Internet | July 22, 2022 11:41 am

“Nobody Wants to Work Anymore” Has Been a Complaint for Centuries

A viral Twitter thread reminds us that no generation has proven to be particularly special or lazy

A large "Now Hiring" advertisement posted on the windows of the Advance Auto Parts store in Bay Shore, New York on March 24, 2022
Why don't young people want terrible, low-paying jobs?
Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

The younger generation doesn’t want to work, right? Well, that’s a complaint that applies to your generation, too, and your parents’ generation, their parents’ generation and every other generation before, according to Paul Fairie, a researcher and instructor at the University of Calgary.

As noted by Inc., Prof. Fairie put out a trending Twitter thread earlier this week documenting several instances in the media where an older person was lamenting the work habits of the younger folks. Starting with 1894 (“It is becoming apparent that nobody wants to work these hard times”) and 1905 (“None want to work for wages”):

Most of these examples come from regional newspapers, including publications that still exist today (Miami Herald) and a 2022 article from Forbes entitled “No One Wants to Work.”

There are a lot of common complaints here — it was “different when I was a teenager” (turns out, nope!), the younger workers just want to slack off (unlike you, busy white-collar man delegating work) and nobody wants to do manual labor for low wages (you think?).

What follows in the thread is a pretty good back-and-forth and even a comment from Neil deGrasse Tyson that’s smart without, surprise, being annoying. And also a good reminder that the idea of Americans working “only” a five-day, 40-hour work week once caused a commentator to refer to American men as “softies and mollycoddles.”