Entitlement is perhaps the top word associated with the Millennial generation. By popular opinion, they are viewed as ‘selfish’ and then ‘entitled’. And whether or not you believe the ‘entitlement’ level is accurate, perception is reality.
“Millennials are entitled.” “Millennials are narcissistic.” “Millennials expect instant gratification.” These words aren’t new, and they make us wonder why they’re so popularly said, and what’s the reason behind them.
The defining attributes of the Millennial generation are that we are young (by definition) and broke (with very few exceptions). We’re not uniquely narcissistic or even tolerant; younger generations always have these qualities. Perhaps we’re all just angry with this world for not getting what we expected to get and what we think we deserve to get. The young are angry for what they think they should get and the old are angry for what they know they didn’t get.
So who’s to blame for this sentiment of self proclaimed entitlement?
To an agreeable extent, entitlement isn’t really a self-born thing, it’s more taught. To a high degree, entitlement is a learned behavior. Millennials never thought of themselves as entitled, but their parents believed they were entitled to everything–thus the emergence of “helicopter parents.” It may have been a noble parenting style, but it had unexpected ramifications that infused different behaviors and expectations into an entire generation. The classic example, teachers are always expected to apologize to the student now, instead of the other way around.
And then, there’s human nature, knowledge and skill shift, ownership and fast times. Millennials have new expectations of what’s possible and are less tolerant of what once was because of today’s fast times. This results in behaviors that are perceived as “entitled.”
So, yes, we have data about narcissism and laziness and entitlement being the prominent trait for the Millennials generation. But a generation’s greatness isn’t determined by data; it’s determined by how they react to the challenges that befall them. And, just as important, by how we react to them. Whether we think millennials are the new greatest generation of optimistic entrepreneurs or a group of 80 million people about to implode in a dwarf star of tears when their expectations are unmet depends largely on how you view change. Me, I choose to believe in the prospect of them doing good, sooner or later. Do you?