Sandy Hingston believes young workers like me are ruining the workplace.
How do I know?
In her article titled “How Millennials are Ruining the Workforce,” she complains that my generation clamors for open offices with high ceilings and ancillary goodies such as ping-pong tables and beer on tap. We make conversation with co-workers who are reading newspapers. Otherwise, we tend to be polite, whether in person or via instant communication, which also seems to bother Hingston, a baby boomer and self-described car wreck voyeur.
And believe it or not, young workers want to be heard and valued, even by those with more experience or training, according to Hingston. And the fact that we idolize “disrupters” like Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple’s Steve Jobs seems to get under her skin.
“Raised with iPhones in hand, young people scorn the slow learning curves of their elders,” she writes in Philadelphia Magazine.
Hingston suggests my generation is ruining other things, too.
Like parenting, or at least baby names, which Hingston believes are one-in-the-same.
MONEY’s sister publication Time published a story last year on millennial parents, and referenced the existence of two children whose millennial parents named them Astral Defiance and Defy Aster. Time Inc., which owns MONEY, recently bought a website called HelloGiggles from co-founder and actress Zooey Deschanel, who named her kid Elsie Otter. Hingston doesn’t like these names.
Millennials also seem to be ruining literature and clear thinking.
HelloGiggles, which brands itself as a positive online community for women, once published an article called “Smart, Perfect Literary Journals for When You Need a Break From Your Web-Surfing Ways,” recommending Okey-Panky and New Inquiry, among others. Hingston thought this representative of the reading habits of women in their twenties and early thirties.
Jezebel — a celebrity, sex, and fashion site for women — once published a story on Germaine Greer’s opinions regarding post-operation transgender women, in which commenters disagreed with Greer and then veered off into a tangent about how the feminist’s name shares the surname of one actress and is a homophone of another’s. (Although Hingston failed to correct the commenter’s misspelling of Pam Grier.) Anyway, Hingston thought this exchange representative of the millennial mind, assuming the commenters were, in fact, millennials.
This is all a bit distressing.
I am a millennial (born 1986), with a job and a child (although he isn’t named Astral Defiance.) I’m a card-carrying member of the affable club and am unfailingly susceptible to flattery. I don’t want to feel scorn for my elders.
After consuming Hingston’s piece online (my millennial programming won’t allow me to consume dead tree publications), I began to revaluate my life and my place in the world. Where can a millennial repent for the original sin of his birth year?
But then I experienced a transcendent moment of rational thought, which is apparently possible for people of my generation: perhaps Sandy Hingston has never actually gotten to know a millennial?
She mentions occasional drinking sessions with young workers, but no expedition into the millennial soul. To help her in her quest to understand us, here’s one man’s story:
My wife and I are raising a child. We’ve given everything – our money, our sleep, my hair – to our boy. We left Brooklyn and moved to Long Island so he’d have more room to run around, and essentially hired my mom as his nanny.
We’re employed by experienced professionals and respect their wisdom and creativity. Neither my wife nor I feel superior to our bosses. We don’t demand free beer in the office, nor do we pine for ping-pong. And we’re not special. The best man at my wedding has two children with his high school sweetheart and a number of other close friends are married, too.
Fathers today, many of whom are millennials, provide more child care than their fathers did. We take out the trash and do the dishes more often, too. Personally I could not be happier that my wife earns more than I do.
To be fair I do think millennials, despite graduating into a terrible economy with historic student loan debt, should be more inclined to sacrifice personal freedom in favor of a commitment to family than we’ve proven to be. But I understand why some disagree with me.
And that’s because millennials are people, just like Sandy Hingston, and people feel differently about meaningful life choices and that’s okay. Some of those people (gasp!) give their children unconventional names. But it’s always been thus, after all the former governor of Texas Jim Hogg named his daughter Ima. That was in 1882.
As a millennial, and a person, I’ll grow old. When I’m completely gray, I’ll try to resist the urge to devolve into self-righteous crankiness.