Is my generation—Gen Y—insanely entitled as the Time cover story seen round the world argues—or hopelessly misunderstood? A little bit of both, if you ask me.
The world has sold us a bill of goods from the time we were placed in the arms of our loving helicopter parents, and now we’re all a little disappointed that we are no longer getting awards and trophies just for showing up.
We’re also sure our path to greatness is one blog entry, tweet, or LinkedIn connection away, and it won’t come from climbing the corporate ladder, and certainly not fetching coffee. (Woe to those Baby Boomers who want to teach us otherwise.)
Born in 1984, I, too, am a brand ’guru’ and shameless self-promoter who, upon being given this assignment, promptly asked my editor if her web developer would please embed my Google authorship code.
I once stunned a recruiter years back by suggesting she pay me $6,000 a month for an internship position when I was fresh out of college. (Oops.)
I ”microblog.” I do check my Twitter follower count daily. I have a Facebook business page. But I explain to anyone who listens to that I legitimately do such things for others, not just myself, and that’s where a lot of the misunderstanding comes in. Allow me to explain. (And while I do, please do follow me on Twitter.)
A few months back, I finished Jean Twenge’s “The Narcissism Epidemic,” a myth-busting tome by the clinical psychologist whose main area of clinical research has been the me-me-me-ism of narcissism.
Twenge explains that narcissism at its core is not the mere asking for things or even belief in oneself, but that it is over self-entitlement and an ingrained belief that you’re superior to others.
Most people afflicted with narcissism, she says, are the ones whose entitlement goes too far and who are never actually going to be aware of this, since they’ll simply justify their actions.
So is there an ‘epidemic’ among my kind?
The Problem With Gen Y
The problem—as this 29-year-old sees it—is that too many of my fellow millennials were taught that they should not be afraid to speak up and ask for things (and, yes, that they can accomplish anything since they’re so damn smart). Now they’re taking that premise and running with it, public opinion be damned.
So let’s focus squarely on careers, which, let’s be honest, seem to be the biggest source of pain with Gen-Y for everyone. I mean, no one seems to mind our behavior at the local multiplex, but a common lament I hear amongst Gen X and Baby Boomer professionals alike is that of Gen Y’s haughty attitude in the workplace.
Envision this scenario: The average 25-year-old sauntering into an interview late, underdressed, cell phone in hand, and then not even thanking the prospective employer for the interview itself, at a company she didn’t bother to research before showing up.
So whom do we fault for this crappy behavior?