We live in an era of labels.
Mostly, that’s a bad thing. Sure, there’s a value to having a label or labels to assign to some things just so you have an idea what they “are”, but very few things can actually be constrained that way. And when we apply labels out of convenience, prejudice, or misunderstanding that’s a problem. Whether it’s a red/blue thing, a Christian/Jewish (or other) thing, or about age, if you apply a label to something that isn’t so easily defined in any meaningful—and incontrovertible—context you’re doing very little good, and generally you’re doing harm.
Way back in 2009 I wrote an article under the title Young People Aren’t As Smart As Older People. And while that might sound like I’m arguing now with what I thought then I’m not; in fact, read the piece and you’ll see the pains I took to address both sides of that particular issue. Why does this matter? Because 14 years later in a world driven way too much by (un)social media it’s way too easy to use blanket labels that just don’t apply. And generational labels are a huge example of the problem; usually—nearly always—generational labels are a problem, because no matter what things might seem, it’s not generational.
The young lady you see above complained that her Millenial Boss had communication issues that she attributed to his age. Speaking from my Dad-Is-An-Old-Guy vantage point and noting that she’s 29 years old and is complaining about a 35-year-old supervisor I laugh, of course; sure, people born in 1994 and those walking among us since 1988 might technically be from “different generations”, but … nah. This young lady’s point was personal to her, personal about her boss, and … not about age at all.
It’s Not Generational
During the time when Millenials were the youngest “named generation” it was hard not to laugh at some of the entitlement jokes being made about them, but very few of those entitled millennials actually threw themselves out of windows when they weren’t promoted three days into a new job. But that idea was a joke—if one rooted in what seemed like a pattern. And as for that pattern? It’s Not Generational. Not really.
Listen, it’s easy to assign labels to things—way easier than finding the right words and engaging in genuine discourse. And what the young lady is referring to is absolutely not ok. But Dad has been around a bit and I promise that the mistake the boss made in this story is one that older people make, too.
Stop with the labels, folks. Because not only is label use lazy and yet also confrontational, but because most of the time labels are just … wrong.
Because it’s not generational.