January 14, 2010

Entitlement and Instant Gratification

(I recently spent some time cleaning up some old unfinished posts. There were a few that I figured I would finish and publish. This is one of them.)

I read an interesting post recently about the sense of entitlement that is commonly associated with Generation-Y. Although she never comes out and says it in the post, the author proposes that this is a positive trait rather than a negative one as often suggested (usually by those of older generations). She asks:
While a sense of entitlement is seen as a negative trait which has resulted from years of gold stars and coddling*, could it really be a positive trait which Gen Y has evolved into having?
It is a very interesting question, so much so, that I have found myself asking many people of different generations and experiences over the few months or so. I have heard many different opinions and ideas in those conversations. Sadly this post isn’t the finding of extensive research, or even a recording of the diverse opinions that I have heard. Instead, this is my two cents on the topic.

I believe that there are many times where perceived entitlement is often a lack of patience that is becoming a very common trait of the younger generations (myself included at times). This stems from the fact that most of us have lived in a world of instant gratification. Technology has changed things so drastically (see Here Comes Everybody). In day to day life, kids graduating college today never had to make any weekend plans with a large group of friends before they left school when everyone was together, they would simply wait only hours before and chat with kids online, call cell phones, and today send text messages or propose plans on facebook for all to see.

Technology and the internet have also broken the mold in traditional business as well. No longer do people need to steadily work their way up the corporate ladder to achieve success. Ideas and products can now go viral and in seemingly no time become wildly successful and CEOs can be in their twenties.

Is this entitlement? Or do those people of older generations need to unlearn what they think of how business is supposed to work? If I aspire and push hard to become an owner or head of a company in the next 5 years, do my actions while trying to accomplish my goals make me entitled or simply motivated and inspired by aforementioned changes?

Entitlement is defined as “belief that one is deserving or entitled to certain privileges” by Merriam-Webster. By that definition, entitlement could never be a positive trait. But do young people really expect something for nothing?

Well, I’m sure there are people out there like that…and I believe that is a very negative trait. But I also think that a majority of young people are really products of their upbringing of instant gratification. These kids have lofty goals and want to achieve them as quickly as possible and are eager to do so through non-traditional ways if need be. Is that a bad thing? I’m not so sure. What do you think?

* original text read “coodling”, I took the liberty to fix what I believe was a misspelling of “coddling”

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