Talkin' bout my generation

I attended a seminary thing this week about Generation Y, run by Peter Sheehan.

For those who aren’t sure, Gen Y is kids born between 1979 and 1994. So I am one. It was a foregone conclusion that I was going to love the seminary thing, because if there’s one thing we Gen Y’s love hearing about – it’s ourselves. (as an only child, I have a bit of a double whammy when it comes to the all-about-me thing).

So, this, in no particular order, is what I learnt about my generation:

-we stay at home longer, because we like our parents. We have very compatible values, often watch the same TV shows and listen to the same music. Our parents brought us up with a friendship model, as opposed to an authoritarian one.

-we are the first truly global generation – a Y living in Melbourne will be much the same as a Y living in Tokyo or Boston.

-we thrive on being connected.

-we laugh in the face of the ‘career path’ and promotion system. Instead of starting at the bottom and slowly working our way up, we start at an entry level job, and then leave for another job that is a bit better, zig-zagging our way to the top. It’s estimated that Gen X change jobs 8-9 times in their lives. Gen Y are predicted to change jobs 20-30 times, over 10 different industries, 5 of which don’t exist yet.

-we are early adopters, and we love change. An example:

The amount of time that it takes for a new technology to reach a critical mass of 50 000 users:
radio: 34 years television: 13 years internet: 4 years instant messaging: 4 months

-we are mature, resilient, fast learners, practical, manipulative, self-centred, politically apathetic, optimistic, largely oblivious to advertising, friends with our parents, easily bored, materialistic, concerned about the environment/social issues.


Someone at the seminar protested that kids today are the same as kids fifty years ago. Peter asked everyone what video games they used to play. This is what we found:

Baby boomers:
Pinball.
Object of game: Stop ball from falling in hole.

Gen X:
Frogger.
Object of game: Help frog cross road without getting squished.

Gen Y:
Everquest.
Object of game: to join together with other players (there are about 500 000 of them, 50 000 of which are playing right now) to kill monsters for experience and money, as well as explore the enormous world, socialise, join guilds and duel. Everquest money/experience/items are sold online for real world money, which makes Everquest the 17th richest economy in the world, with a per-capita GDP higher than China or India.

Yeah. Sure kids haven’t changed.