As old as I feel typing this, I remember back when Forbes was a magazine for the aspirational. It regularly chronicled major corporations, business leaders, and the lavish lifestyles that success enabled. Forbes celebrated success and, in doing so, inspired it.
Sadly, those days are long past. In our current culture that often vilifies achievement, Forbes seems to have far more fun trolling its younger readers than motivating them. Why inspire a generation when you can get more clicks demeaning it? Why be a source of positivity in one of the worst economies in history for those struggling to find their way when you can rack up page views with condescension and titles that reek of yellow journalism?
Today, Forbes staff writer Deborah Jacobs shared a column by “career coach” Priscilla Claman who proclaimed, “To Thrive At Work, 20-Year-Olds Must Adjust Their Attitude.” It is certainly not the first time Forbes has talked down to an entire generation, and in what has become a rather odd crusade, it isn’t the first time I’ve been inspired to respond either. You see, I get incredibly annoyed when individuals, especially older individuals, try to oversimplify and put down my entire generation.
Claman’s article itself is a mix of truly useful advice such as, “determine what the objectives of your organization are, and help the organization achieve them, while improving your skills and knowledge,” interspersed with the same old generalizations of the egocentric Millennial and the unable or unwilling to change corporation, regardless of the breadth of evidence to the contrary for both parties. Are some employees from Generation Y too concerned with their own goals instead of the company’s? Sure, but many also aren’t. Do some companies not care about their young employees enough to value them, offer perks, and provide for their personal advancement? Sure, but many also do. For every manager who provides proper feedback there is another who doesn’t, just like for every professor who provided true education there was another who left a TA who could barely speak English to run the class.
The problem, of course, is that incendiary titles such as, “To Thrive At Work, 20-Year-Olds Must Adjust Their Attitude,” only serve to degrade workforce relations, even if the content within is valuable. They imply not only that all young adults have identical thoughts and viewpoints upon entering the workforce but that we are also all completely misguided in our perceptions. It is a thoroughly obnoxious viewpoint, meant only to troll for pageviews from disgruntled baby boomers reaffirming their own middling complaints and young professionals exasperated at yet another column that does nothing but detract from society’s advancement. Meanwhile, your normal-minded adult reads this nonsense and begins to believe every single hire of someone younger than 30 will be a problem, while graduating seniors rue the day they enter the workforce and confront “the struggle” head on.
Instead of informing young adults entering the workforce what is simply a part of growing up and what is a sign of an unhealthy work environment, Forbes continues to speak to the lowest common denominator amongst both Millennials and corporations. Instead of inspiring, Forbes disheartens. Instead of motivating, Forbes condescends. Instead of bringing generations together, Forbes drives a wedge. After all, flame-worthy titles, generalizations, and disdain toward Millennials continue to be a constant stream of traffic for Forbes whether they are appropriate or beneficial to society or not.
Priscilla states in her column, “generational stereotyping doesn’t help.” It definitely drives ad revenue though. How inspirational.