Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Generation Why

I, like many people of my generation, have succeeded in scaring the crap out of the generations before us. 

How would the people of my generation fix social security? How would we preserve (or restore) the integrity of America in the eyes of the world? How would we stop Eddie Murphy from making movies?

They say Generation Y has no patience, having grown up with instant communication technology. They say that we're a bunch of Peter Pans, delaying adulthood as long as possible. We'll change careers several times while we live at home with mom and dad. If we have a job at all.

First of all, I grew up with Oregon Trail so don't tell me I don't have patience. 

Press Enter to Size up the Situation
Second, I realize that many of us apply our Peter Pan mentality to our future jobs. Our parents and our parent's parents craved stability and typically entered a career that would provide benefits and pension plans. Most of Gen Y throws such notions to the wind. 

A typical Gen Y-er realizes that they have wide spread talents that shouldn't be contained to one career path. This leads to indecision in college and a crisis upon graduation. It leads to living in your parent's basement.

Personally, with a blanket apology to all the put upon parents out there, I don't see the problem. The explosion of creativity and technology that has been nurtured in the last thirty years has expanded our world in ways that only the creators of the Jetsons knew were possible. 

So what if I get my news online and can't picture myself married with kids until my thirties? Who cares that I would rather send an email than call or keep in touch with friends through Facebook? 

Our generation is in the midst of a cultural revolution. Our progressive attitudes and sensibilities have helped the LGBT rights movement gain footing. Our generation voted in record numbers for the first black president. 

For most of our lives, the American military has been engaged in war in the Middle East. We witnessed the worst terrorist attack on American soil, most of us from TV screens or computers. The youth mobilized immediately. 

To those concerned about my generation's contributions to the greater good, I say this:

We may be impatient, but that impatience has led to the development of tools that help us work faster. Communicate faster. Innovate faster.

It may look as though we don't want to grow up, but what we are actually doing is redefining adulthood to fit our expectations. We demand more out of life than the linear path our grandparents walked. Having more than five careers in a lifetime simply means we are contributing in more ways and we're happier about it.

Am I making sweeping generalizations about Gen Y? Sure. Despite this, when all is said and done, I fully expect to be sitting on my porch in my old age watching hovercrafts and complaining that my kids never teleport to see me anymore. I'll dream of the glory days of my youth, when I really could do anything I set my mind to and be the person I wanted to be. 


  1. Rah! Ray! Generation Y! This is coming from a WWII baby boomer who has discussed this with many other baby boomers. Most of us worry like crazy about this generation and what we are seeing but on the flip side we also noticed this: Generation Y is HAPPY! You guys love life and all the opportunities our generation has handed to Generation X who created even more and then passed on to you. Your generation has taken them and run with them, creating new and exciting things. As a baby boomer I've had to be dragged kicking and screaming into trying things like FB and I wasn't struck down dead. I even found out I LIKE IT! So keep it up and Hooray for you! I can only imagine what you will pass to the next generation!

  2. Thanks Catherine! You're right. I think in general Gen Y is happy and I'll take happiness any day.