Klossner: That Presley kid is wiggling his hips again
My friend Robert and I have an expression for whenever anyone is critical of a younger generation's styles or tastes: "That Presley kid is wiggling his hips again." This, of course, refers to the cultural reaction to Elvis Presley, who, when he first performed on television, was not allowed to be shown below the waist for fear that his dancing would lead to truancy, increased drug use, loosening of sexual morals and the creation of PBS.
Are the complaints that the newest generation to enter the workforce have short attention spans nothing but the newest form of "that Presley kid is wiggling his hips?" I haven't yet heard the phrase "younger workers have short attention spans and their work suffers because of it leaving us with shoddy, half-finished projects." Heck, I know enough workers of all ages who could fit that description.
No, the complaint seems to be that the short attention spans of younger employees makes them less motivated to sit through boring presentations, or make them impatient in dealing with bureaucratic agency processes. Why do older workers find this problematic? If tortured at Guantanamo Bay, I'm sure most of them would admit the same sentiments. To paraphrase, this seems to be a case of "It may be a glacial bureaucratic system, but it's OUR glacial bureaucratic system." Any new, different voice would be complained about – if younger employees were meticulous and spent extra time on projects, I'm sure the older employees would complain about them being too slow.
This is an editorial issue that is universal, and as old as the first wooly mammoth hunt, where some 12-year-old asked why they didn't use the sharp end of the stick. As that famous gay wizard, Albus Dumbledore, once said, "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young. ..."
I have met federal employees of all ages, and have always been impressed by their focus and motivation. This is not a conflict of age. This is a conflict of communication, and empathy. (It is also a conflict that leaves me with plenty of opportunities for humor.)
Oh, in this week's cartoon, the character on the left is wiggling her hips, but the editors made me leave it out of the frame.
Posted by John Klossner on Jun 16, 2008 at 12:18 PM