On How We’re Focusing on the Wrong Thing

Everyone’s talking about it! It’s the open letter read ‘round the world (yes that one).

I’ve seen pretty much every conceivable angle, from those who say: “these millenials feel such sense of entitlement” (cue the more bigoted, hateful, over-simplistic iterations) to those who’ve come to her defense against “the man,” because peace and love, man.

For some background, I’m a thirty-year-old immigrant who for several years labored for minimum wage among some very sketchy characters and struggled each and every day to make ends meet, getting assistance from food banks and taking out extremely-high-interest loans to be able afford clothing at times. Complaining about the cards you’ve been dealt leads you nowhere (thankfully, I learned this away from the public execution stage that the internet’s become).

This brings me to the next point, the so-called “entitlement” millenials are so often associated with.

Please.

So no one above the age of 35 has felt in their lives that they’re owed a break? Let’s not kid ourselves, at some point or another we feel we’re owed one. It’s human. Now, the difference lies in the fact that people of my generation have, at the reach of their palms, the means and avenues to express what those before us probably kept to themselves (or maybe not so much to themselves — ever read the story about that quintessential millenial otherwise known as Young Werther?).

What I do take to task is what this open letter intended to do, and that was clear: whine. If you are serious about wanting to reach your employer and your community, you need to act like a professional. This, I believe should be the strongest point of contention: not what she was complaining about (or the fact that she was complaining, period), but rather what she intended to do with it.

I’ve seen those who come to her defense saying that she was pointing out the wage discrepancies between an entry level worker and the CEO. I’ve also seen those who come to her defense saying that she was pointing out the terrifying gap between current wages and the sky-high cost of living in California. All fair, valid points. The problem is, the letter read more like a selfish pity me-me-me exercise in tedium than a veritable call to arms for the rest of us to do something about it.

Who would have been more effective, a Rosa Parks that broke down and cried that she was being asked to give up her seat for the “white man?” Or the Rosa Parks that became the voice of so many by standing up (err.. sitting down) not just for herself but for those she represented?

If Talia wanted to bring about change and shine a light on a veritable problem, then power to her for (however clumsily) trying to be the voice of the downtrodden. If all she wanted was to complain, that’s what a diary is for.

Everyone else: let’s forget about who started the conversation and why, and let’s focus instead on why the conversation is so important.