Take It Easy, Life Is A Vacation
By Alejandro M. Fernandez
Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and their children, echo boomers, were born between 1982 and 1995. Since The Eagles, an American rock band, were active from 1971 to 1980 and again from 1994 to present, parents and children have probably heard many of their songs.
One Eagles song says, “Take it easy, take it easy; don't let the sound of them old wheels drive you crazy.” According to two CBS 60 Minutes segments, the echo boomers have definitely taken The Eagles’ advice.
The first segment aired on September 4, 2005. Correspondent Steve Kroft interviews a wide array of people with specific opinions on this generational issue. Doctors, professors, historians, and echo boomers themselves, all chime in.
In “The Echo Boomers” Dr. Mel Levine, a professor at the University of North Carolina, says that is not the only part of their cultural conditioning that’s going to require an adjustment in the workplace. After asking the CEO of a major corporation for a description of a typical young worker he says, “They can’t think long-range. Everything has to be immediate, like a video game. And they have a lot of trouble sort of doing things in a stepwise fashion, delaying gratification. Really reflecting as they go along.’ I think that's new.”
Historian Neil Howe makes a similar observation. “Sometimes, they don’t know what to do if they’re just left outside and you say, ‘Well, just do something by yourself for a while,’” says Howe. “They'll look around stunned. You know, ‘What are we supposed to do now?’”
Some echo boomers don’t agree with these assesments
“It’s not the majority of our generation,” says Meredith Spiegel, 21. A student at Marymount Manhattan College, Spiegel rejects the negative stereotype. “There are kids who actually work hard the old-fashioned way even though it’s a type of culture that is rare nowadays. It all depends on how people are brought up,” she says.
In a follow-up 60 Minutes segment called, “The Millennials Are Coming” poses similar arguments. Aired on November 11, 2007, correspondent Morley Safer interviews corporate executives, consultants, and two working millennials and reports that, “Faced with new employees who want to roll into work with their iPods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday, companies are realizing that the era of the buttoned down exec happy to have a job is as dead as the three-Martini lunch.”
Mary Crane, who offers crash courses for millennials entering the workforce, suggests this generation has been coddled. “You now have a generation coming into the workplace that has grown up with the expectation that they will automatically win, and they’ll always be rewarded, even for just showing up,” Crane says.
Kroft states echo boomers are the most watched-over generation in history. Most have never ridden a bike without a helmet, ridden in a car without a seat belt, or eaten in a cafeteria that serves peanut butter.
Jason Dorsey, a millennial himself, who was interviewed in the segment agrees. “Our parents really took from us that opportunity to fall down on our face and learn how to stand up,” he says.
Unlike their parents who value hard work, individuality, and achievement, millennials prioritize lifestyle, friends, and instant gratification.
Wesner Jules, a 20 year-old economics major at Georgetown University, agrees with this assessment. “Everyone feels like they are supposed to be handed shit in life. Like everything is supposed to be easy. And our parents just went with that whole idea,” Jules says.
But don’t simply blame mom and dad, or Mister Rogers as Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow does in “The Millennials are Coming”.
“I think it’s a part of the American culture, that notion of being superior or special,” says Jules.
So don’t go around blaming millennials for wanting to start work at noon, for being tattooed lawyers, or wanting to be CEOs effortlessly. The Eagles, our parents, and our culture have told us to do so. And that’s what we’re doing.
“Life’s a vacation,” Jules says. So take it easy.