In defense of millennials

For this month’s cover story we talked with operators to find out how they are meeting the customer service demands of each of the five generations served by the non-commercial industry (Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, baby boomers and the Silent Generation).

Researching about the different generations inevitably brings up some version of this statement, “Millennials are lazy and have a terrible work ethic.” All too often, the word millennial is used in a derogatory way. 

Being the only millennial on the FSD team, I’m often left defending my generation. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of lazy people in my age group. But the same could be—and has been—said about every generation.

“They have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder. They have few heroes, no anthems, no style to call their own. They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial.”

If the TV dial reference didn’t date the passage, you probably would have thought that description was about millennials. But that was a portrayal of Gen Xers in a 1990 Time article.

And let’s not even start in on the flower children, who were once described as “a red warning light for the American way of life,” by the British historian, professor and author Arnold Toynbee.

It seems that each generation gets bashed by its predecessors, until that generation has more of a voice. Douglas L. Keene, Ph.D, put it best in a 2011 article in The Art and Science of Litigation Advocacy: “Seven years after their initial article (June 9, 1997), Time magazine published an ‘oops’ article (on the cover) and retracted much of what they had initially published about Generation X. It was not until members of Generation X began to write about their own generation (rather than Boomers (sic) doing all the writing about this new upstart generation) that the negative slant of articles began to shift.”

So can we please give millennials a break? We might have different values and habits than those older generations, but we aren’t bad people. Now, those Gen Zers, that’s a completely different story. 

In other news, you may have noticed a slightly different look to the pages of FoodService Director. I’m pleased to announce the FSD team has a new addition, Victoria Rodriguez, as art director. Vicky comes to us from RedEye, a Chicago Tribune publication.



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