Jun 11, 2008

Is Gen Y ‘for real’?

We have been hearing about the Generation Y and Baby Boomer stuff for some time now. My question remains, what are the real differences? I can get inside the head of Generation Y, after all, I am one! What separates a Gen Y from a Gen X or a Baby Boomer though? Is it so clear cut I can put a marker in the sand?
On 19 May 1986 TIME magazine published an article entitled “
Growing pains at 40[1] – the article announced the coming of age of the Baby Boomers, they had reached middle age. In the article Senator Al(bert) Gore (then 38 and Democrat of Tennessee), said “We wanted to change it all, to do it our way”. Sound familiar? Sounds like what Generation Y are shouting out right now. They have the energy and the passion to do so. With little to worry about apart from themselves they have the mobility to move around whenever and wherever they like. The article continues by referring to the Baby Boomer as the ‘enelegant’: "Pig in the python," a moving bulge that distorts and distends everything around it as it rumbles through the stages of life. Locked together in a crowded race, many Boomers have learned to use their elbows. The most outspoken members retain a kind of generational arrogance… Again, sounds familiar. Well, what about loyalty? ‘…Not only that, long absorbed in themselves, the Baby Boomers are a generation that has avoided or postponed commitment to others. Many have little loyalty to their employers and less to political leaders or ideas…[2]’ You can draw your own parallels I’m sure but allow me one just briefly; This is exactly how Generation Y are being described by Gen X and Baby Boomer commentators right now: ‘arrogant’, ‘self absorbed’ and ‘increasingly mobile’.
So are there any differences? Of course there are. And Yes, they are dependent on how they were raised, and Yes they are dependent on the environment in which Generation Y is growing up, and Yes it does have to do with Technology and the WWW.

[1] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,961401,00.html “Growing Pains at 40”, TIME Magazine (19 May 1986)
[2] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,961402,00.html “Growing Pains at 40”, TIME Magazine (19 May 1986)

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