I’m getting older, I fully admit it and embrace it. The music isn’t getting too loud yet, but I don’t understand popular music these days. I can’t tell you what year I bought all of my clothes, but I definitely value comfort over style when I go out now. I stay active on social media, but I don’t get the purpose of filming everything I do for TikTok or Snapchat. I’m old school, but I still am averse in the new school world and thought process. However, I have to admit that when it comes to modern kids, sports, and this idea of filming all of their hard work, I just don’t get it!
The first thing I wanted to do to help make sure I wasn’t off my rocker was look up the definition of hard work. According to Oxford languages online, hard work is defined as: a great deal of effort or endurance. Ok, I agree with that. No big deal.
From there I decided to Google ‘what does hard work mean?’ According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, here is what I found: constantly, regularly, or habitually engaged in earnest and energetic work : industrious, diligent a hardworking young woman “Our students have to be very hardworking and committed. They put in long hours. Again, I agree with that.
I was starting to feel a little discouraged in my search to validate my concerns that kids today have a different idea of hard work than I do. I was starting to feel…OLD! Maybe I’m the one who doesn’t get it. Maybe I should just shut up and stay in my lane. Don’t worry about all of these videos I see kids posting of themselves on social media and talking about how hard they’re working. Maybe I should accept the idea that the idea of hard work has changed since I was brought up, but then I was saved. I was validated by one last search: work ethic.
According to the Business Dictionary, work ethic is defined as: Work ethic is a belief that work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character and individual abilities.
When I look at that definition, I see one word that sticks out to my old eyes, inherent. Inherent is defined as: an essential quality that is part of a person or thing. An essential quality that is part of a person or thing! Like a bird flying or a fish swimming, or like a kid posting their hard work on social media. Today’s young kids feel that somehow they need to have everything validated on social media. If people can’t see me working hard, then they won’t know that I’m a hard worker. They habitually put work and effort into building themselves up on social media. Maybe that’s what sticks in this old man’s crawl a bit.
I was raised in a society and an era where hard work was understated and self-driven. Now it seems to be the opposite. Kids today have to always be noticed and praised for their efforts by always putting it in people’s faces. Generation Xers pride themselves on working hard without being heaped with praise. In fact, some of the leading traits of Generation X are: results-oriented and hard-working with a tendency to be quiet achievers. No wonder why I can’t stand these kids that have to share every time they pick up a weight or do something outside of the designated practice or conditioning hours. It’s engrained in me to keep your mouth shut and produce results without drawing attention to yourself. It’s engrained that this is what is expected to get ahead in life, not something that you need to be praised for doing. If you want results you need to work for them. Does sharing your hard work on social media someone make you feel like you’re really working hard?
Hard work is what you’re supposed to do to get ahead in life! What makes the work hard is that it is done when others aren’t working or WATCHING, that’s what separates you from your peers. For me as a school director, kids filming themselves working out is the equivalent of an employee seeking out there boss to remind them of all the hours they’re putting in to try and get a promotion. If you’re really working hard, your results will stand out through your performance. The more time you put in at anything, the better you are going to perform, and that performance is what should stand out. We don’t want to sit and watch bands rehearse for hours, we want to listen to the album they produced as a result. The hard work and effort that was put shines through in the product that was put out. I have the same mindset with athletes today. We don’t need to see what you’re doing in the offseason, show us the product on the fields. In the mind of kids and parents today, does posting a workout make them think they’re impressing coaches? Won’t the coaches see the results at practices and in the weight room if you’ve really been working hard.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from J.C. Watts Jr. “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.” When nobody is looking! This is a man who played Division 1 football at Oklahoma University and then professionally in Canada. He went on to serve as a U.S. representative in addition to being a clergyman. This is an African-American male that grew up without the luxuries in life during the Civil Rights era. This is a man that can attest to what hard work really is.
So this brings me back to the question I see of kids posting videos on social media of their workouts that feature personal throwing, hitting, and lifting records. In order to do that, someone needs to be there filming you! Kids today go to a workout and film each other as much as they actually workout. They’re not, grinding alone. They’re reliant on their friends to document the “hard work.” Again, my old man mindset comes to asking a co-worker to film me in my office before everyone arrives or well after everyone has left, so I can post about “the grind.” The entire thought just seems a little ridiculous.
I get it. I’m old. Kids today are from a different generation. Generation Z kids are fully present on the Internet. If you didn’t post it, it didn’t happen. Instead of doing things in person, they prefer to do things over social media. They have this fear of missing out. If I don’t post my workout and share it with everyone, nobody will know that I worked out. I commend the coaches from my generation that work with today’s kids. While the people on the tail end of Generation X may not feel old yet, we are feeling the big differences in generations.
As a Gen X, when I see kids posting videos about how hard they are working and how good they are, it triggers my desires to see them fail. It’s a horrible instinct, but it’s the way we were raised. People that needed constant praise, attention, and validation had massive self-esteem issues in our era. Those were the kids that typically got made fun of or picked on by coaches. Now if you’re not constantly praising kids for their efforts as an adult, parent, or coach you get labeled as ‘old-school’ and out of touch.
I certainly don’t want to be labeled as a grumpy old man, but my generation clearly has a different definition of hard work and work ethic than the new one. It will be difficult for me to ever see a video of a kid working out or posting something about one their personal records without rolling my eyes and wondering how hard they want to work when nobody is around with a camera. If you go back to the original definition I shared of hard work, I will always feel that kids who constantly post on social media about working out are putting in greater effort and endurance in regards to sharing videos of themselves than they actually are outworking anyone. I fear that these kids really have no idea of what hard work really is and means. It’s a lot easier to “work” when someone is filming your efforts, but that character shows through when you’re on your own.
I guess it’s just a different world now, so I’ll stay in my lane. However, I will always praise and honor the kids who get things done without needing that modern day validation. Give me a team full of those kids, and we may not win every game, but we’re always going to be in the fight because they don’t care about what they look like or others think about them. It’s like the saying goes, don’t ever get in a fight with an ugly man because he’s got nothing to lose, it’s the one that likes to be looked at doesn’t want to take the hits. A lot of modern athletes like to look good in the weight rooms or with their numbers, but when it comes time to show it on the field they don’t have the grit. We’ve all seen it with the perfect resumes in life too, but when it comes time to get the job done they’re not up to par.
As my Gen X blood boils to a Boomer like rage, I’ll let it be known that I think today’s kids do put in a lot more work than previous generations. There are higher expectations and time requirements put on them, but I’ll just have to try and accept that some things are different these days. I’ll stop writing and go back to scrolling through my baseball Twitter feed and leave you all alone now. But, I will say if you’re still reading this, get off my lawn!