David, as a twenty-something who doesn’t expect unicorns to pop up at NR headquarters (but has hinted that a random penguin hanging out would be rather fun), I wanted to put in a good word for my generation. While I’m not keen on the particular phrases your example tweeters use, I think it’s entirely defensible to want to have a meaningful, interesting job that helps, not the world, but perhaps your own community.
Thanks to the production jumps made by capitalism, more people are able to do jobs that genuinely engage them, that really give them an opportunity to use their intelligence and creativity. I don’t see that there’s anything inherently better about someone having to slog through a job he despises, just because he needs to in order to pay the bills. Obviously, someone who does that, without complaining, for the sake of his family, is doing something great and laudable — but wouldn’t it be better yet if he could be employed in a job that paid the bills and was enjoyable? Isn’t it better when the economy maximizes everyone’s skill set and allows them to utilize it to the fullest extent possible?
Of course, there are Millennials who childishly believe they will never have to decide between their self-interest and the common good, that changing lives will never demand personal sacrifice. (And based on the number of senior citizens who are opposed to any Medicare/Social Security cuts, that’s not just one generation’s problem.) And of course, joining the military is an extraordinarily courageous and generous act — and I have twenty-something friends who have done just that, who bravely fought for their country in Afghanistan.
But I don’t see any connection between wanting ideally to bring your dog to the office and being incapable of self-sacrifice. (And for whatever it’s worth, I have a very hard-working friend who has brought her dog to the office, to her boss’s delight.) Nor do I see it as wrong to want your employment, if possible, to be interesting and perhaps even meaningful. That doesn’t mean you hold out for the perfect job even if it requires skipping student loan payments, running up credit card debt, and mooching off your parents. But if it means you try, to the extent that you are financially able, to get a job you love, why oppose?