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Frederick Newlin and David Dempsey

Ms. Soring

AP English Language and Composition

21 November, 2016

All For Nothing

Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it

becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig says

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers: The Story of Success. This hard work, or a persons

work ethic, is their willingness to do the job that they are given. When it comes to the younger

generations, many will complain that they dont have a work ethic whatsoever, but to say that

every one of the countless young Americans is an effortless and lazy couch potato is a stretch.

This is not to say that there arent any effortless, lazy couch potatoes inhabiting the younger

generations because there definitely are an abundance of them. While the work ethic of the

younger generations, or the lack thereof, in America varies from person to person, a

generalization can be drawn from the views of most young Americans. The work ethic of young

people today is subjective to the task at hand, in that when they are given a job that has a

foreseeable purpose, the majority of todays youth will gladly devote themselves to their project

and see it all the way through, whereas if they are unable to find any reason for why they are

supposed to be doing a task, they are highly unlikely to work their hardest to complete a task or

go that extra mile.

Age and maturity is a factor that heavily determines how seriously someone takes a job. I

see this most often on service projects that involve young people. The younger participants dont
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put much effort in the work they are doing and generally play around more than the older people

there, because they dont fully understand the result of the project. Through Boy Scouts I have

witnessed this first hand and even participated in the cycle. When someone is very young, they

dont realize the point of the work they are doing. As they get older and more mature, even a

couple years older, they understand the reason for why they are working: to benefit others. This

doesnt just apply to volunteering, in school, people dont take their work seriously unless they

see how they can use it in the future. For example, they dont pay attention in biology because

they dont see the point of them knowing mitosis when they become an architect. In addition to

just being young, people tend to stereotype teens and Millennials as people who Never want to

grow up (Arnett Fishel). It is not wrong to say that the younger generations are taking their time

becoming more independent, as there are facts that support the claim. Ever since President

Obama passed Obamacare in 2009, young adults have been allowed to stay on their parents

health plan until they turn 26, which in turn promotes the idea of living with their parents for

longer, delaying that sense of independence. Likewise, there are statistics that prove the

stereotype to be false. Younger people do take longer to fully grow up, but to say that they never

want to become adults is an exaggeration. By age 30, about 75 percent of young Americans

have a marriage partner, at least one child and a stable long-term job. Most of the rest will reach

these milestones some time in their early 30s (Arnett Fishel). Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a research

professor at Clark University, and Elizabeth Fishel, a writer that specializes in family issues, say

that the majority of soon-to-be adults want to embrace their new freedoms by traveling the

world, partying, and anything else they wouldnt have been able to do as kids or anything they

wont be able to do with a full-time job or family (Arnett Fishel). Therefore, despite what people
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in older generations believe, there is no shame in getting married, starting a family, or

establishing a full-time career slightly later in life. Just because they took more time to finally

settle-down doesnt mean their work ethic is any worse as long as that last burst of autonomous

thrill-seeking eventually relaxes a little.

Teens have been getting progressively less and less prominent in the workforce, but they

are not completely at fault for this downtrend like most people think they are. In 1999, slightly

more than 52 percent of teens 16 to 19 worked a summer job. By [2013], that number had

plunged to about 32.25 percent over June and July (Hall). This means that in just seventeen

years, the number of employed teens throughout the entire country has dropped by

approximately 19.75 percent, a record low for the United States of America where citizens have

historically taken pride in the plentitude of their working class. Many relate this decline to the

work ethic of the young generations. Teens are lazy, and they dont want to put any effort into

what theyre doing. Therefore, they refrain from getting a job. They dont see any reason to go

out and find a job while they are happy sitting at home doing nothing. Not all of this apparent

laziness can be attributed to a lack of work ethic though. Those who are in an older generation

than these young new teen workers, Baby Boomers for example, are also partly to blame. Baby

Boomers grew up in a time of prosperity and an influx of jobs. As teenagers, jobs were about as

easy to find as it would be to spot a blade of grass. They were everywhere. Work practically fell

into their hands. This is because, at the time, consumerism, or the preoccupation of society with

the acquisition of consumer goods, was on the rise. To accommodate, so to were the number of

job openings. Now, job vacancies are much rarer, meaning it is much more difficult for teens

today to acquire one. Those in the preceding generations stole any remaining jobs, especially
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during the Great Recession of 2008, leaving almost nothing for modern-day teens who are hard

workers to jumpstart their career-life with. As a result, they are lumped in with the teens who are

just couch potatoes and are thought to not have a work ethic. So, with that in mind, even though

there are many teens who are just lazy, it isnt exactly fair for older generations to complain

about teens not applying themselves to find a job when there arent nearly as many jobs today as

when they were kids.

Much of the younger generation learn their work ethic while in school, whether its high

school or college. They learn to use other people, split up the work so it can get done faster.

Work smarter, not harder is a saying that is drilled into their heads from the beginning. In

school, it has become almost second nature for a student to look up an answer on their phone

rather than search through a textbook. A study by Harris Interactive found that in a poll of 2300

people, more that 60% of high schoolers use their phones to work (Nagel). They don't see the

point of putting effort into the work if someone else has already completed it and they can just

get answers from someone else even if they are halfway across the world, through e-mail or

instant messaging (Fermin). This ethic carries over into their jobs when they start working. The

younger generation uses technology and other people to help them with their job, as such, they

put just as much work in as previous generations. These outside sources allow them to get more

work done with less effort. Since they put less effort into the work, the older generations think

they have a terrible work ethic despite the younger generation getting the same amount of work

done as before. This altered work ethic works with most jobs, but when there is no technology or

other people to be used, say if someone worked as a manual laborer, the older generations view

of the younger becomes more valid. Most of the younger generation are so used to having
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technology and other resources, that when there is none available, they don't know what to do

and almost completely shut down. They get very little work done, as they aren't used to putting

in the required amount of effort to get something done without external assistance.

Some of the so called laziness that the older generations think the younger ones have,

can be attributed to how the older generations raise the younger ones. From when kids are

young, their parents, teachers, and other adults tell them to always do what they love. They say,

Your work doesn't feel like a chore,(Taylor) and youll never work a day in your life if you

enjoy what you do. Kids are conditioned to put effort into the things they enjoy doing, so when

they get their first job or have to do something they dont like, they dont put as much effort into

it. When they do find a task exciting, they put all the effort they can into it, except they have fun

while doing it. So when someone else, especially someone from an older generation, sees them

working, it seems like they are lazy despite putting forth their maximum effort. There are now

studies that say that doing something you like is better for you according to Nicole Taylor,

author of 12 Reasons to Do What You Love for a Living, and younger people are hearing

about these studies and taking the information to heart.

In a society where young people is a term that inaccurately groups kids of all ages into

one massive stereotype, where beginner jobs have slowly become less available, where working

smarter is condemned, and where the newer generations are blamed for how they were raised it

is quite hard for any teen or student to overcome the omnipresent boundaries that prevent them

from gaining any stability in their attempt to enter the workforce. These young adults should be

at least making an effort though. While many of Americas youth have taken the initiative to

become hardworking members of society, there are just as many who have purposefully avoided
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getting a job for the sole intent of being indolent. For this reason, the much-too-common

stereotype that states that all young American citizens lack a work ethic is an unfair assumption.

Teens should each be judged individually according to their own personal accomplishments and

work ethics. It is unjust to say that an individual, who may be working one, or even two, jobs in

addition to any school work or extra-curriculars, is lazy just because ten other random teens sit

on the couch and do nothing all day.


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Works Cited

Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen, and Elizabeth Fishel. "Are Your Kids More Lazy, Spoiled and Childish

Than Past Generations?" AARP. N.p., 09 May 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Hall, Kevin G. "Teen Employment Hits Record Lows, Suggesting Lost Generation."

McClatchyDC. N.p., 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

Nagel, By David. "Report: Students Use Smart Phones and Tablets for School, Want More --

THE Journal." THE Journal. N.p., 08 May 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

Taylor, Nicole Fallon. "12 Reasons to Do What You Love for a Living." Business News Daily.

N.p., 21 May 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

"ObamaCare Young Adults." Obamacare Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Fermin, Jeffrey. "How Technology Is Making Our Work Lives More Efficient and Connected."
How Technology Is Making Our Work Lives More Efficient and Connected. N.p., 11 Apr.
2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2016

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