The “Me Me Me Generation”

time magazine

Time Magazine; May 20, 2013

This post was inspired by last weeks’ Time cover article.

It’s been on my mind for about a week…

At this point, I believe I’ve just about heard it all when it comes to the infamous Generation Y (of which I am a proud member).

Nevertheless, the topic continues to intrigue me.

And since Time has decided to get the world talking about it, I’ve taken a moment to dig through my thoughts.

Yes, the things said about my generation aren’t always the most positive.  For those that have yet to read this gem, let me give you the CliffsNotes: we are reportedly “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.”  Our incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is akin to an army of Kim Kardashian clones, we are more likely to find friendship with same-age kids from foreign nations than our own grandparents and apparently walk around looking confused on account of phantom phone vibrations.  And of course, we are known to take an alarming number of photos of ourselves. (I’m not denying any of this).

All this said, the article was actually geared, uncharacteristically, to a point in the complete and opposite direction:

Millennials are an adapted generation that might be the “new greatest generation” that will “save us all.”

Alright.

Even I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

But maybe not?

A quick summary of presented arguments: Gen Y embraces authority in a way that Gen X never did and never will.  We are cautious about life decisions, are increasingly innovative and are generally “nice.”  Above all, we’re strangely optimistic.

Although one can probably (easily) argue both sides, I’m going to take the latter stance on this one.

From my personal experiences:

The notion of “peer-enting” has never rung truer than in my own life.  My parents (and their friends self-admittedly), Gen X-ers who grew up in a “because mama and papa said so” world, have raised my siblings and I differently.  Where my mom wasn’t allowed to take swimming lessons because grandma preferred piano lessons, I was encouraged to explore my interests to my heart’s content.  We were respected as little people.  My parents cultivated relationships with us that made us feel like we were on the same level.  We were told we could be anything and achieve anything.  Before my mom passed away, I considered her a friend, called her daily and felt that phoning her to give updates on my dating life was absolutely normal (necessary).  These days poor papa is handling the daily relationship woes and triumphs of two girls.

Not surprisingly, my peers and I view authority differently.  In fact, as the article points out, we embrace them.  I believe the way I was peer-ented has enabled me to build strong relationships with leaders at work that far surpass the big guy-little guy chain-of-command hostility my parents grew up with.  I think it makes the work environment stronger and more fulfilling.

Secondly, an incredible amount of my friends are starting their own companies, innovating and creating new tools.  Just in the past week, I’ve looked at a friend’s new idea to revolutionize the availability of Wi-Fi with a company called Spark, downloaded an app a friend created that puts friends in touch by showing what others are “doing tonight,” met a friend of a friend working on a new popular start-up called SceneTap and caught up with a friend who founded a company that hand-crafts candles in Bali called Volcanica Candles.

I’m seeing less lazy and a lot more action these days.  You want to talk about the economy going down…  I think my peers are doing something about it… at an inspirational rate.

And lastly, unlike the generations before ours, we are not making grand life decisions on the fly.  Or as I see it: because we have to.  The heavy divorce rate and debt bubble rose out of the baby-boomer generation.  People got married because it was expected by a certain age and they bought a white picket fence and a house (whether they could afford it or not) because it was the American dream (and the bank handed out loans like candy apparently).  Not anymore.  I’m surrounded by twenty-somethings who are dating for years before deciding to take the plunge, getting married in their late 20s/30s and are purchasing white picket fences with money they actually have.

Maybe this article is right…

And millennials will do great things in the face of current economic and political adversity.

That would be Awesome.

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18 thoughts on “The “Me Me Me Generation”

  1. Very thought provoking – thanks for this. I sincerely believe in our generation’s potential to be great…and it’s up to each of us to make that potential take seed and grow…the harvest will be awesome! By the way, I’ve never heard the term, ‘peer-enting’ before – interesting one…

    • Thank you so much. I agree completely! I also had not heard of that peer-enting term but sort of lit up when I saw it. Definitely a different way of viewing parenting.

  2. Really fantastic post! I agree with what you said and the innovation and creativeness that is happening on a regular basis is truly astonishing. I see a lot of people taking risks, doing something they are passionate about, and trying to make a difference in this world. It is actually really exciting and encouraging right now because there is such a push to pursue your dreams and really make an impact.

  3. Nice post, thanks for writing it. I wonder if part of Generation Y’s psyche is the product of growing up without any existential threat to bound us to a common cause or against a common threat.

    Generation X lived beneath the Cold War’s nuclear shadow and the generation before that had World War 2 and the Great Depression to keep them occupied. We in the affluent developed world have not had such threats to our existence and have had the luxury to think about what we want to do rather than what we have to do.

    I’d also be interested in comparing the experiences of Generation Y in a rapidly developing country like India versus a place like America or Australia (where I’m from).

    • Hi Rupert – Thank you for this in-depth comment. Definitely something to think about… I even discussed your comment with the fam. Verdict: everyone agrees with you. Bravo. I think you make an excellent point. It’s so easy to forget what kind of climate we live in vs. what the other generations went through. Different circumstances do bind people together and create a different understanding of the world around us. I have a feeling that the kids of the Cold War generation weren’t worried about what Kim Kardashian’s great grandmother was wearing. Our generation has been so lucky in so many ways. It’s easy to forget what the others went through so we could have this time to focus solely on our wants.

  4. Awesomely written post. I believe what you write is true, I also believe the Time article holds a lot of truth as well. But every generation thinks the one before it is out of touch and the one after it is hopeless. You make some great point in your post.

    • Hi – thank you so much. I agree with you completely – there is definitely a trend of older generations looking down on the younger ones. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

  5. Pingback: Preparing to Relax… the Au-Naturel Way | 31daysofawesome

  6. I tend to find surprising things in all generations. I think this Generation Y thing is more discussed in America than Britain or elsewhere in Europe.

    But what does “embraces authority” mean? If it means not automatically rebelling against authority, then good. If it means looking up to authority figures automatically because they’re in authority, then bad. That leads to “I was only obeying orders”.

    • Embraces authority means what you said – “not rebelling.” But it goes deeper – this means that we see “authority” as being on our level and we work with other generations instead of below them. I think this is one of the positives of Gen Y.

      You’re probably right in terms of the U.S. I’m not sure why everyone around here is obsessing over it. I find it very interesting though.

      Hope you’re having a good weekend!

  7. Thanks – you too. The last big generation thing for us was the baby boomers – something common to most of the “West”. We were rebellious; and ageing boomers often complained about how fixated on personal advancement and accepting of the social and political structure students had become. In return the boomers were blamed for being selfish and spendthrift and not making sufficient provision for their old age (because they assumed things would go on getting better and weren’t mentally prepared for hard times). But in Britain and Western Europe generally our latest student-age generation seems more rebellious against the status quo than their predecessors in the period about 1980-2010. But that’s probably a reaction to the recession and government measures.

  8. I LOVE this! Being “strangely optimistic” can change your life. I’ve studied a lot about the brain lately since my boyfriend suffered a brain injury, and there is a lot of evidence that optimism can rewire your brain for success. Keep up the awesome writing.
    Generation Y will save the world! 🙂

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