*Because Jacob reminded me not to be negative, I have revised this post several times. So if some of you read it and took offense, read it again, because it’s nicer now.*
Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. It has been 6 WEEKS since my last blog post. I cannot hope that you will all forgive me, but I hope you can understand: You see, I’ve started my new job(s), and it takes most of my daytime energy, leaving me only a few hours to hang out with Jacob and run errands and whatnot. The weekend has become my only writing time, and I’ve not been able to write on the weekends due to previous engagements, and let’s face it, lack of energy and anything good to write about.
I haven’t gone anywhere, really, or seen anything cool, so I’ve been putting off writing until something good happened. Well, I don’t know if this is good, but it got me all riled up. And if you’re like me, it’ll get you riled up too.
For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been working full time at my new job in Edmond at a technology consulting company. I do event management, client outreach, and manage their small publishing outfit. But on the weekends, I do another dream job: I write, edit, and manage projects for my clients and help them get self-published or just help them generally meet their writing goals. It’s very rewarding, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
ANYWAY, while at work in Edmond one day, my head honcho, Scott, asked me to watch a video on YouTube and tell him what I thought. As any of you who know me will know, I am HAPPY to proffer my opinions. So I watched this video below. It’s a clip from an opening scene of HBO’s series The Newsroom, created by Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) and premiered in June of this summer. Now, I’ve never watched this show, and I don’t think Scott had either, but I’m tempted to, based on just these 3 1/2 minutes. Therefore, I cannot tell you that this show is worth watching. I have no idea. But this clip sure is: *Fair warning–this clip contains some offensive language; it is HBO after all.
So when Scott asked me what I thought, I had to pause for a few seconds to compose my answer–this was my line of thought:
Honestly, I agree with 90% of what Jeff Daniels explained. I agree that America is not the greatest country in the world. We’re not the smartest, skinniest, healthiest, most peaceful, most gracious, most explorative, or even cleanest. We certainly are one of the most politically divisive. In fact, our country might even be labeled–gasp!–mediocre. But wait a minute, we weren’t as awesome as Jeff Daniels said we were before, either. What he’s remembering is the best that America was when he was young, when his grandparents were young. He’s not remembering the racism, the dirty politics that have been happening since the dawn of time, the fact that we DID identify ourselves by who we voted for. He’s forgetting the industrial revolution that started us on a path of pollution, the fact that we DID scare so easily during the Cold War and other crises. He’s remembering an historically inaccurate, nostalgic view of past events.
But that was only my first thought. My second thought went like this: My generation, Generation Y, The Millenials, whatever label you want to stick on it, is the worst.generation.ever.? No. That’s so offensive. So I told Scott that. In those words. And his response? “Well, you might not be the worst generation ever, but your generation definitely doesn’t have any work ethic.” And then he dropped the dreaded “E” word. “And you’ve got this strange sense of entitlement.”
Here’s why I think my generation is not the worst.generation.ever.:
1) There’s an awful lot of “lumping” going on here, so let’s all get our facts straight: There are the Baby Boomers, born post WWII, Generation X, born in the early 1960s, Generation Y, born late 1970s to mid 1980s, and then there’s Generation Z, or the Millenials, born in the 1990s. Many people lump Generation Y and Generation Z together because of our ability to easily use and manipulate technology, and they believe we have the same worldview because of that. This is not true. Generation Y knew the world before computers were in every home, knew America before terrorism at our front door, saw the effects of the Cold War and the Berlin wall coming down. The Millenials know only a world after terrorism, know only globalization and commercialization. In short. We are two different people groups. (Caveat: I was born in late 1986, so I don’t really remember the Berlin Wall/Cold War stuff, but there are members of my generation who did.) But since the lumping has already happened, for arguments’ sake, I’m going to say the rest of this list will be based on the fact that Generation Y and Z are roughly similar.
2) Every single generation since the beginning of man has thought that their children would turn out to be the worst.generation.ever. And can that be factually, statistically proven to have come true? It can’t, unless you poll every single member of a previous generation and make them give actual criteria of what made the next generation so bad. If you get down to it, there’s been a generational gap between peoples since Cain slayed Abel.
3) If we’re so “awful,” how did we come to be this way? Isn’t our generation’s upbringing the responsibility of the previous generation? And not to pass the buck or anything, because we do have a hand in affecting change, but we didn’t really inherit a great state of affairs of the world from the previous generation. We have a trillion-dollar deficit, soldiers dying in foreign countries, sky-high obesity rates, craptastic education, or polluted air, water, and food, but we didn’t cause this to happen. We’ve just inherited it. I will freely admit that not all of my generation does things to help this situation, but we didn’t make it happen.
4) We’re pretty much powerless at this point to change the minds of the previous generation–most of us are only graduating HS, college, or starting our careers. The power to change things NOW is in the previous generation’s hands. We’re not the department heads, politicians, CEOs, or leaders who have the capability of turning this country around yet. We’re the assistants, the pages, the interns, the errand-people no one pays attention to yet. Our turn is coming, but it’s not today.
5) I can’t speak for everyone in my generation about the “E” word, because I know there are people out there who expect their parents to pay for things like cars, college tuition, etc. But I worked hard to get scholarships, worked all through college, and drove my parents’ minivan for the first few years of my driving life, and I don’t think I was entitled to any of it. And I don’t think anyone should think they’re entitled to anything they didn’t earn. Maybe I’m singular in that belief, but that’s how you avoid things like arrogance and an overbearing attitude. It might be that Gen Y/Z has that “strange sense of entitlement” because their parents told them they could do anything or be anything they wanted. Is it Gen Y/Z’s fault that they were instilled with a false reality? I will, however, admit that my parents never really told me this, so again, no lumping, but Gen Y/Z have touted that phrase often.
6) Here’s what CAN be done: Our generation, Y,Z, Millenials, WHATEVER, has the most potential to cause social change because of our incredible ability to manipulate and create technology. Some say we have no work ethic, but is it bad for us to want things to be more efficient, to work better, to be more effective? We can accomplish the same amount of work that the previous generation could in half the time because of technology. Does that mean we have no work ethic? No, it means we value work and making things better, but we value time with our families and loved ones MORE THAN WORK. Shouldn’t everyone value that more? Work puts food on the table, we get that, but work takes us AWAY from that same table.
Here’s the deal: We hate the way politics in this country work, and we want to see our environment improve. We start movements, raise money, sign petitions, call our representatives, and try to make things better. In fact, that’s what the effect of technology has had on our generation: We want to make everything faster, better, stronger, more beneficial for everyone, so that they can spend more time with their families. And that’s what’s going to make any real change in the world.
Here’s a transcript of the speech, in case you’re interested in reading:
College Girl: Can you explain why America is the greatest country in the world?
It’s not the greatest country in the world, professor, that’s my answer.
[pause] You’re saying—
Let’s talk about—
Fine. [to the liberal panelist] Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paychecks, but he [gesturing to the conservative panelist] gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes. It costs airtime and column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so f***** smart, how come they lose so G***** ALWAYS!
And [to the conservative panelist] with a straight face, you’re going to tell students that America’s so starspangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. Two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
And you—sorority girl—yeah—just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy,* 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the **** you’re talking about?! Yosemite?!!!
We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
[to moderator] Enough?
*Actually, we just slid past Japan to 50th in life expectancy. Go us.