Are we THAT generation?

24Jan08

We watched a 60 Minutes video in class today. It was about the “Echo Boomers”, the Gen-Y children of the infamous Baby Boomers, who are as entitled as they come with disposable income to boot. We’ve been shuttled to soccer practice and piano lessons and private basketweaving classes since popping out of the womb; we expect top grades, even if our parents have to make a call to get them; we demand instant gratification, be it a camera in our phone or cyber in our sex. We are the overachieving, overstuffed, overprotected pincushions of our parents’ lofty aspirations hell bent on consuming as much of the economy as possible before settling into a cheeto-induced haze in front of our X-box.

Is this how we want to be remembered?

There is a professor at MIT’s management school named Peter Senge who said that, “Collaboration is vital to sustain what we call profound or really deep change, because without it, organizations are just overwhelmed by the forces of the status quo.” Translation: if we don’t work together to create viable change, we are simply a self-fulfilling prophecy of our environment. We become what 60 Minutes says we are: the peer-pleasing, validity grubbing masses waltzing into modern business and demanding to apply our massive skill sets to solving world hunger and making shoes for orphans.

I have been following the status quo for years. I am a status quo pro. The Quo told me to get good grades, so I was valedictorian in high school. The Quo told me to resume-build, so I applied for two honors distinctions, ran for president of a club, and dedicated nine months of my life to child-rearing in the dorms. Now, the Quo is telling me to get a professional distinction (the CPA, or Ceepa) and jump start my career at a giant, people-eating accounting firm.

I’m not calling for all of us to abandon civilized society and grow organic vegetables on our concrete patios to protest the drug-lord banana peddlers in Ecuador. What I expect of our generation is not the drastic reactions to war or social inequity that the members of the previous generation had to fight. It’s true that we are a privileged group; our parents and grandparents fought the big battles that we are fortunate enough to live into.

In a letter to his wife during the war, John Adams wrote, “I must study politics and war so that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, and that their children may study art and poetry.” I don’t feel guilty for living well or for aspiring to wealth or comfort for myself and my offspring. I feel guilty for becoming complacent in my aspirations because a middle-aged psycho-social analyst thinks I’m a pampered do-nothing who’s in for a knock upside the head come sunrise.

We have no where to go but up. We have everything to live into, not up to. And they really should get some younger, hotter talent on the 60 Minutes crew. The market is changing, don’t you know.

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3 Responses to “Are we THAT generation?”

  1. 1 Burton

    There is passion in this writing, and I love it!

  2. 2 Tom

    I think you’re giving the Quo too much credit. Maybe you *tried* to get good grades because the Quo told you too, but you actually got them because you worked really hard. The Quo isn’t a valedictorian, it has a B- average. (that’s me projecting myself onto you.)

    A second issue is going into accounting and feeling guilty for not helping the Ecuadorians. It’s one thing to feel guilty because you suppose other people think you should do something. Subscribe to Smith’s capitalism: when is best for each individual is best for the community. There are exceptions of course, but you don’t have to deal with them. Do what you want to, and the International Studies majors will pick up the Ecuadorians because they want to. But, if you don’t want to be an accountant, you shouldn’t.

    If I come across as preachy, it’s because I’m really directing this at myself and your comment board is just a content-appropriate place to do that.

    Also, you’re right: 60 minutes is just jealous of the youth.


  1. 1 There she goes again « The Aspiring Leader

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