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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Times they are a-changing’

Published: September 23, 2011
Section: Opinions

Recently for one of my classes I read a book titled “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace” by Ron Alsop. Alsop’s book is about how our generation has created a divide in the way offices are run due to the different expectations and values that our generation holds. Conflict about dress in the office was one of things Alsop writes about that I experienced firsthand this summer as an intern. When I came to the office the first day wearing a button-down shirt and slacks, my supervisor—a man in his mid-20s, who was wearing a polo shirt and jeans—told me I didn’t have to come to work dressed like that. When I came to work dressed more casually the next day, an associate, who looked to be in his 50s, told me that I was dressed unprofessionally.

Conflict over formal attire is just one area our generation is changing the way we work. Our generation’s use and reliance on technology and social networks is another thing that can sometimes cause friction in the workplace as well. For my internship I was supposed to comprise a review of our company’s Facebook page and then compare it to our biggest competitor’s. Of course, doing such a thing required the use of Facebook; however, the same associate who didn’t approve of my casual dress also saw me on Facebook and told me to stop wasting my time. While the company I was working at was starting to embrace social networks as another way to get their brand out there, clearly this older employee was uncomfortable with these changes.

Our generation is not just changing the way Americans work, we are also forcing society at large to change based on our values. Earlier this week, the United States’ military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regarding gay and lesbian servicemen and women was abolished. Countless soldiers were finally allowed to serve and defend their country without compromising who they are. While instances of homosexual discrimination are bound to continue, the end of this policy, as well as the legalization of homosexual marriage in New York state, are signs that, as a country, we are entering a new era where the values of our generation are slowly being implemented in society at large.

According to the latest Pew Research Center study, there is a 30-point gap between the Millennial generation and seniors on the rights of gays and lesbians. While 62 percent of Millennials think gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, only 31 percent of seniors think the same. Strikingly, 44 percent of evangelical Millennials support gay marriage, compared to just 12 percent of evangelical seniors. The fact that nearly 50 percent of evangelical Millennials support same-sex marriage means that the culture war over same-sex marriage is soon going to be over. During the next few years, as more Millennials reach voting age and more seniors pass away, more states are bound to legalize gay marriage.

Accepting people regardless of their sexual orientation is just one area in which our generation is imprinting itself upon America. While our generation’s views on other issues are currently being countered by groups like the Tea Party, which is overwhelmingly made up of older white people, it is inevitable that our generation is going to change America to be more in our collective image.