Entitlement – is it really just a Gen Y thing?

My generation has often been labelled as the most privileged generation in history. We’re spoilt, impatient, and feel entitled to the world, apparently.

I’ve actually been told before that I don’t seem Gen Y at all. Something about work ethic, maturity, and other such heart-warming compliments.

Really, I’m just doing my job.

I will admit that there are things that bug me about some of my peers and those just coming through now into the workforce. Just little behaviours I observe, like the classic whinge about how a monkey could do this job (I CAN’T BELIEVE I WENT TO UNIVERSITY FOR THIS!), or a tendency to throw out the most basic questions (queries that could easily be answered independently with a tiny bit of work on their part *cough Google cough*).

But I’m far from a paragon of perfection myself. I’ve been wondering, lately, whether I truly appreciate my lot - because it’s a bloody good one, let’s face it. I have a sweet job, one I can walk to (and work from home if need be) with amazing people. Price, location and size have collided nicely in our current house, though it’s uninsulated and drafty (and not immune to mould). For the past six-odd years, I’ve had a devoted guy by my side, who wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

Yet wouldn’t you know it, I find plenty of things to grumble about (why can’t he decide what he wants to do work-wise? Why did I say yes to doing this awesome feature, even though it means spending hours of my own time working on it?) And that really hit home during the series finale of Desperate Housewives, when Tom points out to Lynette that she’s always chasing one more thing over the horizon that she thinks is the final key to happiness – only it never is (and yes, I promise this will be the last time I reference Lynette in a post. Also, while I was totally rooting for them, was anyone else not thrilled about the way the writers finally reunited those two?).

But you know what they say about the yoof.

“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them.”

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders…. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers”

You’ve probably heard both those quotes before, and know that they’re attributed to Socrates and some dude known Peter the Hermit. For centuries, adults have complained about the younger generation. It’s nothing new.

I’d be curious to hear from anyone who’s a little further down the track – those in their 30s or beyond, maybe? Did you encounter similar attitudes when you started out in the workforce?

13 thoughts on “Entitlement – is it really just a Gen Y thing?

  1. Every generation is going to complain about every other generation. It’s just the way it is. I’ve been told I am not like my peers too, but I don’t see it that way. I guess you surround yourself with people like yourself, but my friends are all hard working, educated, financially smart individuals. (okay, not ALL but what can you expect).

    I do know of some people (my age, my parents age, even older) that are irresponsible, entitled, and lazy. I definitely find that the 50+ demographic at work are somewhat “create work” type people. I think it comes with not being very efficient with technology, and i don’t think they TRY to do it, but I find that I’m always having to do things for them that they could have done themselves with a computer. But we don’t call THEM entitled or lazy, so I do think it’s a bit of an unfair title for gen Y. There are a few bad seeds in every generation, of course, and media tends to amplify it. But, where my mom worked one job (just one!!) I work one full-time job, go to school, blog ($), babysit, work for my dad, and work from home by offering commenting services on blogs.. many of my friends have more than one job or put in a lot of overtime at their jobs.

    I guess my point with this mini novel is that I think that we’ll complain about the next generation, just like we’re complained about. It’s odd, though – we’ll be responsible for RAISING the next generation (and the generations before us were our parents/grandparents) so really, who is to blame?

    1. I would agree. Every generation has it’s flaws and it isn’t until the next one comes along that we can point out the flaws of the previous. The gen Y generation has had everything at their fingertips, huge scientific advances, and the increase of time and speed. It is no wonder that people feel entitled. They have gotten used to being entitled.

  2. I’m from gen x and yes we were labeled the same way when I was just starting out in the workforce. I think one difference is times were way better when I was starting out. Now every single generation is facing their own sets of difficulties. It’s not even like WE have it figured out right now.

  3. You put into post form something I’ve been thinking for quite some time. I’m Gen Y, but I’m surrounded by older people who cut off their noses in spite of their face, and then turn around and tell me my generation is entitled. There’s a handful in every crowd, always have been, always will be.

  4. To whine is human…

    I have fiftyish friends who bellyache about how “entitled” children & grandchildren allegedly feel. However…as you point out, it’s the same old song.

    Why would people who grew up as the sons and daughters of the most affluent generation in the history of the Western world NOT think the world is their egg? Why would it NOT be a disappointment and even a shock to discover that the affluence is coming to an end, and that many children of the middle class are going to spend their lives as members of the working poor, no matter how well educated or privileged they may have been by the time they left their parents’ homes? That’s not “entitlement”; it’s reasonable expectation.

    And why would people who have been led to believe higher education is an advanced form of vocational training NOT be disappointed to find themselves working elbow-to-elbow with GED holders in call centers? Education is to make your intellectual, ethical, and spiritual life better, not to get you a better job. By corporatizing education and selling it as commodity that magically increase everyone’s income, we (and by that I mean the interests who believe every human endeavor should be treated as a business) have done our children and ourselves a vast disservice. Not for us is it to complain about Gen Y’s attitude.

  5. I’ve come to decide that Entitlement the Beast is really a personality thing, in a lot of cases. I have filtered my recruiting for a specific subset of young grads and lo, only a very small percent of those manifest the Entitlement that I hate so very much.

    It’s not that I don’t understand people having small gripes – we all do. ALL of us, do, small, medium, and big gripes, in fact.

    But the Beastly Entitlement of expecting that the solutions to our griping will be then handed to you on a silver platter and pitching a fit when it’s not, and carrying on in silent or vocal tantrums of one sort or another instead of working with people to reach a resolution – that’s not a generational thing. I think that it simply dates back to any time people have developed a sense of untempered privilege.

  6. You bring up some really great points. I’m fairly certain baby boomers weren’t the most popular with their elders when they were our age, come to think of it. Protesting wars and doing drugs and all.

  7. Kids always seem more disrespectful than their parents, and I”m not sure that’s really true. But, as a Gen Xer, I do think that Gen Y has more of an entitlement attitude than my generation or before. My much younger cousins say things all the time that are absurd to me. “Everyone should have an ipod” and “I shouldn’t have to work 9-5″… I put part of the blame on them for not waking up as they get older and seeing the world for how it really is. I also put some blame on parents for telling their kids, more than any other generation, how they can do anything and should have anything and shoudl be treated like princes(ses) and shouldn’t put up with anything and are super extra super duper special… that sets kids up to feel entitled. I dunno.

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