We have all been there, we were all young. I cannot help but to wonder have times really changed that much? In speaking with friends I think back, and yes, I was not that engaged as an individual. However, did I ever reach this level I am not really sure. It seems its not just a lack of engagement, but a total lack of effort. The youth today seems to totally lack any motivation. I say this not just about students, but at 27, I am also speaking about those of my own generation. I seem to know so many my age that not only do not work, but really seem to have no motivation for life. What has happened to us? I say this not as the old codger, but rather I say it just as an observer. This is not to say that all millennials are bad, because in fact they have been a huge source of innovation. However, the generation below myself is quite concerning to me.
It seems that many things can be pointed to as part of the issue, not only the welfare state, but also technology as well. As a people we have little patience; social media has rewired our brains in such a way that we cannot wait for anything. People just do not even complete simple tasks, as simple as not even cleaning up garbage. Its always pushed aside and blamed on someone else, but what can be seen in garbage can be seen in many things. We have a total lack of accountability, everyone seems to be looking for the next person that they can shift the blame upon. There in lies the problem: the situation cannot be solved if there is no one to take the blame for it. Just like the first step of AA, someone needs to admit that a problem exists. If there is no admitted problem, then there is no one to readily accept a solution; if something is not wrong then a solution is not needed.
I saw a political cartoon just the other day that made this real for me. In the cartoon, there are two images of parents reactions now and parents before the 1960’s. In the earlier picture, the parents are questioning the student about his grades and why they are so poor. In the second, the parents are angrily questioning the teacher why the student’s grades are poor. Its simple, but its a good explanation of just where the problem starts. I have never been a parent, though I hope to one day be, so I cannot profess to be an expert. I am left with an essential question: “Do we love our kids too much?”
We all love our kids, and want them to succeed, but do we do too much for them? We have to hold them responsible and teach the accountability; that is where it starts. Think of it like a ripple, it starts in the home, and it starts with the baby boomers, the generation after World War II. Their parents spoiled them with the new idea of American wealth. They loved them so very much and wanted to give them the world that they never had; that’s a wonderful thing. The problem is, that they never learned self-sufficiency, and from that started a cycle. Each successive generation spoiled their youth, and less and less was expected. I’ll admit it, my parents spoiled me, but they did teach me the responsibility to be an adult. That is the problem, we are not showing our kids we love them by not teaching them that life is not fair.
However, that being said, I think Gen Y actually has an amazing mind for entrepreneurialism. They have differing views than the rest of a society that has not kept up with the shifting tides, one that in a few years, will totally be in their court. They have different core values, which are tied to freedom and not long, hard hours. Rather, they want a business that can scale quickly and produce income that is not tied to their hours; they understand their hours are limited. These are the growing pains of society, tied to a generation that has learned from observing their parents.