I ran across this article today. It’s a pretty long-winded bit of self-justification. I have to say I agree with most of the points presented: 50 Things About Millennials That Make Corporate America Sh*t Its Pants.
I originally agreed with them back when I first read them in about 1992, as well. Everything said about Gen-Y was first said about Gen-X, and I was saying some of it myself back then. I wasn’t going to knuckle under to corporate life. No sir.
But then I went on to spend ten years working in a cube under a florescent light for the man and another ten working from home for the man. I acquired cars and mortgages. I started to worry about the quality of the speaker cable I was using in my home theater system. I tracked my stocks on Yahoo! Finance. I had a loveless marriage or two where I overworked constantly. I hated myself.
So what happened? Money happened, I guess. Upon graduating in 1994 I went back to driving an airport shuttle while waiting to get a job with a non-profit publishing house where I could nurture my true self and all that. Trouble was, they didn’t call me back.
But then I got an idea for a business: An airport shuttle service where the drivers all dressed like Elvis and drove Cadillacs or Lincolns with steer horns on their hoods. “Welcome to Phoenix! Where are you headed on Kachina Coach?” the drivers would say, perhaps while flexing a lip and shaking their hips a bit.
I didn’t expect it to really happen, but I was young and impetuous and just really didn’t want to work in a sea of grey cubicles surrounded by petty brown-nosers dicking around with spreadsheets. So I figured at that point in my life a goal was a goal was a goal. I just needed to save up a few thousand bucks to buy a used Lincoln Towncar and a white jumpsuit. So I applied to a few temp agencies.
Then, on my first assignment, I discovered this operating system called UNIX that everyone feared — except me. I read the manuals and fell in love. In a couple years I was making more than enough to buy a house, take a vacation, get my wisdom teeth extracted, and eat something besides day-old ham scraps from the supermarket. And life was set for the next 20 years or so.
But that was then, and this is now. I was Gen-X. This is Gen-Y.
Rather than to brush off Gen-Y’s concerns and self-assessment as just so much youthful naivety, I will agree that “corporate America” is scared shitless by them in a way that it wasn’t by my generation. But it’s not because millennials don’t live up to corporate expectations as model employees.
American (or more accurately multi-national) corporations are doing everything they can to outsource work to low-cost countries, or give work to recent immigrants who don’t cost as much and will work as contractors. In my last few years working at Big Traditional IT company I would get resumes from American job seekers. I told them unless their names were Antonio or Rajiv, and unless they lived in Buenos Aires or Hyderabad, I couldn’t help them. It was my job to keep the work offshore in any way possible. This hurt my feelings as an American only a little more than the role I had in my previous position, which was to automate the hell out of every process and thereby allow my co-workers to be . . . ahem. . . “reassigned.”
So no, millennial persons: American business won’t miss you as employees, I’m afraid. Rest assured: they have the shop under control with people making a fifth of what you would — or in the case of automation — a thousandth.
But, hey! They are missing you as customers–already!
See, you were supposed to submit to that office job so you could afford a new Camaro. But many of you now look at a car as either the doom of mankind, or an expensive way to lock out reality. And besides, there was an undercurrent of sexuality involved with the automobile since its inception: You could hop in the car with your honey and park, or go away to some third location for a little slap-and-tickle. Now, Gen X parents are pretty comfortable with the idea that their little home-bound darlings are going to get it on with their significant others under their roofs. We’ve come that far. But while you’re living at home, smoking pot, and having sex in the basement to only the gentle consternation (if that) of your parents, you aren’t paying $550 a month for that modern American muscle car. Feet and bike work just as well for what you need to do in life.
But considering how much time you’re spending on the Internet these days, it’s surprising you even bother leaving the house. Where is all the money business planned on getting from your clothing purchases? A pair of shoes and a few t-shirts a year aren’t going to drive the wheels of commerce. BTW, you should really do something with your hair.
And now instead of collecting physical media like records or CD’s, you’re subscribing to all-you-can-eat music and media streaming services. You see no advantage in owning a “physical” anything at all. Almost everything of importance to you has been digitized and comes through a battery-powered window you hold in your hand.
The sole remaining opportunity to upsell you on some physical thing of significant expense is in upgraded phone handsets. That’s a nice business, but understandably limited. It’s nothing like what corporations would be making off of you if they could count on you at the age of 22 to be in your own household with your own car and working very hard to keep up with the Joneses or to leave them in the dust. That model worked great for about 60 years, but not now.
Those days are gone, and as long as Gen-Y sees its bliss more in online life than in meatspace, it’s not going to get better.
And that should scare not only corporations, but everyone, shitless.