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Apr. 2 2010 - 3:55 pm | 291 views | 0 recommendations | 8 comments

Definitive, unyielding proof that Millennials are lazy slackers

Young, wired and living life on the digital ed...

Image by TheeErin via Flickr

I sure would like to get my hands on that Washington Post newsroom memo that has to exist, explaining to staffers: When in doubt, bash Gen Y. If it’s a slow news day, bash Gen Y. If nothing is going on in your beat, bash Gen Y. If you’re an aging, crotchety op-ed writer, bash Gen Y. You get the idea.

Equally as obsessed with my generation is the Pew Research Center, which has been churning out study after study on 20-somethings and their various craaaaaaaazy priorities. They put off marriage! They go to church less! Now, Pew finds and the Post gleefully reports, they’re lazy!

Specifically:

The millennial generation — about 50 million people between ages 18 and 29 — is the only age group in the nation that doesn’t cite work ethic as one of its “principal claims to distinctiveness,” according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Forget the fact that I can claim a trait without thinking it necessarily makes me distinctive – my being blond-haired in Los Angeles comes to mind. Using grouped answers like this to suggest laziness or apathy on the part of an entire generation is lazy generalization of the worst kind. And, believe it or not, the Post actually admitted that some hard-working young people might have a hard time jumping on board with this characterization: “Some young adults –┬ámuch like Generation X-ers who found themselves labeled as slackers in the 1990s — believe such generalizations are nonsense.”

This is the same logic that, a few years back, had researchers trumpeting evidence that all Gen Yers are spoiled brats. That was the conclusion they drew after asking college students whether they agreed with statements like “I think I am a special person.” But if overwhelming numbers of people had answered no to such statements, wouldn’t the results be just as alarming – say, that we are a generation of suicidal deadbeats?

The same can be said of this supposed evidence of our lack of work ethic. Perhaps we simply don’t think such a trait is distinctive because having to work hard at something to accomplish what you want is simply a given nowadays. After all, would a generation of lazy-ass slackers be enrolling in and graduating from college in higher numbers than every before? Others have volunteered in massive numbers to rebuild the Gulf Coast, fight in wars overseas, and help get our current president elected. And we’re doing it with no guarantee that we’ll see a dime of Social Security when we get old, or that we’ll be able to find jobs when we get out of school. Whatever that suggests about Millennials, it’s far from laziness.


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  1. collapse expand

    You have to have work to have work ethic

  2. collapse expand

    Could it also be that Gen Y is the first to figure out that every previous generation has listed work ethic as a “principal claim to distinctiveness,” thus making work ethic a sign of non-distinction?

  3. collapse expand

    You know, I’d like to comment. But as a Boomer, I’m much too preoccupied with sex, drugs and rock n’ roll to read all the way to the end.

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    About Me

    I'm a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focusing on pop and politics, race and culture, and where Gen-Yers fit into it all. My writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, WashingtonPost.com, the San Francisco Chronicle and People magazine. Among other things, I'm Oregon-born, hip-hop-addicted, and weirdly optimistic that the journalism business will stay alive.

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    Contributor Since: September 2009
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    … in Salon, where I contribute to the Broadsheet blog.

    … in Slate, where I’ve recently written an assessment piece on California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman; and ranted about why female journalists in movies are so lame.

    … or in the Christian Science Monitor, where I discussed Gen Y views on originality and plagiarism; and sized up Disney’s progress in representing race on the big screen.