Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

Summary:In a bit to quell some of the urban myths about the Generation Y, find here some of the most common misconceptions -- debunked.

Stereotypes, arguably, seem to stem from somewhere, and probably from an over generalisation of a particular set of subjects.

But frankly, it's now reached a point where the stereotypes that generalise the Generation Y and the iGeneration intersection is becoming harmful; not only to the members thereof, but the potential employers who are being warned away from bringing on younger members of the workforce.

The media does not help. On the most part, the media oversimplifies the Generation Y. Often, as older members in society, it is the parents of the Generation Y who often look down at their own children, wrench out a few particular characteristics from the child they know best, and apply it to the remainder of the generation.

It's why as I approach my three year anniversary here; trying to unravel the tangled mess created by a multitude of broadsheets and media outlets, to offer a first-hand, ethnographic-like analysis of this vastly misunderstood generation.

So let's get some things straight.Somehow, this seems to be hard-wired into all modern parents, seeing their children attached to Facebook like it's a life support system. This over generalisation causes employers to expect a certain calibre of IT-literate younger staff, when it is not as simple as that.

The Generation Y are 'all into technology'.

The terms 'Generation Y' and 'iGeneration' are not synonymous, though do relate to each other. Out of this collective, the iGeneration refers to a smaller proportion of the Generation Y where by the users actively engage with technology in its development, progression, and its use in the workplace.

The iGeneration is all about communication and its varied manifestations; speech seems no longer important in a world where emails can be sent at the touch of a button and status updates can publish mood, feeling and current status.

The iGeneration sets precedents for the uses of technology, but does not mean to say that the entire younger generation are into technology as a wider concept; gadgets, products and consumer technologies more so than concepts and developments in the field of IT.Again, a sweeping statement made by many. Many stereotype students as 'an entire demographic that sleep all day and party all night'. I swear, hand to heart, that only a fraction out of every hundred students will be like this, and they will fail miserably at their course, and ask 'mummy with the pony' and 'daddy with the Range Rover' to bail them out, because frankly they couldn't be arsed.

The Generation Y are 'lazy'.

Students work hard; extremely hard. They have to in order to keep up. If there are signs of one slipping, the academic departments are all over it like a moth to a flame.

The Generation Y are differently motivated. It's not an excuse; more of a reason, unlike those who say they are 'vertically challenged' when they are just short -- there's no reason to label everything as a consequence. Younger people are motivated by passion and wanting to achieve something; attaining high standards and of course, social status.

Older people are mostly motivated by money, in my experience.

Lacking experience and constantly needing praise? Yeah, right »

The Generation Y will 'revolutionise the workplace'.

We'll change the workplace as much as the managers allow us to. Though Generation Y employees disproportionately outnumber Generation X managers, the workplace doesn't work like a monarchy.

There is no automatic, hereditary ascension. Succession, yes, but ascension, no.

Just because the majority of us have been brought up on the latest technologies, does not automatically mean that this perceived demographic of throne-takers will oust an entire generation of people who have been 'doing it wrong' all this time.

Again, this is another preconceived idea of our generational parents, who have such high hopes that we will change the game of play in the industries we enter into, but on the most part we will have to conform just as the existing workforce has to.

To be honest, whoever did exactly what their parents wanted of them in life, anyway? I'm going to run away and join the circus, anyway. Who doesn't? It's always nice to receive, and don't get me wrong -- it's a major motivator even to my work. A smiley face from time to time from the boss gets me through the working week. There's no difference between the generations here. Motivation through praise is one of the basic management strategies on the cards.

The Generation Y 'constantly need praise and positive reinforcement'

It's not as though the typical Generation Y employee will emotionally crumble in the office, throw a potted plant across the room, and wail and weep in a panicked rage through the lack of positive reinforcement. Get a grip.

I am dead against this, and cannot even begin to express how passionately I defend this on a daily basis, to the naysayers who constantly berate the younger generation for 'lacking experience'. It's unrelenting tosh.

The Generation Y 'lack knowledge and experience'

Social relationships have become increasingly under greater surveillance with the role that social networking has undertaken. Friendships, therefore, can be made and broken far easier nowadays, with the interpretation and misunderstandings seen on social networks -- to the point where I would argue the Generation Y have become innately paranoid to a degree.

Along with the social pressures of mass media that society is forcing down the throats of all young people -- questionably the Generation Z even more than their older brothers and sisters, the Generation Y, are open to greater societal abuse -- it means that the younger generations have grown up far quicker than previous ages.

With this, childhood becomes more condensed, and the friendships become less tenable and increasingly fragile, social relationships come and go and thus experience from one's mistakes build up far quicker over time than previously known.

Employment wise, it is the older generations' fault for not providing relevant entry positions or opportunities to their generational offspring. Employers ask for experience, but how is one expected to gain experience when it is simply not on offer?

It's these contradictions which, if anything, define the Generation X more than anyone else.

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Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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