Stop Sharing ‘The Problem with Millennials’ Video

5 Jan

I’ve seen at least 10 people in my Facebook feed share a video from Simon Sinek talking about The Problem With Millennials in the Workplace. It’s a mess of hot takes and gross generalizations masked as Deep Thought on Important Issues by a Great Man that is specifically designed for viral success, which is pretty ironic given its content.

As you may be able to tell, I hate this video. I think it’s demeaning and simplistic and at times offensive. But instead of simply putting gifs of eye rolls in the comments of everyone that reposts it, I decided to rewatch the video, do some research, and explain my issues with it and the blind acceptance that this guy is a genius. Contrarianism: it’s the Millennial way!

1 – Parenting

He goes through a whole meandering point that all Millennials had the worst parents. I think you can find horrible examples whether looking at Millennials, Gen X, or Boomers. We do know trends have a major impact on parenting, but there is no one way a generation is parented and it’s not helpful to act that way.

The problem I have is this: Stop complaining about participation trophies, they’re basically a meme at this point. Kids always know who’s the smartest and strongest and best at basketball and while I’m of the opinion that every kid should be a part of a team that loses (I was on several), there’s also value in understanding that participating matters too. Maybe you weren’t the most valuable or the best, but you showed up when you said you would and you tried your hardest. Studies also show that encouraging kids for participating makes them more likely to get more involved in other areas of their life and get better grades. From where I sit, participation medals are far more applicable to life as an adult than winning first place anyway. So by all means, get a big trophy for the winners of your middle schooler’s basketball tournament, but don’t be an asshole to the kids that aren’t going to play power forward for the Lakers.

2 – Technology

Not going to get into his mansplaining that Alcoholism is the same as social media, but I will simply say addiction is very complicated and it’s demeaning to try to generalize about it in one sentence to serve a different point about generational differences.

In this section he says, “We know that people who spend more time on Facebook suffer higher rates of depression than people who spend less time on Facebook.”

Let’s break down this meaningless statistic, shall we?

There are 156 million active Facebook users in the US, which translates to 64% of American adults. 6.7% of American adults suffer from depression. Isn’t it far more likely that depressed people are more likely to use Facebook than the other way around?

In fact, it is! This Forbes article talks about the study that *i think* he’s referencing (since he just says “Science shows” I can’t be sure) and explains that it’s not just that Facebook users are more likely to be depressed, but your relationship to Facebook is what contributes to having depressive feelings. In other words, you’re not “more likely” to be depressed if you use Facebook, but rather pre-existing depressive symptoms may worsen if you use Facebook and inevitably compare yourself to others. Pedantic? Maybe. But saying that a giant group of people is more likely to do a thing is the laziest form of generalization I can think of as well as belittling mental illness. Deleting your Facebook profile will not cure your depression.

In case you’re interested in actual research, here are a few takeaways from Pew Research about how Social networking affects people:

  • Facebook users have more close relationships
  • The average user of a social networking site has more close ties and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American
  • Social networking sites are increasingly used to keep up with close social ties.
  • Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people

So if your assertion is that people get depressed and turn to Facebook for help – that’s correct! BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THEIR FRIENDS ARE.

3 – Impatience

Wow, he can make jokes about Tinder. CUTTING EDGE COMEDY, MY DUDE. Dating using social media still requires meeting face to face and is still plenty awkward. To say nothing of the fact that there is no guarantee that people will want to date you or treat you well. If you disagree with me, maybe talk to women and LGBT folks. Stop making fun of people finding relationships because of your own misunderstanding of a technology that wasn’t available to you at a time you felt awkward. It’s not a good look.

More seriously, his assertion that Millennials leave their jobs too quickly is incredibly simplistic and, you guessed it, not backed up by facts. Millennials have about the same loyalty to employers as Gen X, aside from the first year of employment:

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that many Millennials graduated from college during a recession and thus took jobs that they are overqualified for. As a result, they may feel more anxious about their job and earning potential, especially because:

“Workers who start their careers in a recession earn 2.5 to 9 percent less per year than those who do not for at least 15 years after starting a career. Research further suggests that one reason for these lower earnings is that new entrants take jobs that are a worse fit for them when they start their careers in a recession.”

It certainly is true that a lot of Millennials want to make an impact and change jobs because of that desire, but they also are a generation with more student debt than ever before that may have taken jobs for which they’re overqualified. It’s also important to remember that Sinek is coming from a pro-business point of view, and while it’s nice that corporations are trying to improve the treatment of their workers, job loyalty on the part of the employee does not equal job security, and it never has. Employers only look out for me as far as it’s convenient for their bottom line; do not blame me for changing jobs to a better situation for MY career. Maybe that’s selfish, but unless you’re willing to chip in to pay off my student loans, step off.

Next he veers into where your life goes if you don’t have instant gratification and gets into suicide and drug overdoses. As with Alcoholism, I am not going to fight generalizations with generalizations. I will agree that suicide is a major problem for Millennials, but every age group has seen recent increases in suicide rates. We don’t have great mental health statistics from before the 1990s so it’s hard to say if the high rate of mental illness and suicide among young adults is a new phenomenon, or on track historically. Either way, it’s reductive to say Millennials are the only ones with this problem and that treatment only further stigmatizes mental health issues.

4 – Environment

His point meanders a bit here, but this is where the pro-business chickens really come home to roost. I think it’s just as likely that people want to make a difference in their job as it is that they compartmentalize and do work that pays their bills and volunteer/make a difference elsewhere. You can wish corporations will get involved and care about their employees, but that is a very recent trend.

To the point of not having meaningful relationships with coworkers: Since when is that a requirement? I’ve been been made uncomfortable by plenty of coworkers and wouldn’t tell them my Mom’s name, let alone her medical status. I’ve also had the opposite experience and built long-term, meaningful relationships with co-workers, but it wasn’t because my workplace had a “no phones in conference rooms” policy. It also has nothing to do with my age.

To wrap up, the thing that frustrates me the most about this video is that Sinek almost completely disregards the many positive aspects of technology, as these types of criticisms of Millennials always do. Technology enables people to stay connected while they live away from family and friends. It also is a major resource for people with social anxiety, mental illness or those who have trouble finding a community of friends with similar interests or problems. The following of YouTube stars and bloggers in some cases is a cult of personality, but I can name many that are doing positive things in the world whether connecting people, raising awareness for mental illness, fundraising, or volunteering (see Vlogbrothers, The Bloggess, Hannah Hart, Glennon Doyle Melton, among many more).

If George Orwell was right that “every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it,” then we’re all to blame, we’re all responsible, and the cycle continues. Think critically about your role, not some vague idea of what another group can or can’t do, and stop sharing a video because a smart guy made you laugh.


Time Between Trains

11 Sep

I wrote this during the 30 day challenge that I started, and well….started. Good times. Anyway, I was never particularly happy with this so I didn’t post it, but I’ve changed it a little and mostly just hate it less now, although it doesn’t have an ending. Not even close. Ah well, here goes.

Oh, and if you’re interested, it fulfills both day three and (somewhat ambiguously) six.


He glanced at his watch impatiently, and tapped his hand on the handle of the truck. He ran to the train without saying goodbye to the man who drove him to the station (was his name Andy? Or Adam?), running as fast as his suit would let him.

A boy and his dog watched from across the tracks, beneath a sad little tree; one urged the man in suit on, the other hoped he missed it. It was unclear which was which as neither creature made a sound.

He ran past the platform then slowed to a walk, holding his small briefcase with one hand, and his hat with the other. Needless to say, he missed his train.

A beat later he turned back, huffing and puffing and angry with himself for not leaving the house earlier, for being seduced by one more slice of pie. It happened whenever he worked out in the country, collecting money from those that had none to spare. They hated him, he knew they hated him, but still they offered coffee and pie. Out here a guest was afforded certain courtesies, no matter how repugnant they happened to be. It mattered little that he could take away everything they were supposed to own, so they offered the coffee and the pie.

He could feel the dust the train left behind landing on his neck, millions of tiny particles settling in the streams of sweat trickling down his back. He wiped his brow and wondered if anyone would see a smear across his forehead. He already stood out in his suit and fedora, so a smudge maybe wasn’t so important.

He needed a drink, though he knew there was nothing nearby save the white and blue station that sat stubbornly along the dirt road halfway between two towns that were barely there.

He settled for a Coca-cola.

The station agent knew him and his business, but pretended otherwise, no matter how frequent his visits. It was on behalf of those that offered him the coffee and pie, though honestly, the agent showed no one any favor.

“Next train’s in two hours. Well, if you’re lucky.”

“Fine. That’s fine.”

“It’ll have to be.”

“Right. Of course.”

The Coca-cola made everything seem warmer, and he abandoned it after only two sips. He sighed as he sat on a bench, again outside, and again in view of the boy and his dog. He didn’t remember seeing them earlier, and wondered if they had seen him hopelessly running after the train.

He nodded at them and smiled, but was greeted with nothing but the blank stares of, at best, indifferent strangers. He looked away.

He wanted to throttle the people who had said, upon hearing he traveled frequently to the country, how charming everything was. These people were idiots.  He didn’t honestly believe that the people who lived out here liked it, and he certainly did not. Two hours between trains? Where’s the sense in that?

The country was only charming when on a postcard.

What I’ve Been Up To

5 Sep

Over the last 3 months I have:

Flown on an airplane.
Made fridge pickles.
Worked a lot of overtime.
Gotten slightly addicted to HGTV.
Finished the Song of Ice and Fire series. FINALLY.
Gone crabbing/shrimping with my family in North Carolina.
Gone to the State Fair.
Eaten a corndog. (This item may be related to the previous one.)
Made a ton of crafts for the new apartment. To wit:

Things I’m looking forward to this fall:

Apple season
My birthday. (October 15, feel free to send presents!)
Visiting my sister and brother in law, and road tripping a bit with them.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
Ditto apple cider.
Wearing pants, and not turning into a puddle of sweat.
Receiving the baby piano I bought on eBay the other day. (HEEEEELLZ YES)

Goals for the coming months:

Blogging, and writing in general, more.
Getting back into a running schedule.
Finding a new job.
Drinking as many pumpkin spice lattes as humanly possible.
Maybe NaNoWriMo?

What are you looking forward to?

(Very) Small Injustices

5 Apr

Day 5: A story revolving around an object in your room

The picture was crooked, but the doorknob said nothing.

In his entire life here, during countless tenants, the pictures were almost always crooked, and few things in his small domain bothered him more.

Still, he said nothing.

The newest tenant was nothing special; she mostly kept quiet, made food that usually smelled good, though sometimes her kitchen experiments ended in disaster. She had questionable taste in music, but he didn’t much mind. And she hated vacuuming, but the door knob didn’t blame her; it didn’t seem a particularly rewarding task. Besides, the current vacuum was an uppity bitch.

But he just couldn’t get over the picture frame. He supposed it could have been something about the way the building had settled over the years, though he doubted it. It was a fine building, all brick and refurbished wood.

The door knob had been an early addition to the building, salvaged from one being torn down half a block away. He narrowly escaped the purgatory of a flea market to come here, where he spent his days quietly fuming over small injustices.

He was very rarely polished or cleaned, and he always noticed first when the door’s hinges started squeaking. There was the matter of his neighbor the vacuum, of course, and  that of the constant blinding he endured by various jackets. If he had to pick just one thing, though, it was that crooked picture of a man hunched over playing a guitar.

Still, the doorknob said nothing.


4 Apr

Remember that time I said I’d post something new everyday, then missed two (almost three!) in a row. Yeaaah. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. In the meantime, posted juuust under the wire….

Day 4: A (terrible) poem using the words: blue, mistrust, half, twang

Looking toward the lake, out of the blue
He remembered a lyric he thought that he knew,

A tune lost from rotation, gone without a trace
Leaving only echos of the twang, of the symbol and bass

Mistrusting his own memory he tried to recall
Whether the singer meant simply to trip or to fall

He used the word stumble, which as you well know,
could mean half-slip, keel over, or plummet down below.

In the end it seemed this didn’t much matter,
Though the girl in the song made quite a clatter,

Yes, in fact it seemed rude to write a whole verse,
Just to poke fun at some clumsy girl’s curse.

Let’s start from the very beginning

1 Apr

On Tumblr today I saw a 30 day creative writing challenge, and I’ve decided I’m taking the plunge during April.

Day 1: Rewrite a classic fairy tale

She lay awake replaying the night in her head. After the dinner plates were cleared and the fire stoked, her family moved into the drawing room for drinks and amusement. Tonight’s consisted of hurling insults through the open door at the help who were mending stockings and wondering why they didn’t simply buy new ones.

But Cinderella knew why they didn’t. It wasn’t money or scarcity. They needed to make fun of her, and were running low on ammunition. As a child, it had been that she was an orphan, then it was her pimples and lanky frame. She grew out of the latter, and the former faded into the past as she approached adulthood.

She was prettier than they were, even without silk stockings and a painted face, and they knew it.

They resorted instead to embarrassment, so the entertainment of the night thus focused on the many holes in their stockings that they had somehow neglected to mend for weeks and weeks.

“Nearly done, dearest?” Her stepmother was already half in the bag. “I do love nothing more than working with odor.”

Surely the neighbors 2 miles away could hear her stepsisters loon laughing. “Did I say odor? Silly me, I meant ardor.” Cinderella decided then she would call the stable boy to carry the woman to bed, speaking of  odor…

The shouts devolved into thinly veiled threats of violence and if the stockings became any shorter, or changed color or shape. She didn’t respond, but couldn’t ignore the barrage two rooms away. Their voices seemed to be amplified in the largely empty mansion, devoid of visitors for many years.

Twelve years, to be exact. She sometimes let herself wonder if they still kept track.

The evening ended with a crescendo of bawdy songs based on Cinderella’s stained clothes and well worn shoes, with a chorus of “there’s nothing here for you!” seeming to echo through the house hours later.

Waves of misplaced anger fought with the moonlight for her attention and she realized she wouldn’t be sleeping this night.  She sat up, looking to the embers still alive in the hearth, giving a warm glow to her quarters. She stretched on her sorry little mattress and thought again of the final refrain.

Her stepmother was right, of course. Nostalgia kept her where she was, fear kept her doing her chores.

She dressed several hours before her day usually started and walked from the house, swiping a breakfast of hard cheese and tart apples as she went.

As she reached the base of the valley that would lead her to the village, she turned around soaked in the view of her father’s house, enveloped in fog and darkness, in bitterness and grief.

Maybe nostalgia wasn’t worth the trouble.

Sobbing In My Car: The Playlist

30 Mar

Everyone has a Workout playlist, an I Need to Feel Happy playlist, Cathartic Breakup Songs playlist, and the songs From High School That I Embarrassingly Will Love Forever.

But I think another playlist, which I’ve been slowly making for  myself over the past few years should be added to everyone’s repertoire: Sobbing in My Car Songs. It all started because of a scene from season 1 of Glee (iknowshutup) wherein Emma is sitting in her car in the pouring rain, sobbing and singing along to All by Myself.

Now, while I have rarely done this exact thing, this scene has come back to me several times over the years and thus the Sobbing in My Car playlist was born. Here are some highlights, in no particular order:

Solitaire – The Carpenters

Solitaire’s the only game in town
And every road that takes him, takes him down

This is a depressing song and really exemplifies the “I will be alone forever!” section of the Sobbing In My Car playlist. I own two Carpenters records on vinyl (hipsterrrrrrr), but sadly Solitaire isn’t on either one. I know I’d play it all the damn time if I did, so maybe it’s better for the impression I leave for my neighbors that I’m not the weird girl in the basement (LITERALLY) who plays sad, lonely person songs all the time.

Not Over You – Gavin DeGraw

If you ask me how I’m doing I will say I’m doing just fine
I will lie and say that you’re not on my mind

Ok, this is a bit of a cheese-fest pick, but I can’t help it. It’s maybe a bit more cathartic than the others, I think, and its a recent addition I can’t get out of my head. It also really succinctly sums up the gut punch of having that conversation with someone you can’t quite get over. Ugh.

Every Time We Say Goodbye – Every. Damn. Version.

Every time we say goodbye, I die a little
Every time we say goodbye, I wonder why a little

This song, like the others is just so sad to the very core of your everything. Also this particular song for me is loaded a bit because I have tried for YEARS to find the exact version that is in The Parent Trap (LiLo version, BITCHES) when the twins are saying goodbye at the Napa house IN THE POURING RAIN. Wow! CIRCULAR LOGIC I AM IN YOU.

Honorable Mentions:

A Blossom Fell by Nat King Cole
Selfless, Cold and Composed by Ben Folds

Anyone else have a playlist like this, even if it’s just in your head? Let’s share the sadness in the comment section, and be upbeat on some other rainy Friday.