Ran out of time to post yesterday, so it’s going up today, and my weekends are probably the most unpredictable times of the week for my schedule, so I’m just going to say that a post will happen either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday going forward and call it Weekend Reflections. Cool? Awesome. Also, yes, I’m blogging over watching a football game, which should give you a little insight into my values.
Like my Thursday Thoughts post a few days ago, I had another topic planned for this weekend’s post, but that looks like it’s going to get pushed back to next Thursday because another social media video spurred a lot of thoughts that I was originally going to just share with the video on Facebook, but it got so long that I figured it would have a better home here on the blog. The video (please watch before reading below the line) consists of a viral video from speaker and leadership expert Simon Sinek expressing his disappointment in millennials and The Young Turks‘ Hasan Piker’s brazen, dissenting response. I’m only going to focus on the first of the four facets of Sinek’s argument that Piker refutes: parenting in education.
Of course, I defend my generation, and I see many of Piker’s points; however I can see some of Sinek’s points too–with caveats. My slightly restructured thoughts originally started on Facebook and are elaborated upon here. I’ll conclude with some of my own experience on being a disabled millennial on a fixed income without a 9-to-5 job and how it nuances the “entitled, lazy millennial” debate.
I’m aware that my initial thoughts have a slight rant tone, and part of my impetus for expanding them into this post was to qualify them with personal experiences and anecdotal experience from my mother’s former career as a teacher. I acknowledge the subjectivity inherent in this, but you’re on my blog to read my thoughts, not empirical studies on parent-teacher interactions, for example, so I’m sure you understand. My goals for this post are to attempt to bridge the seemingly polarizing perspectives of Sinek and Piker, as well use my own experience and that of those close to me to show how disability introduces a nuance to just how inaccurate the image of the lazy entitled millennial is, except in the case of one select group, which I’ll detail below. I also want to note that I cannot find the unedited interview with Sinek to include here, which does eliminate context for his remarks and further biases my thoughts.
Sinek’s use of the cliche participation trophy argument is just that: cliche, old, and meaningless. I don’t even think it holds much weight anymore with Boomers. However, I do agree with him that a subset– not all— of millennials are raised in the context of being able to get what they want just because they’re them, and whose parents do badger teachers into A’s, which Piker refutes completely and without addressing this nuance: millennials with money. This isn’t only about the 1%, I’d say it trickles down to the to 20-40% in wealth quite frankly (That figure is totally arbitrary, rhetorical, and is not corroborated with research). A little context: my mother taught at a Catholic school for one year of which the students largely came from upper-middle class families. My mother’s tenure at this school was short for many reasons, but a large push for it was the result of parents having far more say than they should have. The parents didn’t try to bribe my mother or administration for passing grades, but they blamed her for their children’s underachievement, thinking that their paying tuition guaranteed their children satisfactory grades because most were going to elite private high schools–my mother taught eighth grade– and presumably saw their children attending expensive, elite colleges and universities. So, in my observation and scant empirical research I read in my days as a sociology undergrad, yes, entitlement does exist and manipulation of educators by parents with money does exist–and if Betsy DeVos has any say, I predict parents will be able to buy their underachieving children into the Ivy League, but that’s another story. Piker accuses Sinek of pulling this out of his ass, without even anecdotal evidence, so here I’ve offered mine.
I don’t know enough about the other three aspects of Sinek and Piker’s arguments in the video to discuss them adequately, but I do want to address disability, which neither Sinek nor Piker addressed. I believe this is the first time on my blog that I’m disclosing directly that I am currently on a fixed income with no 9-to-5 job. I won’t lie, it gives me a lot of time to create in that various modes that I do, and I know a lot of other creatives who don’t have that luxury, and it also gives me time to research how to pursue writing as a career. However, I see how someone like me, who has a college degree with no job and–on paper–more prospects and opportunities than a less cognitively able person would contribute to the image of the lazy, entitled millennial. Truth is, I’d love to be working–though not a dead-end job, which is a small aspect that lends credence to Sinek’s argument that we, as millennials, are pickier than other generations about the jobs we’re willing to take. Quite frankly, sometimes I think my own parents paint me as the lazy, entitled millennial, but that’s usually on bad days. What Sinek and other Gen X’ers and Boomers miss is that the jobs just aren’t there, even in corporate America, the culture upon which Sinek makes his living, and for this reason a large crux of Piker’s argument is that Sinek’s investments as a corporate culture and leadership writer heavily bias his motivations, with which I can agree to some extent, but none of this addresses that entry-level job descriptions include clauses like heavy lifting, a requirement I’ll never be able to meet, and often the ability to drive, which I could learn, but I haven’t had the financial means to get an adapted vehicle. Again, I consider myself blessed that my cerebral palsy has impeded me less cognitively than many, even moreso than some friends, but it allows older generations to further use someone like me as an example: “He’s smart with a degree, why isn’t he working?” I’ve barely scratched the surface of only a couple of reasons why this is true, and I’m sure I’ll have more to come in the future.
I hope I’ve given all of you fellow millennials another facet of why we need to fight the image of the lazy-entitled millennial, but also how the rich present certain circumstances that fuel this image. I welcome comments with your thoughts.