The Work-Party Balance, or Work Versus Lifestyle

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According to a CNN report, an employer in Ohio cannot find enough workers who can pass a drug test. Four out of ten welders, crane operators and machinists fail the employment drug test. Blue-collar jobs such as welding, operating cranes and machining involve the application of energy and if used incorrectly can be very dangerous, so testing whether these employees might be under the influence of drugs is important. Having lost a lot of good employees to failed drug tests, I can understand how frustrating it is to lose employees and potential employees to drugs. I even had an employee say that for what he was getting paid, he wasn’t about to give up drugs.

 

One of the often-used phrases of the millennials is the “work-life balance,” something older Baby-Boomer candidates for employment aren’t granted the ability to understand. From personal experience, “work-life balance” meant that the younger employees were doing nine-to-five and I was doing all of the nights, weekends and holidays. The “work-life balance” was important for specific people, but, hey, someone had to work the graveyard shift and the holidays and the weekends, but the young people had some important partying to do, so the “work-life balance” applied to the people who needed to party. That’s one of the things I love about some of the mantras of business people, where it sounds really good but is only applicable to a certain select group of people.

 

But now the “buzz term” (pun intended) should be “work-party balance,” where the use of illegal drugs should be tolerated, or, at least that’s what seems to be the new mantra. After all, the millennials needs some time to party after all of the stress that the older generation has put them through. Let’s look at the unrelenting stress that the millennials are facing and why they have to take illegal drugs to deal with the stress. They are bombarded by the incessant text messages of their friends and feel an obligation to respond. The millennials are in dilemmas about what to post next on their Facebook page, how to respond to the latest posting by their friends, plus all of the Tweets (is that capitalized?) that they have to read since if they don’t they might miss a life-changing update by Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake or Kim Kardashian. We burdened the millennials with all of the trophies that everyone on the team received, since everyone contributed equally to the team, and the parents couldn’t leave anyone out, insisted that they understand how to play all of the computer games, another cause of great anxiety for them, since the new version will be coming out soon, and they will have to invest the time and money to master the newer version of “Grand Theft Battleground” or whatever the name of the latest game. I quit playing them after “Asteroids.”

 

Yes, the millennials are facing more stress than any other generation, and they need some time to take some drugs and slow down. They have Tweets (capitalized?) to respond to, Facebook updates to review, computer games to catch up with, text messages to read and respond to, the latest version of “Game of Thongs” to watch on Netflix (on their portable display platform, of course), all the while watching for things on Amazon to go on sale. We, the Baby-Boomers, are responsible for the millennials taking the illegal drugs because of all of the stress that we have put them through, and I for one, feel not the slightest bit ashamed.

 

There has to be a party-work balance, where the millennials can take some drugs, relax with friends, and try to shrug off all of the technology that the Baby-Boomers so maliciously piled upon them. Employers are just going to have to get used to the work-party balance and make accommodations if they want employees. Employers have come to accept that if the work is done on a computer, there will be some surfing while the work is being done; that is the ethic of the millennials. A working millennial (or one in a classroom) must be allowed to view their text messages every 30 minutes, or the emotional scarring of their fragile psyche will be irreparable. We, the older generation, did it to them, we foisted all of this technology and now we’re lamenting that they are using it in ways we never dreamed, and wasting away their lives, along with hindering the economic progress of this nation by taking drugs and then failing to get work because they cannot pass a drug test. It’s not their fault, you know.

 

I thought that we educated them about taking drugs in school, about how drugs would hurt their careers. (By the way, I have been taking drug tests since 1988, long before this mess.) But 40% of the applicants can’t pass a drug test and get a job. The work needs someone to do it, but I guess the qualified blue-collar workers are too busy getting stoned on the weekends and the failing the drug tests. Just when we got the economy somewhat turned around, now we can’t get skilled trade jobs filled. Like my employee told me, the pay wasn’t worth giving up the fun he was having with drugs.

One of the amazing character attributes of the millennials is their ability to insist that they have the correct way of addressing problems and the older people never knew how to properly address the issues of work, family, the economy, or government. The millennials are speaking out, and it seems, or 40% of them anyway, are saying no to work and yes to drugs. We’re going to have to accept that, as some of us know that the changes the millennials are insisting upon will not be compromised. In the meantime, if no indigenous workers can be found, more jobs will go outsourced.

 

They are a very smart generation, to hear them tell it. Their self-admiration is only exceeded by their disrespect for the previous generations who just didn’t “get it.” Never mind the addiction to technology, which, somehow, the generations before managed to survive without, but is now is essential if not existential. Never mind what hardships any previous generation went through to give them the life they have today, they were owed that, the millennials deserve it and much more. The work-party balance will have to be taken into consideration; the millennials will insist. They aren’t giving up drugs for employment, and their position will be just as stalwart on this as it is on so many other things they insist upon changing in society. Employers, seek a work-party balance, and if you can’t find an answer, ask the geniuses, the millennials; I’m sure they’ll have an answer where you give up something for their lifestyle.

 

Maybe Charles Murray is right. They just might be a spoiled bunch of tech-devoted minions who value recreation far more than work, and thus euphemized by the rubric “work-life balance” which, from my experience, means “we’re going home to party, you stay and get the work done” because our lifestyle is more important than work. Not all of the millennials are like this, but certainly enough, and a substantial portion of the blue-collar workers. Welcome to the future of employment, and we’re wondering why employers are choosing the robot option. Given the options, I know which way they should be going. I’m sure the robots will pass the drug tests.

Comments

George N Romey Added Jul 31, 2017 - 11:29am
Jeff a few things. First, as I can attest to the business world has substituted endless spreadsheets and software for critical thinking.  Its no longer a tool to be used for analysis but the complete analysis.  This despite strong evidence big data alone makes bad decisions.  You and I are from a time before big data in which we had to demonstrate critical thinking, leadership, mentoring, interpersonal skills, logic, etc.  Today our youth just has to sit there and bang out their Excel Spreadsheets and given fancy titles like "Business Analyst" or "Senior Financial Analyst."  Its all data organization not true analysis.  A trained monkey could probably do it.
 
This of course leads to boredom and underutilization of the human talent.  No wonder the millennials constantly lose themselves in a world of posting on FB at work.  The days of employees interacting and debating are gone.  Provide real insight to your subordinates, not wanted.  Take data and add in your logic and rational thinking to yield a comprehensive solution, you will be mowed down like a piece of grass.  So our young people sit in a cubicle with headphones on and perform their modern day factory tasks. 
 
Also not surprising this dearth in human intelligence leads to drug abuse, increasingly more of the legalized prescription kind.  Young people struggle with massive debt, unrewarding jobs, lack of opportunity and piss poor leadership and we wonder why they are so out of tune with it all.
 
I am treated as a out of touch piece of garbage because I actively engage younger people in discussion and opinion.  I was told that is a waste of time.  However, the younger people love it.  Finally, they are challenged and somehow actually values what they think, not how many Excel Spreadsheets and Pivot Tables they can pound out in a day.
 
We created the dysfunctional state of our youth.  We treat them like mindless bots and take away their ability and desire to really use their brains.  Then we are shocked that they abuse drugs and have zero ability to communicate in any manner.  The number of young people I meet that mumble and can't even carry a conversation is beyond shocking.
 
 
Mircea Negres Added Jul 31, 2017 - 1:14pm
Jeff, I once saw a documentary about Harvard University. One of the students or member of the faculty (can't remember, it was years ago) said "Here at Harvard we have three things- work, sleep, party. Choose two." That fused in my mind ever since and I found it to be the truth on more than one occasion. I've never knowingly taken drugs in my entire life, though I was given a cigarette spiked with cannabis once and didn't like how I felt for half an hour after it kicked in. That's not my idea of fun... Speaking of drug tests, I never took one and they're not widely used in South African workplaces from what I know.
 
When it comes to work-life balance, one time the security firm I was working for took on a big temporary contract for which they didn't have the guards, so rather than hiring temps, they put almost everybody on "standby" during their days off to cover staff shortfalls. The problem was I worked 12 hour night shifts at the time and needed my two days off to recover, not work more. After I saw the shift roster with my name on standby, I called my manager (he was at home) and told him it wasn't doable because of exhaustion after four nights of work and that I had a life besides working for minimum wage seven days a week so that some contract saleswoman could get a nice salary for promising something we couldn't cover and managers were too blinded by greed to see- so back on "normal" time I went, without regrets at the missed overtime money.
 
From what I know, the site is called Twitter with a capital "T", but the crap people put on there are called "tweets" with a lower case "t". It doesn't do it for me, there's nothing I can say coherently in 140 characters. As for Facebook, the first time I used it was at work, in order to find an old high school buddy. Unfortunately, an ex-girlfriend found me too, and then I had to change my banking details, phone number, e-mail address and so on. Had I been in the CIA at that moment, I'd have changed my identity and moved to another continent too... That account was dormant for years and I think I deleted it about a year ago, but can't remember. Even when I had it, I didn't follow celebrities and all that nonsense, but given my gray hair in all sorts of places, maybe I'm just too old to be so stupid. LinkedIn? I used that for a while to look for work, but got kicked off for some nebulous reason that was never clarified and felt no loss, let me tell you.
 
On average (there are some exceptions), the millennials aren't great. They can't work smart, know almost nothing about working hard and think reality is found between the borders of a LCD screen. Nah, give me an "old fart" any day, with his bad back, goggles, and more importantly, hard-won experience. Good post, I really enjoyed it! 
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 31, 2017 - 1:25pm
I'm with you George. The computer is the answer to everything to the young, even if it is not. The dependence on computers I think is misplaced and is already the source for problems, more problems than solutions because as of yet, computers aren't really good at thinking. I loved the saleswoman who made a promise that the company couldn't keep- that's the story of the logistics industry, along with stressing the crap out of the people who are willing to work until they aren't willing to work anymore. Been there, done that too. Thanks for the comments, always welcome.
George N Romey Added Jul 31, 2017 - 1:28pm
Great post Mitch!  The millennials are nothing more than a product of the workplace.  Gone are thinkers and doers, in are workers that can do repetitive tasks such as Microsoft Office.  Back in the assembly line workers passed the boring time by talking with each other and out of that people were encouraged to read, think, and investigate.
 
Today millennials past the time with music on their headphones and abbreviated conversations on FB or Twitter.  Most of it mindless.  Since speaking is clearly much easier than typing responses tend to be short and lack any depth. 
 
You go into a typical office today and no one is ever asked for their opinion and why.  Just sit down, take big data and reorganize it. 
 
What is LI?  Nothing more than a scheme to get money out of the unemployed and underemployed on the premise that LI has all the great "secrets" to getting those really good jobs that are so elusive.  Have you ever read some of the profiles on LI?  Do you really think they are real? I for the life of me could never understand a hiring manager taking them seriously.  They are of a comic book nature.
 
 
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 31, 2017 - 1:50pm
The secret seems to be that there is no secret. People want hundreds to redo resumes. I've done many a resume, and all of them got jobs. Maybe not the job they loved, but jobs.
Bill H. Added Jul 31, 2017 - 3:19pm
George, you are totally correct. I volunteer at the local Boys and Girls club and instruct some of the brighter kids on electronics and Ham Radio. The ones who succeed the best come from strict households where parents actually apply good strict parenting, such as pushing the kids into music and minimizing "screen time". These kids are very curious and ask the right questions. Many of the other kids in the club are simply the usual "phone zombies", even at the age of 12 who sit around and play games on their phones. Trying to have a conversation with these kids is like talking to a head of lettuce.
Having managed and supervised many people over the years, if I had to choose from a group of after-hour boozers or pot smokers, I would take the latter for sure. Of course, a total abstainer would be ideal, but is a rare commodity these days.
Until we return to real people and business management by using and applying proven methods, people skills, and the gut-feel that comes from real experience, we will continue down the path of employee turnover and business failures. Computers can be used to help people improve the business by supplying information to help in the decision process. When we allow computers to make virtually all of the decisions based strictly on numbers, we become losers.
George N Romey Added Jul 31, 2017 - 3:43pm
Bill I'm there with you. I see zombie CEOs and CFOs. No wonder the US is falling behind within its competitiveness.  The CEO and CFO used to be leaders that rallied the troops.  Today they sit in a closed office scrolling through realms of data and spreadsheets with the intent the answer will be laid out before them.  They are afraid to make real decisions and communicate direction to the rank and file. 
 
In my recent two employers the CEO would walk in everyday into a fairly small office.  Never a good morning to anyone. Only the Directors got a hello.  Never asked someone how was it going, what were they up to in their work.  Again these were offices of less than 30 people.  
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 31, 2017 - 4:43pm
As Harry Truman said: "Some day we’ll awake, have a reformation of the heart, teach our kids honor and kill a few sex psychologists, put boys in high schools to themselves with men teachers (not sissies) close all the girls finishing schools, shoot all the efficiency experts, and become a nation of God’s people once more."
As biased and crude as it sounds, Harry was trying to say that, even in his time, he saw America, the America that he loved, slipping away. The young people have, like young people do so often when not constrained, taken a good thing and brought out the bad in it. While the application of computers has its benefits, we have allowed the young people to value and respect computers more than people, such as their parents, teachers, and others. It's all fine and well that young people have computers, but there is a limit and that limit has been in the rear view mirror for several years.
George, I am sure the CEOs you are describing were not leaders, they were just number crunchers.
George N Romey Added Jul 31, 2017 - 5:57pm
Jeff read any job posting for a Director of Finance, Director of Marketing, COO, CFO, CEO, EVP, etc.  What are the top attributes wanted?  I will tell you, the ability to deal with ERP systems, Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint, other software packages.  Very few stress leadership, communication, mentoring etc.  We live in a world of technocrat jargon and technocrat value.
 
Its no wonder despite our technology the US is falling behind.  Most of our so called leaders couldn't lead ants to a picnic or manage themselves out of a wet paper bag.  Until we again stress macro skills we are going to get a generation that can't pass a drug test and has no gumption.  We are raising mindless bots because our leaders only want mindless bots.  
Leroy Added Jul 31, 2017 - 7:04pm
Another great article, Jeff.  Maybe it is a little hard on the Millennials.  Most of the ones I work with have been pretty good.  There's one that will call me anytime of the day or night to support me anywhere in the world.  Maybe he shouldn't count since he is an immigrant.  I guess I live in my own little bubble.  I don't see all the drugs.  I do see a lot of entitled Millennials for sure.  They want to be leaders.  They are entitled to it.
 
Millennials have changed the workplace for the better.  My generation did whatever it took to get the job done and whatever personal costs.  The company is kinder and gentler today.  You're not expected to travel more than two weeks without coming home for a couple of weeks.  That helps with the work-life balance.  After I returned to the states and started working again, I thought I was in the wrong place the first day.  No one showed up for about an hour.  It's common practice to come strolling in at whatever time you want today.  The older employees take advantage of it as well.  And, to make up for arriving late, they leave early.  No one really busts their tails today, with a few exceptions.  All the Millennials feel they are underpaid.  Me too.
George N Romey Added Jul 31, 2017 - 7:08pm
I have found no one bust their ass because they assume to be gone within a year.  Since social mobility has been destroyed career paths are cut off.  Back in the early 80s when I was making $15K a year I bust my ass because I wanted and knew one day I could make a six figure.  I did until the "Great Recession" took hold.  
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 31, 2017 - 7:27pm
Not my experience at all Leroy, but thanks for the praise. Had a millennial boss that oversaw a fleet of trucks that couldn't tell the difference between a fuel filter and an exhaust pipe. Things would go wrong and I would solve them, much to his anger. I think he just envied my abilities to fix things. He spent all kinds of time in the computer, since he had one since he was five years old. The answer wasn't in the computer, it was experiential, managerial, organizational knowledge. I really don't know how the guy ever got the job, as his knowledge and experience were both very limited. The solutions were supposed to be complex, and when I simplified the solution, it went well with the drivers but bad with the millennial boss. I'm happy I left, and, well, the internet follows you, for good or bad.
Same here George, everyone was just collecting a paycheck until they got their next gig. Along with my millennial boss was a female supervisor who was leaving, and, even when leaving, would not discuss why she was going somewhere else. I believe that it was the millennial boss that she didn't want to disparage. If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all. She didn't, and if her experience was anything like mine, I knew why she was leaving. She had family in the business and had done it for a while with her family, and I don't think she wanted to hear any more lame suggestions from a greenhorn computer geek.
George N Romey Added Jul 31, 2017 - 8:13pm
Jeff they get the jobs because they are computer whizzes.  The only thing that matters is one's ability to operate Microsoft Office.  Never mind this guy knew nothing of fleet management.  He assume what he didn't know was sitting in a software package somewhere.  He had neither the presence of mind or the inclination to ask someone that might have the knowledge from experience.
 
I think about the last millennial boss I worked for.  A Director of Finance at age 27 and just clueless about things like GAAP, costs as a percentage of sales, equipment management and control, inventory management.  Wanted to be super mom too.  Everyday at 6:30 was her meltdown because things still had to get done while her husband called up and screamed for her to come home.  Why she demanded didn't something get done.  When I explain we needed information from another department she had a hissy fit. She storms out but I work until 10PM or later.  Any thanks for staying late and getting it done, hell no.  Try to engage her in conversation about broader topics forget it.  
 
She would sit there all day with her head phones on listening to music. Heaven forbid she would have turned off her headphones and come out and ask me what kind of progress I was making or issues I was running into.  Every time tried to discuss an issue she would ignore me and starting texting on her phone.  And that my friend Jeff is the type of leaders we now have. 
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 31, 2017 - 9:17pm
Yes, George, and we wonder why our economy isn't expanding very much and hasn't been expanding. You stay until 10PM, but they have the "work-life balance" that they tout so much. It was like on the soccer team, everyone got a trophy, even if they didn't do much. When I got my business degree, along with 2 undergrads and a masters to back it up, the university to which I paid all that money got me zero interviews.
Leroy Added Jul 31, 2017 - 9:22pm
"Had a millennial boss that oversaw a fleet of trucks that couldn't tell the difference between a fuel filter and an exhaust pipe. Things would go wrong and I would solve them, much to his anger. I think he just envied my abilities to fix things."
 
I don't think we have much disagreement here.  My boss, a millennial, was hired as a high flyer.  He worked on similar things in the same group I was in before I left on an expat assignment.  On my second assignment, I had to deal with the crap he created.  Another milliennial inherited his crap.  We had to fix his crap the best we could.  He got promoted to his level of incompetence.  Shortly after I returned, he came back as my boss.  His second in command is a millennial.  He's not a bad guy.  I don't blame him for kissing the behind of every boss.  He just wants to get ahead.  He's not good with detail, so he was given managerial responsibilities.  Both are clueless about what they do.  My boss had the nerve to tell me that I wasn't knowledgeable about certain things for which his second in command was responsible for.  He doesn't know what he is doing.  I run rings around him.  I've never seen him accomplish anything.  He's a nice guy.  He organizes a lot of fun events like figuring at how to break out of a place (which I skip).  He had a white board put up where he posts the question of the week like "who is the most beautiful person in the world" or "what is your favorite food" or "What are you doing this weekend ."  It really boosts moral.
Thomas Napers Added Aug 1, 2017 - 3:07am
Employers do not need to hire employees that take drugs, it’s as simple as that.  As shown in the article 60% of their applicants will pass the drug test and I’m sure they receive way more clean applications than they need.  I would also add that baby-boomers didn’t maliciously do anything to the next generation.  To the extent one takes drugs or immerses himself in some technological gizmo, he only has himself to blame.
George N Romey Added Aug 1, 2017 - 6:33am
When I was in my late 20s I got a job managing six processing centers that totaled about 450 employees and nearly 40 supervisors and managers.  All of my direct supports were older than me as well as many of the employees.  I learned a lot from my subordinates and never under estimated or discounted their opinions and contributions. I knew that in many ways I was out gunned by my direct reports and had no intention of being a show boat.
 
I think about the young managers I know today and they been led to believe that because they have MBA behind their name (at one time to put "MBA" your name was overreach) they must know it all.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 1, 2017 - 7:59am
I'm with you Leroy. Of course, a boss as you describe could be a Boomer or a millennial. From my experience, millennials have more attitude that they're going to straighten out the world.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 1, 2017 - 8:12am
Thomas, I think you might have taken some dripping sarcasm as an accusation. Of course giving all the technology that the millennials have immersed themselves in was not done maliciously. They have complicated their lives all by themselves, created the stress that they find themselves facing, and insist that they be given time to address issues that they themselves created by their own choices and actions. The accusation was a reflection of a popular rationalization, where the perpetrator of the crime attempts to portray himself as a victim who deserves sympathy, rather than someone who has created their own misery. I'm fairly certain all of the technology that the young people seem to clutter their lives with was never invented with a malicious purpose.
That 60% of the candidates pass the drug test is still a hindrance to maintaining a working staff, because of all of the candidates are accepted and then the drug test is usually the last test, so that the HR people do all kinds of work only to find that the candidate of choice cannot pass the drug test, and that is what wastes so much time and effort, let alone such a high percentage. I'm wondering how many law enforcement applicant fail drug tests, but that is probably not a statistic they want to publish. Thanks for the response.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 1, 2017 - 8:23am
George, a perfect example of the MBAs not listening to anyone but themselves and making poor choices would be Starbucks. Not many people recall this, but Starbucks nearly went broke around 2008. The founder, a liberal arts graduate, had to come back in and save the company from going broke. He also insisted that he take a modest salary compared to the huge paychecks the MBAs were getting, and disposed of some of the unnecessary perks like corporate jets.
At one point in time, the business majors at one of the firms where I worked disparaged my liberal arts degree, in spite of my having to repair the disastrous plans that they concocted. Of course, they planned thick-headed solutions while doing things like taking two-hour lunches or playing golf at the country club, rather than talking to the workers who were facing the problems. It was all on paper, because no one knew anything but them, or so they thought. When I finally wrote and dated memos to keep them from stealing my ideas, then the resentment got very bad.  This was prior to millennials.
Dino Manalis Added Aug 1, 2017 - 9:19am
Drugs are bad news and rest has to be exercised healthfully to truly rest one's body, not abuse it!
Leroy Added Aug 1, 2017 - 9:52am
With so many failing drug tests, why isn't pay higher for those who pass?
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 1, 2017 - 11:02am
I think companies are more likely to import talent than pay more for it. Blue collar wages have stagnated since the 1980s. CEO pay has skyrocketed, and, let's face it, the money has to come from somewhere.
George N Romey Added Aug 1, 2017 - 12:43pm
I don't think the Boomers were much different in their attitudes.  The difference was that we had mentors to guide and help us.  Today its management by spreadsheet and millennials have no leadership.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 1, 2017 - 4:56pm
To a certain degree that is correct George, but, on the other hand, many of the millennials are so far ahead of Boomers in computers that they are convinced the Boomers have nothing to teach them.The computer-orientation of the millennials means that if you don't know much about computers, it must be that you don't know much about anything else as well.
Of many that I tried to help, most of them weren't the slightest bit interested in listening to any experienced insight. I recall offering some employment advice (from what I learned as a psych major with an important legal consideration) and most just looked at me like I was offering to walk their dog. They knew that their knowledge far surpassed mine in the areas of law and industrial psychology, or at least that was how they behaved. Perhaps had I put it in an Excel file they would have been impressed.
Thomas Napers Added Aug 2, 2017 - 12:57am
Technology doesn’t complicate our lives, it un-complicates our lives.  By of way of example, I just picked some people up at the airport and there was a miscommunication as to where I should pick them up.  I have no idea how we would have solved the problem if it weren’t for our cell phones. 
 
“That 60% of the candidates pass the drug test is still a hindrance to maintaining a working staff”
 
I’m certain companies gladly spend extra time in the hiring process to be sure they find employees that don’t use drugs.  After all, no company is forced to conduct drug tests, they do so out of choice. 
George N Romey Added Aug 2, 2017 - 8:51am
Yes technology makes life easier but it often interferes with communication.  Do you think children sitting at a dinner table engrossed in their Iphone or Gameboy instead of talking to Mom and Dad is a good thing?  Or an employee rather than having a one on one conversation with the person in the next office about something involved sending an email is always appropriate?  Time and place for everything. 
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 2, 2017 - 12:09pm
Sorry to tell you this Thomas, but transportation workers are required by both state and federal laws to take drug tests. In many instances, there is no choice. The same goes for when there is an accident, drug tests are required. I would love to have a surprise drug test of the U.S. Congress and all of the staffers, but like so many regulations, they are exempt.
Yes George, I had a student who for the entire time I taught, texted in the classroom every day. The only reason I put up with it was because he was an "A" student. The university that I attended was considering banning phones from classrooms because over half of the students spent classroom time texting. While communication might bring some advantages, as I have stated elsewhere, the young people can take a good thing and make it into a bad thing; and I sincerely believe that they have made a bad thing out of a good thing.
Patrick Writes Added Aug 2, 2017 - 9:05pm
If you're truly talking about millennials (born after 1982), then they would have never gotten Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign in the 80's while in school. 

Instead they would have gotten SpongeBob and Britney Spears and "I did not inhale" (Bill Clinton) or "I DID inhale" (Obama). 
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 3, 2017 - 10:31am
There is a generation of Americans who do not understand that telephones were once attached to walls with cords, that there was no internet, no desktop or laptop computers, television was limited to several local channels, and libraries had books and only books.
There is a generation that has been overwhelmed by technology, and not in a good way. The internet has become a source of misinformation for a generation that has abandoned any history book written before 2000. Unfortunately, the young people have come to believe all kinds of propaganda, while insisting any information before the internet was nothing but lies. Because of this disbelief, they have determined that they understand the world better than anyone before. This presumption of (mistaken) wisdom has led them to determine that they will redefine reality as they see fit, in a new and different "modern" manner, no matter how flawed.
George N Romey Added Aug 3, 2017 - 1:40pm
Jeff I see it more they do not think understanding history is important. They want to believe that technology as negated any lesson that can be learned from history.  Last year July 4th one of the Youtube channels went around Austin and you had young people saying the Constitution was signed in 1968 or even 1992.  
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 3, 2017 - 2:27pm
Yes, George, happens often. Just look at what some of the folks here on WB think is history.
Ari Silverstein Added Aug 3, 2017 - 11:22pm
“There is a generation that has been overwhelmed by technology, and not in a good way.”
 
Which generation is that, the young who generally embrace it or the old who generally still don’t understand it?
 
“The internet has become a source of misinformation for a generation that has abandoned any history book written before 2000.”
 
Just because something is written in a book doesn’t make it more accurate than seen online.  For example, because Wikipedia is the product of millions of people, I put its validity at a far higher level than any entry in any Encyclopedia Britannica.
 
“Unfortunately, the young people have come to believe all kinds of propaganda, while insisting any information before the internet was nothing but lies. Because of this disbelief, they have determined that they understand the world better than anyone before.”
 
Keep in mind this is coming from someone that isn’t young anymore.   In my opinion the young and old believe about the same amount of propaganda.  I’m also unfamiliar with any young person that believes any information before the internet was nothing but lies.
 
“This presumption of (mistaken) wisdom has led them to determine that they will redefine reality as they see fit, in a new and different "modern" manner, no matter how flawed.”
 
The one showing the presumption of wisdom is clearly you. 
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 4, 2017 - 1:59am
Obviously, Ari, you have not written any term papers recently. Citing Wikipedia will get you an "F" every time. While you might tout Wikipedia's validity, the vast majority of academics do not. While "not young" I would consider the perspective of someone who has read a lot more books, articles, and scholarly journals, over someone not as experienced, much in the same way I would prefer a surgeon who has done the surgery many more times, or a lawyer who has tried many more cases. It is not as much presumption of wisdom as it is the ability to recognize flaws in the reasoning of certain people, and their rejection of criticism because the critic isn't "young anymore." While age may not be a criteria, experience certainly is.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Aug 4, 2017 - 7:44am
Jeff
 
I guess for the first time I agree with Ari LOL
 
I have 3 kids of my own and 11 adopted ones between the age of 5 and 26. And NONE of them seem more stupid than I was in their age, especially the kids from my adoptive family in Cameroon are a lot more curious and interested as my own kids were in their age.
 
One has to guide them concerning food (at least here in Switzerland where we get that junk food crap) and social behavior when they're young, but I've never felt that they were anything like superficial or thoughtless.
 
the young people have come to believe all kinds of propaganda
 
As a 59-year-old I see my own generation believing in propaganda, not the young which know the net and research techniques a lot better than people my age. I work with people on IT and info research on the net, and the ones who have no clue and need it are not the young. THEY are more prone to be victims of propaganda, whatever you mean by that. May be that you regard my sources as propaganda and I see yours the same !
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 4, 2017 - 7:55am
Well, SEF, if some of the propaganda that is considered factual here on WB is any indication, young people believe a lot of nonsense. No names here, but you might know to whom I am referring.
George N Romey Added Aug 4, 2017 - 8:23am
I think people tend to believe the propaganda they are predisposed to.  They only listen to or follow those that reinforce their views.  I try to follow a variety of people from Alex Jones to Richard Wolff, Chris Hedges, Max Keiser, Jimmy Dore. Why?  Because while I do not always agree with some of their views I think they do make very valid points.  
Dave Volek Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:47pm
Jeff: This is a great article. Well written and well laid out. Definitely lots of points to consider.
 
I would be a little cautious about referring back to the "good old days" and I will bring up my little anecdotes.
 
In the late 1970s, I worked on the drilling rigs. At that time, this profession had passed from a cultural state of having a whiskey bottle on the driller's console to no booze allowed on location. However, the industry still tolerated workers who were drunk or hungover. It took another decade for the drilling rigs to clean up on alcohol. But then, marijuana and cocaine and probably a few other things became more popular with rig workers--and the industry is still struggling with these addictions on the jobsite.
 
It is hard to fire half your crews when it's difficult to find quality workers to replace them. Drug influenced workers still get work done, just like alcoholics used to get work done. 
 
I don't think the oilpatch was the only industry suffering this problem of alcohol. There are all sorts of blue-collar, white-collar, and profession occupations where alcohol consumption was common in the workplace.
 
I would just like to point out the we of the baby boomer generation had our sins when we were young workers.
Dave Volek Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:56pm
Another anecdote. A few years back, I got to know a rig worker who was a recreational user of narcotics. He wouldn't tell me what drugs he was doing, but he said he needed them to overcome the stress of his job. It was the rig's fault that drove him to drugs.
 
I called him on that. The drilling rigs do put a lot of stress of workers----and that is why you are paid so much *#!@(> money. If you can't handle that stress, then get out of that job.
 
I did see him a few years later. He was working construction and had earned his second-year carpenter's apprenticeship.
 
Apprentice carpenters don't make as much money as rig workers, but carpenters have their stresses too. I think this fellow grew up a little (hopefully).
Dave Volek Added Aug 4, 2017 - 4:16pm
And one more tidbit. I know Autumn doesn't like commenters placing several comments in a row, but Jeff did write an article that I find quite intriguing on several angles.
 
I had one of those number crunching jobs where I fed numbers in a software program, the program spit numbers back, I put the numbers in a report, and someone else used those numbers to make a decision.
 
This was the worst job I ever had! I had to maintain a high level of concentration for there were a lot of numbers to put in the right boxes on the computer screen. I was physically and mentally exhausted by 5:00 p.m.  And I didn't see much relevance to what I was doing. My bosses were ragging on me because I was not getting reports out in time. I was not cut out for this kind of work.
 
There are a lot of people doing work like this. Some are paid well, some not. Very few of them probably aspired to such an occupation when they were children. There really is no glory and honor. It is job; you get a paycheck; maybe you get some experience that can land a better job later.
 
A few years back, a pollster in Canada deemed that 83% of Canadian workers would rather be doing something else to earn their pay. We still have a long ways to go before we have meaningful and rewarding work for most workers. There are a lot of crappy jobs that need to get done to run our economy.
 
Millenials somehow believe they are entitled to a dream job. But the economy cannot deliver a dream job for everyone. In contrast, baby boomers took the job that offered the best opportunity at the time.
 
We could argue that my "numbers" job was done so much better in the past. But the truth is, it wasn't done at all. Rather than rely on sound engineering and scientific applications, decision-makers just made their best guess. If they were really that good at guessing, we wouldn't be buying computers and software and office space to get those numbers.
 
Software has given us the ability to conduct lots of engineering and scientific work to find a better answer than we did a generation ago--and get it done much quicker. We are not going to back to some "good old days."
 
We are just trading the mind-numbing jobs from ditch diggers to software jockeys.
 
 
George N Romey Added Aug 4, 2017 - 5:05pm
Dave many of the jobs today are nothing more than "arranging" large bits of data.  Its glorified factory work but no pride in a finish product that will have a use.  We are told that a college education will enable us to flex our mind and creativity but more and more jobs are robotic in nature.  That is why jobs are being replaced by robots.  The world of finance has been destroyed by big data  Management experience and foresight is being replaced by spreadsheet decision making.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 4, 2017 - 5:19pm
Dave, feel free to comment all you like. It looks as if you've had some interesting jobs, and yes, jobs and the workplace sure have changed a lot in the past few decades. George is correct in pointing out how the numbers have taken over in both robots and spreadsheets.
Dave Volek Added Aug 5, 2017 - 10:45am
George:
It is true that a lot of professional jobs are very boring. The job I described was often referred to as "sweat engineering". It is doing the same calculations over and over again, and there are implied production quotas to maintain. Many young engineers end up in these jobs. Some actually stay a long time. Others use it as a paycheck and hopefully a stepping stone to more interesting engineering jobs.
 
This particular work was not done prior to 1985 very much--even though the theory was well regarded as a means to optimize production in the petroleum industry. It took about two weeks of drawing graphs by hand to get an analysis. Only the most prolific of wells got this treatment. Most wells were analyzed by the "best guess" method. With computers and software, an analysis could be done in a day, so all wells get the benefit of an engineering analysis. If the "best guess" was so great, we would still be using it.
 
The use of computers/software is prevalent in so many industries. For example, the price set for a 1-lb bag of carrots at the retail level is set by a software program. Whether the carrots go for $0.79, $0.89, and $0.99 this week depends on how the many variables, including the prices of other grocery items and what the competition is doing, line up. The software is better able to find the right price point to maximize profits. Any grocery chain letting its store managers set the prices has probably gone out of business a long time ago. 
 
We are not going back to those good old days of experienced people picking numbers out of thin air. Besides, taking two weeks to plot points on a graph was also not so creative and inspiring.
 
As I said earlier, our economy has changed many boring manual labor jobs for boring data entry jobs. Engineers, scientists, medical people, business, etc. are entering data into software--and the software does the heavy work. No it is not rewarding work. But it is still useful work for our economy. Someone has to do it, and much of it requires an education to do it right.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 5, 2017 - 9:12pm
Dave, some time ago, a company named Ralston Purina, who made animal feed, had various formulas for the same products. They would enter the prices of the various ingredients and the most profitable formula would be used depending on the prices of the commodities needed. There is no doubt that computers have increased efficiency and profitability. In the transportation industry, where the rates of hauling things were in huge books that had to be referenced to get a price to transport something, are now computerized and the rates are produced in seconds. The reason your mail order stuff from eBay and Amazon arrive in just a few days (or less) is because of all of the technology applied. I'm with you on that Dave.
The problem that George is pointing out is that we have too many people (managers) who lack certain aspects of job qualifications and expect everything to be in the computer. My own experiences reflect that position as well. It seems that many are convinced that the only information that is relevant is in the computer. It's not all in there. The computers are a big help, especially in repetitive and boring functions, but there are times when good old critical thinking and experience will yield a more profitable and (God forbid) practical solution.
George N Romey Added Aug 6, 2017 - 9:30am
I know of a company here in South Florida.  They are a distributor for a commodity product that is moving into the decline stage.  Margins are razor thin due to so much pricing competition (which tends to happen when products move into the commodity stage or get replaced with new technology).  So the brain children in the C suite said lets expand into Canada.  They had their MIS and IT people created all kinds of wonderful spreadsheets that showed how they could make a profit.
 
So now they are just about at "go".  One big problem the spreadsheets didn't show.  Since Canada considers their product an import of medical devices there is an excise tax this company would need to absorb to still be price competitive.  This tax will all but sure losses for years until critical mass could be accomplished through market saturation.  So now faced with huge amounts of money invested into this expansion the company faces losses if it goes forward.  And no one can make a decision of what to do (presumably because their is no spreadsheet telling them what to do) so the project is just languishing.
 
The spreadsheets also did not calculate shipping charges correctly and no one seems to have a handle on what the difference would be.
Katharine Otto Added Aug 6, 2017 - 1:47pm
Jeff,
A thought provoking article.  I suspect every generation is an outgrowth, as well as a reaction to, the generation before.  Don't all twenty-somethings believe they have a better handle on the world than their parents' generation?  I know my Boomer group did.  Now we are holding the reins, and look at where the horse is headed.  
 
The younger generation may have a point.  I've been thinking of the age-old Puritan work ethic and wondering if it's outlived its usefulness.  The adage that the "devil finds evil work for idle hands" makes us guilty about relaxation, "wasting time," "doing nothing useful."  The industrial age has made us more dependent than ever on clock time, regimented hours, regimented lives.  Maybe drugs and alcohol are people's ways of coping with so many restrictive demands on time and attention.  Perhaps we would all be healthier and happier if we worked less, earned less, consumed less, and played more.
 
Politicians and economists talk about "creating jobs" but not about fitting jobs to people.  You mentioned somewhere that many jobs don't produce value.  How many people take boring jobs for the money or benefits?  
 
I believe drug testing is a violation of personal rights, unless there's a reason to suspect.  First, I don't believe in drug laws, as my most recent post explains. Second, alcohol is probably the most widely abused and maybe the most dangerous drug, and it is legal. It gets cleared from the system quickly, as do the amphetamines, like cocaine, crystal meth, and Ritalin. The benzodiazepines, like Xanax and Valium, have different clearance rates.  Same with heroin and pain killers.  Timing of the test is crucial to getting accurate results, and even then what do you really know? Point is, drug tests are unreliable, with many false positives and false negatives.  A false positive can foul up a person's present and future chances of employment. Marijuana can be detected for two weeks or more, long after use.  The drug tests are qualitative, not quantitative, meaning the drug may be present, but quantity is not known.  Amount of drug is significant, because it affects performance.
 
Then there are those who are on prescription drugs, like some amphetamines (for ADHD) or muscle relaxants/sedatives like Xanax.  If someone is on a prescription drug, is he then better able to handle dangerous machinery?
 
Since most of society is on one drug or another, not all psychotropics, I expect that most of our social mores are affected by the pill-popping paradigm. Even blood pressure  or allergy medicine can have undesirable physical and mental effects.  Where does it end?
 
I guess a failed drug test is an automatic reason not to hire, and that's too bad.  I suspect you lose a lot of potentially valuable employees that way.  Still, I wonder if drug testing is over-rated as a standard for hiring.
George N Romey Added Aug 6, 2017 - 2:21pm
We've lost social mobility in this country. That was in which people moved into the next class. Along the way they might needed to back to school but ultimately there was the reward. Today social mobility is reserved for those from just the elite schools.
 
Should it surprise us that so many have given up hope at the chance of a better life? Or take drugs to escape their bleak reality and future?
Katharine Otto Added Aug 6, 2017 - 10:12pm
George,
We've also lost job diversity as small businesses go out of business or get absorbed.  I perceive less true entrepreneurialism, because of high-up-front costs and over-regulation.  Old skills don't seem to have the buying power of new skills, such as in the tech industry. Lots of computer programmers, but no one around to repair power tools. 
 
This love affair with technology is becoming counter-productive.  People are too dependent on computer technology.  Starbucks can't sell you a cup of coffee if their computers go down.  Digital controls.  If someone would bring manual controls back to appliances, I guarantee there would be markets for them.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 6, 2017 - 11:58pm
Katherine, I too have a problem with drug tests.  I consider drug tests an invasion of a person's privacy. As long as they are not under the influence of drugs when they are at work, it really isn't an employer's business, but that's not how companies see it. The false positive of drug tests are a problem as well. Having studied the statistical probabilities of drug tests, when I took them, I asked what the accuracy was of the drug tests, and none, none of the people administering the tests could tell me. In a few cases they went to the physician on duty, and they were at a loss as well as to the accuracy of the test. It took the stats prof three blackboards of an equation that I could not reproduce to save my life, but the end result was that even a 95% accuracy was not an acceptable accuracy when it came to a person's career. They're here and they're not going away.
The reliance on technology is not serving our young students very well. Word processing and now the online evaluation of writing has produced students who don't understand how to write, but we're too far down the road to change it now. The same goes for research, which used to take hours finding books in the library which now is a few minutes on Google. The technology is here and it too, is not going away. In many ways I do not think we are a better society for it, but too many embraced it, adopted it, and now, it has become a new standard. Sure, the technology has its applications and benefits. But it has a dark side that too many people ignore.
Katharine Otto Added Aug 7, 2017 - 2:21pm
Jeff,
Thanks for the thoughtful reply.  However, I would like to challenge your prediction that the trends we agree are counter-productive are not going away.  I suspect that if you and I agree drug tests are invasions of privacy, others agree, too.  If enough people had the courage to speak up, we might see a shift in the winds. Tides come in, tides go out.  Also, if more people knew about the false positives, they would have more ammunition for protest, so your experience  with it is valuable to others.  
 
A lot of the techno-fascination is group-think fad. Technology has generated a lot of confusion, because systems are often un-reliable or too cumbersome to be practical.  I saw that early with respect to medical records, and that is not getting better.  It's getting worse.
 
Research has been watered down by technology, according to me.  Yes, it has its advantages, but if I want to study anything in depth, I go to print media or primary sources every time.  Certainly I'm not alone.  It scares me to see our local library disappearing books in favor of videos, DVDs and computer stations, but it's happening.  I wonder what archaeologists will find in the future, if all our information is electronically stored.
George N Romey Added Aug 7, 2017 - 5:54pm
Katharine its the research aspect that makes the learning impressionable.  When everything is a google search, an app or an answer from software or a spreadsheet the learning process becomes short circuited.  Its like back in the day when you copied off your friend in class that knew all the answers to the test.  Did you pass (assuming you weren't caught)?  Yes.  Did you learn anything?  No.
George N Romey Added Aug 7, 2017 - 8:42pm
I just read where more than half of millennial college grads fully expect to move back home on at least a semi permanent basis.  When I graduated college in 1981 moving back with Mom and Dad other than while you looked for an apartment (a couple of months at most) was unheard of.  Particularly a guy would be embarrassed living at home.  When you packed your bags to go away to college at age 18 it was you were leaving the nest.
Katharine Otto Added Aug 8, 2017 - 1:18pm
George,
Well, cheaters learn how to cheat and get away with it. And I agree that there is an attitude of gaming the system among these millennials that is more pronounced than when  I was their age.  They almost seem proud of it, but then they were raised on games, like video games.  
 
The system itself is so dishonest and dysfunctional--as you have also stated--that it creates entire contingents of cheaters, but are they happy with what they've become?  I don't believe so, but I'm not sure how it can be changed.  Maybe the jubilee you speak of would sober them up.  They certainly seem adaptable, so may ride it out better than those of us who are beginning to get a little creaky.
 
When I was 18, I couldn't wait to get away from my parents, but I wonder now if financial restrictions will lead the different generations back to each other. Home ownership is over-rated, in my opinion, and family can be quite comforting.
 
George N Romey Added Aug 8, 2017 - 7:39pm
Katharine Baby Boomers made life softer for their offspring than the Bob Hope generation made for us.  However, I had a job out of college that enabled me self sustained living.  I think a reset would mature a lot of people and bring us back into a sense of sanity and reasoning.