Generalizations and stereotypes are bad. Everyone will tell you that. Yet, no one can resist doing it. It helps us sum up our complex world in neatly defined boxes. People tend to be OK with generalizations that don’t involve them personally. On the other hand, when it gets personal, we’re ready to protest.
I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about my generation lately. We’re dubbed the Millenials, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, among other things. No one can quite agree when we begin and end. The broadest range encompasses those born in the late 1970’s through the 2000’s. Others claim it’s only early 1980’s to mid 1990’s. No matter how you slice it, being born in 1987, I am indisputably part of this generation.
The M.O. of Millenials is not great. If our Gen X predecessors wanted instant gratification, we demand it. If we want to know something, we don’t have to research long. We have Google and Wikipedia to do that for us. Thanks to Tivo, we don’t have to tolerate commercials to watch TV. Apparently, technology such as Facebook has seriously stunted our social expectations. If we don’t like something or someone, we can hide, block or unfriend our way to a happier universe. We don’t have to commit to anything. We can “maybe” our way through life. Forget face-to-face communication; we don’t even have to talk on the phone. Texting gives us a safe buffer zone to protect our private, created worlds.
When we were kids, we were all diagnosed with A.D.D and medicated accordingly. Whatever is wrong with us, it is not our fault. Anything we dislike will not be tolerated. We drop our boyfriends and girlfriends like a bad habit. If it feels good, it is. If it feels bad, it’s gone. When we storm the workforce, we do so with high demands. We want more pay, more vacation, flexible scheduling, the opportunity to work from home and a pleasant work environment. Our jobs will never satisfy us. We will likely change our careers (not just employers) several times in our lifetime. We’ll bitch about our boss on Facebook, then sue him for firing us.
If you want to talk to us, you’d better be quick. We don’t have time to listen. We want to be instantly and constantly engaged. We are the master multi-taskers. We text while singing along to our music and checking our messages online – all while changing lanes on the highway and sipping a latte. We’re also known by some as the “Peter Pan Generation” because we just don’t want to grow up.
That’s what people are saying about my generation. I want to scream, “no, no, it isn’t true!” I want to protest that while I see what they’re saying, that generation should start with people born in the 90’s. I’m a little too old. I can’t be one of them.
Methinks thou doth protest too much? Maybe. I didn’t get Facebook until college; even then I was kind of against it for a while. I hate texting, but last month I went $25 over my allotted 300 texts (still minuscule compared to what others do.) I love talking on the phone, but I don’t like to call people out of the blue because it feels awkward. My favorite drink is a Starbucks chai tea latte. Sometimes I sit with my laptop in front of the TV. I got a degree I knew I didn’t want and am still trying to figure out a career that will fulfill me. Even though I’ve graduated college, I am living with my parents again. I am, in all honesty, often afraid of the future. And I got a lot of my information for this blog from this Wikipedia page. Ugh. Maybe I am one them. Maybe only just a little bit.
So what is the hope for my generation? We Millenials aren’t all bad, right? Some studies suggest that we’re a fairly religious generation. We’re also civically minded, so while we’ve created our own little worlds, we want to save the world, too. We may not want to grow up, but that could be because we don’t want to make our parents’ mistakes. We look at their divorce rate and their miserable jobs and we want to take our time and get it right. We’re disillusioned with the government and the economy. Since we intend to get what we want, we could be a driving force for real reform. And who knows what useful things we may discover through our obsession with technology.
Generalizations are unfair. But we continue to use them because they’re, well, useful. There’s some truth in what’s being said about my generation. There are also a lot of lies and misunderstandings. But the analysis should put us in conversation. Who are we? Who do we want to be? And what are we going to do about it?