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.”
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.