Generation Grad

I haven’t received a membership card for Generation Y.  Or any other generation for that matter.  How do I know which group I’m in?  Maybe I’ve been blocked because I didn’t play by the rules.

I wonder if I can get a fake ID somewhere…

What is Generation Y? Or, if you prefer, who are millennials?  Or what is the Net generation?  They are all terms for the same thing.

Generation Y is a huge group of diverse people.  Many current students and recent graduates are apparently part of this group.  A conversation about Gen-Y can begin and end however you want. You can do the same with any group of loosely matched individuals.

Gen-Y is social, Gen-Y is closed off from everyone else. Gen-Y hate politics, Gen-Y are increasingly political. Gen-Y don’t like to get on with Gen-X, Gen-Y don’t know why Gen-X has a problem with them. Gen-Y are all about creativity, Gen-Y are all about practicality. Gen-Y don’t specialise, Gen-Y set their attention on specifics. Gen-Y aren’t using new tactics to get jobs, Gen-Y aren’t using traditional tactics to get jobs.

photo by xflickrx

photo by xflickrx

Can a proper definition be agreed upon?  Nope.  Even a general level you can’t find complete agreement.  Look more closely and the water muddies further.  Were Gen-Y born from 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983…? What year did the next generation begin?  Does the term cover everyone, or a particular part of society?  What elements of a person does the term Gen-Y cover?  Do they live with technology or are they truly tech-savvy?

Many self-help books and management guides offer ‘answers’ and ‘rules’ to problems, as if there’s no other way to succeed.  It’s as if these ‘answers’ and ‘rules’ are magic bullets that explain all.

The same applies with stories of Gen-Y.  Personality traits are described as truths, behaviours are spoken as the norm.  This is hardly useful except as a generalisation.

I’m not suggesting that the ever-growing collection of writing on Gen-Y has no value.  Far from it.  The ability to think critically, however, is of the utmost importance when digesting it.  Without critical engagement, contradictory detail only confuses.  The information, like the grouping of people, needs to be taken together as many things.

Gen-Y is a subjective term.  Gen-Y is a term to debate, not mould into a definitive shape.

When debate starts, it’s all too easy to pick a mould regardless.  People are likely to seek advice they already follow.  What feels like critical engagement could be self-affirmation.  No matter how immune you think you are, we’re all susceptible to a bit of ego-stroking.

No generation is fully understood.  This is no surprise when you realise that the term Gen-Y rests mainly on a range of birth years and little else.  You cannot place any group of diverse individuals in a single, rigid definition.

That’s why debate about Generation X and older generations still prove just as worthy of debate.  As life changes, so do behaviours.  Until a generation disappears, history is still being recorded within that group.

As for younger generations, you get an idea of how such a large group can only ever be described through sweeping generalisation.  For instance, Gen-Z is still making a name for itself.  Even good old Wikipedia states, “Relatively little is firmly established about its composition, character, and even name”.  Since this generation has only been around since the mid-90s, perhaps we’re asking for too much.  Rather confusingly, they are sometimes called the ‘Net generation’, just like Gen-Y has been known.  Yay…

Why am I still banging on about all this?  Well, let’s go back to those self-help books and their magic bullets of advice.

A lot of productivity advice is aimed at people within Generation X.  The focus is very much on ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD) and managing time as a bunch of tasks you can check off a list.  While there’s nothing wrong with a to-do list, we have so much information hitting us from all angles and so much vying for our attention that a GTD approach doesn’t always cut it for younger people.

Productivity is a different beast in an information age.  I wonder this:

  • Is there a method of working productively that can be used collectively throughout Generation Y?

I believe that we’re all learning new techniques to get through a disruptive world.  However, as with all generations, what works for an individual is more important than generalised ideas.  We need generalisations and helpful ideas to give us a jump off point, but those magic bullets will never explain everything.

My tagline for TheUniversityBlog and my Twitter account is the following:

“Celebrating university life in all its diversity. Helping to achieve a full, entertaining, productive, and successful experience”.

I can only give general support and opinion.  I don’t write for Gen-Y or any other collective.  I write for you.  Yes, you! I don’t follow all the advice I link to, but I won’t withhold that information if I think it will speak to a reader.

You know the real reason why your generation is so great?  Because you’re in it.

That’s what matters.  Enjoy your generation.

And let me know where I can get that fake ID.

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