The Me, Me, Me Generation


This article was so instructive that I decided to type notes for myself to refer to. I thought that you might enjoy a quick overview of this new generation in our world. I have also included the web site to cut and paste if you want to read the whole article.

The Me Me Me Generation

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2143001,00.html

Time Magazine, May 20, 2013

1. The list of Generations:

  • Missionary Gen – 1860-82 The Civil War ended during their childhood, and they reached early adulthood with passion for social causes. They hit middle age with the passage of Prohibition; late in life, they were the architects of the New Deal
  • The Lost Gen – 1883-1900 This generation arrived during waves of immigration and rampant urban poverty. As young adults, they were doughboys and flappers of the Roaring ’20’s. Crunched by the Great Depression in midlife, they paid high taxes in their later years to help fund WW2.
  • The Greatest Gen – 1901-24 As children they gained access to education and the protection of child-labor laws. They came of age during the Depression and fought in WW2. Postwar, they built suburbs and highways, cured polio and gave birth to the baby boomers.
  • The Silent Gen – 1925-42 Children of the Depression, they have been referred to as the “the lucky few”, a generation smaller than the one before it and which suffered fewer causalities of war. Later, many of them moved into white collar jobs and led society toward the idea of early retirement.
  • The Baby Boomers – 1943-60  They were suburban children who came of age in the Summer of Love. In midlife, they became yuppies, who lost fortunes in the stock-market crash of 1987. Many have had their savings dented by the Great Recession and will postpone retirement.
  • Generation X – 1961-1980  Many were latchkey kids of working moms and divorced parents; they grew into young adults marked by a sense of ennui. Studies have shown that members of this generation may have reversed the historical trend of earning more in real dollars than their parents.
  • The Millennials 1980-2000  Also known as Generation Y, they came of age in the shadow of 9/11 and amid the rise of new media. First-wave Millennials are now in their early careers amid a slow global economic recovery, with high unemployment and concerns about future national debt.

2. Calls them entitled, lazy, selfish and shallow. Narcissistic. They were so catered to in MS and at home that they think they should be promoted every 2 years regardless of performance. And they point to all their participation trophies that they got growing up as proof.

3. The information age has empowered them to compete against huge organizations: hackers vs. corporations, bloggers vs. newspapers, terrorists vs. nation-states, You Tube directors vs. studio, app makers vs. entire industries. Millennials don’t need us. That scares us.

4. The average American kid walks around home with 85 (average) pictures of themselves, whereas we had 2 or 3.   They got this way partly because, in the 1970’s people wanted to improve kids’ chances of success by instilling self-esteem. It turns out that self-esteem is great for getting a job or hooking up at a bar but not so great for keeping a job or a relationship. They grow up being told that they are a rock star, or princess, and they have to live thru the unmet expectations when the world refuses to affirm how great they know they are.

5. Look at David McCullough’s graduation speech “You are not special.” On YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lfxYhtf8o4 – 2 million hits.

6. Though they are cocky about their place in the world, Millennials are also stunted. They receive and send 88 texts a day, and are therefore living under the constant influence of their friends. “Peer pressure is anti-intellectual. It is anti-historical. It is anti-eloquence.” To develop intelletually you’ve got to relate to older people, older things. They interact all day but always thru a screen.  70% of them check their phones every hour. They are deeply anxious that they might miss out on something better. FOMO

7. There is a constant search for a hit of dopamine (“Someone liked my status update!”) This reduces creativity. Tests of empathy have fallen over the last 13 years, likely due to lack of face to face time and to higher degrees of narcissism.

8. But they understand how to turn themselves into brands with friend and follower tallies that serve as sales figures. “People are inflating themselves like balloons on Facebook.” When everyone is telling you about their vacations, parties and promotions, you start to embellish your own life to keep up. They grew up watching reality TV shows, most of which are basically documentaries about narcissists.

9. The Me generation is more a continuation of a trend than a revolutionary break from previous generations. They are not a new species, but they have mutated to adapt to their environment.

10. Lot of what counts as typical millennial behavior is how rich kids have always behaved. The Internet has democratized opportunity for many young people, giving them access and information that once belonged mostly to the wealthy.

11. Because Millennials don’t respect authority, they also don’t resent  it. That’s why they’re the first teens who aren’t rebelling.  They’re not even sullen. A 2012 Google ad shows a college student video-chatting all the details of her life to her dad. Most students have their parents as friends, and share things with them on social media. It’s hard to hate your parents when they also listen to rap and watch Jon Stewart.

12. M. are able to use their leverage to negotiate much better contracts with the traditional institutions they do still join. An army recruiter says that the Me generation is the most impressive. The last generation was do, do, do. This generation is think, think about it before you do it. They are 3 steps ahead, coming in and saying I want to do this, then when I’m done with this, I want to do that.

13. M’s are nice. They are positive. They are more accepting of differences. Not just among gays, women and minorities, but in everyone. There is not the us vs. them thing, and maybe that’s why they don’t rebel.

14. Tom Brokaw loves M. He calls them  the Wary Generation, and thinks that their cautiousness in life decisions is a smart response to their world. They say: challenge convention. Find new and better ways of doing things. They are pragmatic idealists, tinkerers more than dreamers, life hackers. Their world is so flat that they have no leaders. They need constant approval. They post pictures from the dressing room as they try on clothes.

15. They are not going to church even though they believe in God, because they don’t identify with big institutions. One third of adults under 30 are unaffiliated. This is the highest percentage ever. Our future is in their hands, and they are absolutely great about being able to adapt and change. They are probably just what we need in this new world.

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4 thoughts on “The Me, Me, Me Generation

  1. Calvin says:

    Interested in knowing why you say this, “They are probably just what we need in this new world.” Thanks, Calvin

    • donstuber says:

      Well, in this world I think we need adaptive folks in leadership who won’t just act out of habit. We get bombed, let’s go to war for the next 20 years. It’s a complex world and we need folks to think outside the box. They seem to do this, and seem thoughtful and cautious. The world is going to get more volatile not less. Just the way they think about technology, and starting new stuff is the wave of the future. And I am an optimistic guy, who believes that Jesus has it all planned out. The M’s are who we’ve got, so it must be God’s plan. 🙂

  2. lesliemtg says:

    Don,
    Good thoughts and summary. You’ll have to read Elizabeth Drescher’s upcoming book called “The Nones” (regarding those who are unaffiliated and choose “none” as a religious option on FB and other social networks), though I don’t think it releases until late this fall. She was a guest lecturer at Princeton while I was there- very fascinating results from surveys, interviews, and in depth research. She’s a prof at Santa Clara. – Leslie

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