There are several words other generations use to describe ours, Generation Y. One of them is entitlement. What is entitlement? Lohit Velagapudi (Jr.) defines entitlement as “A presumption of possession of an object, right, or idea that one didn’t earn,” while the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition is “The condition of having a right to have, do, or get something.” Both definitions assume that someone deserves the right to have, do, or get something; however, Velagapudi’s definition implies how society nowadays unsurprisingly tends to view the term, and the concept, negatively. In recent years, many people have outlined their disdain with how some adults feel entitled to a living wage, or the minimum income necessary to meet basic needs. This same mentality also applies to teenagers today.
In contemporary society, entitlement has come to symbolize the lazy adolescents that are a large part of our generation: the spoiled brats or couch potatoes who refuse to exert effort, yet nonetheless adamantly demand an end result equivalent to what they would have accomplished if they had worked their hardest. For example, take Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Veruca comes from a privileged family and her father usually gives her whatever she requests. At the chocolate factory, she asks her father for one of Willy Wonka’s squirrels, which are trained to sort nuts. This backfires on her, as the squirrels decide she is a “bad nut” and toss her into the garbage chute.
A more relatable example is students and their grades. There undoubtedly are students who dedicate commendable amounts of time to studying and deservedly receive the grades they strive for. However, there are also students who neglect to complete their homework and skip preparing for tests and quizzes, and yet are still shocked when they fail every assessment. Why are these students so surprised? It is because they feel as if they deserve a decent grade; they fundamentally feel entitled to one even though they put little to no work into getting it.
It is apparent now that while not every teenager suffers from the ailment that is entitlement, it affects a large enough percentage of students for it to be considered an issue. It is especially concerning here in Orange County, where a large part of the population is a part of the upper middle class and has access to basic needs much more readily than people living in impoverished areas. Taehun Kim (Jr.) said, “Living in a relatively plentiful environment means we’re not as grateful for the things we have. A lot of people think that we’re all entitled to a plentiful supply of water, forgetting that Irvine is really a desert, despite its wonderful greens and palm trees.”
If so many of us have an entitlement mentality, what does it mean for society? Well, several things. First, it mainly means inefficiency: a high percentage of people are simultaneously being unproductive, therefore limiting society’s potential. Second, it means a sense of inequality, and inevitably discrimination. People with an entitlement mentality feel as if they have a right to something. However, everyday circumstances force the entitled to interact with others actually work to acquire desired results. This leads to a mental hierarchy in which the entitled believe they are superior to others because they can gain the desired result without exerting the effort others had to, meaning they must be positively unique in some manner. This is in itself a sort of discrimination because the entitled treat hard workers as inferior to or lesser than them.
Then, if we do not innately deserve living wages and we do not innately deserve good grades, what do we really deserve? The answer to that question is debatable and differs from person to person. However, a reputable starting point could be this: as human beings and life forms with cognitive abilities and emotions, we, at the very least, deserve respect and a fair chance to maximize our potential.
Written by CHRISTINE SMET