Monday, May 5, 2008

Perception versus reality: What do Socrates and the Boomers have in common?

I saw this article in the LA Times by Kathy Kristof that was supposed to a primer of sorts for the Millennials entering the workplace. I found it insulting - and I'm not even a Millennial. How much of this "down with the Millennials" rhetoric is based in fact and how much is based in people getting old and cranky.

One of Kristof's big arguments is that Millennials did not have as many part-time after school jobs as previous generations (I have no idea if this is true - my guess is it's not) and therefore did not learn key work lessons like "don't wear flip flops on casual Friday." What I learned at my after school job was how to fry cockroaches on the grill without getting caught. I also learned not to lean on anything, because "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean."

The article immediately made me think of a quote from Socrates:

"The Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for adults, and love to talk rather than work or exercise. They no longer rise when adults enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter in front of company, gobble down food at the table and intimidate their teachers."
--Socrates (469-399 B. C.)


Unknown said...

Does this LA Times article remind you of Grandpa Simpson?

"Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three. P.S. I am not a crackpot."

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, the generation Socrates was referring to DID lose the Peloponnesian War, ushering in the end of Athens' golden age.


Mo Morrissey said...

It's hard to say whether this is a function of the proliferation of information and parents feeling like there are "more weirdos around," or the nature of the family having changed, but children - particularly those in the younger end of the Gen Y crowd - did/do have more structured activity and less "free play" than I know I had.

This could and probably will have far reaching implications on creativity, for instance.

Going back around to connect those dots - they were in organized activity and not at work, so I'd be willing to bet there's some of that at play...

HOWEVER, YOU ARE SO CORRECT about it being more about "people getting old and cranky." When Generation X came into the work place we were labeled with the term "Slackers" by Boomers and the "Silent Generation" because what we were bringing to the table was different than what they understood.

That article is talking about is the same thing those "slacker" articles were talking about: not so much how Gen Y/Millenials should work - they will define their own style of work - and more "how to work with the older folks." That article is talking more about "US" than them.

Another fine point to ponder.