The problem with Millennials…but us “adults” should not be so smug

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since watching this viral Youtube video of Simon Sinek (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU) over the holidays where he lays out 4 root factors of the challenges many Millennials have in the workplace: failed parenting strategies, technology, impatience, and corporate environments. Of course, much of his scathing commentary applies to more than just Millennials — it applies to many of our children and young adults today. A lot of the comments I’ve been seeing are scoffing at the poor parenting that caused these young people to become this way. About how we adults were raised successfully to not feel so entitled. But I don’t think we should be so smug.

In particular I’ve been musing over the topic on impatience. We “adults” are modelling behaviours now to our children that reflect our desire to control our time. We want to maximize each moment and get more done, because increased productivity in work, home, school, friendships, is the goal, right? It may not be an explicit lesson or discussion, but through establishing “what is normal” every day life, we are teaching our children volumes:

  • Don’t want to schedule a phone call with a friend? Just text back and forth when it’s convenient.
  • Don’t want to wait for the specific time of the week when your favourite TV show is on? Just download it or wait for Netflix, and watch on your own schedule.
  • Don’t want to wait for the bus and deal with people even though your commute can be easily done by transit? Of course, use a car and control your own schedule.
  • Don’t want to make the trek to the store when both your schedule and the store hours align? Online shopping is there, with Amazon Prime delivery to boot.

The explosion of food delivery services, Uber, Tinder…there are more and more ways that companies exploit our enjoyment of instant gratification, and our desire to control our time. It’s a selfish desire that we all have. I’m not saying that all these innovations are bad and we should get rid of them. Obviously that is crazy. I’m a user of many of these things.

What I’m realizing is that the overall cumulation of all of these apps and services means is that it erodes our everyday practice of waiting. And being patient with situations and others. We are losing practice dealing with the daily invariable inconveniences of life, and forgiving those small trespasses against us, that allow us to live well with each other. All these things are practice for us to not be so self-centered. And to be resilient when things don’t go our way exactly when and how as planned.

This is happening to all of us, and not just Millennials or our children. Maybe it’s time to rethink how we might want to build back in the practice of waiting for things, events and people. Maybe it’s time to give up on a few of these conveniences, on purpose.

~Jen

One thought on “The problem with Millennials…but us “adults” should not be so smug”

  1. Well said Jen. I often comment to my son that he needs to be patient sometimes and listen to whatever is on the radio vs streaming “songs from my phone” through Bluetooth…like we used to have to. We say that they have and need everything “on demand”, but we ourselves are living that same life now. It’s a tricky search for balance.

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