They’re constantly tweeting, taking selfies, texting. They’re spoiled, narcissistic, always seeking attention. They’re easily bored and can’t stay put in one job. Doted on and their whims indulged while growing up, they have a strong sense of entitlement.
That’s on one hand. On the other hand, they’re very sociable and are used to mingling with diverse groups. They like to work in teams. They’re confident and ambitious. They’re also open-minded and liberal. And owing to their tech gadgets, they’re always in touch with their parents and family.
These are generalizations that could easily be ascribed to just about anybody. Social researchers, however, have attributed these stereotypes to the “Me” generation, a single group called “millennials,” those born in the early 1980s to early 2000s (roughly age 10-32).
Just like their parents before them, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are scratching their heads over these so-called millennials—their own spawns—and how vastly different their seemingly collective values and behaviors are from their parents.
As is often the case, there is a wide generational divide. After all, who hasn’t heard from their elders the lines that begin with, “In my time, we didn’t do this or that…”? As one parent of millennials wonders, “Is it the parents’ fault?” as if, indeed, something is askew and wrong with this generation.
Millennials are also known by one other famous moniker: Generation Y, though the use of the term millennial has been having a resurgence of late, especially in the western context—a marketing thing, perhaps?—even as it has been in use since 1991, owing to the authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, who wrote about the generational history of the US, and thus are credited for having named this age group.
Indeed, researches and social surveys on the so-called millennials have been done mostly in the context of the developed and affluent countries. But with the world getting smaller, youths across the globe are sharing more commonalities than ever before, not least among them how wired and dependent on technological devices they are.
In the end, are millennials as bad and hopeless as they are made out to be? Some parents, employers, and an educator weigh in.
Former airline general manager; PR and advertising consultant; dean of Tourism and HRM of Lyceum of the Philippines University Manila campus; father
Today’s youth is ambitious and confident, sometimes on the brink of being arrogant. They have high expectations. They love adventure and challenges. They are very outspoken, and this is where the tinge of narcissism and self-entitlement that you mentioned may be perceived in some, though I can’t say if this is true of most.
But, I find it sad that they don’t take work seriously, though they can easily focus on some other tasks that may be meaningful to them, e.g. taking off from work/class because he wanted to set up a website for his barkada.
My parents made it clear to me and my siblings that we have to “be healthy all the time to be sure we will have a job.” Finding work, in order to be “useful,” was our goal.
For today’s youth, living life to the fullest is their goal and a job is just a “tool” to help them get there. What’s even sadder is this: Today’s youth is so attached to their electronic devices. In fact, my students claim that the worst punishment for them is not having their mobile phones or iPads.
How do I deal with them? Easy, I always make them realize that no technology in the world can ever replace the caring heart of a parent or that of a dedicated professor, that they should heed our advice as often as they can, especially when they feel like they’re in one of the many “crossroads” in life.
Entrepreneur/co-owner of W/17; philanthropist; mother of four, ages 18, 16, 11 and 6
Narcissistic, entitled, self-absorbed, spoiled—these are just a few of the adjectives that are used to describe them. And for good reason, we just have to look at their profiles on any social-media network and we see why; the selfie was, after all, created by this generation, otherwise known as the “me” generation.
The extreme example of this generation would be Elliott Rodgers, who killed six people and himself, because girls were not attracted to him, despite being good-looking, and having a privileged background watching premieres of high-profile movies, meeting famous people and traveling first class. So in his extreme conceit, he decided he would just kill as many of them as he can because he can’t have them. Talk about entitlement.
But the good news is, all is not lost. Millennials are the most confident, open-minded, expressive and optimistic generation ever born. Their desire for recognition gives way to so many of them extending a helping hand during emergencies and disasters. Just look at the number of pictures posted during the aftermath of “Yolanda,” of these kids packing goods, venturing to typhoon-stricken places, and all sorts of relief efforts. So what if they have to post their pictures while doing these, as long as the work is done, we should all be thankful?
We have never seen a generation more accepting and tolerant of different views, cultures and beliefs, so go millennials!
And as parents, given the amount of information and technology available to this generation, we have an opportunity raising more socially aware and responsible individuals that our parents and grandparents didn’t have.
But this also means we have to be more hands-on and engage in more open communication with them to be able to guide them to the promising future that awaits them. And as a parent of three of four children born under this generation, I eagerly look forward to seeing them grow to be socially responsible, tech savvy, and tolerant adults, with a selfie thrown in now and then for good measure.
Owner, ShopManila Inc. (Myth boutique); co-owner, International Brands Management Inc.; fashion industry insider; mother of two millennials
This “phenomenon” has long baffled me. I sometimes wonder, is it age? Is it the generation gap? Is it the children’s upbringing? Is it the parents’ fault? Is it the “permissiveness” of the society? Or is it all of the above?
I am not saying that Gen Xers aren’t spoiled, but I would say that it is more rampant in the Generation Y’s. And I am saying this in general. It doesn’t matter if one belongs in the fashion industry or not. They have no sense of responsibility and their work ethic sucks. They have no respect for others and they feel they deserve everything, even without the hard work.
I feel they are very much in a hurry to be successful that they are willing to take shortcuts in order to reach their goal.
I would say, my generation took things seriously. For instance, we respected the 30-day notice when intending to resign. This was out of respect to the employer and colleagues. Today, employees will just leave on the very same day, if they decide to. They can tender their resignation simply because they’re bored in their job. Makes me wonder what happened to perseverance.
Millennials in the fashion industry are no different. They can throw tantrums just because they feel like it. How do I deal with them? I do not baby them or cajole them. If they want to go, then go. I have better things to do than deal with drama.
I always point out to my sons the dos and don’ts—like in answering e-mails, the responsibility they have as employees, etc. I always stress the importance of putting in 100 percent in everything they do, or don’t do it at all.
I think, now more than ever, the boys can relate to my frustrations since they are both working and have people under them. Martin, who’s turning 25, would say that he catches himself speaking/thinking like me when dealing with his staff. Ralph, 23, is very frustrated with his PR interns who act like divas or are MIA at work. He’s very particular about the quality of work turned in by his interns and would point it out to them if they fail to deliver.
Suzette Hahn Lopez
Country manager of Villa Medica; mother of Gabrielle, 20; Isabella, 18; and Sofia, 15
I am a firm believer of the saying: “The environment molds the person, the environment molds its generation.”
I belong to Generation X. Somehow, during my younger years, I could not fully understand why my elders had a different way of looking at situations the way I did. I would often have a different point of view. Some years after, it began to dawn on me that I was born in a period different from theirs, hence, the difference in perspective!
The generation preceding us was molded by difficult times. It was the time of war and destruction, a time of international tensions. Our elders lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Communist Expansionism and its concomitant Cold War. They had to struggle, sacrifice and work hard to counter all these difficulties. They had to rebuild from the destructive wars; they had to do more to provide for whatever hardships to come.
We Gen Xers were born in a period of economic prosperity and technological advancement that provided more conveniences to our lives. We lived in times of relative comfort brought about by modern facilities and gadgets (microwaves, rice cookers, calculators and computers, pagers and cell phones, fax machines, etc.). Our parents could not understand why we partied till after midnight. They could not understand why we refused to wake up early to attend to daily house chores. They did not understand how we could do our schoolwork or even office work much quickly. They did not understand that groupmates could include the opposite sex. They just did not have a full appreciation of our environment as we saw it. Hence, their uneasy feeling that we were not up to it.
But succeeded we did! Just like our elders did but in a different way!
Will Gen Y or the millennials have their claim to success? Millennials are often described as being narcissistic and having a strong sense of entitlement. Their attitude will do them in, as is often said. However, when I encounter difficult times with the younger generation, be these my children or coworkers, I keep in mind my own experience dealing with my elders. Millennials have a different world and mine was not necessarily better.
It’s a different world indeed! It’s world of high-tech cell phones, laptops and iPads, super-mini computers, Internet, borderless accessibilities from social networking to business transactions, etc. In a survey, I recently read that 90 percent of Gen Y respondents said their generation had the power to change the world for the better; 85 percent said modern technology has changed the way they think about the world. One other noteworthy finding, which gives me a lot of confidence about this generation: Millennials are family-centric!
So, going back to the question: Will millennials have their claim to success? I have no doubts they will!
I just feel that we are the most abused generation because we’re getting it from both sides!
VP for marketing communications of SM Prime Holdings Inc.
I handle a diverse age group in my team, and over the years have learned that every generation has its characteristics.
But I have also learned not to put labels on people and, through experience, have come to the conclusion that traits attributed to Generation Y, like narcissism and a sense of entitlement, can be seen in people of all generations.
Rather, I focus on the strengths of each person, enhancing these, and improving on their weaker points. I rather like the dynamism of working with people from different generations because I learn a lot from each one. My work is in communications, and it is important for me to learn to speak their language.
How do I deal with diversity and changes? By emphasizing that we are a team and should help each other; keeping them inspired; letting them focus on their work rather than personal matters. I have also learned that when leading a team, you should set a good example as the staff tends to pick up from you. Also, a sense of humor is important especially through difficult projects.
Malu Oclarence Dueñas
District sales manager of Thai Airways; mother of Mark, 28; Lorenzo, 20; Samantha, 17; Nicole, 14
Millennials are definitely more narcissistic compared to our generation. But no, I do not think they are always seeking attention. I would even think that they actually shy away from it.
To me, they are an enigma. They appear to be outwardly stoic: Picture a teenager decked with ear buds staring blankly at you while listening to the latest Pitbull collaborations. You pluck out an ear bud and yell “Fire!” in his ear and he would probably respond with a, “Huh?” while rolling his eyeballs and getting back to his music.
However, this indifference quickly disappears when you see him animatedly “chat” with friends or bond with virtual strangers during online games.
With the dominance of the Internet in their lives, they have become less resourceful (and lazy?), opting to Google their homework instead of going to the library to research.
But it is this same Internet-centric life that also enables them to reach far greater heights than Generation X. They want to publish their opinions, they blog. They need cash, they sell stuff online. They want to know how to fix a flat tire, they Google the instructions. Now how can that not be resourceful?
Resourceful is my son who wanted to impress his ninang on her birthday by creating a 3D key chain for her. I gaped at it and asked him incredulously, “Did that really come out of a printer?” He gave me the most condescending look ever.
Despite me not being able to monitor their activities 24/7, our sacred house rules are as follows: 1. Inside the car, no “individual” music is allowed. We either listen to the radio/CD together, or better, we talk. 2. Ditto for mealtime. We eat and converse during meals, and we only eat and converse. No electronic devices anywhere near us, thank you.
President and CEO of Buensalido & Associates Public Relations; mother of three, ages 38, 33 and 29
Working with the Generation Y can be both rewarding and frustrating at times. As Time magazine aptly put it, they’re the “me” generation so everything’s about them, so they’re quite self-centered, narcissistic and have very short attention span.
I fully agree with the Time assessment.
The upside of it is that they’re quick learners, very technologically updated, early adaptors (they seem to adapt easily to everything new especially technology), very creative and fearless with their ideas.
Their attitude toward work is generally: “What can I get out of this job? If I’m not happy, then I can just move on to another job. I don’t have to stay here for long.” I notice, too, that they don’t usually have any long-term goals to build their careers where they’re currently working. The future is not a top priority.
What matters to them is if they like or enjoy what they’re doing, they’ll pursue it with a passion, but the moment they get tired (often too abruptly, they say they’re “burned out”), they will quit even if they have no immediate options.
People from my generation were usually content enough to find a stable job with a reliable company like San Miguel Corp. or a bank or airline, and they were willing to spend the rest of their working lives in that company and retire there.
But this generation isn’t concerned with their retirement or stability. It’s what the job will teach them: If it makes them happy and fulfilled for the moment, they will stick to that work. But money is very important to them. They would rather be paid well for something they like to do. Sometimes they even want to be paid well for less work.
How do I deal with them? I try to learn as much as I can from their good points such as: adapt to technology, and to be fearless with new ideas and untested concepts.
Their “sense of entitlement” is something I try to temper by infusing them with my traditional and time-tested values and, like a mother to her children, I teach them what’s right from wrong, without being too conservative and judgmental.
I’m the same way with my own children: I push them to fully develop their talents/abilities, listen to their ideas, give them the opportunities to experiment with what they like (and maybe fail sometimes), but in the end, I will always support and encourage them to be the best they can be.