Sensible persons within the Baby Boom and the Generation X: This post is not for you. This is directed at the few of you who have inherited the ethos of the generation before you. You know who you are. You're the people who describe the Generation Y in terms such as shiftless, lazy, and so forth. It's time to give you a paradigm shift, to put it politely.
The last members of Generation Y were born in 1994. They will be joining the rest of their cadre in the workforce in the next year or so. Still, we are seen as shiftless, lazy, uneducated, and addled. We like to live in the basement forever, playing the video games, or else we're always out there skateboarding, smoking dope, street racing, getting into fights, and generally acting in a manner that is not conducive to being productive, valuable members of society.
I'm in a class with a number of "mature" students, who have been out of the high school system for a while. I myself qualify, barely, for the designation, but when I say this, I largely mean people in their thirties and forties. And I just got the third degree from the middle-aged man beside me about having checked my phone in the class before and generally using my class time to play games on my laptop rather than work on the assignment.
The thing is, though, I was done the assignment. I finished it two days ago, when it was assigned. I was playing games on my laptop because I was bored. I have no outstanding assignments and no immediately-present tests. Prior education meant I have a few courses I've been exempted from, including the one I'm using to write this post. That means no notes to take, no test to write, and no assignments to do. I sit in the class because I enjoy the discussion, because a little extra review never hurts, and because I'm reasonably certain there will be a successor course in the next semester. It's not always a bore, sometimes I do focus if I don't know it. Today it is, and so I write. Another day it might be a game, or tinkering around with the stock market simulator, or reading the blogs and rss feeds that filter into my Outlook over the day.
I can see the annoyance, though. I understand it. What I don't understand is the same man's earlier bad attitude when I finished those two assignments from Tuesday in approximately 45 minutes. The projects were to be done on Word, simple formatting and editing tests designed to build familiarity with the program. Me, I'm rather familiar with word. I know most of the shortcuts and where the buttons and tools are. I've had to learn two different versions of it now (2000 and then 2007) and I'm fluent in the use of both. The six documents I had to proof and format should only have taken a person with my level of familiarity about 45 minutes. But this man was angry, saying that I must have cut corners, that I didn't even open the textbook other than to get to the assignments themselves, so I must have known some way to cheat. Now, which would have been more industrious: to do the job in three quarters of an hour, or to stretch it out over the two hour class?
It's not just this guy. It's in the media, in the workforce. Generation Y is just plain lazy. We take too long to do our jobs. That was the big complaint I had to deal with at the Hilton. I was the slowest cook there. I took too long to do even the most basic tasks.
Of course I did! Every other cook had three times the experience in the field, at least! Most of them had been working at the hilton for years. And in the run of the day, I still got more done than some of my co-workers. I'm the guy who skips a break to finish a job or shows up early without pay to fill gaps. It was the Old Guard, the union vets, who were taking breaks every two hours on the dot, leaving things half-finished and eating icecream in the slow parts of the day rather than try to keep up.
We work hard, most of us. We want to succeed.