The Home and Garden Channel has a television show called “House Hunters” and “House Hunters International.” I really enjoy watching the international version of the show because I like to see homes in different parts of the world.
If you have not seen this program, there is always a segment where they interview the people moving or going to the foreign country, usually at the place they are currently living. Then in the country they are moving to they look at three options with a real estate agent who is helping them. Finally they choose one place and the show ends with the person or people being interviewed a couple of months later after they have moved into the home they have chosen.
One night on the international version of the program there was a young woman who was going to be attending university in Scotland. I was excited to watch the program because I have been interested in traveling to Scotland myself.
So the program begins. This young woman has lists of things she doesn’t want or doesn’t like. Then there were the things that she has to have. I get that there are things that appeal to us and other things that do not. For some the kitchen is the most important room in the house and for others it doesn’t matter because they don’t cook. I also understand the idea of some things that just make the living experience better. Some people prefer showers and others a bathtub is a must have.
So it goes on that she is going to this school and her mother is paying for it. Even her rent. She just has to go to school. (To me that is a pretty sweet deal. I took out loans, got scholarships and worked my way through university.) So the mother had some requests because she was paying for everything.
From the beginning, I was abhorred by this girls behavior of “I want!” or entitlement and the way she treated other people in the program. She would whine and complain. I am sure that some of her behavior was based in part on how young and immature she is, and some of it was obviously enabled by her mother…. I couldn’t help but to think of the character Veruca Salt from the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” You remember, the character that wanted it all and daddy always got it for her. She was judged as a “Bad Egg.” Veruca was an extreme character to drive home the point of entitlement in the film.
This attitude of entitlement. How is it affecting society? What is entitled behavior and how does it appear to others? I emailed and talked to a couple of friends to help me get a broad perspective of the entitlement issue. The response I got was amazing. I admit that I was surprised by the amount and range of material I was given. There is enough material to write several blogs. So if you sent me something and you don’t see it here…. well, it will probably show up in another post at another time. It is very clear that I am not the only person disturbed by the behavior of entitlement.
My friend in Japan takes a Japanese cooking class. The teacher, who is Japanese, has told my friend that people not showing up to the class after reserving a space has become a serious problem. The teacher has to purchase the food for the class ahead of time and makes her purchases based on the number of students signed up for the class. My friend stated that the “offenders are Japanese ladies, which is out of character for common etiquette.” Even though the teacher is very clear with her description in English and Japanese, there are still individuals who sign up, don’t cancel, and/or do not pay.
In my yoga class, I have noticed a similar behavior. (I do, however, know that all of the people who have signed up paid for the class. You cannot reserve a space without paying in advance.) The class will start out with about eighteen people. As the class continues, the number of people attending gets smaller and smaller until there is the dedicated eight or so students who always attend. My teacher said that there were a couple of people who had signed up and paid for the class but never attended. She also said that was sad because there were other people who wanted to take the class but were not able to because it was full.
While getting my Bachelor’s degree, I was talking a class in Political Science. There was a young woman who was from a specific cultural, ethnic group in the class. I learned a lot about this person on the rare occasions that she attended class because she would whine and complain loudly about the inequities of her life. One time she came in very angry because she couldn’t buy 10 steaks for a barbecue, she could only afford seven with her “check.” Yet she was unemployed. She then went on about how she hated this school because they were going to take away her funding if she didn’t start attending classes on a regular basis. Instead of having sympathy towards this person, I felt that she was very entitled and had never worked for any of the “benefits” she was receiving.
Entitlement does not just affect educational opportunities. It causes an erosion of respect between people. Instead of being aware of others and helpful, entitled individuals see only themselves and their needs. Have you seen someone so into their phone that they are not paying attention to the world around them? Or have you seen the videos where individuals are texting or using their phones while walking down the street? They do not watch out for themselves they expect you to watch out for them. In these videos they walk into other people, walk out into traffic, walk right into fountains, etc. Their inability to be aware of the world around them and the expectation for others to watch out for them, actually causes their own lives to be in danger.
Erosion of respect is not limited to American culture. My friend in Japan (and apparently Queen Elizabeth) share the opinion that the Chinese can be quite rude. China became communist in 1949. Mainland China got rid of Confucian teachings and ideals during this time. The one child rule was instituted in 1979. Between the removal of the Confucian teachings which included respect for elders and the institution of the one child rule, Chinese children grew up extremely spoiled without the respect for their ancestors or elders. This may explain in part some of the reasons why the Chinese tourists and students, my friend in Japan is dealing with, are so obnoxious in public.
Entitlement affects ones attitude about work. Another friend who I asked about entitlement said the following, “Good things happen to those who work their asses off and never give up.” He believes that you have to work hard to get what you want in life. What he noted about entitlement is that entitled individuals are often expecting results without putting in the time or energy to earn the results that they are expecting.
He went on to tell me a story about a basketball coach he had many years ago. His coach told him, “Right now you have good shooting days and bad shooting days. Put in the time, dedicate yourself to your goals and be tireless in your development and you will have good shooting days and great shooting days.” It is only through hard work and perseverance that we can truly succeed. My friends strong work ethic is what has shaped him in being successful in his professional and personal life.
Entitlement is an epidemic that cannot be treated with medication. It is a behavior that can chosen, enabled and/or learned. Entitlement seems to be an unconscious choice by some and a lifestyle choice for others.
I myself believe in hard work, dedication and being a positive voice in the universe. I don’t know what can be done to enlighten individuals or change the attitude of entitlement. I find this behavior so abhorrent that I tend to avoid people who behave this way. What are your thoughts on entitlement? What behaviors have you witnessed? Do you have any ideas for a solution to the entitlement problem?