Monday, August 5, 2013

The Gen Y black sheep

Of late, there has been a proliferation of "how-to" articles in online media, on issues ranging from parenting to work. There's nothing wrong with that, except I've noticed, some of the writers are awfully young, not even 30 years old. Yet the articles read with an authoritative swagger, full of confidence.

That annoys me somewhat. I don't get how someone who has barely tasted life can presume to tell others how to live theirs. Worse still, I've noticed that some of them who are giving parenting advice aren't even parents! It's like someone who has never cooked, writing a recipe book and justifying his expertise as "having eaten at lots of restaurants and spoken to many chefs".

I'm amazed at such unbridled arrogance. Where is the humility?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ageist. I've met impressive young people with more wisdom than some elderly folks. It's not about "putting young people in their place". However, if you're young and you want to try and tell others what to do, you better be damn saat. Make sure you have the goods to back it up. But more often than not, I've found the online articles to be chockful of cliches and sweeping statements. They read like a hodgepodge of truisms complied from the internet and self-help books, without depth, originality or any real thought.

The narcissistic and entitlement mentality of the Gen Y and Millennials is not a new issue, long debated by the media.  The Daily Mail published a piece on how the Gen Y is not interested in hard work. Time Magazine wrote an article calling the Millenials the "Me Me Me Generation". Even I wrote a post sometime back about how the ego of the Gen Y is not backed by substance. Sometimes, I feel a little sorry for the Millennials - as a group, they have a reputation for being whiny brats and I know that's a stereotype.  However, when are are so many black sheep, it's easy to make generalisations of the group as a whole. generation complains about the one before. Maybe it's all our fault. We are the ones who keep telling the Gen Y how brilliant they are, how they're our future. In Singapore, we tell the kids who do well in school that they're our brightest and our best. We continue telling them this right up to university. Is it any surprise therefore they emerge with such a mindset that they are the saviours of society?

In my previous workplace, my boss tried to point out to her newly hired fresh-from-school executive that the tone in her email was too curt and unsuitable. To which the executive defiantly replied, "But I have a Masters in English." 

They just don't get it.

It depresses me that we are churning out the so-called future brains who think they have all the answers and who are so incredibly unopen to the idea that they might have something to learn. To them I say, life is a continuous process of discovery and through this, we learn not just about others but about ourselves.  Go out and do the leg work. Earn your stripes, take a few knocks, eat some humble pie, then consider whether you really have what it takes. In other words, learn more about life first before you presume to tell others how to live.

I quote my friend, Gerard, who wrote this to universities:  
"Yes, your under-graduates are smart kids. They probably know a lot about something or other. But please do not lead them on to think without reservation that the world is their oyster. Expect them to taste some cockles first."


Anonymous said...

The problem will only get worse, as the generation after this follows on the current generation in their excessive ways. When I accompany my son to his school in the morning, I am always surrounded by students, some as young as P1 and P1 absolutely focused on their handphones. And guess where do these kids get their inspiration from?

Anonymous said...

ah yes, their oyster is their world. u know, it's not just a millenials thing. my pet peeve are comments from ppl our age who go "HUH? HOW COME **I** DON'T KNOW THAT?". - kjj

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