Millennials may be entitled, socially negligent, phone addicted snowflakes who are prone to collapse in indulgent ennui.
But we’ll never know.
Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle asserts that we can never tell the position and momentum of a subatomic particle because of how it is affected by our measurement. The Copenhagen interpretation points us to the “ineradicable impact of observation.” If this thought has merit it suggests that we will never understand how X-generation lenses affect our judgement of millennials.
What I do know is that the Gen-Xs and baby boomers do not have 20/20 vision. Had we been blessed with cleaner lenses we might have bequeathed a better political, societal and environmental legacy than the shitty mess we’re handing on.
Perhaps we could consider a more appropriate relationship to our opinions.
Conceivably, anyone who enjoys hobbies and a friendship group, will appear entitled to those who singularly pursue personal advancement. The entitled other is a great comfort to we who offered up our best years as industry fodder and need to believe it was some kind of virtue; it makes it easier to accept that we gave our children stuff in lieu of time when we can write it off as a character flaw in their generation. We can refute any challenge to privatisation, bonus culture, easy mortgages and fee-free education that monetised the inherent value of our society and deposited it into Gen-X bank accounts when we hear it as the complaint of the entitled.
We drum our fingers on the table in Nando’s waiting for our socially negligent Y-gen friends to turn up. We know from their texted, “Soz” that they have been detained by their phones, probably renegotiating their weekend plans with other FOMO-driven twenty-somethings. We ruminate on the sacrifice, possibly work related, that we made to be here at the agreed minute. It doesn’t occur to us that our tardy millennials could be developing a new level of consciousness about technology, social flexibility, responsiveness and web-based collaboration that will be essential for future leaders. There is a rapid escalation of digital complexity, AI and cross-cultural interaction, now. We might better prepare for the 2020’s with a few more Snapchat buddies of our own.
I have started questioning why I change my home every three years, my car every two, constantly refurbish my house and pursue new plateaus in an already over-achieving career. I am reminded of the cartoon of a street artist, sitting watching the morning rush hour, as thousands of suited people dash around him, heads down, elbowing their way to the office. He catches the eye of one of them and, with a wide innocent grin calls out, “Who’s winning?”
Is there a descent into reality we hold ourselves above? Are our goals distraction from the meaninglessness of material pursuit? Maybe the Y-gen collapse into indulgent ennui highlights an emotional courage that we don’t have; too close a look at the X-gen life might bring the whole facade tumbling down. Perhaps we could borrow a little courage from our millennial mentees to ask the tougher existential questions. Are we disturbed by the dark philosophising moods of our juniors because we wonder if we went there, would we ever get back out?
I value the Y-generation, as, in fact, most people do. My exaggerated X-gen caricature is a teasing reminder that when we point the finger, there are three pointing back. I long for the day when the Y-generation gets a crack at joining this severed world back up. Their adept sociability, dispersed awareness over large diverse groups, personal flexibility and techno-curiosity might just be the solution to a world where the gender, pay, cultural and generational gaps seem to be widening.