It can be frustrating to hear people complaining about the narcissism they claim to see in our generation. We are told that we aren’t trying hard enough when we complain about not being able to find a job. We are told that we need to stop social networking and participate in the “real world” whenever we check our cellphones. We’re told that we can’t possibly know anything about important issues because we care more about celebrity gossip than about current events.
Sadly, all of this is true, but it’s not entirely our fault. Elitedaily.com does not hesitate to point out that our generation was raised by the very people who accuse us of being the laziest generation in history. They’re the people who tell us we’re self-obsessed, but they’re also the ones who bought us ice cream and reassured us that we were the best player on the field even when we didn’t score a single goal. Not every person in the so-called “me generation” experienced this upbringing, but enough did that a devastating number of people aged 18-24 are indeed lazy. However, there is an explanation for this laziness that may surprise you.
Young people today do not understand how to process the word “no.” An overwhelming number of people raised in our generation were spoiled by their parents, their coaches, their camp counselors, or anyone who served as a caretaker or role model. Throughout their childhoods, they were surrounded by the word “yes.” They were constantly reminded that they were special, constantly encouraged to take immense pride in things that they should have been doing anyway. Now they are thrust into the “real world,” and they don’t know what to do when they are told that they did not do a good job. The culture shock of being padded by “yes”and suddenly stripped by “no” makes them shut down. Suddenly, everything is exhausting and they don’t want to leave their beds. In short, they become lazy.
This phenomenon is becoming increasingly common as members of our generation begin to enter the business world. They don’t understand how anyone could critique their work and they fall apart as soon as they face their first failure. It’s why Time magazine calls us “the teacup generation”: people who appear to be confident, but shatter easily and need to be consistently reassured that they’re doing well in order to come close to achieving success. Without the coddling they got during their formative years, they disengage and lose motivation. It is sadly evident that the common upbringing of our generation, Gen Y, is leaving scars deeper than anyone anticipated.
Fighting this trend may be a battle that has been lost before it even began. These people have already faced the childhood that produced their inflated sense of self. In order to prove that our generation is not lazy, we need to stop fitting the word’s expectations. We need to recognize that getting a 52 on a spelling test is not an achievement that warranted a trip to the zoo, and we need to recognize that we are going to make mistakes. We need to move on from those mistakes and work harder to do better instead of simply shattering.
Junior TV and radio major
Printed in the 12/03/14 issue.