The Reality Show Generation…

Marisa Keegan Candidate Pool, Culture, Current Affairs, Generations, Marisa Keegan

You can stop holding your breath folks, and you can sleep easy tonight because the kids featured in MTV’s newest and trashiest reality show “JerseyShore” announced earlier this week that their crying and whining paid off. They received that 200% salary increase they asked for, which will fund another season of drinking, smoking, hair gellin’, hot tubbin’ trash. At $30,000 each, per show, there’s no reason for them to stop acting a fool.

Twenty years ago, the message on TV was as simple as this: when we work hard, make honest decisions, and do right by others, we will be rewarded and paid fairly. Isn’t that what Bill Cosby, Danny Tanner, and Al Bundy taught us through their weekly TV sitcoms? Each of their characters
recognized the value of hard work and in turn influenced the way an entire generation viewed earning a paycheck.

Today Bill Cosby, Danny Tanner, and Al Bundy have lost their jobs due to the unfortunate extinction of TV sitcoms and the new kid on the block is Reality TV. Instead of trained, talented actors strategically placed to deliver a wholesome message, the networks look for average people willing to act like lunatics on national TV. And instead of life lessons, viewers learn about chaos, hate, sex, and… well… more hate and sex. And it pays off big time – just look at the Jersey Shore cast.

Today’s TV shows are teaching the Reality Show Generation that there isn’t any reason to get an education, work hard, or make good decisions. All they have to do is hit it big on a reality show and they’ll be set for life. The more of a jackass they are, the better.

Honestly, I don’t really care what the Reality Show Generation chooses to watch on TV, but I do start to get nervous when I think about them entering the workforce. After all, we’re the HR professionals who will have to manage their entrance, coach managers on how to ‘deal with them’, and work through the generation gaps. Just like when my generation barged in and got sassy about telecommuting and having ‘fun’ at work; they aren’t going to leave. You and I are going to be the ones fostering change and re-working our systems to incorporate them into our world. That can be a scary thought. Will their expectation for how we manage them be different? Will their demands be higher but their willingness to work hard be lower? Will they think that having a ‘real job’ is just something they do to waste time until they make it big in the Reality Show world? What kind of office culture will they thrive in/expect?

The questions go on in my mind forever.

Does anyone else worry about this or is it just me?

Marisa Keegan

Marisa is a Culture Coach for small and quickly growing organizations trying to establish the infrastructure required to create a company full of passionate, motivated, and engaged employees. She has held culture and engagement roles for two nationally recognized great places to work, founded the research and networking group Culture Fanatics, and is an industry recognized blogger. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and twin boys and is looking forward to the day she can bike across the country to raise money for MS research. @marisakeegan.