Generation Y: On Stereotypes

I was browsing my blog reader while at my internship today and came across this article: How to think like the next generation. Which, of course, led me to What gen Yers don't know about themselves. As I read the slightly condescendingly worded article, I found myself wondering if I was part of Generation Y.

First, though, a disclaimer. For those that read my blog regularly, you'll see that I rarely speak seriously and that most of my articles are satirical, sarcastic, or light. This one, however, will be more argumentative and academic because I feel strongly about this issue that I'll be addressing. Sorry for being text heavy.

According to Wikipedia (guys, it's more legit now, ok?) Generation Y, also called the Millennials, is so loosely determined that "Commentators use beginning birth dates from the latter 1970s, or from the early 1980s to the early 2000s." Interesting.

(c) growing leaders
(c) growing leaders

This led to a frantic Google session and along with the realization that Generation Y gets a lot of flak.

Although some of these are fair points, traits that I do see in my peers here and there, we forget to analyze where this is coming from. As humans, we all have the fallacy to believe that whatever collective group we belong in is the best. The author, as part of Generation X, obviously is puzzled by the behaviors and mindsets of those part of Generation Y without acknowledging the causes of differences between these two generations.

And I do believe that we shouldn't generalize, which is what this article and a lot of blog articles do. But there's a point where tereotyping against generations that comes oddly close to racial or gender stereotypes.

So, after finding this article, I feel the need to champion our generation. But also, like many of us, I am able to see our flaws as well.

Right now, where I'm coming from is individualism. Sure, call me a hipster, whatever. Call me following the footsteps of this generation. But over all traits, I prize individualism and humor (of course) above all else. Yes, there are many that run with the crowd, but that's always been present. Further down, I talk about the effects of media on our social culture. I believe the "conformity" that this author speaks of also stems from the perpetration of media—not just of local stations, like before, but of global media that shows itself in us a form of conformity.

She states that Generation X is the one that made everything possible for Generation Y. This is true of all generations. And I can't help but think that some of this attitude comes from some sort of envy. Generation X wasn't able to demand the same things in the workforce that Generation is currently demanding and receiving. Why is that? What was stopping them?

The statement that Generation Yers are less competitive than their Xer counterparts is questionable. As someone deeply ingrained within Generation Y and I will tell you right now: that is completely wrong, although I will acknowledge that it is completely dependent on the environment that you're in. As a student at Michigan, the competition here is so fierce that even sitting in a lecture hall feels like a competition for oxygen.

But she argues this in relation to how concerned we are about image. Of course, I have noticed the "photo culture" that everyone is adapting. Well, in addition to technological advances, the media is much more present in our lives than before—and it's something few individuals can completely escape. With the penetration of media dictations throughout our life, we can become involuntarily fixated on image (body image, social image, etc). This is capitalism and its new outlets for consumers that are changing the "generations."

I've often come across so many driven people that I'm tempted to become one of the mediators in order to soften the tension. For example, one of my roommate's friend decided he wanted to work for Facebook, who wasn't hiring marketers at the time. So, he created his own Facebook campaign, asking for support and likes which he later graphed and analyzed, presenting it to Facebook. They immediately offered him an interview, which he nailed, and then offered him a position on their team. This is just one of many stories from our student population, some of whom already own companies.

I will say, however, that we are excellent at being able to see both sides of differing opinions. During the election was an especially telling time. It was when I realized that debates didn't necessarily have to be heated and frustrating, but enlightening belief-reaffirming.

Most of us living in my apartment (there are 6 of us total) are moderately to extremely liberal. Feminist conversations, to put it lightly, happen almost daily, especially with the recent rape trial conviction and the aftermath. There is one girl, however, who's moderately conservative. But we're able to get along very well and still discuss those hot button issues without becoming frustrated or judging the person based on their beliefs.

But then again, we are also individuals and this may be an individual case.

And then, the entrepreneurship bit. If there's anything we're good at—I don't want to risk stereotyping here—if there's anything more available to us than before, it's information. Right at our fingertips. I can spend an hour searching for a topic on Google and end up half an expert on it by the end. So, because of this capability of being so informed, I have faith (note that this isn't a fact or a belief, but a hope) that my fellow peers would research the ins and outs of entrepreneurship before stepping into that. Startups are the future. Insanely impressive, progressive products come from startups. It's where the designers are (my best friend is an industrial designer), and it's where we'll be. Since when did benefiting people, globally, become frowned upon? If you want to chalk that up to our "group thinking," fine.

Just the way she words "Generation Yers think they don't believe in God" is condescending like no other. It implies that she knows best. It implies that her perspective is the correct one. The author claims that we seek conformity, and maybe in certain issues we do. However, we do possess the ability to question. Question our beliefs, question who we are, question the purpose of life. I don't consider adapting a labeled religion and cultivating it for your children as "taking a risk." I consider it forcing a belief onto a child who doesn't yet have the mental facilities to question whether this is what they believe. I believe in discovering your beliefs through life experiences.

The author ends her list with blowjobs. Blowjobs that are loosely related (although I'm not totally disregarding the fact that there is a relation) to Generation Yers "believing we're revolutionary." That's a flaw that plagues every generation, not just Generation Y. And I'm not even going to start with the feminist implications of blowjobs. But here, I have to concede that there are people who participate in oral and anal because they believe that it "isn't really losing your virginity." However, like radicals of any grouping, these do not necessarily define the rest of the group.

Again, talking about distinctive characteristics of generations can start to look like stereotyping, which people love doing and will continue doing. Although for satirical purposes, it's possible to stereotype, more serious articles should never be taken (or if taken, do it with a grain of salt) because each person is different. We have to remember that every generation is a product of social construct and that the generation itself should not be blamed, but aware.

I believe that generation definition is becoming blurred, or, that generations are getting shorter due to the explosion of (mostly technological) progress and innovation. What is accomplished in 2 years used to take 10 years to do (see: genome and DNA mapping). It's like being on an exponential curve. Sometimes when talking to my brother who is only 4 years younger than I am, I feel like there's already a significant difference in ideology. Almost as if that 4 years was a generation gap within itself.

This "generation" talk may become a series, but spaced out over time!

Well? How did I do? Are there any issues that you'd also like to bring up? Let's see how discussion in the comments section will be! As always, please be courteous and understanding. I'm like that, so I only ask the same from you. 

For more, check out my blog at Mishfish13

Thanks for reading :)