The Kids Today (part 384)

So, I just watched this video, and the guy raises a few interesting points about Millennials in the workplace.


Of course, he misses the other, biggest issues: The fact that these kids have increasingly fewer opportunities to succeed, and they're smart enough to know it; and the fact that they understand what's actually possible better than anyone who is currently running things.


This guy briefly touches on the ideas of impact and job satisfaction. The part he never mentions is that these kids are smart enough to know that if they bust ass, do better than anyone else, and stay loyal to the company, they'll probably still never earn enough to pay off their school loans, let alone buy a house or be able to retire someday- But if they work hard enough, their boss' boss might get a bonus. They know their job could be outsourced or eliminated at any moment because of something happening on a global corporate level, no matter what their own performance may be like.


And yet, for those kids born rich, their fortunes will continue to grow no matter how badly they screw up. A viral video or an appearance on a reality show can very visibly catapult someone into that same strata. We have created a society where success or failure is the result of random chance, rather than brains or hard work, and these kids know that.


So, if your job is never going to provide more than a minimal paycheck, you care about other things instead- like doing something meaningful. "It doesn't pay enough to survive, but I feel good about it-" and if this job doesn't look like that one in a million chance to get ahead, well, we'll just keep looking for something better. For decades, companies have treated employees as disposable, and now they're shocked that their employees treat them the same.


The second significant factor he misses is that these kids see wealth disparity, and they see racism and sexism and they see war and conflict and things just not working, and they know how to fix them but lack the power to do so.


Seriously. We talk about how these kids are always glued to their phones, or Facebook, or video games, but we fail to realize that there are *people* on the other ends of those tethers. It used to be that your social circle was limited to the people you went to school with, because well, those were the peers you had access to. Now, your peer group is worldwide, with those connections based on a common interest. This morning I was on a forum talking politics with people in California, North Carolina, Israel, Japan, Australlia, England, Germany, and Montreal. I can log onto Warcraft and play with guild members in Korea, Brazil, Alaska, and Sri Lanka. On top of that, I drive a car designed in Japan for a Korean company based in the Cayman Islands, built in Mexico from Chinese parts and run off Saudi Arabian oil.


So how do you think these kids see things like border conflicts and trade agreements and resource distribution? Add to this that they grew up in an age with unlimited knowledge at their fingertips- Give them a social ill, and they immediately learn the historical cause and context, parallels with other societies, and everything which has succeed or failed in addressing it. The "but that's not our way" argument is completely meaningless to them- They know that A, B, and C work, D, E, and F don't, and everyone older than them is too fixated on their own prejudices to do anything about it.


They inherently understand the implications of automation and globalization and what's possible in a post-scarcity society because they're already living in that world, and most of the rest of us aren't.


We lament the fact that these kids aren't adapting to our world when the fact is that world no longer exists. Once the boomers die out, we're going to see some quantum shifts in everything from foreign policy to what "work" actually means- And the burden to keep up is going to be on us, not the Millennials.