their respective fields; Mom in Social Psychiatry, Dad in Economics. Dad went on to become a senior manager in an oil company in South Africa. Mom didn't enter the workplace full-time, but worked with clergy and institutions to develop marriage counseling materials, and provided individual and couple counseling on request. Neither of them expected others to provide for them - they did it themselves, through bloody hard work.

When my time came to 'leave the nest', Dad and Mom were nearing retirement. I didn't think it would be fair to ask them to subsidize my university studies; so I enrolled in part-time distance education. Over the years, I've picked up four University qualifications, including a Masters degree, all of them done part-time while working at a full-time job. I can't say I'm any poorer for the experience, and I don't feel particularly deprived either!

I also spent several years as a manager and director in the commercial world. I learned the hard way that if you want a hard worker, hire someone self-motivated and disciplined. I always gave preference to military veterans and to those who had completed or were completing a part-time degree, because all of them had learned (some were still learning) to find a balance in their lives, so that they could pursue different things at different times, without losing sight of their goals. I seldom had problems with such people. On the other hand, newly-graduated students with no work experience, who'd had Mommy or Daddy to pick up the tab for everything they needed, didn't perform nearly as well.

If these articles are a fair reflection of Generation Y, I think the Western economy is in serious trouble. You can bet your last dollar that their counterparts in the Far East aren't laboring under the same delusions!



Tamara Kelly said...

Every generation complains about their youth.

joe said...

I wonder if it's "fair" to compare the survey results with those of other generations who are much older and more experienced. It would probably be a better comparison to compare results between the 20-somethings of today with their previous counterparts when they were also 20-somethings. Of course, this would require a Delorean with a flux capacitor...

John Peddie (Toronto) said...

A sense of entitlement? Ah yes!

That's why people buy 4,000 square foot houses on 1,000 square foot incomes, max out their plastic, then come back whining, homeless and bankrupt.

That's why we have grade inflation in our schools-everyone is entitled to an "A", watered down as it may be.

That's why parents sue school boards over their childrens' grades, never stopping to think about the "life lesson" such nonsense teaches the children; and why school boards, teachers and their unions support the travesty that masquerades as education today.

I often think that we need a really stiff and lasting depression,1930's style.

I'm not romanticizing that era for a moment-there was hunger and privation, and failure had real consequences. But the generation that emerged in 1939 went on to win WW II with their blood and sacrifice, an accomplishment beyond the comprehension of today's adult babies who'd sooner protest than defend a way of life.

Complain about our youth?

I wonder why!

S said...

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."- Socrates

this is not just a recent thing- I have to add in self defense- I'm a generation y'er, and while I have seen the described behavior in some, even many, of my peers, I would be reluctant to say all, like the articles, and response, imply. yes, there are young adults now who can't support themselves and spend what money they have on gadgets, expecting others to foot mundane bills like rent, and food, but there are others of us (and not just one or two) who have worked hard and will continue to work hard for our goals in life.

I *never* considered moving back home after college, and the difficulty of the job search led me to move halfway across the country away from all family and friends, because that's where an available job was, and you do what you have to do. at this point, I'm only 24 but I have completed my masters (on my own, no parental help or even loans- I worked for my tuition)and am completely self sufficient. no, I don't live in luxury, but I would be a fool to expect anything other than "where is the cheapest rent where I won't get killed in my sleep" at my age. I have many friends and aquaintences who feel the same way, and we are often just as disgusted as older generations by some of the attitudes some of our peers hold.
yes the entitled exist, but they always have, and there are still some, even many, who recognize the value of hard work and do not expect a handout from anyone.

ShortWoman said...

I'm a proud member of Generation X (and so glad we lost the tag "the Baby Busters"). Let me start by saying "the values drummed into their grandparents, such as a strong work ethic and self-sacrifice"?? These kids' grandparents were mostly Boomers!

That being said, most of the issues of Gen Y are rooted in the delayed adulthood that society increasingly insists upon. It wasn't that long ago that a 14 year old could drop out of school to support his mom and 5 younger siblings. Of course that young man later went to fight in World War II and finished his college degree in the 50s thanks to the GED and the GI Bill. That young man by the way was my grandfather.

Now, we try to prevent young people who would have been considered adults 70 years ago from having sex or dropping out of school, or for that matter making any grown-up sorts of decisions. Many parents try to micromanage their kids lives all the way into college and sometimes beyond much to the frustration of everybody around them. Teachers are afraid to point out failure because they know it will only lead to conflict.

While I hate to cite this other factor, I think China's experience with one child per family will bear this out. Both Generations X and Y were born in an era of birth control pills. Generation Y was born post Roe v. Wade. This has resulted in fewer unplanned children, which in turn has resulted in smaller families. There are simply more resources for most kids. Kids don't have to share beds, let alone bedrooms with 2-3 siblings, they don't wear hand-me-downs, and there is time/money for Little League instead of a pick-up game in the middle of the street. Doting parents have inadvertently taught them that yes, they are the center of the universe.

The Great Recession may yet turn into a wake up call for these young adults. Generation X created their own jobs in the internet bubble. Perhaps when these youngsters can't find jobs that don't involve phrases like "Do you want fries with that", they will come up with The Next Big Thing.

Anonymous said...

The real problem that many of those recent graduates face is that they can't read/compehend the employment application form...

Anonymous said...

O.k., I have to go on a mini-rant here. As a member of Gen Y (born 1987), I am the first to admit that there are problems with some of my generation. BUT, what galls me is that the criticisms so often come from Baby Boomers. Of all generations to offer criticism, baby boomers should be at the tail end of the line. Why? Because most of the problems of this country can be traced DIRECTLY back to a large segment of baby boomers (not all) who started the counterculture. It was baby boomers who started the sexual revolution, which was great for them. They got the best of both worlds. Their parents lived in stable, two-parent families. For them, the sexual revolution was about fun and free love. For my generation the sexual revolution was about growing up in broken homes, or having abusive step-parents. For boomers, their parents took them to church, or otherwise gave them moral guidance. For many of my generation, the only virtue we’ve been taught is that minorities are better than the evil white man. And lets get to the schools. Your generation was taught things like history, and reading, and mathematics. My generation is taught political correctness in schools and universities overrun by communists. Communists, I might add, who are baby boomers who grew up, or rather didn’t. Moreover, in business it is baby boomers who are imposing political correctness on everyone.

Need I go on?

Should I get to all the wonderful boomers in the courts, in the Congress, and let's not forget that boob in the White House?

But let me make one final distinction. While every generation has its flaws and its vices, my generation, unlike the boomers, does not venerate its flaws. It does not pay homage to them. There is a large segment of the boomers who view the 60’s counterculture as religion. John Lennon is the f*cking Pope to these people. Because of this, they will never give up their adherence to these ideas, no matter how many times they fail, and no matter how much damage they cause. Quite frankly, and I don’t mean this as an insult, but in purely pragmatic terms, I have come to the realization that no true rebuilding of this country and its institutions will ever occur until the baby boomers are in their graves.

Anonymous said...

the schools treat even 18 year old adults the same way that they treat the 12 year old middle schoolers. with the exception that the 18 year old seniors are allowed to sit out side on the picnic tables.

the problems lie in the schools and parents.

and we dont respect authority because look at what law enforcement and our govt does, why would we respect any authority in this country. In fact it is the authority that targets young people and minorities that cause most of the problems.

Mikael said...

Well, this Gen Y man has saved up money to become an instructor in a field he loves, and is in the process of uprooting himself from his aoartment and his country, escaping the can't-get-a-job market and easy to live on wellfare check, has payed for his plane ticket and starts his new job in less than two weeks.

Moved out when I was 16 and I've never taken a loan, and don't intend to start now.

I do recognize some of it though, like the priority on self-fullfillment. But then again, I saved up for two years to afford my courses, worked my arse off during them, and I'm throwing caution to the wind, to get a job doing what I love.

Black Ice said...

Lots of great insight here, both in the article and here in the comment box. Our coddling of this generation, coupled with the predictable results of socialist policies run amok, has produced a very nasty outlook for a lot of young people today.

Though, in some cases, perhaps the 'tough job market may have other causes than the economy... ;)