Saturday, June 5, 2010

generation 'me': the hottest of hot topics

I don't understand why seemingly all of the sudden, print media and media in general have been pontificating about the so called entitlement and spoiled nature of Generation Y. I know I have written about this before, and the topic is pretty much everywhere you look: in the commencement speeches and baccalaureate homily, in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, on CNN and the evening news.

What all assume about our generation is this: we are spoiled, entitled; doted on by our parents and given things that were undeserved such as trophies and grades. I want to make this argument: why is it that the fact that when we were six and seven and we played soccer and got a stupid trophy for participating a point on which the older generation proves that we are selfish and stupid? Why the trophy for God's sake? Kids know when praise is undeserved. Adults praised us anyway. Maybe I was a particularly realistic child, but no matter how smart or pretty my parents thought I was or told me I was, there was somewhere in the back of my mind that knew they had to say these things as parents. Yes, I was smart enough, and I wasn't ugly. But I knew I was not number one in either category. I have a hard time believing that anyone could actually believe parents and teachers who buttered us up, just because they knew how nice it is to want to believe in yourself.

I move onto this: why does trophy giving make us spoiled? Didn't it, rather, make us that much more striving to achieve? Want to prove that we were deserving of the praise, deserving of the grades, deserving of the trophy? In the homily at the baccalaureate mass, the night before graduation, the Jesuit speaking mentioned this: "to whom much is given, much is expected." We have not gotten a chance to prove how much we can do yet, and our parents generation has been quick to break us down: after a lifetime of encouragement, they have unleashed a jealous wrath, commenting on our optimism; characterizing it as a weakness. Weak, I am not. Entitled, I am not. Resilient, I am. We are.


  1. Thank you for pointing this out! I feel like we are getting to the point where everyone older than us begins to remember the "good old days" when everything was better.
    P.S. You were not the only kid who thought soccer trophies for participation were a little bit ridiculous!

  2. I appreciated this post very much! And as a member of the generation above you (Gen X), take comfort in knowing they said much of the same stuff about us! Soon enough you will be able to sit around scoffing at those 10 years below you. It's the freshman-sophmore syndrome. After being tormented by upperclassmen, you would think we'd be sympathetic. Instead we can't wait to turn around and do the same. ;-)