Social Media and Stupidity
Prejudices against youth in the workplace (the supposed “digital generation”) revolve around claims that the under-30 crowd is entitled, “dumb,” or dis-loyal to employers. But what if the problem is rooted on the other side of the hiring (and reporting) equation?
The recent Toronto Star article by Lisa Summers (“Are They the Dumbest Generation?”) didn’t limit itself to social media, but the Digital Age as a whole. And Heather already beat me to it. Still, I think it’s worth commenting on here, with social media being attributed even in part to my generation’s apparent lack of brain power.
Has digital media contributed to the under-30 crowd being the “dumbest” generation to date? Sure, I may be biased, but I think not. I find the accusation pretty amusing.
Take a look at the article, and then come on back for a reality check.
- When you try to give your arguments credibility by citing sources with a sensationalist book on the market, you only make yourself look stupid.
- When you quote one teenager and think it represents a generation, you look even worse. Just think about how different the article would have been if my 17-year-old sister had been quoted instead (not a social media junkie, very actively involved in extra-curricular activities from sports to school plays, holding down a job, spending plenty of face-to-face time with friends, without a cell phone glued to her, an honor student who can get into pretty much any school her heart desires, and who always seems to have her nose in a book). If you go out looking for an idiot to quote, you’re bound to find one – in any generation.
- If you’re going to quote a source, do your job and ask some questions to give that quote even a hint of credibility (seems to be a key word here) – for example, exactly how many under-30s has Dr. Wong hired? There’s a big difference between making a generational judgment on two employees versus 20. And what positions are we talking about here? Is she paying enough for someone with brains to care about the job? And does it really say anything about the younger generation, or is Dr. Wong perhaps “behind the times” and simply uncomfortable around tech-savvy youths? One more thing – if someone really has a lot of trouble finding qualified employees, does it really say something’s wrong with the employee pool, or does it show that the employer is simply incompetent when it comes to finding and securing qualified people? Hmmmmm.
- Under 30 is a rather broad group to be lumping together, don’t you think? Hell, I’m 28, and I can still remember life before social media and cell phones quite well. You all know how I feel about playing with anything and everything just because it’s new versus focusing on what’s actually useful. And I do think teens are a bit more gadget-happy than folks my age (not much). But are these things not useful in the bulk of cases? I think implying that all of these things are a waste of time shows ignorance on the part of the writer and sources here regarding the extent to which these digital tools are used.
- Current 20-somethings are quite possibly the most entrepreneurial group in history. Why don’t we ever hear about this when people are whining about things like issues of entitlement or “lack of dedication” in the workforce? It’s become so easy to go out on your own these days, that a lot of the smarter folks are doing it (even if only part-time at first). So the issue isn’t necessarily that the generation is “dumb” – perhaps it’s more that we’re smart enough to know we don’t need all of the corporate bullshit if we don’t want it. Do we feel entitled to something better than companies that ditch us after 30 years, or lost pensions due to corporate scandals? You bet. Had previous generations set a better tone of employee loyalty after the regular company loyalty of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, maybe they wouldn’t be witnessing a backlash. (And companies that do have excellent employee relations don’t seem to complain about these same things – maybe there’s a lesson to be learned there.)
I could go on (like about all of my under-30 friends out pursuing advanced degrees or those in that group I know who are smart enough to be running brilliant companies), but I won’t. I’m sure most here aren’t ignorant enough to make claims of stupidity over an entire generation.