Thanks for your posting. It contains a lot of valuable
Ted 79 wrote:> You have had Xers accuse you of being disrespectful when you were
> trying to be respectful -- I have had Boomers do the same to
> me. Including one Boomer where I was bending over backwards to be
> respectful of both him and his opinion even though I disagreed,
> because I genuinely liked and admired him and usually agreed with
> him...yet he still became so enraged at me that he began
> announcing that if we'd been having this discussion in person,
> he'd physically beat me up. I still don't know what I did
I remember when I did that to someone. It was in 1985 when someone, a
young girl named Dawn, who admired me made some changes to the online
forum system we were using, and I really freaked out at her. I was
going through my divorce and was very depressed, and took it out on
her. After a few weeks, I just shut off my modem and didn't go online
again for over a year. I was really ashamed of myself for what I had
done, and I really learned a lesson because I've never done anything
like that again.
Ted 79 wrote:> But, well, as Uzi (a fellow 1979 Xer) said on the Fourth Turning
> boards...Xers were raised without respect for authority. (It's not
> that we have no morals at all, we just have different morals than
> Boomers. If we had no morals at all, we would never get outraged,
> but as you know from experience, we do.)
So how would you characterize Xer morals?
By the way, look at the quotes from Randolph Silliman Bourne, which I
believe characterize Lost/Xer morals. Or use the link to read
his entire book.
Ted 79 wrote:> To you, you were being respectful, but from an Xer POV, you were
> being disrespectful, and that's why you got outrage. The problem
> wasn't disagreeing at all -- the problem was saying you'd do as
> you were told anyway. I bet you would get much better reactions if
> you simply said, "I don't think this is the right decision,"
> But maybe not, because the flip side of the above is -- Xers do
> respect *experience*. To the point that if we only *think* there
> *might* be a problem, we won't say anything and will just do what
> the person whose experience we respect says. Yes, we do see "I
> *think* this *might* be the wrong decision" as pointless/rude
> Xers need to learn to tolerate more "nitpicking," because it's not
> always as pointless as it might initially appear. But Boomers need
> to learn not to come off as placating, because Xers experience
> that as EXTREME disrespect. So your, "Don't plead," is right on --
> but you need to add, "Don't say you're doing as you're told
> despite disagreement."
> You'll probably get better results if you instead say, "I'm
> probably just nitpicking, but I feel an obligation to say that
> [describe the specifics] might be a problem."
> Period. Absolutely *do not emphasize* or really even mention how
> you respect their authority and so you'll do it their way anyway!
> Go ahead and do that, if they don't listen to your "nitpicking" --
> just don't say you're going to.
This is the portion of your comments that I've been giving a great
deal of thought to in the last few days. And I've gone through all
the incidents I wrote about and replayed them in my mind to see if
your analysis applies.
First off, I don't actually say, "This is the right way to do it, but
I'll do it your way because you're the boss and I respect you." That
may be what I'm thinking, but I would never say that.
What I say is, "We may have a problem." And I explain the problem.
If the boss totally ignores me, I just say OK.
One of the examples that came to mind was a situation that arose in my
experience with General Dynamics about six months before I was fired.
One of the Gen-X supervisors called a group meeting to discuss a
documentation project. Each of the developers would have to write
some documentation, and a complete set of manuals would be written
within a month.
He made the announcement and asked if there were any questions. There
was total silence for a moment, but of course I couldn't just let the
moment pass. I should say that I'd been working with these people for
well over a year, so I felt comfortable being open with them. I said,
"If you're looking for someone to comment, then I will. There's no
way that this is going to work. This is a huge amount of work that
each person will have to do in addition to his regular work. There's
no way that this can be done in anything like a month."
The supervisor just smiled and ignored me, and of course I was right
and he was wrong, and that was probably one of the reasons I was
But the point of this story is that I wasn't nitpicking. It was
perfectly obvious that what he was proposing was impossible, but
he proposed it anyway.
So what I'm saying is something that I've said in the book over and
over. It has nothing to do with how I make the statement that there's
something wrong. The Gen-Xers I've been dealing with already KNEW
that their projects were failing. What they were angry at me about is
because they wanted to continue to collect salaries on a project they
knew would fail, because the alternative would be not to have the
project. (It never occurred to them that there was another
alternative -- to fix the problems, which is something that I could
have helped with. But that would have required taking advice from a
loathsome Boomer.) The crux of the matter is that they were laying
the groundwork to blame other people for their own failures, and when
I pipe up and say that there's something wrong, it puts their
blame-someone-else plans into danger. In fact, by firing me,
I become a convenient person to blame.
And so I would have to disagree that couching criticisms in words like
"I'm just nitpicking, but ..." doesn't solve the problem, because the
ONLY way to survive is to say nothing and just swallow and proceed
with the wrong way. If I were smart, then I would act that way, but
clearly I'm too dumb to do that.
This is the dilemma that I've described over and over. An employee in
this situation is being asked to do something incompetent or possibly
illegal, and has to decide how far to go in violating professional,
moral, ethical or legal standards, versus opening his mouth and
There's one other point worth repeating, and I also made this point
with some of Higgie's stories. When Boomers are bosses, they may get
mad at you and ignore you, but they generally won't try to screw you
and take revenge against you for being right. Gen-Xers will actively
look for ways to get revenge. Recall that the entire financial crisis
was caused by the creation of tens of trillions of dollars in
fraudulent securities. Gen-Xers created these securities to get
revenge against Boomers for "causing" the tech bubble crash. Getting
revenge is a big part of, and highly approved in the Gen-X culture,
while getting revenge is considered shameful in the Boomer culture.
Ted 79 wrote:> One example is as already mentioned: Xers were raised without
> respect for authority. Another example: Losts had a very strong
> prohibition against tattling. They so took it for granted that
> when directing the raising of Silents, they didn't think to
> encourage parents to teach kids not to tattle. The result was that
> Silents were raised without a prohibiton on tattling. And as Chas
> '88 pointed out on the TFT boards -- the tattling Silent is a
> stock character in films (he gave /9 to 5/ as an example), because
> such people are (or were when young) common IRL.
This prohibition against "tattling" is another way of describing a
major point of the book -- that Gen-Xers refuse to blame one another
for even the most heinous crimes. Thus, the Justice Department
refuses to investigate and prosecute the banksters who caused the
financial crisis, and the Lost Generation Germans refused to oppose
Ted 79 wrote:> You as a Boomer already know all that -- but it's an example of
> what is needed. What Xers need from you, then, is a similar
> explanation as to why those of your values that you've noticed
> Xers lack, actually are valuable. Because we grew up without them
> and have no way of knowing.
Well, hopefully my book does that.