I was startled out of my early morning reverie today by this Facebook message I received from a young man I admire deeply for his intelligence, his sense of humour, and his abiding commitment to his profession:
Is it just me acting senile or is the level of professionalism among the younger generation reaching appalling depths?
Here is the conversation we had via Facebook later in the day (this is an edited transcript; the young man, who is in his late twenties, shall remain unnamed for obvious reasons. I have labelled him Mr X below):
RP: Read my "accusations". THE READING ROOM: What happens when a crusty old journalism teacher takes on Gen-Y?
In the same post, read all the comments, too. By the way, what brought this on? And aren't you part of THIS generation?
Mr X: Hahaha! I meant the men and women a couple of years younger than me...
RP: Ah. Anyway, what brought this on?
Mr X: I've been watching plenty of them trooping in and out of office. All the same. Lackadaisical, lazy... and ARROGANT! I'm sure they're all not like this. But the ones I've seen... shocking.
RP: Do read my "accusations" and the comments in that post. And forward the link to youngsters who might benefit from reading it all.
Mr X: It's stupid little things — bunking work on a Monday because of an upset stomach (read hangover), walking into meetings late, leaving work undone...
RP: Yes. Do my "accusations" make sense now? Many youngsters I know thought I was being too harsh.
Mr X: Yes. Just read the article. All your accusations make sense. And yes, when I collared a first year here about this stuff, he seemed amazed. And then he bunked the next day because of a headache. And I think one comment in that article sums it all up. The one about disregarding traffic rules in order to be in class on time! Just one example. Pitch morning. Real pitch. For one of the biggest brands in India. Everyone's been in office all night, for nights on end. Meeting starts at 10. Hardly anyone leaves for fear of being late. Everyone is supposed to be in the office by 8. And everyone is there. Except for one of the newest, most junior employees. He walks in at 9.50. Now no one wants a distraction before the meeting. So nothing is said.
Mr X: Later, in the evening, I ask him about it. His reply, I kid you not: I need my 8 hours! I thought he was joking. But he wasn't. That's like a journalist walking into office late on the day of the election results! Which is exactly what I told him. His reply to that: That's why I didn't become a journalist! Mr X 0, New Guy 2.
Mr X: The sad part is, in a profession like advertising, these guys will get clobbered sooner or later. Because these things get noticed. And everyone thinks advertising is this cool profession where anything goes. Well, that's only if you're brilliant. And these youngsters are nowhere near that yet. It's not like they aren't good at their jobs. But stuff like this takes away from that. I'm sure when you started out, you wouldn't dream of walking out of office before your bosses left.
RP: There was no question of walking out till the job was done. Period.
Mr X: Exactly. And they're dumb! One of them uploaded a picture of a party. On a day when he was too sick to even answer calls!
RP: Is there a solution? Can attitude be taught? What do you think?
Mr X: Hahaha!
- Mr X did not want this conversation to be made public. But he was persuaded by my argument that his comments would be taken more seriously than mine since he is a member of Gen-Y himself. Thank you, Mr X.