I was born in 1978. Let’s get that out of the way. At the time of writing, I turn 39 in less than 2 months and at my current job, the mean age of my colleagues is probably 24, so yes, this gen-x’er is surrounded by millennials.
I can already hear the collective groan from those in my age group who are reading this but allow me to explain why, so far, working with these guys has produced the following epiphanies…
A telltale sign of getting old is not recognizing 90% of current music
The work environment is very casual so music can be heard playing all day at the office (a little too loudly at times, I’m embarrassed to admit) and folks can request for songs to be queued up on the playlist in a Slack channel. It’s been a long time since I visited said channel because the last few times I did, I was bewildered at how unfamiliar almost all the songs and artists I came across were. Sure, once in a while, some enlightened soul will ask for Stevie Wonder’s Superstition or even some heavy rock or metal (once, a guy had the balls to request for Blood and Thunder by Mastodon! Respect!) but most of the time it’s bands with names like Hickies Are So Last Year (not a real band) and Toilet Seat Down (also not a real band).
My aging brain cannot keep up with online group chats
There was a time I lived for engaging, meaningful online group conversations about philosophy, impoverished nations, and quantum physics. I used to really enjoy talking shit with my friends via ancient group chat programs like ICQ and IRC – it blew my mind to learn recently that ICQ is still around! These days, people at work use Telegram and I am part of two separate group chats there. My phone buzzes pretty constantly from incoming messages and when I open the app up to check, I get overwhelmed by the emojis (I still call them emoticons, thank you very much) and wacky stickers that I seriously cannot keep up with the conversation most of the time so I end up not really participating. So much so that in fact, people in the chat make a big deal whenever I have a bit of input in the conversation. “Hey, everybody! He just commented! Whooo!”
I blame Grunge music for my pessimism
I’ve found that folks whose music-related formative years were the nineties generally have a bit of a cynical, sarcastic way of looking at the world. I had colleagues who were my age in previous jobs and we all shared this skeptical, nay-saying approach to handling most things. This first dawned on me when a much younger co-worker from a few years ago took notice of my Facebook posts and comments and could not help but ask me, “Why are you so negative on Facebook?” To my defense, what he viewed as negative was just my dark, self-deprecating sarcastic tone and humor but this definitely made me realize what I mentioned above.
There’s more to being a millennial than the sense of entitlement
Some, if not all, might be aware that millennials, besides being renowned for having a tremendous sense of entitlement, also have a great positive, can-do, the-world-is-our-oyster outlook in life. Guys and girls from work have this characteristic in spades and wouldn’t you know it, it’s bloody contagious! It is totally refreshing to be around this type of energy where people genuinely want to help you improve and cheer you on when you actually do. Coming from more traditional, corporate work environments (I now work for a San Francisco/Silicon Valley start-up that is based in Manila – more on that in Episode 2) which are laced with politics and a trait Filipinos are infamous for, called crab-mentality, the positive, almost hippie-like attitude is a breath of fresh air for my otherwise polluted, contemptuous soul.
See what I mean about the effects of growing up listening to Grunge?