Generations pass through one by one. The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, the MTV Generation, Generation Y…each one’s characteristics become steadily less flattering as the years progress, eventually evolving into Gen-Y teens and young adults in the world today.
Now we’re looking at a group of kids tentatively labeled Generation Z. Children born after 2000, a group sometimes referred to as Generation ADD due to their inability to concentrate longer than a few seconds on anything. Kind of like gnats, only with bigger feet and appetites.
Now I’m not rocking on the porch, sipping lemonade and longing for the good old days, but there’s some stuff going down with the kids. Stuff that’s gonna come back to bite us in the end. It seems our only option is intervention.
Skill Set Courses for the Younger Generation: AKA wtf is wrong with you?!
** Independent problem solving. We have a group of special snowflakes that melt at the tiniest hint of complications. People have been softening the blow for them all their lives – parents, coaches, club leaders – rushing to cushion a fall, fix the grade, or kiss a scrape. All this coddling produced a group of people unable to face a problem, analyze it, and brainstorm solutions. At this rate we’ll end up with a bunch of glassy eyed thirty-somethings stumbling around underemployed and carrying too much debt. Oh, wait…
** Accepting disappointment. Disappointment? What’s that? Everyone gets a ribbon, everyone makes the team. A simple cleaning at the dentist earns you a trip to the prize box. Kids get every single thing on their Christmas list and more. Much more. How do we expect them to function in society? A place where you don’t always get the job and you aren’t automatically considered the MVP in your office? We’re handicapping them before they even get out into the world.
** Competitiveness. Sure, certain people might harbor some sort of competitive spirit, but we dampen that in a hundred ways. Every little league player goes home with a trophy, so what’s the point in working harder at practice? Each book fair entrant gets a participation ribbon – why put in the extra hours for first place? When every single moment of your life is a shining achievement, what is there left to strive for?
** Reasonable expectations. Gimme, gimme, gimme. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s not just the kids who have a rampant case of the Gimmes. You can pretty it up by calling it “Keeping up with the Joneses” or “Wish Lists” but it all boils down to greed. Want that new dirt bike, latest laptop, top of the line gaming system? Just ask for Christmas and it’s yours. Covet a neighbor’s new car, the newest iPhone, expensive jewelry and fancy vacations? Put it on a credit card and boom! Instant satisfaction. Charge won’t go through? Just call the credit card company and increase your limit – they’re happy to support your habit. Somewhere along the way folks missed the lesson on delayed gratification.
** Accountability. There has never been such a large group of people quite so talented at passing the buck. Missing assignments, halfhearted performances, failing classes, forgetting chores – you can call them on it but there’s always a comeback. I didn’t know it was due…the teacher didn’t explain it enough…what do you mean, I had a chore? It’s Friday! Incomplete projects, overdue notices, credit rating in the toilet. I finished my section, check with Tony…I sent the payment, it must have been lost in the mail…What’s a credit rating? What these folks need is a strong kick in the pants and a lesson (or fifty) on how to say, “I’m sorry. That was my mistake.”
I think if we crowdsource it we could offer courses this summer. Of course, then we’d have to convince Gen-Y folks it’s worth their time. Maybe if we set up a Starbucks bar in the lobby…