My generation has many labels: Millennial. Generation Y. The Internet Generation. While not particularly creative or descriptive, these monikers at least fare better than my favorite (worst) sobriquet:
The Entitled Generation.
As if our parents all collectively woke up one day, sipped on their morning mugs of coffee, turned to us and said, "Be good at school today, learn as much as you can, and oh, by the way, the world owes you something. Expect it to be bountiful, and handed to you with zero effort on your part."
This fanciful mindset is one we are assumed to embody, by our bosses, co-workers, media owners, war veterans, authors, and most of the South. We're spoiled brats, we're told; lazy, disdainful, and selfish younglings who wouldn't know what an honest day's work looked like if it smacked us in the face.
This is, of course, absurd. And, attempting to have a sense of humor about it, it strikes me as hilarious. If it's not to you, it should be. It couldn't be further from the truth. Well, most of it couldn't be further from the truth; they did hit the nail square on the head with regard to one thing: We are entitled.
Not in the way that denotes someone who feels they are owed something. Quite the contrary, most of us recognize that we are the ones who owe; we owe the planet, we owe our mentors, and we (quite literally) owe massive amounts of debt.
But paying a debt is not deference. It's not blind allegiance. And it doesn't come without questioning and critical thought.
What we feel entitled to is a better world. And the thing is, we can see it, clearer and with broader scope than anyone before us, because all we know is the entire world, in real time. We can pick up an iPad and look at tweets from a protest in Iran; search Google for the answer to literally any question we can think of, and probably find it; write a book, or a blog, or a song, or shoot a music video, or make a film, or build a business, or create an app, or pen an article about how we're sick of other generations belittling our worth and contributions, and then we can publish it ourselves. Instantly. This has been our life since we were little. It's what we know. We know shortcuts, we know hacks, we know how to ask better questions, run better searches, and how to get to the real root of a problem. And we know the rest of the world can work that way.
We're entitled to that world, the world we deserve, the world everyone deserves, and we know we can make it. We can make it faster, better, more detailed, and with less effort than those before us or above us. And they know it. And it scares the hell out of them. Let it. It forces them to examine how obsolete their methods and thinking have become. That will continue to happen, and one day, very soon, we'll take our place in the captain's chair. And we will manage it better, with less effort, and more dignity.
You're goddamn right we are. Thanks for noticing.
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