Gen Y: Me, Myself & I?


Lazy. Entitled. Narcissistic.

This is how Gen Y is often described – it is frustrating, true on a case-by-case basis, and probably why Gen Y is not fully understood.

Those who belong to Gen Y (myself included) were born between 1980-2000. We are the tech-savvy generation relying on instant communication via smartphones. Text and email are often preferred over regular phone conversation – at least among peers. Gen Y is all over social media. If you’re not constantly updating your status on Facebook or Twitter, sharing photos on Instagram, checking into FourSquare, or pinning away on Pinterest, you’re missing out on life. Right?

On the other side, Gen Y values might contradict those of the older generation. Gen Y is perceived as narcissistic in our pursuits to stay relevant. After all, Gen Y members post pictures every few minutes, and seem overly obsessed with themselves.

TimeWhen I saw the cover of the latest Time Magazine, I was curious and simultaneously skeptical to read the commentary. I’m pleased to say it was one of the most well-balanced articles on Gen Y I’ve read.

Gen Y Negatives

As Time Magazine’s Joel Stein suggests in his article, data supports that Gen Y can be narcissistic, feel entitled, and easily dubbed as lazy.

  1. Narcissistic personality disorder occurs more often for Gen Y than those 65+ (the National Institutes of Health show.)
  2. A 2012 Clark University poll of Emerging Adults found that more Gen Y members live with their parents than a spouse. Lets put that into perspective: When the Great Recession hit, Gen Y admittedly suffered especially. Compromising 80 million people, Gen Y suffered through unemployment and underemployment. The reaction? Many joined the Occupy Wall Street movement to rally for economic improvement.
  3. Stein points to a 1992 report by the Families and Work Institute revealing “80% of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility.” However, older generations helped shape some of Gen Y’s entitlement by sending messages that they’re always “great” and doing a “great job.” Positive reinforcement is never bad but Stein says, “All that self-esteem leads them to be disappointed when the world refuses to affirm how great they are.”

What makes Gen Y great?

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Gen Y has no fear. Gen Y innovates, tries new things, and casts a wide net. Gen Y’s social media presence establishes a shared bond. Gen Y members empower each other and are heavily influenced by peer success. As Stein notes, “millennial’ perceived entitlement isn’t a result of overprotection but an adaptation to a world of abundance.” Millennials have choices, and there is time to embrace these choices.

One of my favorite details Stein discussed are the cultural similarities in Gen Y. He says, “Each country’s millennials are different, but because of globalization, social media, the exporting of Western culture and the speed of change, millennials worldwide are more similar to one another than to older generations within their nations.” Readers, how do you perceive Gen Y?

Add to that how the “Internet has democratized opportunity for many young people” and suddenly unreachable dreams seem within grasp, he says. Gen Y shares similar levels of optimism, excitement and hope.

I leave you with Stein’s closing remarks:

“…a generation’s greatness isn’t determined by data; it’s determined by how they react to the challenges that befall them. Whether you think millennials are the new greatest generation of optimistic entrepreneurs or a group of 80 million people about to implode in a dwarf star of tears their expectations are unmet depends largely on how you view change. Me, I choose to believe in children,” Joel Stein.

Thank you, Stein, for your confidence and real take on Gen Y.

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