We've all heard about the 'millenial' phenomenon by now, haven't we? That strange period we are currently going through where kids born in the eighties and nineties (although I think it's more nineties than eighties) are displaying certain characteristics never seen before, as a result of the internet age - the nose in their phones, not listening, not reading and wanting to be spoon-fed phenomenon?
Well, I've got news for you all. I've realised it's not just the kids. Don't put all the blame on them. No, no, no. I have personal and intimate experience of dealing with some fully grown forty to fifty-year-old, matured in wine, cheese head millenials with more holes in their memories than a lump of good Edam. You don't believe me? Well, I have proof...indisputable, unputdownable (oh no, that's books isn't it?), irrefutable proof. You see, I know them; lots of them.
Let me explain. My day job is to teach Academic Writing and Business Communication at the university in Rotterdam and also for students at the University of Amsterdam. Now without going into too many details, many of these students are not youngsters, but PhDers and Research Master's students who have returned to academia at a later stage in their lives, for what reason I don't really know, as I tend not to have time to get involved in their personal lives. By the way, the same goes for me too in their eyes.
When I go into class, I think they regard me as some kind of android. I have no existence outside the classroom. This conviction is so strong that if I inadvertently bump into one of them elsewhere in my other guise as a human being, they don't quite know how to handle it. It's true!
Anyway, that's beside this particular point. Where was I? Ah yes, Edam cheese. The truth of the matter is they are just as bad as the teenagers. When I teach their classes, half the time they are fiddling with their phones under the desks (at least I think that's what they're doing; I dread to think what else it might be), or they're checking their Twitter or Facebook messages on their tablets. Then they they seem to have to rush out of the room for urgent calls in a sort of cyclic rota system throughout the lesson. I swear they've arranged it all in advance! There's no pretence that they need the loo; no, nothing as subtle as that. They have about as much finesse as a bull in a china shop and the tact of a northerner stripped of his charm (apologies to any northerners reading this, but you're much better, I promise). This of course means that they don't listen, they don't read, and they don't know what they're supposed to be doing at the end of the class, and then they blame me when things go wrong. They do. It leaves me speechless. The Edam cheese analogy is no joke; it really isn't, Any gems of information I impart seem to disappear into the holes and out the other side. Nothing is retained.
Then there are the written assignments that have to be submitted online. After dealing with the torrent of emails they dump on me when they realise in panic that they haven't understood (for that, read 'listened to') the assignment and the deadline is a matter of hours away, I then start receiving their offerings. If that's what you can call them. I have a very strong suspicion some of them might be trying to write their theses, or at least their papers, on their smartphones. I mean it! I say this because I'm totally convinced they do their assignments on them.
Firstly, they manage to overlook instructions that are written in capital letters, bold type and outsize fonts, which are as clear as flashing neon signs without the neon; secondly, they can be guaranteed to upload them in the wrong style format even though every assignment has aforesaid neon sign equivalents telling them how to do it, and finally the end result is so shoddy, messy and badly presented that I cannot believe they have the temerity to send them in as an academic writing or business document.
Now everyone makes the odd typo (see my tweets, says she hanging her head in shame), but these, dear readers, these are supposed to be serious, graded assignments. I am, I have to say, flabbergasted. This evening (and after this I'll shut up, climb down of my high horse and shuffle off to bed) I read an assignment where the word 'synopsis' was spelt in each of the following ways: synops, synopse, sinopsys, and synopsise. And all in one paragraph. Yes.
So, my friends, you want to tell me about a millenial generation? I'm not buying it. I think it's a complete millenial society, or should I call it a symptom of close encounters of the Edam kind?
Happy Sunday everyone! I'll be spending at least some of the day trying to unscramble gobbledegook and answering daft questions that Google has much more patience with than I have.