Home > Gen Y > In Defense of Generation Y

In Defense of Generation Y


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They say we hop jobs too often. We have no work ethic, expect too much, and want to be famous despite having no talent. We expect too many thank-you’s and pats-on-the-back, and we don’t take criticism well. Oh yeah, and we just don’t have enough respect for our elders.

At some point, hearing the same anti-millennial garbage over and over gets old.

Millennials get a bad rap. Look, I get it: Some of us are easy targets. Many people my age are poster-children for the Gen Y stereotype: They have helicopter parents, they received praise all of the time and thus expect a reward for everything they do, and they try to emulate Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Snooki .

Unfortunately for us, this is a case of a few very rotten apples spoiling the bunch. For every Snooki-obsessed Gen Y stereotype, there are a ton of entrepreneurial, hopeful, caring, and hard-working millennials that go unnoticed.

Things are going to change for the Boomer generation, and they’re slowly catching on to this fact. Naturally, they’re terrified, so they’re lashing out and trying to discredit us. There have already been some quality posts in defense of Gen Y, but I think it’s time to throw my hat in the ring. It’s time to stick up for my generation by explaining or attacking some of the common misconceptions the best I can.

Those darn kids want everything RIGHT NOW!

Yeah, we’re a generation of impatient, ADD-addled people. We want “instant” everything, and waiting on anything is annoying. We want and need everything to be instant: Communication, customer service, information, feedback…everything. It’s not natural for us to wait on these things.

We grew up with the internet and instant messaging, so we had a world of answers at our fingertips and indirect contact to every single one of our friends at all hours.  We grew up with mobile phones and text messaging (or at least came of age when they became popular), so we always have had instant access to our friends, family, and customer service, wherever we are. Our life is instant. The older generations are used to waiting for everything, but we aren’t. This is something the older generations are going to have to learn to deal with, because we are in a culture of “instant.”

Those darn kids are unrealistic and entitled

One of the often-used words to describe Gen Y is “entitled.” They say we believe we’re entitled to unrealistically big salaries. And you know what, they’re right. We DO feel like we deserve all of that. But who can blame us? We’re the ones who are paying an incredible amount of money to go to college, yet many of us still haven’t landed a job after graduation. We need a nice job with a big salary because the previous generation made student loans a HUGE hurdle in our twenty-something lives.

We believe in our own abilities to an “unrealistic” level (yes, it’s overconfident, but at least we actually believe in ourselves) because we’re the “good job for trying!” generation that “earned” a trophy for being in last place, just because we participated. There’s a quote attributed to Alex Bogusky, and it goes something like this:

“Being nice about someone’s mediocrity is the worst kind of mean”

We’re a generation that has been constantly rewarded for mediocrity, so of course we’ll feel entitled to unrealistic jobs, salaries, and lives.

Just remember: We’re praise-hungry, entitled monsters because you made us this way.

Those darn kids don’t know how to work

Yeah, we don’t want to work 9-to-5 desk jobs in traditional offices. Get over it, because that’s not going to be the norm in 10 or 15 years.

Who wants a desk job? We’ve seen how miserable our parents could get because of their crappy, thankless desk job. Of course we’re going to fight against having that, and we’re going to do anything we can to avoid it. For us, it IS avoidable….we’re the generation of dorm-room entrepreneurs. We have laptops, the internet, and smartphones; “work” isn’t bound by location or time.

Those darn kids whine on social media

Hell yeah we whine on social media. It works; smart brands understand our influence and want to make us happy (ALL brands should want to make their customers happy). We found a way to be heard, so we’ll send out our grievances in 140 characters or less and hope it reaches someone important.

We found a way to create communities that aren’t bound by geography. We found a way to band together and take the power back from the massive institutions that we can no longer trust. So yes, we’re going to keep writing tweets & blog posts to get your attention, and we will broadcast our negative experiences and expect them to be rectified (instantly, of course).

Those darn kids are…just like us?

There are a lot of things that separate our generation from the Boomers or Gen X. We’re very different because we grew up in different time periods, with different cultural norms and different situations. But, remember this: Just like your generation and the next generation after us will, our generation wants to laugh, love, and live. The definitions of what these things mean may be different, but we’re still driven by the same desires. Of course I’m going to complain about the next generation, and I hope the next generation feels free to challenge their elders like we do.

But for now, shut up and give us some respect for once, will ya?

What do you think about Gen Y?

  1. October 11, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I agree with Bogusky.

    • October 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

      I do too, and it took me a while to figure that out. I’m from the Midwest, and what people call “Minnesota Nice” is real, but I now see it as passive-aggressiveness. People are too afraid to be too critical, and it gets in the way of real improvement. I think constructive criticism is necessary to beat that mediocrity out of our work, and in the end we’re going to learn the most from people who are willing to critique.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. October 12, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Hi Tom,

    Some great points here. I have just a few things to add.

    1. We are impatient and want instant everything because we have options, much more options that the previous generations. If the customer service at Niketown is bad, I can go to the Adidas or Puma store or even better at 3 a.m. in my pjs I can customize and order a pair of Munich sneakers. Why would we wait for anything if we could get it instantaneously somewhere else.

    2. We whine on social media, but the previous generations whined and still whine. It is nothing new, the only difference is that now brands can hear what we say which is a great benefit and an opportunity since they can use it to connect with us, to improve their customer service, to improve their products and even to create new products.

    It is really sad that a few rotten apples give a bad name to an entire generation 😦

    • October 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

      Definitely agree, Addy.

      With so many options and ways to get what we want, waiting just doesn’t make any sense. Also agree with point #2…whining about brands always has and always will exist, our whining is just more visible due to social media. That’s a good thing, though, because brands can always listen in and try to improve their products and customer service.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. October 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I agree Tom, I’m exhausted from trying to fight every negative stereotype that gets thrown around about us! The articles I read are so one-sided it makes me cringe. I really think the media that targets us is just looking for a controversial story, because there’s no way they can back up their claims with facts. How do you prove that an entire generation is “entitled”? You can’t, and it’s not fair for them to try. Anyways, thanks for the great post!

    • October 12, 2010 at 6:48 pm

      Hey Adrienne,

      Yeah, a lot of the articles seem to be written to grab pageviews and create a lot of buzz. Our generation is an easy target, and it’s really easy to pick out the bad apples and make broad generalizations based on those people. We’re shaking things up in almost every area of their lives, and I think it’s only natural to try to resist that change. Luckily, there are plenty of places where we can voice our own opinion and make a better case for our generation. Thanks for commenting!

  4. October 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Attacking an entire generation for any purpose other than stirring controversy/provoking people is a completely pointless. Could either of us easily write a post detailing Gen Xers as a collection of depressed, unassimilated, debbie downers (to get scientific about it)? Yes, of course.

    But it would be a waste of time.

    To attack an entire generation based on their behaviors/tendencies/psychographics is like getting mad at the ground for your fall. Let’s not confuse the cause with the effect. If someone doesn’t like Millennials, it would be more fitting to criticize Baby Boomers, the ones responsible for our upbringing. But then, the chicken/egg argument stretches back to their parents, and their parents’ parents, and….well you get the idea. Upbringing is out of the agents control. There’s no need for assault or apology.

    It’s perfectly fair to generalize and notice differences, but to attack, is simply short sighted. Gen Y’ers are different, for all of the reasons you mentioned above, and then some. We like to collaborate, something Gen Xers see in a negative light. It’s also why Barack Obama’s diplomatic campaign stances appealed so widely to our generation. We’ve seen first hand what the long term effects of declaring haphazard wars are (i.e. terrorists).

    For every negative quality someone outside of our generation sees in us, one can just as easily perceive it to be positive. Because it’s foreign to their way of thinking, naturally it seems wrong.

    To those who see Millennials as talentless, notoriety seeking, lazy, softies, I say,
    “You’re wrong, but good job trying!”

    • October 12, 2010 at 7:00 pm


      Bingo. Not much to add to your comment. I especially like the second-to-last paragraph. For every person that says we lack focus, I see a person who is able to run a company on his or her own. They see “entitled,” I see someone who is more aware of their own self-worth (whether or not it’s accurate, I’m not sure).

      It’s all about spinning the traits into positive characteristics and working with us. The smartest Boomers/Gen X-ers will learn to hone whatever traits we have into positive traits at work. The ones who can’t adapt will likely not succeed. Thanks for commenting!

  5. October 12, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    I have to agree whole-heartedly to everything you posted. I actually posted on this too, a couple weeks ago — and I’m going to link yours in that blog post.

    This was definitely a “Julia Sugarbaker” moment.

    • October 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

      Hey Jillian,

      Thanks a lot! I’ll have to check your post out.

  1. October 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm
  2. October 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

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