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The Age of Entitlement

The people who live permanently on “yes” street.

There seems to be a growing number of people who just won’t accept “no” for an answer. The idea of someone telling them, “you’re wrong”, AND them heeding the warning, seems to be a relic of a bygone era. No, we’re living in a time where people believe that no one can tell them otherwise especially if they surround themselves with enough “yes” people. No lengthy discussions regarding morality, ethics or virtue – “you do you” and everyone else is just hating.

Or am I just an old soul trapped in a 32-year-old body?

“There’s no such thing as a consequence-free existence.”

In recent years, the amount of people talking – and I’m using the term loosely here – about what they’re entitled to, their right to things and belief in deserving special privileges and treatment has skyrocketed. It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: This is not aimed at legitimate concerns around people’s basic human freedoms, rights and responsibilities being impinged upon.

The thing is though, Martyn, within moments of you saying something there are people nowadays only too happy to tell you why you’re wrong and isn’t this just a developed coping mechanism to overcome the barrage of negativity? Perhaps, but it would be a maladaptive one. If you’re general reaction to someone or a group of people telling you no or you’re wrong is to proclaim how righteous you are then I suggest you might be missing the point and/or this probably isn’t a good long-term strategy for growth, maturity or peace.

Do these feelings of entitlement stem from a lack of gratitude? Has social media accelerated these feelings of entitlement? Just what exactly are our obligations? Why do so many people want/expect so much for little or no effort or cost? Why do people believe these things should be provided to them? I believe a lot of what we see going awry in society is due to an infantile regression in the psyche of many people. The need to be taken care of, the desire to have all your needs met (and immediately) and the tantrum chucking and inability to process emotions maturely are just some of the signs of this phenomenon occurring.

Pardon me, I feel I may have gotten side-tracked into a tangent-yet-relatable argument as this isn’t really what I had intended to talk about with this subject matter. I was going to highlight a couple of high profile and recent cases which highlight this theme and talk a bit about why so and some general trends I’ve seen forming in society. Shall we?

The Ben Simmons-Philadelphia 76ers saga is now over, having complete a move to Brooklyn at the recent NBA trade deadline. The whole ordeal was an absolutely sham and a prime example of the (over) entitlement of some professional athletes. With advice from his close circle, Simmons chose to sit out the year after copping the brunt of blame for the Sixers playoff failings the previous season and feeling no love or support from the organisation. Instead of working on his game during the off-season – or representing his country at the Olympics – he retreated into hiding and refused to take responsibility for his shortcomings, instead turning the blame onto the Sixers. What Simmons did was the equivalent of a child saying, “I’m not playing because you were mean to me!” Not even two years into a 5-year/$170m contract extension and he just flat out quits! You have an obligation! Imagine if the average Joe did that to their employer? Claiming “mental health” issues (especially after the fact) seems to be the new go-to for athletes who perform badly and are looking for an out. This makes it difficult, however, to discern the genuine cases from the fake ones.

The culture is changing so the saying goes and this certainly was no more evident than the recent resignation of Australia cricket coach, Justin Langer, despite winning the Ashes 4-0. Having led Australian cricket out of “sandpaper-gate” and onto Ashes and T20 World Cup success, negotiations hadn’t been forthcoming on Langer’s contract and newly appointed Test skipper, Pat Cummins, hadn’t offered any public endorsements of JL through all this. Citing a lack of support from senior players, support staff and the board, Langer announced his resignation from his position, much to the disgust of many past players and the cricketing public in general here in Australia. What has this to do with entitlement you may ask? Well, Pat Cummins, given arguably the second most important role in this country behind being Prime Minister (as previous captain Tim Paine resigned), and what did he do with this privilege? Enact a coup on the coach who is a legend of the sport and highly loved by many! I mean, seriously, who do you think you are, mate? You’ve had the captaincy not even three months. Disgraceful. Perhaps you had something to learn from Langer rather than believe yourself superior and throw him under the bus.

Maybe I’m already too “old”.

Maybe I’m too tired for revolution.

Maybe what I see as entitlement is a new culture of people giving a big middle finger to a previous one.

Or more likely, we have to learn to suffer fools gladly.

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