Posted by: Deb Henry | 04/08/2010

Yes, We’re Selfish

Found this online today and wanted to share it since I agree with it:

Mark Jaffe, who owns a high-end headhunting firm, wrote recently that the biggest threat to our economy is our egos. We’re angry, not depressed about our misfortunes right now. Angry, because, as he puts it… ‘we always want and feel that we deserve the absolute best of what anyone else has. Maybe what’s hurting most right now is the hangover resulting from an epidemic bender of self-esteem.’

I tend to relate more to Gen-X’er’s but I’m a Millennial, and I do find that I am more angry than depressed about my situation because most of what I was told to do to get the security I saw around me has been frittered away by the very people who made the rules in the first place.

I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anything I didn’t earn, but it is hard to swallow that the people who started a career with nothing more than a high-school diploma aren’t willing to hire my generation unless they have specific college degree’s with specific work experiences described with specific key words and phrases only to get the grunt work.

It bothers me that while they started their careers making a living wage, my generation hasn’t seen a wage increase and ends up earning 30% less than they did while being many times more productive. The promises of a job that won’t screw you over to protect their own asses is gone, the ways we were told to get a job don’t work anymore, the security of a college degree (instead of needing a Masters for every frickin’ thing) is gone.

So yes, we are angry that we are doing everything that we are supposed to do, meanwhile sliding into more and more debt with less and less wages – and the bitterness of the boomer generations over the loss of their pensions feels hollow compared to the struggles they’ve placed in our paths: mounting debt from a recession none of us started, the end of social security – which we pay into but will likely never see, damaging technologies that have left us with a decaying planet that demands immediate change, politics that are so tied to campaign contributions democracy can’t function…

So yes, I’m angry, my generation is angry. But that is not myopic or narcissistic — what the author is probably referring to is that we’re not going to play by the established rules anymore. We know, now more than ever, that we have to forge our own paths since all the paths the Boomers’ took are no longer relevant or open to us.

We’re not going to be loyal to an employer who will drop us at the first sign of a problem to inflate his golden parachute. Not that we wouldn’t in different circumstances – but we’ve learned that in order to make a life in this world – you have to look out for yourself first. So we’ll leave a job from one company to go to another if they’ll let us advance, and we’ll leave a job who’ll pay a little more, and we’ll work our assess off for peanuts, or take on internships while we work so we can get that “experience” that we’re supposed to magically have.

But make no mistake, we’ll blog too and talk about it, and engage our communities, and update our facebook status’…because we’re ALL frustrated – Worldwide. And while the author may not care – it isn’t always about attention or myopia; it’s also about relating to people across distances, to talk about issues that are universal even though they feel isolated, to remind everyone that they aren’t alone, to emphasize how connected we really are – globally and locally.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t those who are just as the author describes – but honestly, at the end of the day – we’re all doing the best we can with what we have and what’s been left to us. And if you want to see some change – try engaging us and quit scolding us for not being what you think we ought to be.


From Reddit:



  1. I completely understand with where you’re coming from but disagree with the selfishness part. While its dangerous to stereotype an entire generation I know that when I was laid off less than a year out of college, during the dot-com bubble, I was pissed. I had gone to a good school, got good grades, and – in return – the world *owed* me. It took an embarrassing amount of time to realize that life, the world, even those around me didn’t owe me a goddamn thing. We’re not entitled to a wage increase. There is no guarantee that we’ll enjoy a higher standard of living than our parents – even that’s the way the story is supposed to go.

    It’s easy to transfer that anger to those we see as responsible for perpetuating -and then undermining- those myths. There’s plenty of blame to go around. We can either flip each other the bird or we can point the way to something better.

    Finally, its important to remember that the original comment was by a ‘headhunter’ – something to take with a grain of salt. It’s in their best interest to have a compliant, docile workforce with low expectations. A more informed, aware, and proactive recruit is a threat to their business model.

  2. The point that I agreed with most was that we’re doing things our own way and shouldn’t be punished for that since the last generation has their own experience as a filter in how they react to us. I’ve found that conflicts often arise from how someone else expects me to act even if my way of doing something created the same outcome.

  3. “I’ve found that conflicts often arise from how someone else expects me to act even if my way of doing something created the same outcome.”

    You need to let it go… It won’t help to be angry (or fearful). We are in a descent, and while it is natural to feel desperate, you’ll have to find a reason bigger than yourself, so as not to become that which disgusts you.

    When we foolishly outlawed shame and blighted our conscience, we returned to walking on all-fours, and are no longer free from fear.

    It is not an irreversible bargain, so “get up,” and throw off the yoke of fear.

    • Am I giving the impression I am in some way offended by these conflicts? I don’t mean to imply that. I am just stating that people have interpreted some of my generation’s behavior as selfish and negative. Interpreting it in that way hurts both the observer and the ability of this vision in the individual to create something new.

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