Bubble Babies Dream of Unicorns and Rainbows

by David French

Over at Forbes, Susannah Breslin threw out a Twitter question asking twenty-somethings what they want out of life and a career. Their responses were . . . amusing.

Let’s be clear that the people responding to Breslin would be archetypical inhabitants of the “bubble” Charles Murray so eloquently describes in his new book (yes, I know I can’t stop talking about it). The young people following a Forbes blogger are politically aware, socially connected tweeting machines. They’re part of the creative class, the folks looking for the next Google or Apple (or looking to work for the current Google or Apple, but that might be boring). Check out some of their career aspirations:

They want to matter.

I want recognition, a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I want to make a difference and never stop learning. — @StephTheBlogger

 They find passion in changing the world.

I want to be able to give back to my community and incite change, all the while doing work that I’m passionate about. — @cshantelcooper

Same old 9-to-5? Forget about it.

Any job or career path that effects change is worth getting into. There is no point clocking 9-5′s without influence. — @powerpuffkatie

They’re not fans of authority.

The freedom to trust my own creativity and not have ideas quashed by sr. authority…I guess that’s why I’m a freelance writer. — @LindsayJWestley

They want to play.

Freedom to create, learn + explore. Flexibility.To be able to think + play like a child, w/ trust that I won’t behave like one. — @Hasenour22

They want to be awesome.

I want to do awesome things with awesome people in awesome places and on my own terms. —@tara

They want to bring their dog.

ability to balance work and life – let me work from home some days, flexible schedules, bring my dog to the office… — @Tyler_Starrine

Oh my. I was half expecting one of the tweets to read: “Unicorns. I want to work in an office full of unicorns.”  In other words, these millennials want to be happy, to be free, to have lots of spare time, and to change the world.  

There are really two possibilities in response to such ambitions: delusion or disappointment. When I see the overwhelming pride and sense of importance of so many members of the new creative class, I see delusion. No, you do not “incite change” when you’re a cog in a vast technological machine. You have an interesting job, certainly. And you experience prosperity, definitely. But changing the world? Hardly. There’s not an app for that.

In the face of such expectations, disappointment is the rational response. People with perspective see the exciting new world of the creative class and almost immediately recognize its limitations. A friend from my unit in Iraq recently moved out of the military and into a job that many young hipsters would kill for — at the cutting edge of the information revolution. A year ago, while attending a fundraiser for a foundation established in the memory of one of our fallen friends, this veteran of the battles for Tal Afar and Diyala said, “Why do I have the feeling I’ve already done the most significant thing I’ll ever do?”

He just might be right. Changing the world is a hard, often heartbreaking business. Many millennials just aren’t up for it — especially if it means listening to authority, limiting play time, and leaving the dog at home.

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