Hustlin': For Millenials, Chat Rooms Are the New Conference Rooms

IMs and chat rooms aren't just distractions. For Millennials, they're how we brainstorm at the office.

In our weekly Hustlin' series, we go beyond the pitying articles about recession-era youth and illuminate ways our generation is coping. The last few years may have been a rude awakening, but we're surviving. Here's how.

A couple months ago, my inbox was inundated with links, unearthed and curated by my Google alerts, that led to a very depressing survey. Apparently, almost 70 percent of American adults think Millennials are "less motivated to take on responsibility and produce quality work." About half of the respondents said our generation is "less engaged at work" than other employees.

At first, I ignored the canned, alarmist responses; the survey only consisted of 637 people, and considering my boss is two years older than me, I didn't take it personally. But months later, we're still mulling over this supposed feud between Boomer bosses and Millennial employees. I figured it was time to defend my generation, who, left to their own devices (and workplaces), definitively hold their own.

First things first: Only a little more than half of people ages 16 to 24 are actually employed. And 46 percent of those who do have work are in the food and retail industries, holding thankless jobs that pay poverty wages, so it's hardly surprising that many young adults don't feel invested in their workplaces. I have a feeling, though, that the survey's respondents—half of whom were Boomers—were envisioning young people in desk jobs at conventional offices where middle-aged folks are the bosses and we're the employees. In this case, there's a fairly simple explanation for Millennials' supposed disengagement: We're speaking entirely different office languages.

Even though nearly 80 percent of the survey respondents admitted we're more tech-savvy than other generations, it's not as simple as the (exaggerated) tech gap. It's also about how we like to strategize. It's about how we're disregarding bygone ideas of "professionalism," how we're more comfortable in our own informal, spontaneous, enterprising skins.

Nothing exemplifies this divide than our different approaches to the Office Meeting.

You know the kind. The gathering that's scheduled on an Outlook calendar, that throws around buzzwords roundly lampooned on shows like The Office, that leaves you with a vague sense of defeat shortly after you walk out of the conference room. That's the old model, the one that dominates at workplaces where Millennials feel unmotivated and unsatisfied. Even at Gen Y-run companies, where there is no era divide (at GOOD, virtually the entire editorial staff is 30 or younger), those meetings are still a necessary evil. Many of us have multiple meetings per day.

But increasingly, Millennials are replacing the meeting with a new (yet Internet-old) method: "chats." We've taken what we do socially—Gchat, text, BBM, WhatsApp—and transposed it to the workplace. At GOOD, the edit team is constantly in communication via a group chat called Campfire, which is essentially a 1998-style chatroom with a few bells and whistles (literally—one can administer sound effects with any remark). In our Campfire room, we share news, links, gripes, jokes, viral videos, and big-thinks. Sure, it can be a time-waster. But it can also lead to ideas for pieces, series, projects, and parties in a way that scheduled, jargony meetings seldom do. Just last week, perusing Twitter during a lull in the day, I took to Campfire to complain about the many users who crowd their handle's profile with the sentence "RTs are not endorsements." Cord shared my annoyance, responding that he's always wanted to write an article about this very subject. Two days later, a post was born.

And then there's good ol' Gchat, the generational equivalent of note-passing that New York Magazine paid tribute to back in October. In offices where 40- and 50-somethings are in charge, younger employees are likely to "x" out their blinking messages when their bosses pass by. Some companies block the function altogether. But in workplaces where young people call the shots, Gchat is our lifeblood—a way to brainstorm between venting sessions, to avoid the passive-aggressiveness of email without losing its efficiency. It's not replacing face-to-face meetings altogether; it's making that precious face-time more productive by getting the juices flowing beforehand and sustaining the momentum by following up afterward.

Both ways of "meeting" are distinctly generational. They happen with the help of technology, but they're not impersonal. They allow ideas to flow organically and constantly throughout the day, a dynamic that can ease uncomfortable, damaging office hierarchies. They also break down the boundary between the "real" you and the "work" you, which is a genuinely exciting prospect. Chat rooms are the new conference rooms. And that's nothing to be depressed about.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user justgrimes.


Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.