Archive for November, 2007

An Age of Entitlement

Posted in Philosophy with tags on November 27, 2007 by consortiumoffools

Many contemporary senior citizens have been known to describe the current generation as one who feels entitled to handouts in life. These fogies have been overheard stating that we are all lazy and expect something from the world in exchange for merely existing. I propose that it is not a problem with a certain age group, it is a problem with everyone alive today in America. We have already met all of Maslow’s needs, so now we expect more. When people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, how safe they will be, or if they will be alive the next day, they begin to look at life with a new perspective- a perspective based on entitlement. We all feel that we are owed more. This is in part because of the nature of capitalism. We are taught to be good consumers, to buy up everything we can- even if our interest in the product is remote.

The idea that it is not just our age group, but everyone alive right now stems from my personal experience. I work with an older gentleman who is very lazy. He expects everything out of others, yet refuses to participate when he is called upon. Another older gentleman I talked to inadvertently dated himself when he said that, “young people these days have no work ethic. In the industrial revolution everyone worked and made this country what it is today.” His argument fails to include the ethical boundaries that people in that time period disregarded. There were no child labor laws, women were not allowed any positions of power, people of color were discriminated against, and ignorant business plans and ruthless CEOs ran a society fraught with immoral behavior. Now we are trying to save the environment whose destruction they pioneered. We are creating new sustainable methods for energy consumption, living, and working. There have been many advances in the medical field and in the computer sciences.

Some people would argue that these new technologies allow us to be more lazy. Instead of writing a letter, we can just send an e-mail or text message. Instead of going out and meeting people, there are websites designed for dating. In part, this argument is valid, it is easier to communicate. But this new ease only promotes networking. We can now have orders shipped from China without ever talking to anyone. We can be productive from our homes. Stay-at-home moms can hold down a day job online in a rural community. Nothing like this has ever been possible before. We used to have to move to the overcrowded city and struggle.

The societal laziness does not come from new technology. New technology gives us more resources to perform previously difficult tasks. The phenomenon is based in our own view of the world. We, as Americans, have been told that we are the best country on Earth. We have been given participation ribbons in grade school just for showing up. We are provided with thousands of consumer options everyday. We no longer have to worry about many of the problems the rest of the world faces. Our society is becoming service-oriented. We can have our shoes shined, our homes cleaned, our cars driven for us, our food cooked for us- all for a price. We have come to expect these services from everyone around us. This new age is one of entitlement for sure, but maybe we can still save it. There are hard workers out there, there is some work ethic left.

Steel Mill