A Response to the Millennial Who Thinks She's Entitled to Everything
By now, most people are probably aware of the latest stupidity trending on social media. If not, to briefly recap, on Friday, a spoiled brat named Talia Jane flipped her boss the bird via an open letter on Medium.com and, surprise of surprises, got the axe. Unfortunately, the idiocy in this nation has reached such a fever pitch that one must address it, and address it daily, before we all wake up one day to find a reality TV star in the White House.
Talia Jane's letters are so full of irony that if this wasn't the year 2016 and millennials weren't sucking up half the air in this country and supporting, rather unironically, someone who was the '60s answer to Millennialism, I'd think her story was ripped from the pages of The Onion.
Talia Jane is into "comedy – writing – better at thinking about things than actually doing them." Doesn't that last bit just encapsulate the millennial generation perfectly? No more honest a phrase has ever been written by anyone. And guess what, Talia Jane: I completely #feelya. See, I love to write, too, and writers, by nature, are thinkers, not doers. But one need not look any farther than Ernest Hemingway or Ian Fleming to realize that even writers need to "do," if for no other reason than to have something to write about. If not, then they end up like Lenin (or Lennon, for that matter), writing about struggles they only think they know, as is the case with our dear Talia Jane.
Talia Jane's tragic story was doomed almost from the beginning. First, she was using hashtags way back in the '90s. Second, at that impressionable age of eight, she somehow got the notion that "having a car and a credit card and my own apartment" were "what it means to be an adult." Maybe on Friends or Seinfeld, but not in real life.
Let me tell you about being an adult, Talia Jane: it's not all it's cracked up to be, except when it is, and those are the times they never told you about when you were eight years old, listening to "Spice Girls and owning a pager." (As an aside, I think the real tragedy in all this is that the poor young Talia Jane only dreamed of owning a pager, her mother clearly being too much of an ogre to give her a cell phone. Quelle horreur!)
I don't blame Talia Jane so much as I blame her Gen-X parents. And I don't blame her Gen-X parents so much as I blame their Baby-Boomer parents. And I don't blame their Baby-Boomer parents so much as I blame the Baby-Boomers' Greatest Generation parents.
It seems, sadly, that since the end of the Second World War, the members of every generation, in an effort to give their children everything they wanted, gave them everything except what they needed. And who wouldn't want the very best for his kids? Talia Jane doesn't know this yet, but none of us takes joy in telling his three-year-old that he can't have a treat because he didn't have his dinner, or that five minutes (which was probably five minutes more than we should have given in the first place) really means five minutes. But we do it nonetheless because we know that if we don't, the child will grow up without any respect for himself or anyone else and join the masses of folks "feeling the Bern," or worse, setting fire to their own cities as a way to air their grievances.
You see, Talia Jane was brought up to dream big dreams but not to do the hard work that goes into achieving them. It's unfortunate that Talia Jane had to learn the hard way that "a car and a credit card and an apartment would all be symbols of stress, not success," but it's even more unfortunate that she hasn't learned that her stress is of her own making. What Talia Jane doesn't realize yet is that she can take her grandfather's beater car and that ten-pound bag of rice and make for somewhere her dollar goes farther (and the government takes less of it in taxes, ironically). Of course, she might have to talk to some Republicans (#QuelleHorreur!), but such is the price of freedom.
Talia Jane also doesn't realize that the so-called "working poor" of today live better than the middle class of her grandparents' generation and oftentimes better than some of the middle class in nations most of us would consider first-world.
Talia Jane, before she bit the hand that fed her, had a car, an apartment, a college degree, a job, and all the free coconut water, pistachio nuts, and bread she could eat while at work. Heck, at my job, all we get is coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. And Talia Jane's job involved sitting on her privileged rear end answering phone calls from other privileged rear ends who apparently had to wait more than 30 minutes for their lamb vindaloo. Clean the fryers at the Bombay Grill at midnight, then get back to me, Talia Jane.
Now free from her corporate overlords, Talia Jane's decided she wants to do something constructive with her newfound fame. Her new raison d'être? You might have guessed it by now: a "living wage" for all!
She writes, "[C]all me entitled but I don't think you should be barred from growing and exploring and taking risks because your income isn't in proportion with the cost of living in your area."
Oh, Talia Jane, I really hate to break this to you, but if life were all unicorns and lollipops, then it wouldn't be a risk. I'll leave you with this: you want to help the working poor? Get a new job, work your way up in the ranks to a point where you have a little disposable income, and then join Rotary like your grandfather and give of your own time and treasure. My guess is that Jeremy Stoppelman is already contributing more than his fair share.
Mark Griswold is a blogger and radio show host (he has a "real job") who lives just outside the "home of the original Living Wage," Seattle, with his wife and two desperately unentitled children. He can be reached through his website, ThePoliticalBistro.com.