Monday, August 9, 2010

Thanks for the kind words but...

Christine Hassler of the Huffington Post wrote a well intentioned and very kind blog ( towards my people, fellow Gen Y-ers, and although I am grateful that she has a much more positive outlook than most bloggers, I still don't understand what is so different from Gen Y than the tendencies of every other twenty-something year-old, regardless of generation.

She points out that many bloggers have labeled us, "entitled, immature, needing constant validation, self-absorbed, lacking a work ethic and respect for authority." Okay. Fine. I understand where that comes from, and it has much truth. She also sheds light on some of our strengths, passion, eagerness to learn and grow, entrepreneurial spirit, desire to be recognized, etc. I get that too. But...who cares! 

Isn't that a description for every twenty-ish year old person, whether in the 50's, 60's 70's, or  2000's? I am pretty sure that the hippies were not the most industrious respecters of their elders. How about fans of James Brown, Elvis, Miles Davis, and Billie Holiday? Were they the selfless, pro-establishment, and humble citizens of their time? I wasn't there, so I guess I can't be 100% sure. But, I'll take a gamble and say they were not. 

The tendencies and characteristics that Ms. Hassler observes and illustrates are accurate and are not the point of my criticism, nor is Ms. Hassler herself the point of my criticism. My problem lies with the widespread notion that the inclinations of Generation Y are something foreign and unique. When Ad Age coined the term Gen Y in 1993 ("Generation Y" Ad Age August 30, 1993. p. 16), it was used to identify a target market, not to develop a philosophical inquiry to the human nature of those born between the 1980's and 1990's. The same traits of Gen Y are depictions of youth seen throughout history and academia. From Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to Jane Austen novels to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it's all there. Although it is important that the context of our time has changed, the nature of youth has not. 

So thank you Ms. Hassler for recognizing my generation's strengths, but the virtues and vices of youth are not new. What is new is the imprint on the world we will make, whether good or bad. By upholding valuable traditions and progressing beyond our weaknesses,  I intend to be a part of the lasting and beneficial difference to the world Gen Y can make.

'Til next time,



  1. "Before I figure out what I want to be and who I want to brush my teeth next to for the rest of my life, let me figure out who I am."
    Very funny that the article mentions this because I still have not discovered who I am. My brothers and sisters (which are all over 10 years older then em) are always trying to make me rush through college and get my degree. Maybe they are saying that because they want me out of the house or maybe because thats what they did and believe I should do the same. I cannot rush because I don't know who I am and who I want to be. I know what I would love to do (Architect) but thats a long way from now. You have no idea how many times I have changed my major and my personality. I have moved so many times and been to so many schools. I have met many different people and been in different cultures. I love that I can move around and explore our country and other countries.
    My point: this article is very accurate. I just turned 20 in July and I look forward to the rest of my twenties. Woot woot, Gen Y.

  2. Thanks D-Rod for the comment. I wonder if "changing your personality" so many times before 20 years old, actually counts as changing. "Personality" seems to be something more permanent.

    Anyways, my goal was not to disregard the qualities that the article laid out. Although things like "finding oneself" sound cheesy to me, I agree that a search for self-actualization and the other traits mentioned are valid. But, aren't all of those qualities just part of growing up and not something special to Gen Y?

    Thanks again for the comment. It's good to hear from a fellow DFW Blogger. Keep in touch and good luck with your Architectural Ambitions. (Why does that have to be "a long way from now?")

    Gen_Y Mike

  3. Well I did mean change personality because I would always change who I was to fit in a certain somewhere. I would always be that geeky kid who is always quite. It's sort of like saying I was always trying to add something new to me to seem more interesting. I recently gave up and decided to be myself. I have to tell you, life has never felt so better. I have been trying to hide who I been all these years that I forgot I have the most fun reading books and following the weather forecasts. I'm happy being myself. Someday I will find people just like me. Until then, I am going to work on being who I was.

    As for the article, it sounds just like me. I was just glad that I wasn't the only one who thought this way. It has been a really long time since I talked or heard of normal people. I don't think it's normal any more to constantly be drinking or doing drugs.

    My dream, or as you better suited it "Architectural Ambitions", is a long way from now because I want to get my masters. I am a little behind from all the partying I been doing but I am AWAKEN.

  4. This GenXer agrees with you! You have put the argument out there very well. I believe I am a bit GenY myself - although age wise I barely missed the boomers.

    I think if you if you capture the energy and the minds of GenY (or any youth) you will be rewarded as an employer, friend, parent or neighbor. Our investments should always go large to those with the passion and energy to carry the torch.