Technically I am part of Generation Y, also known as the Millennials or ME generation. There’s no consensus on when exactly this generation starts and ends, although Wikipedia says the date range is somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s. (Sorry Misfit Sister, but according to Wikipedia you are NOT Gen X!!)
My generation has received a lot of flack, especially now that we’re a significant chunk of the workforce. “Sense of entitlement”, “expecting reward without effort”, and “inability to accept personal responsibility” are common phrases used to describe us. (Check out this study from the Center for Professional Excellence). My thoughts on this critical opinion of Gen Y? I completely agree!
While there are exceptions to the rule (I like to think I’m one of them, although my dad might beg to differ), my experience both on a personal and professional level with Generation Y has not been positive. I think the technology that helped build our generation is also responsible for some of the behavior we’re criticized for. Let me give you a couple examples.
- Google – The Experience Killer
Before information was widely available on the internet, personal knowledge came from experience. Now, research and case studies about any topic are at our fingertips. Suddenly, you can become an ‘expert’ just by reading the experience of others, instead of learning from your own experience. The result? A false sense of expertise and dangerous level of confidence.
I have seen this behavior among my peers. There are so-called ‘experts’ in my industry who speak at events, yet have never actually executed the strategies they teach on. Entry-level employees who argue with their more-experienced managers, because they have read a couple articles and think they know better. If I had a dime for every time I heard a Generation Y-er say he deserves more money or a better title for doing nothing, I’d be rich!
- iPhone – The Interpersonal Skills Killer
Ok, so maybe it’s just cell phone technology in general, but the iPhone is fun to pick on, because I have one. Before cell phones, people communicated with each other either in person or verbally over the phone. Now, texting seems to be the primary method of communication for my generation.
Don’t get me wrong, I text all the time, but I don’t use it to avoid responsibility. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for a lot of my peers. Texting has given us a way to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable situations.
Want to ask a girl out on a date? I’ll just text her and see what she says.
Get a call from a friend who is not happy with you? I’ll just send a passive aggressive text in response, so I don’t have to talk to him in person.
Mad at your boyfriend/husband? I’ll refuse to talk to him in person, but the minute he leaves I’ll send him an angry text. (Ok. so I’m guilty of this one. Sometimes it’s easier to write things out, but I’ve learned this is NOT the best way to resolve an issue).
Maybe I’m just trying to find something to blame my generation’s defects on. That would, after all, be very Gen Y of me. But think about it. Is technology making us better or creating a world where experience and personal responsibility mean nothing?
Let me know your thoughts!