Why Does Our Generation Have a Bad Rap?

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By Lauren Englehardt
The Daily Aztec
San Diego State University

Generation Y. The Millennials. The Echo Boomers. Those born between the years 1980 and 1995 have been dubbed many things, and college students today fall into the prime years of this generation. We are also heading into the work force just as the baby-boomer generation—those born between 1946 and 1964—is on the cusp of retirement. We are the age of the laptop and the iPod, and the first generation to grow up in a world filled with the Internet. Wouldn't the aging boomers welcome us into the workforce with open arms? Don't count on it. As it turns out, the earliest exports from the post-college lifestyle have hit corporate America, and their performance reviews have been less than stellar.

So what are the complaints?

As it turns out, being technologically savvy isn't everything. Recently, the television program "60 Minutes" aired a special titled "The Millennials Are Coming," and it wasn't a thumbs-up review of our generation.

Boomer-age bosses are fed up with young 20-somethings sauntering into work with their flip-flops at noon.

"It's a perfect storm we have created to put these people in a position where they suddenly have to perform as professionals and haven't been trained," said Mary Crane, who teaches crash courses for Millennials eager for job training.

In the seething report on "60 Minutes," our generation is deemed lazy and overindulgent, the result of years of being consistently told "we are special" by our ever-adoring parents.

But can you equate self-esteem with the attitude of a generation? I find it hard to believe because we received "Honorable Mention" medals in our T-ball days, that we will forever be self-indulgent and expect to reap extensive benefits for no hard work.

Some of the so-called experts on this report have decided that Mr. Rogers is the root of our generation's self-indulgence. I find this argument a little hard to accept. But, it is hard to dispute some of the facts made by critics. We are a generation that thinks we can do everything better and faster than those who preceded us. And most of us want to climb to the top of the corporate ladder with one hand, while the other hand texts our friends the latest gossip. Something doesn't add up.

For Gen Y to be successful in the baby boomers' world, we need to learn some hard life lessons—quickly. Our generation lives in a world where most have been coddled by overprotective "helicopter parents" hovering at the chance to help us whenever we have fallen down.

Boomer parents have made a noble effort, but has their overprotective nature helped to mold who we'll become in the future? Despite some of these crucial points, we should not hang our heads in shame just yet. Our technology skills have enabled us to work faster and more efficiently. We can put out knowledge toward the betterment of society and, while boomers sometimes resist the latest software updates, we embrace them. And the laziness of a few bad apples shouldn't be generalized as the norm for a whole generation.

But criticizing the younger generation is hardly a new occurrence. You can just imagine ancient generations shaking their heads at the new up-and-comers with their newfangled technology. And we must take the boomers' criticism with a grain of salt—weren't these the same folks who were criticized for being far-out, pot-smoking hippies by their parents, who had been dubbed the "greatest generation?" We must take these criticisms in stride. Different generations have lived in different points in history and have been defined by different events. Our grandparents had World War II, our parents had Vietnam and Gen X had the Gulf War. Has the War on Terror defined us? If so, what will be our rallying cry?

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