Home > Uncategorized > Blog 11: Talkin’ about my generation

Blog 11: Talkin’ about my generation

“Millennials…it’s called the “me” generation and known by its egos, superficiality, sensuality, materialism, entitlement, instant gratification, selfishness, poor work ethic, and a general lack of responsibility. Generation Y has been bombarded by violence, sex and too much information—mostly bad—being shoved down their throats by the media and our culture. As a result, Generation Y is the generation of school shootings; you can’t even go to school anymore without fear of being shot. This generation knows more about the Simpsons than they do about our founding fathers. Generation Y also looks to miscreants like Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton as role models rather than Martin Luther King. It pays more attention to what’s going on in Hollywood than what’s going in the world around them. Generation Y has given us the cell phone, IPOD, the iPhone, the internet, text massaging [sic], PDAs, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Game Cube, American Idol, TIVO, Starbucks, MySpace and E-Bay.” – Urban Dictionary.com

Stereotypes, we all have them.  Plain and simple – you see or hear something about another person/thing and a natural inference is to jump to conclusions (whether right or wrong).  The millennial generation is an easy target for stereotypes when it comes to civic interaction.  I’d like to argue that while stereotypes must come from somewhere, the generalization of my generation is wrong.  We aren’t all more focused on the “Simpsons than our founding fathers;”  we don’t all look up to Britney Spears; in fact, compared to our previous generations, we are socially and politically more active than ever before.

I subscribe to the first paradigm of W. Lance Bennett in “Changing Citizenship in the Digital Age” – emphasizing the “empowerment of youth as expressive individuals and symbolically frees young people to make their own creative choices.”

Compared to our parents’ Baby Boomer generation, which emphasized individualism in the face of Vietnam and  the evolving breakup of a nuclear family, millennials have grown up and become adults in a post-2000 atmosphere that emphasizes the need for community in times of national crisis  (9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008).  We interact socially online on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Youtube etc.  and we are constantly connected – building teamwork and trust amongst each other.  There isn’t a distrust of an institution that we see in the 1970s – full of protests and angst. 

More millennials see the importance of political engagement than our Generation X and Baby Boomer predecessors: Sixty percent of today’s youth say that political engagement is an effective way of solving important
issues facing their community, and 73 percent say voting for President can bring about significant change, according to the New America Foundation.  This optimism is crucial to reengaging with politics.

Most Millennials believe that the government can be a force for good in the economy. Millennials agree 45 percent to 32 percent that government shouldensure everyone has a good job and standard of living, rather than letting each person get ahead on his or her own.

Millennials want to interact; they want to be involved; they want to communicate.  Yes, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of venues for communication, but “if you make it . . . SOMEONE will come.”

We aren’t the “Silent Generation” like our grandparents were.  Instead of changing the system post-Depression, they worked with it. Historian William Manchester later wrote: “[N]ever had American youth been so withdrawn, cautious,
unimaginative, indifferent, unadventurous—and silent….They waited so patiently for everything that visitors to college
campuses began commenting on their docility.”

I’d like to argue with the “Rock the Vote” campaign in 2004 and Obama’s Hope campaign in 2008, we can see civic millennials.  Politicians know they have to engage our generation – we’ll make up 40% of the U.S. by 2048.  We are crucial to success and by empowering us to feel as if our voice is heard – over social networking or whatever else – we will engage.  We like to feel important.  Okay, maybe we like to be the “me generation,” but rather than GIVE me, I argue politicians to ENGAGE me.  Millennials want to make a difference and engage, however we can.

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