What’s wrong with the kids? Or why the ‘strawberry generation’ needs a swift kick in the butt

By Niki Bruce

I’m currently in Bangkok on a mixed holiday-work trip and had the unfortunate experience of being on the same flight as an enormous group of private school kids from Singapore heading to Thailand for some rather privileged ‘outdoor activity camp’ (I know this because all the teachers with them were wearing polo tees with slogans about outdoor education).

The reason they made the flight a horror is because they were just SO DAMN LOUD! The entire airport was taken over by these noise demons in green. They traveled in packs, sat all over the floor in large circles, yelled at each other across large spaces, congregated in packs next to vending machines, took up entire travellators and stopped people from passing, clogged up walkways by stopping to take selfies … In the plane itself they yelled at each other across the aisles, they held entire conversations with friends seated rows away, they got in and out of their seats repeatedly, they took up all the bathrooms … When deplaning they took forever to get their luggage out of the bins, they clogged the aisles … And their teachers did nothing!

Not once did the teachers ask these over-privileged babies to shut up. The only time I saw any of the teachers do anything was to check they were all actually sitting in their assigned seats – and only after a steward had spotted that a couple of kids had swapped so they could sit next to their BFFs.

What struck me the most was that these kids had NO IDEA that anyone else in the airport, plane, world, existed. They didn’t even show vague kindnesses like letting an old lady go first in the bathroom queue. It never occurred to them that the rest of the world WASN’T INTERESTED in hearing about how one of them was the tallest person in Primary 1 until so-and-so turned up or whether or not X remembered some group trip in Primary 4 or that some kid had forgotten to pack their phone charger (HORRORS!).

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I hate kids (well, not ALL kids. I know one or two who are actually quite nice), but this experience came on the heels of another recent discussion with fellow fashion professionals about how useless our Interns are. So, the fact that these high school seniors were so incredibly rude, arrogant and self-absorbed just depressed me thinking that I’d probably end up having to deal with them in a couple of year’s time.

Interns are, unfortunately, indispensable when it comes to running any sort of media publication. None of us ever have enough full-time staff (another blog right there) so we all rely on having to use interns like staff.

The problem however is that Interns in Singapore (and generally around the world from what I’ve heard) are mostly useless. Admittedly I’ve had a couple of good ones, but even the good ones had weird quirks you had to work around. You never get an intern who’s entirely useful no matter how good they are.

The quirks aren’t the usual issues like ‘oh, they’re great at writing but have this one issue with prepositions’ that you get even with full-time staff … No, it’s more like: ‘oh, this person can take great photos but apparently has never learnt not to plagarise press releases’ … or ‘this intern can write but they’re on MC every Monday’ … or ‘gee … I didn’t realise that this intern was inviting herself to every major event by pretending that they were working for [insert magazine brand name] after their internship ended’ … or ‘wow … apparently attending a major fashion event on the weekend clashes with their bestie’s birthday party so they ‘can’t attend’” … or ‘a regular dinner with dad (who dropped them off at work this morning) is more important than finishing an article that’s time sensitive’ or ‘a headache needs a half-day MC’ … or … you get my drift.

This is the Strawberry Generation of kids. They are so easily bruised that you literally have to treat them with kid gloves. They are delicate and will cry if you point out a grammar mistake.

They are also so full of themselves that in one case I heard that an intern who had been working for a retailer for one week told her boss: “so, when I go to Paris for the buying trip I have to go Business class because, I don’t do Economy.” Yes … that’s right … she ‘doesn’t DO economy’. What? She hadn’t even been invited on the buying trip in the first place!

When it comes to actually hiring these Strawberry kids it gets even worse. Gone are the days when new hires were just thankful for the job. Now first-jobbers expect all the perks without any of the work. They actually ask when their first international press trip will be; they inform you that they ‘don’t work weekends’ or ‘won’t do overtime unless paid for it’. They want to know ‘how long until I become an editor’ and refuse to agree to give up their side businesses even if said businesses are in competition to the job they’re applying for! (don’t apply; just keep running your blog shop darling).

Oh … and what’s all this ‘work-life balance’ stuff? If you don’t WORK, you can’t afford a LIFE! You want the perks? Do the work first! We had to, so why shouldn’t you?

Now … We’re all supposed to be ‘understanding’ if these poor little millennials have to take a ‘mental health day’ because they are stressed out at work (who isn’t? we’ve been doing the same things for years!) or have a headache. Sorry dear, but you DO know about Panadol right? Take 2 and get back to work you lazy little girl!


The other thing that annoys me no end about these Strawberry kids is their inconsistency. Say, for example, they start a fashion label. They think it’s fun for a couple of years; you spend time and energy and waste thousands of words on supporting their endeavours and then, practically overnight, they just give it up.

‘Oh, well, it’s all just too much work.’ ‘I’m not enjoying it any more.’ ‘I’m getting married so, like, I want to put all my energy into planning the wedding’.

O M G! Planning your WEDDING!?! What? You were just playing fashion designer then? What are you going to do after the wedding is done? Spend all your time PLANNING YOUR INSTA-PERFECT BAKING??????????? (Actually, they’ll probably make more money as a social media baking influencer than as a fashion designer … *sigh* … Sad, but true … and another blog to write)

PS: Before you all start accusing me of saying ALL younger people are rubbish, there are ALWAYS exceptions to every rule. I have some absolutely perfect, hard-working, always-go-the-extra-mile staff who I simply adore working with! And even though they’re only a few years older than these Strawberry kids, they agree with me (I know, because I asked them)!

This post was first published over at the Singapore Style blog on 27 November 2015. It is reproduced with permission.


So what if you have a degree?

We are no longer the pliant children we used to be

Singapore's youth crying out for change