Entitled

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 My generation has many labels. Millennial. Generation Y. The Internet Generation. ​While not

particularly creative or descriptive, these monikers at least fare better than my favorite (worst) sobriquet: 

The Entitled Generation. 

As if our parents all collectively woke up one day, sipped on their morning mugs of coffee, turned to us and said, 

“Be good at school today, learn as much as you can, and oh, by the way, the world owes you something. Expect it to be bountiful, and handed to you with zero effort on your part.”

This fanciful mindset is one we are assumed to embody, by our bosses, co-workers, media owners, war veterans, authors, and most of the South. ​We’re spoiled brats, we’re told; lazy, disdainful, and selfish younglings who wouldn’t know what an honest day’s work looked like if it smacked us in the face. 

This is, of course, absurd. And, attempting to have a sense of humor about it, it strikes me as hilarious. If it’s not to you, it should be. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Well, most of it couldn’t be further from the truth; they did hit the nail square on the head with regard to one thing: We are ​entitled.

Not in the way that denotes someone who feels they are owed something. Quite the contrary, most of us recognize that we are the ones who owe; we owe the planet, we owe our mentors, and we (quite literally) owe massive amounts of debt. But paying a debt is not deference. It’s not blind allegiance. And it doesn’t come without questioning and critical thought. 

What we feel entitled to is a better world. And the thing is, we can see it, clearer and with broader scope than anyone before us, because all we know is the entire world, in real time. We can pick up an iPad and look at tweets from a protest in Iran; search Google for the answer to literally any question we can think of, and probably find it; write a book, or a blog, or a song, or shoot a music video, or make a film, or build a business, or create an app, or pen an article about how we’re sick of other generations belittling our worth and contributions, and then we can publish it ourselves. Instantly. This has been our life since we were little. It’s what we know. We know shortcuts, we know hacks, we know how to ask better questions, run better searches, and how to get to the real root of a problem. And we know the rest of the world can work that way.

We’re entitled to that world, the world we deserve, the world everyone deserves, and we know ​we can make it. We can make it faster, better, more detailed, and with less effort than those before us or above us. And they know it. And it scares the shit out of them. Let it. It forces them to examine how obsolete their methods and thinking have become. That will continue to happen, and one day, very soon, we’ll take our place in the captain’s chair. And we will manage it better. And with less effort. And with more dignity.

Entitled? ​

You’re goddamn right we are. Thanks for noticing.

 

Why today’s marketing is like Kryptonite to Millennials (and what to do about it)

enterprise

I was on the subway this morning when, between sips of life-giving coffee, I glanced up to see a poster for Enterprise’s new car-sharing service. Whether or not it’s a good idea for them to try to compete with Zipcar in New York City is an interesting conversation, but that’s not what I was focused on. Something on the poster was nagging at me: “The New Standard In Car Sharing.” It made me twitch, and I couldn’t figure out why. And then it hit me, after all these years, why so many ads out there make me boil with anger:

If a person is inclined to look at the world through the lens of critical thinking, then pretty much all marketing is Kryptonite.

By critical thinking I mean reason, logic, objective proof, and the simple idea that if you make a statement, you have to back it up with evidence if you want to be taken seriously. Now obviously the advertising game has always been the land of Let’s See What We Can Get Away With, and I knew that. But I finally understood for the first time why it bothered me, and others like me, to the point of visible irritation. How exactly is Enterprise “The New Standard” in car sharing? Is there a study to back that up? I mean, they’re certainly new. And they do offer car-sharing. But that’s really all that can be objectively said about the service. It could be crap. It could also be amazing– but until they give me an actual reason to believe that they are the “Standard-Bearer,” I’m going to laugh at their subway ad and probably not take them very seriously.

To be fair, some brands do back up their statements with numbers– myriad luxury car commercials come to mind–although the numbers likely only tell part of the story. But even that is okay because my searching mind at least has something to grasp on to, to point to and say, Oh. Well at least Car & Driver really did name it the Best Luxury Sedan In Its Class. 

I’m sure not everyone is like me. Some nice old lady from Greenpoint will probably look at that ad and think, “Oh! Enterprise offers car-sharing now, and according to this they must be the best.” Even if it’s unconscious, if the claim is never questioned, brands just get to proclaim whatever they want (as long as the wording is carefully crafted). And that should change. Because I know there are other people like me out there (I’m a Millennial and can use the Internet), and I’m fairly sure the reaction Enterprise was going for wasn’t nausea.

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