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16 September 2017


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Come out to San Francisco. These creatures are crawling all over San Francisco making $250K+ a year.


The parents of those children are infamous for managing their children's work life. The parents will actually call the child's boss to complain, etc. That is shocking to me. Net: smartphones are but one issue. Schools, parents, societal expectations and beliefs are the other issues. Many in that generation have been coddled, protected to previously unmatched levels. They are the stock market bubble, PC thought generation and they often have unrealistic expectations about what is "owed" to them.



They have regular work habits? pl


yes, by today's techie standards



".... what happens when these creatures are finally forced to live and interact in the context of an organization that demands performance in return for money."

I don't know about the SF culture that eakens describes but in Detroit they learn the art of the SJW pretty quickly. When the bs complaints don't work to their liking they depart for what they think are greener pastures. Our turnover has been pretty horrendous considering we're paying at the upper end of the scale.


I'll never forget the kid that asked me, when I visited friends:

"Are you walking?". Setting: A suburb of Seattle.

One of the many mysteries left in life/mind: how long did it take her to realize there was a bus stop not that far away? Beyond, more arbitrarily, was that the kid of neighbors that got hold of her too widely ranging tom cat? In any case when my friend contacted the local institution to deal with cats, not too long after. It was too late.

Anyway my friend suspected neighbors.

James Doleman

I think every generation thinks the next one is "soft," is part of the human condition.
I'm sure that the older generation looked down on 50's kids Col

James Doleman

I think all generations despair of their successors. IIRC the kids of the 50's were despised as "rockers" and "rebels without a clue" by their depression era elders.

If I may add, I am the godfather of a 20 year old currently studying overseas.
Think this might be the best informed, best connected generation yet,


eakens is right.

I don't think it's smartphones per se, I think there are two types. One are young adults who do have a good work ethic and have outside interests, social in the physical sense, sports, camping, hiking, dancing, lgbt events (we're talking San Francisco here), etc.

There is a large second group who seem to live primarily through social media, though. These people, in my experience, seem to have problems holding jobs, having long-term relationships, etc. Smartphones have made social media much more accessible, but I don't think smartphones in and of themselves are the causal factor. (I've had a smart phone for a long time. I still get things done.)


This is an attitude that seems common among older generations when looking at younger ones. As part of Gen-X I certainly heard my share growing up. We were, supposedly the "slacker" generation yet we, as a cohort, seemed to turn out no worse than any other. It's certainly been a bit strange to see my Gen-X "slacker" peers criticize the Millennials in similar ways.

I don't think it was any different for the Boomers who developed a reputation for self-centeredness and a "lust" for sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Most seemed to grow out of that.

Personally, I doubt the millennials will be any different and, when they get older, will level similar criticisms at their children and grandchildren.

iowa steve

In 1970, 2 buddies and I rented a house in New Orleans for $55/month, and we all made minimum wage, $1.65/hr. One person making that wage could pay the rent with a week's work. Gas was 32 cents/gallon, and we all had our cars. Three young men had a total grocery bill of c. $25/wk.

Four years later I started at a private law school. The tuition was c. $800/semester. I paid that first tuition by driving an ice-cream truck over the semester. I graduated with a hair over $1000 in student debt.

Absolutely no one could do any of those things nowadays on the wages we made given the astronomically high costs. Tuition at that same law school is upwards of $12,000/semester, rent for our tiny house would be $600/mo, and we all know the price of gas now, and other costs. My first new car in 1976 cost $2900.

I would attribute much of the stagnation of the current generation not to smart phones or moral malaise but to the decline in the economy. The cultural attributes such as social media are imho a symptom, not a cause.

iowa steve

As an addendum to my post, above, perhaps I am talking about a different cohort than the article. I think it would be fair to say that the subject matter discussed here might be the children of the upper 10% or so. My frame of reference would be those whom Hillary labeled the deplorables, i.e., everyone else.

With the staggering amount of debt, the extravagant costs, the lack of upward mobility, and the lack of job prospects, I fail to see how that majority of young people are able to make a go of it. And, no, I don't think it's a result of bad morals or a lack of work ethic--at least here in the midwest.


Smartphones have caused unprecedented alienation in the US, perhaps matching Japan. The hikkimori is no longer a Japanese phenomenon, I would guess it's equally prevalent here.

Add smartphones and videogames together and you can prevent social development and engagement with the real world. Most people can adjust to work, they'll work until they fall over. The people who get in too deep are the exception, albeit a huge exception. The real trouble is in the virtual separation from lived experience that becomes physical separation and alienation. People who are working, have families, but are cut into pieces by devices.

Is there any way to stop this? There have been attempts to fix social problems caused by technology, in the past. I think there could be programmed time limits and pauses for non utility phone functions, or maybe for all functions. Maybe we could round up the world's finest creators of spectacle and have them create some dramas and comedies that cast phones as a very uncool item, something for the sad and burdened.

Clueless Joe

Minor detail: It was in the Naked Sun, where they visit one of Earth's former colonies in outer space, that we see that isolated society, with 20.000 humans and 500 mio robots working for them. Caves of Steel (the previous novel in the series) is the opposite, with everyone living in subterranean mega-cities on an overcrowded Earth.
Of course, the Naked Sun society ends badly, considering how dysfunctional it is.


Yesterday I was driving through the campus of a small, expensive private college. The hiway splits the campus & there is a traffic light controlled by the students for crossing. I stopped for a group of about a dozen students to cross on their way to class. I was amazed. Every student had their cell phone in their hand and was looking down "talking". Surrounded by their friends & class mates, there was not a single real conversation going on. Each student was in their own bubble.

I have observed students on what appeared to be a dinner date actually texting each other across the table.


Someone once described homo sapiens as the only self domesticated species.

And yes, I too see todays 20 somethings as pampered, entitled, and adults largely in chronological terms.

But there is a more significant issue. People are no longer grouped geographically where they have to interact with others nearby. This tended to bring people together. Not that they agreed with each other so much as they came to at least understand each other. It was once called a "community." That is becoming an increasingly quaint notion. Now people can exist in silos thousands of miles apart. This breeds extremism because it isolates people from having to interact with others of differing backgrounds and views.


Dear Colonel,

There was an interesting talk by Dr. Lustig on his new book, the Hacking of the American mind, about the culture of addiction, depression, and the difference between happiness and pleasure, which facebook leverages addiction to pleasure very effectively.


I also note a class issue not mentioned - of a dozen gen-x'ers I hired for a project, only one remains in my company, and he was the only one from a working class family. My rough estimate is that 90-95% of the local, well respected university's grads are completely worthless due to their sense of entitlement, poor work habits, inability to focus, lack of practical knowledge, common sense, and I could go on and on, but I will not hire them.

Something similar seems to be happening in Italy times 10.


I tried to read this author's book about millenials and found it impossible to get through, maybe that was just me. But she has found a rich vein, in my opinion.



No offense, but that comment is cheap and, worse, wrong. The average salary for a software engineer in Silicon Valley isn't far north of $100k (average salary overall is a little shy of $90k). Less than 1% of SFers earn close to or, indeed, more than $250k...

See http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Location=San-Francisco-CA/Salary

The cost of living in San Francisco is almost 80% higher than the US national average. The average price of a home in SF is (as of June 2017) $737,600 - the second highest average sales price in the U.S. A two-bed rented apartment will set you back $4650 per month, or just shy of $60k per annum.

See https://smartasset.com/mortgage/what-is-the-cost-of-living-in-san-francisco

Because many of them can't afford to rent their own accommodation, a lot of these young people live in the vicinity of or actually *on* their employer's premises, in employer-owned communal living spaces affectionately referred to as "campuses". In fact, the behemoths like Apple and Google go to great lengths to preserve the college lifestyle for these employees, so that they might choose to live on site in order to save money or simply because they want to stay Peter Pan forever. Others live in smaller shared accommodation with several others well into their late twenties (in the past few years, there have been at least 3 popular sitcoms based on this scenario, e.g. Silicon Valley).

See http://www.refinery29.com/23649 for a virtual tour of Google's "Mountain View" complex.

I imagine you didn't mean anything by it, but I find your comment to be so typical of the boomer generation - the generation that has either hoarded or squandered the nation's (their childrens) wealth but nonetheless has the temerity to suggest that kids nowadays "have it too easy". Kids today aren't responsible for how they or society in general turned out - we are. But boomers don't want to take responsibility for anything, least of all the behavior of their own offspring.
Well, I blame the parents. Especially the morons who believe that allowing their kids to be "free to develop in their own unique way" is some sort of token of enlightenment. Those are the same people who claim that kids today have it easy, and make crass claims designed to salve their own consciences and deflect any sense of responsibility. They are the worst generation, and it's their grandchildren, or their children, who'll have to try and pick up the pieces and try to rebuild a society again because, sadly, I think this one is ^&%$ed.

In the immortal words of Charlton Heston, "YOU MANIAC! YOU BLEW IT UP! AH, DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!!


The intelligent ones among them are opportunistic harvesters of parental resources, but perfectly capable of adaptation. No problem there. The genuinely plant-like ones do exist, but probably not in larger numbers than the problem kids of earlier generations.

David E. Solomon

On the bright side, maybe they will stop breeding and the world can recover from humanity.



But boomers don't want to take responsibility for anything, least of all the behavior of their own offspring.

A very good post. Agree a lot with what you said. I also have first hand experiences with what you described.

scott s.

Somewhat different demo, but same observation:

After finishing working out in the base gym, was driving home in the early twilight past one of the "quads" where the maneuver units live/work. A group of soldiers sitting around a picnic table outside. In the gathering darkness, I could see the bright white screen of a phone in front of each one. To be fair, in the center of the quad another group was playing hoops.



My generation were not "boomers." They were pre-boomers and they started working hard and early while they were still in school. pl

dilbert dogbert

Interesting to read both sides of what is happening to today's youth. I remember reading in the Smithsonian Mag about how Egyptians used broken pottery shards to write notes. In the dry climate those shards are still readable. Many comment on the decay of the youth of the day. Been going on for 1000's of years yet here we still are.
I don't know if any of SST members are active Grammar School or High School teachers. They could tell us a lot about today's youth. A very good friend of mine just passed away. He was a retired teacher. It was eye opening to read the comments on social media from his old students about how he changed their lives.
Reality will still be the best teacher. Good teachers can help clear the path for you so you don't have to rely so much on reality.

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