Health & Fitness

Each generation has a unique lifestyle gig

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Summary

  • The middle classes lost confidence in the very education that had got them the positions they held in business and civil services and sent their children to universities overseas sometimes with catastrophic social consequences.
  • Upon their return, the sons and daughters of the newly rich ate the cake of life with the ‘big spoon’ and are now either dead or fighting for the wealth of their now dead parents.

“I have noticed a trend where many young workers in Nairobi prioritise leisure time over sleep even after long work days even though they are aware this is risky. What may be driving such reckless behaviour?”

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It is not clear from your question where you stand in asking this question. Are you for example, an employer, parent or a colleague? Is this something that you have noticed as a change in behaviour or have they been that way for a long period of time. Are these young people interns or have they come for long term jobs. When you say young, do you mean people in their 20s, 30s or 40s?

In some ways you sound like an old man who is mourning the fact that ‘Children of these days are so different from us’. That said, we can now address the matter of whether there are any differences between generations and their work ethic.

Is it for example true that young people do not show the correct work ethic compared to their parents? What evidence exists to suppose that generations X, Y and Z are a bunch of lazy busy bodies?

First of all let us be clear that human beings are each born unique from any other and that for that reason, it is not possible to lump together all the people born in a generation and expect them to behave the same. That approach would be lazy and ill advised. That said however, one might be forgiven for example by recognising trends among the generations. An example will suffice.

There is a group of men and women (now in their 70s and 80s) who are true Nairobians in the sense that they were born and brought up in the city. They have a very clear cultural norm which is distinct from their brothers and sisters who have deep rural roots. Firstly, because the city was so small in those days, they knew each other and can tell who was brought up in which city estate and who went to which school. They know themselves as they read this. Some intermarried and a significant number crossed tribal lines.

Many have friends and business associates across tribal divides and when they meet, they go back to the music of their day. Elvis, Cliff Richard and the Beatles come to mind. This is the true generation of baby boomers of whom it is said are characterised by the work ethic of hard work and great fun all over the world.

Their children and to some extent their grandchildren are the source of your concern. They are different in your view because they have no time to sleep and spend their time having fun and drinking.

In Kenya, those born after independence are the true members of generation X. Independence had come with many promises of prosperity for those who worked hard. Parents and the government placed much pressure and premium on education and both parents and their children were measured by the level of education achieved.

The middle classes lost confidence in the very education that had got them the positions they held in business and civil services and sent their children to universities overseas sometimes with catastrophic social consequences. Upon their return, the sons and daughters of the newly rich ate the cake of life with the ‘big spoon’ and are now either dead or fighting for the wealth of their now dead parents. Are these the people you have in mind?

Generation Y globally, are the millennial who in Kenya were the Nyayo era children born during the Moi reign, after the 1982 attempted coup at a time of great social and political strife. As the world went digital, political expedience dictated for example that fax transmission of data be banned in case it brought ‘bad’ material that might corrupt the morals of Kenyans’ particularly politically. This is perhaps the group that concerns you most because of their nature. They are the so called ‘on off’ generation because of their connection to gadgets.

For them technology is part of their nature and without gadgets at home and work, they are not comfortable and become very agitated. This is thought to have affected their capacity to form normal interpersonal bonds. They are sometimes labelled as lazy, narcissistic and spoilt. They are also called ‘the me- me –me’ generation and possibly this is what you are seeing at the work place.

Or are you perhaps now seeing the Z generation, as a group of interns who are in their early 20s also known as Centennials and whose DNA is linked to the internet.

Life for them is not worth living without the internet and for them; sleep is not possible until connection has been made on the net. Everything for them is now and any delay is the source of much acrimony. Sadly, this is the real world.