The “Rude Mechanicals” play a major role in Shakespeare’s beloved A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

I think we’re on pretty safe ground in saying that the only purpose the Rude Mechanicals serve is a comedic one. The question is what kind of humour is being elicited, and is it possible for us to ‘get’ all of the comedy of the play today?

Well, some of it’s plain and ageless enough: Their repeated oxymorons, “most lamentable comedy”; Bottom’s diva-like behaviour, “That will ask some tears in the true performing of it”; and the complete hash that is the product of their attempts at amateur dramatics.

Today, I argue we have a whole new class of “Rude Mechanicals” in real society — but they’re Millennials, not Mechanicals — and they’re new, and rude, and play the same role in the drama of our lives as the Shakespearean mechs before them.

Here’s the New York Time’s perfunctory take on the new generation:

They, according to the stereotype, are millennials, a group of 80-million-plus young adults born roughly between 1980 and 1996 whom researchers and marketers insist are bound by common values.

Jack MacKenzie, president of Magid Generational Strategies, a company in Los Angeles that analyzes generational trends for corporations, said that what millennials have in common is a lack of trust in authority, widespread tolerance, parental closeness, a desire to compromise and “a level of optimism that most people think is almost silly.”

The “lack of trust in authority” is fascinating and true for many of the Millennials I’ve met. There is no respect for elders in the bemused world of the New Rude Millennial — likely because there is no boundary between them and their parents.  Everyone is equal.  There’s no rank.  “You can’t tell me what to do.  If you threaten me, my Militia Mommy will defend me and my Helicopter Daddy will fly in like a drone and shoot you down.”

The New Rude Millennial defaults to your first name — no matter if you’re a judge, or a police officer, teacher or minister — titles like “Mrs.” and “Professor” are too formal and hierarchical to the New Rudes, so they degrade to your most commoner moniker, and if they can informalize you even more with “Dave” or “Bobby” instead of “David” or “Robert,” they’ll do it — not out of spite, but of not knowing any better than not to.

In my generation, it was always “Yessir” and “No Ma’am” and you did not speak until you were spoken to — but all of that artifice of respect-by-osmosis has melted away into childhood irrelevance like Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

That sense of New Rude entitlement is problematic because society is formally striated and fantastically niched and refusing to acknowledge those totems of authority and separation misleads a Millennial into thinking they are equal by proxy with no performance needed to prove oneself outside the egg carton home.

The fact the New Rudes are willing to compromise is, on the surface, welcoming — except when it comes to negotiating with them in the depths where they have no essence of power or experience to back them up in any negotiation.  Compromise comes from strength, and being right, and when those ingredients are missing, you aren’t compromising at all, you’re just demanding a bend to your position by birthright.

My generation ran from our suffocating parents.  We couldn’t wait to leap from the nest at 18 and leave the hometown and explore new worlds and better people.  The New Rude Millennials — and beyond — are tied to their parents because of the economy and health benefits that make them cling an extra eight years to the apron strings.  Physical and emotional emancipation happens only after the 26th birthday — and now never dared before that new Maginot Line of true adulthood.

Waiting that long to cleave your independence manifests incongruent innovation and a curated imagination and a false sense of self-security.

Staying home until you’re 26 makes some biological sense.  The brain isn’t fully formed and doesn’t stop growing until age 26, so for the safety of the rest of humanity, it’s better to stay home and seek shelter from the withering storm instead of taking on the wild world at an unripened, but always leavened, age of majority at 18.

Here’s a cool infographic from Badgeville that keenly explains the New Rude Millennials phenomenon:

The New Rude Millennials are here — and they aren’t going anywhere — so we’d better work together to understand them, and get along with them, or we’ll be outspent and hovered over in the apathy and angst that becomes them.


  1. What an interesting , thought provoking set of data . All my three children fall into this group so it is kinda cool to look at them in the light of this data. Most of it kinda fits to all of them in one way or another – some traits more in one than the others. The only thing I would perhaps question a little more is the job loyalty section – as I think the job market has changed so much since the time when I was leaving college and looking for a job – there were still jobs for life then in certain sectors – or certainly a job progression in one company for life. I think the economic changes over the years may have skewed the ball park on that one.

    1. Writing about a group of people is always challenging, as is, collecting data because there are always outliers and exceptions. Are Millennials different by region? I’m sure an Indian Millennia is quite varied from one in the UK or USA.

      I was most encouraged by the willingness to compromise — my generation tends to want to be right and “black and white” and nothing gets done (see Washington, D.C. as an example) — but then, as I reflected on my experience with them in the workplace… Millennials say they want to negotiate, but only on their terms and via their whims. They have mastered the appearance of “being reasonable” while not being that way in any way. It’s a tricksy negotiating tactic that one must be wary of in all circumstances.

      1. It is quite difficult when looking at such a broad issue to deal with external markers …… I am sure that some countries will not get hit by the Millennials for another 10/20 years.

        My eldest born in 81 is the most compromising of them all and genuinely so – my son born in 84 does not know the meaning of the word – and is the most stubborn person I have ever met. The youngest born in 86 fit the “tricksy” box spot on – she quite often holds a sting in her tail – well she is a Scorpio child – SMILE !

        1. Heh! Love the family analysis!

          Every generation seeks its own voice and memes and values — and the dramatic clashes with the generations before and after is the root of many social problems.

          1. Yes, and bridging that gap when values change is a tremendous challenge — especially with the speed of technological changes.

            Most of my best, and most dear, friends and supporters are barely on the internet. They like paper letters and phone calls. They aren’t on Twitter or Facebook and if I want them to read this blog, I have to print out a hard copy and mail it to them via the Postal Service. It’s sad, really, and there’s no interest to learn, or get online in any sort of meaningful way. They just don’t care.

  2. I find this most interesting ……. I am sure you are younger than me – yet nearly all of my nearest and dearest are almost entirely electronic. I have one or two very elderly relatives who still prefer paper but even they have resorted to printing out their Christmas newsletters recently. There was one thing that really stuck out when I went to the UK – the number of people who use iPads …….. old, young – nearly everyone I saw had one , even people I would consider elderly – certainly in their 70’s – they were everywhere!

    I have to say in their defense that I do like a hand written letter and rally appreciate them when I get them as I do cards , but they are most definitely in the minority.

    1. Yes, it’s an odd phenomenon. I think my circle prefers paper and solid things like sets and lighting rigs and typewriters and books and such. The older they are, the less interested they are in the newfangled stuff like the internet and Twitter.

      Most of my contemporaries are online in some way, and while they may have a social networking account, they don’t use it regularly and will use email if they must — but the communication is rarely immediate or in real time. They prefer a telephone call to an email and I’m just the opposite.

      iPads are big. They’ll soon replace the laptop. I prefer a keyboard and a touchpad, but I suppose that will all go, too, in the next 10 years or so…

      I, too, appreciate a handwritten note, and I enjoy writing them and sending — but the Post Office has become so surly and unfriendly that I loathe having to go into one to buy stamps or mail a package. You can buy stamps online, but sometimes you have to actually go inside the building and deal with the workers and that’s never anything fun.

      1. The Post Offices here are quite good and most of the staff are friendly and know you at least by sight, they know I am the English Lady and I speak to them in broken Portuguese and they reply in broken English.

        In the UK you can by the standard stamps almost anywhere – supermarkets, corner shops, newsagents etc etc – and the village shop and post office are still the cornerstone of many rural communities.

        The larger offices can however be horrible dire places with impersonal service and long queues.

        I balance my need for substance with the practicality of speed and the instant – in fact today I even wished I had google glass to record the sea as we drove along the coastal road.

    1. Yes, “Baby Google Glasses” made me laugh. You know it’s coming! “What does the baby see when we’re not around?” SMILE!

      Love the YouTube videos! Harr!! I love the “Sheryl Sandberg” reference in the first video.

      1. Well this is where it could get interesting because at the start the google glass will see more than the baby/child. If I remember correctly a child’s eyesight is not fully developed until they are 7 or 8.

        1. I agree it would be fascinating to let the baby be its own baby monitor/nanny cam. Blink to send an SMS to mommy that a diaper needs to be changed, or that there’s a stranger in the room…

          1. So do we now how a market for baby glass to prevent abduction and abuse ? Or do we take it a stage further and have the implants like we discussed in the original google glass article ?

          2. Well, since the whole idea of Glass is to make money, I’m sure “Baby Glass” would be ready and available right now — with implantation as soon as possible! SMILE!

  3. I am sure it is not far off – I suspect that the companies fighting out the insurance claims after Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident are wishing he was wearing google glass and not just a camera on his skiing helmet!

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever been skiing. There aren’t any hills or mountains in Nebraska to speak of — so it wasn’t part of the childhood culture and didn’t translate into adulthood. It’s also pretty expensive to get in with all the gear and such…

      Skiing does sound dangerous and I think the problem is stopping when something goes awry. You have no braking system. I guess you’d just try to fall down and tumble if you were going slow enough. Motorcycles pose a similar risk of injury but at least there’s some form of braking system to help slow you down.

      Sonny Bono was an avid skier with over 20 years of experience.

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