As someone at the very top of the gen-y age bracket, I think I have a unique perspective on the trials and tribulations of this generation. Although, I have been told, mainly in workplace settings, that I have the work ethic and principals of a Baby Boomer or even someone from the Silent Generation, I think this is merely experience and wisdom that I have been able to lend to fellow members of my generation. I’ve been through the trenches, and I can honestly say, I’ve seen it all.
One thing that I have noticed throughout this generation and have been guilty of myself at times are what I call the Seven Deadly Sins for Gen-Y. I would not be surprised though if you find that these are present in other generations, but I have found that they are present to the point of immersion in this one. They are, in no particular order: helplessness, digitization, entitlement, shallowness, attention span, failure to take responsibility, and shortcuts.
Helplessness takes many forms. It is evident in the amount of parental participation this generation requires for daily survival. You may have seen the articles showing the high number of parents who contact potential employers on their children’s behalf and those who have to be forcibly removed from their child’s college, interview or work experience.
Up to this point, it has been seen as the parent’s being at fault in not raising more responsible children or not letting their foundling fly from the nest, being referred to as helicopter parents. But, as these children grow to be “of age” – 18, 21, 25 or even 30, it becomes the fault of the adult-child. They lean on their parents to provide for them. The term boomerang generation was even used to describe these Gen-Yers who returned to live with their parents after college or divorce. This phenomenon is all too common. We could blame it on the economy and jobless rates, but, really, it is a lack of motivation characterized by helplessness on the part of these adult-children.
There is one area though that this generation has claimed as their own – the digital arena. With facebook, twitter, okcupid, tumblr, and so many other websites that tie members of this generation together in an awkward web of relationship and community, this generation was brought up to seek their intellectual knowledge, friendships, life partners, political information, news, shopping, entertainment and all other aspects of their lives through a computer screen. Now, that the computer screen is small and portable, accompanying him or her ever second of the day, it is entirely possible to go throughout a day without every physically coming into contact with anyone and still be socially, intellectually and even sexually satisfied. It has made them more social awkward, which may be a part of the reason they seek the reassurance and support of their parents to get them through IRL.
Despite this general helplessness, the connections and knowledge gained through the internet, especially through mediums that allow anonymity, this generation has come across something unique – a defined sense of entitlement. Partially though the constant praise and “participatory award” that have become so popular to coddle this generation, each and every one of them believes that they are special and deserve greatness. They have distorted what was once seen as the American Dream to become something so degraded that it is simply distilled down to – I want this, so give it to me. In this generation that is so fraught with capitalistic blowback, such as the need to buy a new iPhone every 6 months just because it is better than the last and has switched from VHS to DVD and now Blu-ray, we have been trained to view the world as constantly moving up – bigger, better, greater.
However, the vast majority seem to think that by standing still, they are still able to move up and higher. There is no sense of having to work for anything, it should just be given. This has become an enormous problem in the workforce. Part of it is from the laziness instilled in knowledge via Wikipedia. Members of this generation so easily acquired information, that they think it actually makes them intelligent. But, there is in reality a huge divide between being able to parrot back words and being able to understand and the ability to use the concepts within a real-life framework. It is the difference between repeating a new word, being able to define it and actually using it in a sentence. This generation, as a whole, is word-repeaters only.
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