Slackerism versus Purpose

Woodlief has a nice editorial in the WSJ Online:  he moved to the woods with his kids in order to teach them a work ethic.  Pretty cool… I’d give my eyeteeth for 20 acres, myself, even though I know it would involve significantly less laziness on my part.

He also hits on something important, though.  Work is important, but it has to be meaningful work, in order to be anything other than drudgery.  As he points out, it’s not working in general that even slackers object to, but pointless, mousewheel, busywork.

  • The “Greatest Generation” said “tell me what to do.”
  • “Generation X” says “show me how to do it.”
  • “Generation Y” and the “Milennials” say “why should I bother?”

But the other side of that is… guess which of these generations does at least twice as much volunteer work?  I see this at work all the time — if you can convince this latest generation that something is worth doing, they will not only do what’s required on their own, but they’ll figure out what has to be done to make it happen, too.

Leave a comment


  1. Alex

     /  August 25, 2008

    I fully agree. I’m seeing this myself with new engineers and materials scientists in my field. Unfortunately, it’s holding their attention to it that I struggle with, especially when they find it takes A LOT of detail oriented work and repetitive tasks to really understand the science and the experimental outcome.

  2. Yeah, Generations Y and M are children of Hermes.

  3. Oh, no, JimDesu. By far, the Children of Apollo.

  4. You mean they’re like ME?? Ouch… 🙂

  5. Mike

     /  August 26, 2008

    Well, better that than the children of Loki…


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