Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explores the quirks and foibles of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.

So, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who’s sick of hearing about Lazy, Entitled Millennials.

Two weeks ago, the Interwebz rejoiced when one brave, hardworking Lazy, Entitled Millennial announced he had perfected a Chrome browser extension that would make all those obnoxious headlines about Lazy, Entitled Millennials go away for good—by changing every instance of the word “Millennials” to “Snake People.”

Sin . . . lives in everyone’s heart, but most importantly for me, it lives in my heart.As I’m sure you’ll admit, this is an intriguing development, since it smashes both every stereotype about Lazy, Entitled Snake People (clearly, they’ll work hard, if the task at hand is important enough) and every stereotype about Chrome extensions (clearly, at least one of them isn’t totally useless). Plus, it’ll give a real shot in the arm to terrible Boris Karloff movies from the ’70s, which I’m sure we all can agree is something that absolutely needed to happen.

And as a Lazy, Entitled Snake Person myself, I’m probably rejoicing a bit harder than most, since I’m more than a little sick of being told how Lazy and Entitled I am. It gets old hearing that I have the exact same personality flaws as 80 million other people by virtue of being the same age as them, and Left Behind-era eschatological debates burned me out on the word “millennial” even before it had a generation attached to it.

More importantly, though, all the talk of Lazy, Entitled Snake People was old and stale before it even started happening, since it was nothing more than the latest in a decades-long parade of “kids-these-days”-themed think pieces. Gen X was lazy, disaffected, and narcissistic years before my generation made that stuff cool, and don’t even get me started on those spoiled, bratty Baby Boomers, who lived through the freaking Moon Landing and still somehow decided a weekend of rolling in the mud naked was their primary defining moment. Both generations were torn to shreds by the press when they came of age, and in each case I think it’s safe to say that traits that have always been common to teens and twentysomethings (egocentrism, naïveté, indolence) were misidentified as a permanent moral defect of an entire generation—which, let’s be honest, is a pretty thoughtless way of approaching the world. (In other words, these think pieces about Lazy, Entitled Snake People just might be the laziest thing of all.)

There are, of course, more serious accusations that could be made here: the tendency of those in power to blame society’s problems on its least influential members; the abdication of responsibility for creating a world that instilled these deficient values in the first place; and the general predilection of each generation to want their kids to have things easier, only to grumble when those same kids actually take things easier. Not to mention the economic collapse, stagnating wages, and ballooning cost of everything that left us Lazy, Entitled Snake People with basically no incentive to work hard in what is supposedly an incentive-based system.

And if that preceding paragraph makes it sound like I’m blaming others for my problems, well…cf. that endless stream of “Lazy, Entitled Snake People” think pieces.

None of this is anything new, of course. The world’s problems have always been endlessly complicated things, and we’ve always sought after really simple explanations for them—and preferably explanations that implicate someone other than us.

There’s an old story, though, about G. K. Chesterton (probably apocryphal, but hey, G. K. was Catholic, and those guys love Apocrypha) in which a newspaper editor wrote to several prominent authors to ask them, “What’s wrong with the world today?” Chesterton, so the story goes, wrote back a mere four words:

Good sir, I am.

He then proceeded to freestyle about the editor’s mom for several minutes.

The four-letter note, though, is convicting in exactly the way it needs to be: by example rather than finger-pointing. Sin—sloth, pride, gluttony, and everything else—lives in everyone’s heart, but most importantly for me, it lives in my heart. I have no right to complain about anyone else’s character flaws until I’ve repented of mine—until I’ve taken the log out of my own eye, for those of you who were waiting for the inevitable Jesus-juke. That means considering the possibility that, yeah, I just might be a little Lazy and Entitled. That even if Baby Boomers did destroy the economy, dismantle the family, and sell my future to pay for their excesses, maybe I still have to do what I can to fix things.

And maybe just as importantly, this means acknowledging the good that past generations have done for me as well. The fact that I have software to type this column on? Thanks, Gen-X! The fact that there’s an Internet at all? Thanks, Baby Boomers! The fact that I’m not too busy heiling Hitler to write this? Thanks, Greatest Generation! And, uh, Silent Generation? Thanks for…whatever it is you guys did. Keeping the noise down, I guess.

You guys are cool. We cool. High-five, yo.

But Gen-Z, you guys are seriously the worst.

So freaking Lazy and Entitled.

Image via Garry Knight at Flickr.


2 Comments

  1. Great piece, Luke. As an early Gen-Xer, I’m going to dispense with the “lazy” label, at least in your case. You write way more than I do.

    Seriously, I find that sweeping generalizations tend to overshadow and obscure more interesting, detailed patterns that define (loosely) generational differences. For instance, I teach a course on Popular Culture and Media Theory, really heavy (Adorno, Barthes, Lacan, Foucault and others). I ask my students to write a paper where they describe 2 theorists, evaluate them and declare who is better in their opinion and why (i.e. back it up with argumentation), and apply the winning theoretical perspective to a piece of popular culture. Plenty of hard workers, but I found a lot of my students just don’t have a clue about how to argue for a position as better. They all (at least the Americans) slide back into the language of “more relevant for me” as if there were no objective strengths or weaknesses. And I’ve been teaching this course for 15 years and it’s just starting to show now. Weird. Not laziness, but a definite generational shift.

    Anyway, thanks for the essay. Now stop reading feedback and get back to work, slacker.

    Ted

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