In defence of millennials

jezebel

Dear Shelagh 

I recently read this article which fills me with terror and also makes me angry. I am one of these “millennials” and I work for a company where I sometimes have to select images to go in the company newsletter or to send to clients or whatever. 

So, this poor person posted a pic to the company’s Tumblr account and tagged it “clouds” and “smoke”, which is exactly what it looks like. She didn’t know that it was the exploding Challenger. I didn’t either. It looks like smoke or clouds to me. 

And then that article was written about the “dangers” of hiring people like me. What the hell is wrong with people like me? I don’t get how we’re supposed to know stuff we don’t know. I don’t get what we’re supposed to do so that we don’t look at a random picture of smoke or clouds and think, “hmmm, smoke or clouds”, not “I wonder if that could be an image of some disaster that happened before I was born…” 

Surely every generation has to deal with new young people entering the workforce, who don’t instantly recognise images of stuff that happened before they were born? I mean, I get that it’s all more scary now because social media makes sure that any stupid little mistake is transmitted around the world at the speed of light.

But seriously, what was that girl supposed to have done differently? What should I be doing differently? So that we’re not “dangerous” to hire…

Head in the clouds

 

Dear Head

I feel your pain: it’s always tempting for some people (click-baiting Jezebel writers?) to make sweeping generalisations when one member of one particular category of person makes a mistake. At any given moment “all” millennials/blondes/Irishmen/Chinese/middle-aged men, etc, etc, become one stupid thing because some social commenter decrees it to be so.

In your case, dear Head, the contrived bigotry of the headline has achieved its goal – annoying the targeted reader. I wouldn’t take it too personally if I were you.

The matter of this particular millennial’s (or “international social media employee’s”) mistake is another thing altogether and my immediate question is: where on earth is the manager in charge? Isn’t it a manager’s job to ensure that staff know stuff they don’t know? Surely American Apparel doesn’t simply take on social media staff without some guidance as to responsible image/copy selection? To then refer to the “insensitivity of the selection” is also sheer nonsense. This was not an “insensitive” act on the part of the employee, as she had no clue as to the image’s provenance, and therefore could not have made an “insensitive” decision. An uninformed one, yes – for sure.

I find it all rather annoying. A mistake was made and – hopefully – a few lessons were learned.

Perhaps what you and I can learn from this is: always check, ask, and check again and if still in doubt, find another image – or another company to work for.

There’s nothing at all wrong with millennials like you. You’re a rather fabulous, independently minded, world-changing lot. Hopefully this Washington Post article will cheer you up.

Send your work related questions to dearshelagh@shelaghfoster.co.za.

 

 

Advertisements