On TV's Parenthood, a Striking View of Gen Y

Parenthood is a decent show, one I mentioned briefly once before. It’s filmed at locations near my house — a recreation center, a restaurant, and a local high school.

It’s a serious show, one that portrays parenting as fairly difficult and draining and would probably serve as a low-cost form of birth control for a teenager watching.


The grandparents (one played magnificently by Craig T. Nelson) have their own financial and marital problems.

Meanwhile, their daughter, previously married to an alcoholic, is the single mother of two.

Their other daughter is married and has two kids; she and her husband struggle over whether to have a second child, and whether she’s understanding that he matters too, despite her being the breadwinner.

The third kid, Adam, is a shoe-manufacturing exec who is married and has two kids, one autistic, the other a teenager who’s romantically involved with an adult who happens to be an alcoholic.

If you watch the show, you know the drill from here. Adam’s boss, who used to be involved with Adam’s sister, is gone, replaced by a Gen Y goof-off who’s portrayed on the show as a space cadet who got rich off a gaming invention.

(On one episode, Adam comes home and says to his family, regarding the new young boss: “My boss thinks I’m too old. I’m 41.”)

The show’s caricature of Adam’s new young boss is alarming … or, maybe not. Maybe this is how many people view 20-somethings these days: a group of MADD (mega attention deficit disorder) pot smokers who might strike it rich by inventing the right app in between foosball games.

If you watch the show, I wonder if you were surprised at just how Gen Yish the Gen Y boss is portrayed. Of course, it’s just a TV show, crammed with 50 minutes of melodrama. Then again, the show was designed to mirror the reality of having a family. That makes me wonder if this is just what the show’s writers and directors think of a Gen Y boss, or what a lot of people think.




When You Befriend on Facebook, What Are Your Motives?

When you ask someone, particularly a work contact, to be your “friend” on Facebook — why? Are you interested in what they have to say? Are you interested in sharing your opinions and family photos with them? Both? Are you trying to broaden out your connections, for sourcing/recruiting purposes? Or, neither — you’re just sort of collecting them in your domain of friends and contacts, including them in a record, a database, an organizational tool of who you know?

I’ve thought about similar issues for a long time. For example, see: 

Meet Your New Job Candidate — and Her Life Story

Sodexo’s Angelo Guidroz, on Social Media

How Much of Yourself Should You Keep to Yourself?

And I’m still curious about it.

A few months ago, there was a controversial discussion on Facebook on the page of a woman I barely know, but whose friend request I had agreed to. A couple of the participants, but mainly the leader, a tad bit like sheep, had taken the original topic (Helen Thomas and free speech) and proceeded to repeat all sorts of horrifying falsehoods they obviously had read or heard on their various opinion sites they read. Perhaps I should have kept quiet, but I didn’t, trying to correct her with some facts. Her next post was a public announcement that any further comments by me would be blocked, and I was no longer her “friend.” (Some people emailed me offline, letting me know they found it funny I was “unfriended” for trying to express myself during a conversation about free speech.)

Anyhow, I was curious as to why the original poster “friended” me in the first place. Did she want to know more about me? Did she want me to hear her opinions, but not express mine?

Another time, a recruiting leader I met through ERE “befriended” me on Facebook. It was nice of her, I like her, think she is an impressive person and all, but it led me to finding out some personal details about her life. That’s fine, but I wondered what that was all about. Did she have the same level of interest in me posting such things? Should I be posting really personal things? I’m open, and would be happy to share anything with her — but barely knowing her, it would not have occurred to me to do so. Did she realize I hadn’t really thought about her personal life one way or another prior to the whole Facebook friend thing?

Another recruiter who wouldn’t call me back for a long period of time sent me a Facebook request to be her friend. I thought that was really funny — I guess she wanted to be friends on Facebook but not in contact in real life — and others I told found it really funny too. But, if you think of Facebook not as a record of your friends, but more as LinkedIn, as a contact list, not a friends list — well, it’s not so odd, and it makes sense. 

Of course there is the issue of privacy settings. You can befriend someone, but limit what you tell them. But, as I’ve said before (re: fertility) people don’t seem to use the settings to their fullest.

I’m interested in your thoughts.


The Interview Question About Your Biggest Weakness

I’ve never understood the way job-seekers are coached to answer the infamous “biggest weakness” question.

They’re often told to twist it and turn it and dance around it to show how great they are. You know the drill:

My biggest weakness is that I’m so hard on myself.

My biggest weakness is that I’m impatient. I just can’t wait to get things done!

My biggest weakness is that I just care too much.

I noticed today that someone’s telling job-seekers not to spin the famous “biggest weakness” question into an “I’m-so-great” response.


Some logic:

a) People aren’t perfect.

b) Job-seekers are people.

c) Therefore, job-seekers aren’t perfect, and why would employers expect them to be? 

You've Got Mail!

I’ve been thinking about these interesting comments on mobile recruiting. And, Ron Bower’s post. Again, I’m not anti-mobile (and in fact am right on track for a french-fried brain) but I’m wondering whether sometimes we use a more complicated piece of technology than we need to, perhaps often out of insecurity that we’ll be seen as uncool or behind the times.

I still have AOL. I kept my old screen name and a negotiated low payment so that my grandparents, ages 94ish and 89ish, can use a secondary screen name associated with it, and believe me, they’re sure as hell not switching to Gmail when they’ve got a dial-up connection and ask me questions like “Is the Internet open today?”

So I kept my AOL account for now, and check it once in a blue moon, and, yep, I hear a voice say “You’ve Got Mail!” and then read on Twitter on elsewhere that if you’ve still got AOL, you might as well lie on top of a Minneapolis stadium on a snowy day, your life is worth nothing, and so on. 

My AOL address is a good place for semi-spam newsletters, for my grandparents, for corresponding with people if I’m selling something on Craigslist, as well as for handing out to a handful of my most nuts relatives. It works. Obviously, I could set up a free Yahoo or other address for all this sort of thing, but again, remember grandma. 

I have a little radio, about $15 from RadioShack, that’s good for the beach or other places where something more expensive could get stolen, lost, or muddy. Someone saw it recently, antenna and all, and cracked up — even offering to buy me a more updated radio. 

Now, between my wife and I, we have three Mac computers, a flat screen TV, two iPods, a video camera, digital cameras, and maybe soon an iToaster, but, yes, there are occasions where for me as a consumer, the low-tech radio beats high tech.  

In business, and in recruiting specifically, that can be true too. The newest and the coolest tool usually is the best. Once in a while, though, the older tool, the less hip, the almost-embarrassing one — it’ll do the trick.