At one time, I had high hopes for my generation. After all, these were the same people who managed to be more liberal than me in college, who voted for Nader (I voted for Gore), and marched around campus with No Blood for Oil! signs. I figured that we would be the generation to buck a lot of the bad habits into which our predecessors had fallen, namely letting our lives be ruled front and back by corporate interests.
Early adulthood was promising. The “Millennials,” as we came to be called, were giving corporate employers a fit, demanding things like four-day work weeks and time to go to the gym and more casual dress codes. Every sneering, snide report I saw disparaging the millennials “lackadaisical” work ethic had me cheering. It seemed, to me, that the other generations were jealous. Why didn’t we think of this? they probably wondered. It is certainly rather silly to protest being treated better by one’s employer. I was proud of my generation for putting our collective foot down and demanding that our work would not rule our lives.
But then I go into Columbia for lunch. And I see these earnest-faced young adults around my age or younger, all done up in their corporate tool get-up with their ID badges blazoned on the fronts of their suit coats and polo shirts like some kind of prize and their belts laden with an arsenal of tech gadgets so that they can be at the beck and call of some corporate master who will work them eighty hours for a measly promotion in a few years and, meanwhile, collect accolades and bonuses fed by their sweat. One always has one of those cell phone ear pieces that seem to announce, “I am a drone. Robots have penetrated and taken over my brain.” And they talk of nothing but work work work while eating their Panera sandwiches and taco salads: clients and sales and meetings and WTF, Generation? Do you ever look in the mirror in the morning and realize what a fucking tool you are?
I suppose I just don’t understand why anyone would want to go work for a corporation that does work one is not interested in, doesn’t believe in, or even outright opposes, working one’s fundament off to make some CEO who doesn’t even know one’s name rich. So that, in a few years, one can be passed over for promotion or laid off or, at best, settle into an unfulfilling life in middle management.
But I suppose it pays better than government.