adulthood in the early 21st century.” Sounds quite romantic doesn’t it? Young people, full of hope and dreams… Just me? In my experience, however, the term is often used in a derogatory sense. “damn millennials have no work ethic” “millennials are so entitled” “millennials are always on their phone”.
You get the picture. As a crew agent of some 12 years, I’m hearing with increased regularity that these so called “millennials” are, quite frankly, “ruining everything” when it comes to the yachting industry. Bit harsh, and a very sweeping generalisation, but as there’s not usually this much smoke without fire, it’s a safe assumption to say that the new younger generation coming into yachting is very, very different to the old salty sea dog crowd.
We can’t deny that the world has changed dramatically in the past 10-20 years, and as such, hasn’t the yacht industry too? Is it really fair that we stay set in our ways and expect the new younger generation of seafarers to adapt to our way of doing things? Do we really want to be the older bunch who start every sentence with “Back in my day…” because I for one fear turning into a grandparent prematurely.
Let’s consider technology. Back in our day (sorry…) we didn’t all carry phones. When we were kids, the rules were “make sure you eat something” and the famous “be home when the streetlights come on”. Oh the freedom we enjoyed! Us Northern Europeans had the longest summer days ever, summer holidays were 6 long weeks of shenanigans. We were out ‘til all hours and our mums didn’t worry. We all stayed together and as such, formed important bonds and knew instinctively how to look out for each other. Our parents trusted us to come home when told to, and gave us the responsibility to solve our own problems.
If anything serious happened we’d go find an adult (usually the nearest parent) to help us, if we couldn’t sort it out ourselves. Our upbringings gave us responsibility, independence, problem solving skills, social skills, teamwork abilities and trust. Our parents relied on us knowing right from wrong and let’s face it, we all broke rules but we learned from our mistakes, or learned to not get caught. Either way we learned new skills….
Kids today don’t get that because they’re not allowed out to play like we were. Parents are frightened for their safety and honestly who can blame them. Everyone I’ve spoken to remembers there always being one man in the village they were told to steer clear of and not necessarily told why. Perhaps he was grumpy? Perhaps it was worse. Back in our day (apologies) individuals with paedophile tendencies or violent streaks etc didn’t have easy access to material. Fast forward to now, and anyone can find any depraved, violent, sexual, and/or illegal images or videos on the internet and even engage with other like minded people to encourage that behaviour. How terrifying is that? Technology has enabled the sick people among us to feed their cravings. So again I ask, are you surprised parents are over protective of their children when more bad people are out there? They’re also online so what’s worse, letting your kids take the risk of being snatched outside or letting them talk online to potential groomers and sex offenders?
In the past (see? I’m trying a different approach) a kid’s intro to porno was generally someone stealing a copy of Razzle (other porno mags are available) off their big brother, and taking it down the park to gawk at with their friends (cue awkward pointing and giggling) before invariably getting the crap kicked out of them when they get caught by the aforementioned sibling. Now however, there’s full access available online and what might start out as a quick venture into the adult world could end up god knows where looking at god knows what. And let’s face it, kids know how to delete their browser history faster than you can get your reading glasses out.
So there’s our first issue – are kids not being allowed to grow up as fast as previous generations? Those valuable life skills are not being learned in their peer groups, and perhaps not even at school – there’s no competition or ambition anymore when everyone gets a “participation prize” instead of first, second and third. Now there’s no need to pursue self improvement as everything is praised. How does this set kids up for the real world when they will probably get turned down for a job? Or worse, fired! Could this explain the difference in the work ethic?
Let’s talk specifically about yachting. Back in, no, hang on…. 10-20 years ago (better?) how did we get our first yacht jobs? Well for many yachting was an accidental occupation. Using those oh so important social skills you’d developed over years of making new friends and talking in real life as oppose to surviving on a diet of textual communication, people would just approach that big yacht and start talking to the crew on board. Dockwalking was something people would do when their backpacking fund had run out, on the look for a bit of extra cash. The industry wasn’t so publicised back then, unless you knew about it and planned to seek work as a seafarer, it was often something stumbled upon. All you needed was a smile – a positive and willing attitude, and a bit of common sense, and that was enough to get hired for a bit of daywork.