Friday, February 26, 2016

When I was 25 years old, I was too busy to write letters that go viral

My first house. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, 860 sq ft in Prineville, Ore.  Bought it for $58,500. 

Perhaps you've seen the news recently about the latest crisis that has gone viral. No, it has nothing to do with our presidential election -- I am telling you, in a nation of 330 million people it will forever boggle my mind that these are the "best" we have to offer -- the price of oil, Syria, Isis, the refugee crisis, or anything else.

Nope. The latest crisis to go viral is the 25-year-old Bay Area woman who wrote a letter to her boss at Yelp complaining about her circumstances. It's all over the news, has come up in discussions at home, work and elsewhere and it highlights what appears to be a generational mindset gap.

Talia Jane wrote the letter to her CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, and rather predictably she was fired that day. In the letter, she complains about her pay, her grocery situation and her rent, among other things. For example, she's living in an apartment that costs $1,254 a month.

Two things, real quickly. I've never lived in a house with a mortgage that high and maybe, just maybe, look to cut costs with a roommate? Okay, three things. Maybe work and live somewhere else with lower cost-of-living expenses? Just some thoughts...

Just to be clear, no one is making her work for Yelp, live in one of the most expensive places in the country and, most importantly, write a letter on social media that goes viral and gets her fired. Those are all choices she has made. Now she's living with them.

Talia Jane, I don't know what to tell you other than typically when we make choices there are these things called consequences. They go together. You'll figure this out soon enough I reckon. Maybe you have already.

In response to Talia Jane, another Millennial by the name of Stefanie Williams wrote an open letter to her that also went viral. She doesn't mince words and basically tells Talia Jane to buck up, get a job or two and do smart things like have roommates to cut costs. She shares her story of being down on her luck and bucking up and working hard and now things are good.

It's all a bunch of drama that is so unnecessary. I think that's my big takeaway. The advent of social media means everyone's problems can now be everyone else's. It's not that we didn't have problems back in the day, it's just that they were typically contained to small circles. The way it should be.

I do remember back when I was 25. Vaguely. That was 1994. I was living in Prineville, Ore., in a two-bedroom, one bath house with four roommates and a mortgage of around $400. Okay, so my four roommates were Julie, Brenton, Taylor and Ethan. A loaf of bread cost $1.59. The average income was $37,000 (Full disclosure: I was nowhere even close to that and was probably pulling down around $18,000 a year.) and a gallon of gas was $1.09.

In addition to working at a newspaper I would occasionally pump gas at a gas station for some extra bucks. I also occasionally did landscaping work and even made a few bucks as a professional runner. I recall having the mindset of trying to improve my writing skills and attaining other work-related objectives in hopes of achieving "professional advancement" and increasing my income the old-fashioned way: hard work.

I didn't post my issues on Facebook. Or write a blog post on Medium that goes viral. Or ask people to support me by launching a personal PayPal account.

Maybe you can relate.

Here's a major difference between the Talia Janes of the world and those of us who look back on our days when things were pretty hard. I mean, we didn't have much, finances were tight -- not much has changed there actually -- and there were plenty of struggles. Sound familiar?

Those memories make me smile. Those struggles and how we handled them and the faith we had that God is in control and we could trust His plan are vital to who we are today. The struggle drove us and pushed us. Struggles are central to our faith. They are central to who we are. Embrace them.

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