Our economy is undergoing an irreversible shift and let’s be honest, things will never be the same again, regardless of who we elect as President.
Symbolically, global trade and the loss of thousands upon thousands of manufacturing jobs have given way to the rise of a digital economy that requires big, expensive education and a new set of abilities that many of the out-of-work assembly line workers cannot master.
If that were not enough, there is a whole new generation of workers, a new wave of employees and customers, who are “not like us.”
I am speaking, of course, of the often and unfairly maligned Millennials, who social commentators frequently call narcissistic, coddled, self-absorbed, disengaged, even delusional. They point to more than 20 years of sociological research that, they argue, supports their seemingly harsh conclusions.
“Whoa Nellie,” as retired ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson liked to say when a big, game-changing play was in doubt. Personally, I will settle for, Not so fast.
Every age group, from The Greatest Generation who fought World War II through the aforementioned Millennials, including Baby Boomers, all have had differing characteristics, many of which caused the surviving members of all preceding generations to shake their heads with a range of emotions, from disbelief and dismay, to utter incredulity.
My mother’s mother thought her five daughters were a “bit titched in the head” with their noisy swooning over the likes of Frank Sinatra and the other romantic crooners of her day. Then, my parents watched Elvis Presley and the Beetles on Ed Sullivan with my grandmother and the vote was unanimous — we were beyond-help crazy for being so enthralled with some ridiculous gyrating kid wailing about his hound dog, or with the those long-haired noisy, no-talent Brits. And when the likes of the Rolling Stones came to the forefront, along with a host of other amplified rock n roll artists, they just knew that civilized society was about to come to an end.
So now Baby Boomers — we who gave the country acid rock, the hippie movement, and free love among other catastrophes like our staggering national debt — look at the Millennials and ascribe our own snarky criticisms to their preoccupation with social media, flexible work schedules, a lack of accountability and the perception that they do not get it.
Is that the kettle calling the pot black, or what?
The Millennials may have different values. They may look at issues with a different lens, but realize this: they will become productive members of the workforce and, more importantly, good customers, an economic reality that many social critics seem to forget.
They are different. We were different. Get a grip.
Any wannabe hip American businessman in the 1970s who owned a Nehru jacket and wore it with a scarf to the office in place of a proper neck tie is really not in a position to be too critical.