December 07, 2005

The Whiniest Generation

I often think, despite the fact that I'm just as guilty as the ones I blame, we come from the Whiniest Generation. There was the Greatest Generation, who went off to war, fought on foreign soil all to protect our country, after making it through the Great Depression. Then the Whiniest Generation, who bitches when there's no internet connectivity or a local Starbucks and sues when a cup of coffee from said Starbucks is too hot. (Letís hear it for Tom Brokaw for highlighting the differences and making us look so pathetic!) We're too politically correct, easily offended and quick to feel slighted. It is, in short, all about us.

I started thinking about this yesterday primarily because my grandmother was checked into the hospital on Monday. She has a massive infection in her shoulder (now under control, thankfully) that, according to doctors, must have been extremely painful for a couple weeks. So painful that not even the elephant-stopping doses of morphine they gave her helped (once she finally admitted it hurt, of course). Surprising, since I talked to her on Sunday night and she sounded fantastic. I even thought to myself, hey self, she sounded fantastic! It turns out that, in addition to the whole shoulder thing, she had a flare up of Midwestern Grin and Bear It Syndrome, a relatively long-term illness that occasionally presents as acute bouts of stubbornness when faced with any situation that would draw undo attention to one's self, especially when said attention involves modern medicine.

I'm not sure what my point is. Maybe it's this - there's got to be some happy medium between the way my grandmother operates and the way we, the Whiniest Generation, does. If you spill hot coffee in your lap, use foul language then change your pants. Don't sue. A Christmas tree? It's a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree. You can't accommodate everyone.

By the way, on the topic of grandparents, we've long been searching for appropriate nicknames for Mia's grandfathers. They've really been slackers and haven't come up with anything. So, since they're always snapping pictures of the poor kid and it's doubtful she'd recognize them without cameras glued to their faces, we've dubbed them Grandpa Nikon and Grandpa Cannon. What's funny is that it's started to stick.

Posted by Chris at December 7, 2005 08:55 AM

Glad your grandmother's feeling better.

Posted by: Fraulein N at December 7, 2005 09:00 AM

True, we are 'softer' than the generation before us, but tougher than the one after us. I think it's the need, as parents, to always make things better (read: easier) for our kids than it was for us. Not always a good thing.

Posted by: Hazel Hazel at December 7, 2005 09:01 AM

What's funny about that is my Father is the same way. Sometimes he'll wine, but god forbid he do anything about it or take an aspirin when he's in pain. Soon he has to get surgery on his shoulder, and as any normal person would think, you wouldn't want to distress that shoulder by doing things that aggrivate it. Not him. Lets fix the truck or use all the weight in that shoulder to push yourself outta the recliner. I think he has a definate case of the Grin and Bear Its.

Posted by: Michelle at December 7, 2005 09:03 AM

I'm glad that your grandmother has gotten treatment for the infection! Whew!

Nice post. I was aware that Tom Brokaw had documented the Greatest Generation, but didn't know he'd compared us to them. (Whatever happened to Generation X, anyway? When did we get Whiny? Have I been out of the country for too long or what? At least I've been in a place where political correctness has not taken over everything).

Oh, and love the Grandpa nicknames!

Posted by: Alison at December 7, 2005 09:05 AM

Great observation, Chris. It's like I want to just give up on society and move to a cave somewhere. I can't stand the constant talking on the cell phones. I can't stand the people that won't open a door or hold one open but instead go over and press the handicap button and wait for the door to open for them. These days I can't stand the whining about how cold it is - we live in freaking Canada people - it happens every year - deal with it!

My mother acted a lot like your grandmother. She would deal with incredible pain and say it was nothing. She would walk incredible distances in the worst weather because she said she liked the exercise. She refused to go anywhere without my dad because she wondered who would care for him. She was the glue that held my family together as is evidenced by the fact that we rarely see or talk to each other since she passed away 10 years ago.

Yes, it is strange to say but I think this generation has had it too good for too long and needs some hardship in their lives to realize how good they have it.

Posted by: Mike at December 7, 2005 09:09 AM

Hands down- Whiniest Generation. Such a sense of entitlement! Also the Gimme the Quick Fix Generation.

I worry that we're breeding people who literally have less ability to find strength and resilience within and need to be held up by a lot of external scaffolding.
I suspect the happy medium is somewhere around your parents- they undoubtedly enjoy more of life's luxuries but they are grateful for them and have some sense of the work and determination that goes into getting there.
Good post, Chris.

(We are very familiar with the MidWestern Grin and Bear It Syndrome here in Michigan. That's how you end up with a whole State of people who complain bitterly about the gray and cold, yet never leave. It
is currently 8 degrees- whine,whine.)

Posted by: Vicki at December 7, 2005 09:19 AM

Preach on brother!

On the topic of grandparent names. One of the sweet girls in my life calls her granddaddy KT. This stands for King Todd. Once upon a time, this self respecting southern gentleman adorned himself with a Burger King crown and the adoring subjects just can't let him live it down.

Posted by: Sue Bec at December 7, 2005 09:24 AM

I agree - bunch of whiners we all are! ;)

I love the grandpa names - very cute. I only had one grandpa (well of course technically I had two, but my mom's dad died when she was a baby..) and I called him Poppy. My grandma we called Gramma, and my great grandma we called Bummy. awww.. memories of childhood! =)

Posted by: Jenny at December 7, 2005 09:37 AM

I keep remembering when my grandfather (who I called Papaw if the naming helps) first became obviously ill last year (Nov 2004). He'd been sick for a long time at that point (prostate cancer), but he'd finally let someone else know that he wasn't doing well. The doctor said that he'd probably had an extremely painful time for a few months before he came in at my aunt's urging.
Thinking back on that, it always amazed me how much that man wouldn't let show, just so he didn't get fawned all over, which is how he always thought of it.

Posted by: amber at December 7, 2005 09:40 AM

The trick with the grandparents is to let the kid name them, but only if your kid is the only grandkid for a while. My kids named my dad popup, but my nephews were born soon after and named him beebop(he plays in a band). He wasn't attached enough to popup to insist on keeping it, and so now he's both names, which not only confuses him, but the kids when they're together.

Posted by: shannon at December 7, 2005 09:42 AM

You are so correct. I think it has to do with the convieniances modern technology has brought us, everything is designed to be smaller, more efficiant and easy to use. It has taken the work out of everything, wether it be using your brain or your hands. And since people really dont have to think anymore they forget how to act and use all the time they should be thinking of how to do things throughout the day to think of theirselves.

Just an oppinion.
great post, have a wonderful day!!!

Posted by: Kelly M. at December 7, 2005 10:14 AM

I can't say that my grandparents are the same way. Granted, they are the toughest people in the world - they survived for years without any food and proper clothing in disease-infested concentration camps surrounded by death. It gives me shivers every time I think about how they survived that, when I can't even go two hours without a snack. But now, while your Grandma has Grin and Bear It Syndrome, my grandparents have Jewish Mother (or Father) syndrome. "Oy, I'm so old, what's the point in going out today?"
After what they've been through, I would NEVER begrudge them the right to bitch about something. But they do bitch a lot.
As for the grandfather thing, my parents just became grandparents this week. My mom goes by Bubby (Yiddish for Grandmother), and my father wants to go by Joe.

Posted by: Tali at December 7, 2005 10:17 AM

Scary about your grandma, but her generation is so stoic about such things. We have a lot to learn. I agree with you.

Posted by: Theresa at December 7, 2005 10:22 AM

i was just thinking about that because i heard on the radio that at a school here in washington had to re-call it's school lunch menus because they went out with the words "merry christmas" on them.

Posted by: jodi at December 7, 2005 10:27 AM

I'm not going to argue that our parents/grandparents were stubborn. But I'll also note we'll all live longer, we look better then they did at this ages, and well, modern people are just as bad about getting Real help.

Also, the thing was a damn Yule Log, and freaking Xtians stole it from a handful of indigenous people's, or at least, people who were there before they converted them! Please. You know Chris, that normally I'm not bitchy about this crap, but you know what? If the damn Xtian religion can steal other people's beliefs, then I don't think it's a crime to recognize the other beliefs.

For some people it's a Christmas tree, though what a dead tree has to do with Christ is beyond me (and my family is Protestant). For my house, it's Yule, and there's a known and acknowledged reason. And for those people who chose to celebrate the "holidays" because it's fun and it means presents, not becasue of any religious or cultural reason, IT IS a freakin' Holiday tree.

Posted by: Autumn at December 7, 2005 10:33 AM

Glad to hear all is well with your Grandma.

I heard a piece on NPR last night about Beethoven and how they just discoverd he died of lead poisoning, which means he was in intense pain his entire life. Intense pain.

I thought about that (while driving back from the grocery store) and realized that if I lived my entire life in intense pain I would NOT be writing amazing musical pieces. I would be lying in bed and taking drugs.

What I am saying is that...yes...we whine and it sucks.

Posted by: Isabel at December 7, 2005 10:34 AM

HAHAHA! Yeah, we've got grandparent naming problems too. My dad is "Granddad," Kevin's dad is "Grandpa," my mom and Kevin's mom are "Grandma," my stepmother is "Grandma Patty," my stepfather is "Grandpa Skip," then the 2 sets of great-grandparents are in naming limbo--except for Kevin's paternal grandmother, she is "GiGi" (read "great-grandma"). It's a problem, but it's a pleasant problem :-)

Posted by: Ginny at December 7, 2005 10:43 AM

Nikon and Cannon?? Yikes!

With Captain Stinky, we waited until he was old enough to try and say "grandma", for example, and whatever he came out with is what she was called from then on. Now, she's called Gagoo. And it's a name that's all her own, and she loves it.

Posted by: Queen of Ass at December 7, 2005 10:58 AM

i read an entire article which actually said that the new generation - those who followed generation X, is even worse, calling them "The Entitlement Generation" because, surprise, they believe that they are entitled to whatever they want. and late genXer's share a bit of this too i think. to see ourselves from that very humbling.

Posted by: steph at December 7, 2005 11:36 AM

these PC people really annoy the shit out of me...

I actually find myself being even more UNpolitically correct on purpose just to piss the bastards off.

Posted by: Dawn (webmiztris) at December 7, 2005 11:45 AM

Ditto to what Mike and Vicki said...the sense of entitlement and uber-bitching makes me want to slap people over and over and over again...hey, now there's an idea.

Glad your grandma's ok.

Posted by: Michelle at December 7, 2005 11:48 AM

I was just commenting about how we're the first generation to have so much knowledge and everything at our fingertips yet we're the most depressed and unhappy. I think they should take a few rights away from us to awaken a sleeping giant.

I'm so glad your Grandmother is fine. I'm glad you have a grandmother and honour her as you do. As someone who no longer has grandparents and randomly adopts old people to take away the pang of missing mine, it's great to see.

Posted by: Grace at December 7, 2005 12:21 PM

Your Grandma sounds like my Grandma. I hope she has a speedy recovery. I am sooooo with you on whiners. And it is only getting worse, it seems. Death to Whiners!

I like how other languages name grandparents. Opa in German; Grand-pere in French. The Chinese (& probably others) have the best system. They have a name for every relative that describes the relative exactly. Older brother, second oldest brother, mom's dad, dad's dad, etc. It's cool.

I just called my grandpas, Mike, Edward and Don.

Posted by: Ms. Q at December 7, 2005 12:23 PM

too true, Chris. we're totally the whiniest generation. we're totally babies. and i know i'm guilty of it from time to time. but i think my parent's raised me right: they didn't always give me what i wanted, they taught me to work for the things i wanted, and they taught me to be responsible for my own thoughts/actions. i really think its that responsibility that is lacking in so many people nowadays. it couldn't POSSIBLY be their own dumb-ass fault for spilling hot coffee on themselves while putting it in their lap WHILE DRIVING... nooo... it HAD to be the coffee maker's fault. everyone's always gotta blame the next guy...

but anyway... glad to hear your grandma is doing better. my thoughts are with her. and as for nicknames, i'm not very helpful. the only thing i ever called my grandparents was Grandma and Grandpa. :)

Posted by: Judy at December 7, 2005 01:14 PM

I worked as a recruiter for a while after the dot com bust and the sense of entitlement from the 20 somethings was nothing short of offensive. "No, you can't leave school and make $80K as an entry level desktop guy. Sorry." ... ugh. Grow up! WORK at something! Christ.

In our families, the oldest grandchild names the grandparents (mostly). So my husband's grandfather ended up as "Botsie" -- cause Husband is that cute.

Posted by: Pammer at December 7, 2005 01:48 PM

I don't want to offer a contrarian point of view just for the sake of offering it, but I'm not sure I entirely agree with this generation being the whiny one.

My vote goes to the generation before us - the sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation. I think we - Generation X (shudder) get a bad rap as slackers and ho hummers. I believe, for the most part, we're far more resilient than we get credit for. Sure, we have benefitted from the technological conveniences we have available to us, but I can't say that this makes us whiny and unable to tolerate things. My fear is that the generations behind us are far more susceptible to the "quick fix" mentality having been so coddled by parents who want to be their child's friend and never want their kids to experience any kind of disappointment or know what it is to lose.

Just my two pennies.

Posted by: Mr. Big Dubya at December 7, 2005 01:48 PM

I agree with what your saying except for the name you're giving us. I don't think we're the whiniest generation. We're more like the "Don't look at me, I didn't do it, I'm not to blame, I in no way am responsible for your actions, and hell, on most days, not even mine" generation. So okay. Mine's just a teeny tiny bit longer and not catchy but I stand by it. Whining about the coffee being too hot isn't the problem. It's knowing that the damn coffee is hot and still going ahead and drinking it, then turning around and blaming someone else for our stupidity. Because clearly, we can't possibly be the stupid ones, so someone else must pay.


Posted by: pea at December 7, 2005 01:57 PM

How eloquently you hit the nail on the head, Chris. Overdeveloped sense of entitlement? Expecting accommodation? Whining? Check check check. (Hey, have you been spying on me?)

Glad to hear your grandmother is doing better, though, as I also have relatives suffering from Midwestern Grin and Bear It Syndrome, I'm surprised that you were able to get any information at all.

Posted by: Penny Pressed at December 7, 2005 02:18 PM

We live in a culture where it is the norm to be a victim. Of something.

People find it easier to blame anybody but themselves.

It's a real shame.

Posted by: Allan at December 7, 2005 02:20 PM

Got this in my email and thought of your entry...

"Last week, the city of Boston sparked controversy when it renamed the giant spruce tree in Boston Common a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. Also, the city's nativity scene will now be referred to as the Holiday Homeless Family." --Tina Fey

Posted by: Heather at December 7, 2005 03:55 PM

The plantiff in the McDonald's coffee lawsuit was 81 years old, not quite from our generation.

Posted by: Anon at December 7, 2005 04:03 PM

And have you ever attended a school board meeting? Plenty o' whiney old folks at those.

I don't doubt that we whine quite a bit, but I don't buy this whole "greatest generation" crap. The "greatest generation" had no problem making blacks use different water fountains or keeping the missus pregnant and barefoot. Most of the examples of why they were the greatest are from WWII, but by the time the Korean war came along we had so few brave soldiers that we had to resort to a draft. That's the same generation, the only difference is that they saw WWII as a fight worth fighting and felt differently about Korea. Perhaps our generation would be just as brave if we were being asked to sacrifice for real reasons instead of tax cuts.

Posted by: Anon at December 7, 2005 04:12 PM

is the devil ice skating? i don't see any airborn swine outside... we actually agree on something. :D

Posted by: reb at December 7, 2005 04:20 PM

Well said. I completely agree on being overly politicaly correct. There are way too many isms out there. It's sickening. I agree that it is a generational thing, but I think it's emphasized within our age groups too... Hopefully the older we get, the more we'll relax. Hopefully. My parents seem pretty laxed in that dept. Again, hopefully...

As for the grandfathers, I have a Papa and had a Fafa (father's father - swedish. it's mofa for mother's father). Very original, I know... :(

Posted by: Azzy at December 7, 2005 05:09 PM

it has always amazed me how much pain we put up with. I come from a long line of non-complainers-at least in the pain area. SHUT UP!
My kids' friends are always complaining about this or that little stubbed toe or whatever, and I think, if you knew the pain that I endure on a daily basis....

My kids call the 'rents Poppy and Grammy and Papaw and Grandma. It just evolved outta baby talk from the oldest grandchild. Mia will call them whatever she pleases. And whatever she calls them will please don't get too hung up on Nikon and Canon...
My second son called an older gent in the church grandpa fart. I was aghast....I apologized sorry, stupid little boy, etc. etc. etc. Grandpa Fart says...welll you do it one time and the name sticks...which means, while he was holding my son on his lap IN CHURCH, he let one rip...serves him right. Son #2 is in college now...I still call Charlie Grandpa Fart...and so does Son#2....

Posted by: speckledpup at December 7, 2005 05:46 PM

Good to hear your Grammie is better. Sounds like she's had a tough few weeks.

And ya know? We ARE a pretty whiney lot. We're pretty spoiled. But I'm thinking that maybe the children our generation raises will do us proud. See, look how amazing our children are already? heehee.

I LOVE the nicknames for the grandpas. THat is TOO FUNNY!

Posted by: Lisa B at December 7, 2005 06:50 PM

*stands on chair and applauds*

Thank you, Chris. That post vocalized some of the things that I'm most frustrated about these days. Something bad happened to you? Get over it, suck it up, and move on. Don't sue somebody. I mean, sue somebody if the hospital cut off the wrong leg, not if the hospital orderly forgot to give you your ice chips!

Posted by: Stephanie at December 7, 2005 09:35 PM

I'm guilty of being a whiner. But I do try to use common sense when whining. Isn't that progress? I hope your grandmother will be feeling better soon.

Posted by: Nicole at December 7, 2005 10:17 PM

I totally agree with you Chris. I hate to say it but I think the whiniest label may apply even more so to those in our generation who are parents.

I work with one individual who complains constantly about how difficult it is to raise two kids. I often think, 'Hell, my MIL raised five kids, mostly on her own (Dads didn't change diapers back then) and I seriously doubt she ever complained about it. I'm not saying it not hard, its damn hard, just don't complain about it all the time.

BTW, my son calls my father, 'Pa'.

Posted by: Chris Price at December 7, 2005 10:25 PM

I agree, our gen is whiny and self-absorbed. I don't get the whole "happy holidays" thing. What is so freakin' offensive about "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanuakah"???

There are also a few other issues related to race and choices in lifestyle, but I won't touch them here, don't want to offend anyone.

Posted by: Colleen at December 7, 2005 11:25 PM

i totally love your blog, but that's kind of a hypocritical post from The Whiniest of them all. "Pooor us! Only one hefty salary instead of two!" "Flaming uber-liberal" with conservative-hating rants--but did not vote in November?? Please Rude. Please.

Posted by: kate at December 8, 2005 07:10 AM

My name rhymes with Jellybean and my one set of grandparents used to call me that so I called them Grandmom and Grandpop Jellybean.

Posted by: That Girl at December 8, 2005 07:58 AM

There was a whole article in the paper today comparing Baby Boomers to Gen Xers to Gen Yers and I immediately thought of you. Of course, the cheap-ass RedEye doesn't put their articles online. Bah.

As for names - we called my grandma "Gee" which is gender neutral and adds a certail street-cred when applied to a grandpa. "Yo, thanks Gee!"

Posted by: SpaceCase at December 8, 2005 10:16 AM

the sueing thing really is out of control, isn't it?

two months ago i was hit by a car while crossing the street, my leg was crushed and i've lost a good deal of time and school and life in general, and the first question people ask me in general is not 'oh, how are you?' but rather 'so, are you going to sue?' it's disconcerting and does indeed paint a picture of a generation focussed on instant-now gratification stemming from unrealistic ideas about rights and privilages.

not that i don't whine sometimes- i think that three to five minutes a day is my own personal happy-medium. because man, at least i'm alive. the crushed leg is nothing compared to not being here.

Posted by: meg at December 8, 2005 02:42 PM