Generation Y – Positives and Negatives (updated)

Generation Y – Positives and Negatives (updated)

Gen Y and Their Marriage to Technology isn’t all what it seems

Generation Y will make up a big chunk of the employed population and very soon they’ll shape our work environment. Researchers are gathering more insight into this generation. I’ll have a series of posts on Gen Y. Their attitudes, motivation and preferences are important to us and perhaps important to the world.

China and Russia may have their own versions of Gen Y and we’ll have to understand them as well. It’s an exciting time to discover what’s new.

Accounts of the Millenials are either really rosy or dour.  You’ll read plenty of personality traits. The best trait perhaps is their acceptance of entrepreneurialism, yet some accounts are that they don’t have the drive or faith to go it alone. I guess the danger here is that we’re suggesting a group like Gen Y are all the same when they’re not. Baby boomers are not all the same either.

After the 28 year old CEO of Bitcoin committed suicide, after the company was fleeced for $2 Billion, we know that Gen Y may not understand the full context of things. It is a shock to them when they discover the things on CNN, although very far fetched, can actually happen. The research can help us help them be winners, overcome their digital paranoia, and relax.

Here’s a good brief account of who they are. Let’s take a closer look.

Give Me a Break Will Ya!

I know lots of Gen Y’s and I think they’re mature, capable, intelligent, with lots of potential. Some are conservative, reliable, and sensible. They’re a great group with unlimited potential to lead us. But will they be lost without us? If they have a negative view of older generations, the repercussions could be serious.

Ageism will become a big issue. Just as we might typecast them, they may typecast us as out of touch and unskilled.  If we don’t unmask the phoney differences that marketers creates, we may not be able to relate to each other. The good thing is that Gen Y’s and their parents are more like friends now which means they’ll mature quickly.

There’s much more to a whole generation of people than what I can cover in a short blog post, and I certainly am not an expert.  Some Gen Y’s will be insulted that they’re being categorized in such a manner and I don’t blame them. None of the posts I’ve read ever acknowledged the exceptions in every group. There’s advertising money to be made in exaggerating differences.

An article in the April 2014 issue of Psychology Today was about Millenials (born 1983-2000) and was insightful.

They grew up with the Internet, cell phones, video games, and everything else digital, but there are other influences. They’ve adapted to this huge wealth of information and possibilities. How do they cut through all the crap?  We need to learn how they do it.

The economy is different, career lines are different for them, and even family and social relations are different. Many of them are single children. How they cope should tell us a lot about what might happen in business and their personal lives from this point on.

The younger generation are pushing for more creative and freedom-giving options at work.  En mass, they will push for a better way to live.

Bad Rap – No Street Cred with Grampa and Gramma

Reports seem to focus on Gen Y’s as lazy, irresponsible, lacking in gratitude, ungiving, disloyal, unsympathetic, and overly dependent on their friends or social world.

The traditional frame of reference is that people should be independent, stand on their own feet, be accountable for one’s allotted position in life, to think for themselves, not survey friends via smartphone about important decisions. But this social connectedness does open them up to new perspectives and information. They’re into sharing.

We live in a results based society now, so why would they care about anything other than what gets them these results? You can forget about your educational and corporate credentials. They don’t care. Written a book or walked on the moon? Yawn. Have 45K twitter followers? Okay, now you’re cool.

They may be more dependent on their digital social circle. This lonely generation craves closeness and company. They couldn’t comprehend our admiration for the bold, independent lone wolf, idolized in John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. We’re not afraid of being alone but they’re terrified of it.


Maybe We Need to Redefine Maturity

If someone is lively, friendly, spontaneous, flexible, broad minded, social and playful, we brand them as immature. In fact, that behaviour marks them as supremely mature in their world.

What’s so strange is that these young people are our next leaders. They’ll shape our politics, social programs and determine if we can compete with the Russians, South Americans and Asia Pacific. If they have the capacity to think about it for a moment, they’ll realize they can be our heroes by mastering technology and virtualized connections and sharing that with us. We’d better be open to their input.

The best of them will see beyond their frame of reference to empathize with Gen Xer’s and Baby Boomers.  The foolish ones will hide in superficial, unproven millenial values while not empathizing with the concerns of the older crowd. The older crowd, including their parents are truly concerned about where they’re going in this world of no guarantees, temporary loyalty, and global competition. We’re worried about ourselves too.

Adaptation and Courage

At the same time, millenials have a sensitivity to what’s going on today around the world and they can see it in person, something we only dreamed of.  And they’re building survival skills in a “no promises” world. Their adaptiveness and courage in facing this digital game of winner take all is something we need to pay close attention to.

So I don’t know about Gen Y’s being immature, delayed in development, cause they may have more social intelligence than we do, and are more aware of what counts in life. If it does come down to relationships, and not what you know, then they’re going to come out ahead. They are young, living in a world full of false possibilities, traps, false information and too much data. They’re developing ways of filtering out the massive junk that confronts them.

They don’t want the hierachical structure, authoritarianism, and anything else conventional that wastes their time.

As a babyboomer, I like this younger generation because I can see myself in them. I never believed in authoritarianism either and I like the all the amazing possibilities out there now. I’ve never been interested in the old Victorian Era values because they left you closed to growth and possibilities. This young crowd has more potential and opportunities than anyone ever had.

Are they interested in marriage and mortgage contracts? How about lifetime careers with one company, or living in one place for 50 years? Some convince themselves they want what their parents have. But let’s not exaggerate things. They’ll be a lot like us because they’re caught in the same environment.

They Won’t Make it By Themselves

I think Gen Y’s need security and structure but their love of freedom and growth is much like mine. When I need inspiration and guidance, I will most often rely on my own intellect. With my own studious approach, I understand much more.  But our generation sees this generation has all we lack. They may have all we wanted. We were born 30 years too soon.

This generation may not have much of an imagination (no daydreaming?) and not bother to think for themselves or know where they’re really going.  But their sensitivity to what’s happening and what will happen soon shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether you’re a marketer or a grandparent, knowing them is wise.

Further reading:

Generation Y, Thriving and Surviving

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World 

Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-somethings are Revolutionizing Retail 

The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation 


Pinned by Kari SaratovskyMillennial Gen Infographics