A facebook friend recently posted his thoughts about the work ethic of kids today. It was a respectable post, and his ideas were sound.
Where did we go wrong as a country?
Why do these kids not want to work hard?
Why does everyone want everything for free?
Why does everyone feel entitled?
Did our generation fail as parents?
We got married young (I was 20 and my beautiful wife Antoinette Allen was19), we had no money,and we had a baby on the way.
I had absolutely no skills, I worked in a print shop during the day (trying to learn a craft) (Thank you Bill Conroy) I worked at 7:11 at night and I drove a cab on weekends. I worked 80 hours a week for pretty much the entire decade. It was very difficult! Because life is very difficult.
I’m not looking for accolades, as many people worked as hard or harder than I did. My point is life is hard ,work hard and good things will come, and it is rewarding in the end……..
At first, my response was a desire to be a part of that feeling. I work 80 hour weeks every week. It’s the life of a restaurant manager, and it’s the life I chose. My work ethic is sometimes too strong, and I often have to work on trying to work less. So I felt good indentifying with that mindset. It was that whole “Clint Eastwood and his generation were tough sons of bitches, and they got dirty, they fought hard, and they took respect.” That’s a cool way to be seen: the idolization of grit.
But the more I thought about it, the more I started to see cracks in how that mindset applied today. Work ethic is something that shouldn’t disappear. You should always work hard for what you want. But there are other parts of that thought process that have become outdated, and it resonates loudly. Kids nowadays have it so much differently than even people in their 30’s now, let alone 50’s and 60’s do. Growing up as a millenial has this undertone of freedom to it that no generation before it has had. There are opportunities that these kids have that if they accomplish them in their lifetime, the world will change for the better. There could be an end to poverty. There could be global travel in under 4 hours, increasing commerce and world trade. There could be commercialized space flight for everyone. There could be enough food to end world hunger. We could see an eradication of cigarettes. The world is a very different place now that 30 years ago. As times change, so eventually must everything else.
So after some time, I responded with the following :
Kids nowadays see people everywhere becoming famous for nothing. Look at Kim Kardashian, look at the thirty richest YouTube stars. It’s amazing how much kids nowadays are inundated with this perception that life is perfect if you can get enough people to notice you. ‘Likes’ on facebook and instagram, retweets on twitter and views on videos are literally influential enough to make these kids choose between life and death. Still, it’s not enough to blame pop culture. This up and coming generation has witnessed the degeneration of the world. The amount of people worlwide in poverty has surpassed preindustrial revolution numbers. Politicians get away with whatever they want. The US government does what they please, and a fair amount of the rest of the world hates us because of decent propaganda. These kids come into this being told ‘time to join this system we have. The system sucks, and you’ll never feel like you have enough, and even though there’s enough technology in the world to make nearly all work automated, we’re going to need you to sell us your time for the rest of your enjoyable life.’ Oh boy. Sign me up. I’m not saying your generation was wrong, or to blame. Your mindset is firm and respectable. You work hard, and eventually you make it just far enough to escape the system. But tell me, if you had to do it over, and you saw that maybe there was a way to escape the system early, would you want that?
Maybe I’m living in a fantasy. Maybe my hopes for this generation are misplaced. But maybe I’m not, and maybe there is hope. Maybe there is more to see than we can see.
The horizon is far, and littered with storms. But I choose to see the sunrise, for through the clouds our next port awaits as haven.