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

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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  • Do you think it's the older generations' fault?

    Or have the Generation Y and iGeneration been misrepresented by the media, into something they're not? Does the media and our parents have too higher expectations, or can the Generation Y succeed after all?
    • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

      @zwhittaker What does "too higher" mean?
    • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault


      Why does it have to be the fault of the media, your parents or the older generations? From what I've personally seen of GenY-ers in the workplace, your generation seems to be quite capable of creating these perceptions yourself.

      Success is something earned, not handed to you on a platter. The media and your parents will not cause you to succeed or fail, it's up to you. Blaming them is a cop-out and very in line with what I've seen of your generation.

      PS Personal Responsibility. Look it up. Learn it. Use it. This is probably one of the best reasons, in my opinion, to require a minimum military service commitment of all youth. Try telling a drill sergeant that you feel cleaning the latrine is beneath you. Please. I'll bring the popcorn.
  • Other generations call them Geeks/Nerds

    "Out of this collective, the iGeneration refers to a smaller proportion of the Generation Y where by the users actively engage with technology"
    • Other generations call them Geeks/Nerds

      @iPad-awan Because so many people are involved in traditionally 'nerdy/ geeky' things, it's not enough to label them as that, you have to have a subset. Otherwise it just applies to a whole ton of people.
      • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

        @jetsethi<br><br>So, instead of labeling them as Geeks/Nerds, we label them the iGeneration (a wholly-owned subset of Generation Y)? All this does is sound pretentious...
      • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

        @jetsethi Tradition changes. I agree with eak2000, using the term "iGeneration" is an abuse of the generation-moniker system (loose though it is.)<br><br>Even though more people are engaging in "traditionally 'nerdy/geeky' things," most of that engagement seems to be done either out of necessity or because of a lower "barrier to entry" where traditionally geeky activities are concerned. The Internet is a good example of the former; video games and DIY culture are a good example of the latter.<br><br>Just call our geeks "geeks." They're still distinct and identifiable, at least to people of my generation. The term "iGeneration" is just silly. If it's to be used at all, it should be used to identify an actual generation, not a subset thereof.
  • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Except for the technology part, they said the very same thing about the boomers.
  • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

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

    In my experience, the most recent college graduates are unmotivated, lazy, and believe they are entitled to everything without working for it.

    What a hypocrite - an article claiming to bust myths and stereotypes and then resorts to them.
  • Your guess is as good as mine, Zac...

    I was more focused on the long legs! ;)
  • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

    That's something that has upset me for a while - there are no jobs on offer that are open to someone with no experience. In fact, 99% of job openings I see say things like "Must have had 4 years+ experience in being a receptionist". How the hell are young people supposed to GET experience when they can't get a job in the first place WITHOUT it?
    • How to get experience


      By realizing that requirements are flexible and applying anyway. If they can't find their dream candidate then they'll have to modify their dream.
    • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault


      1. Apply anyways, most employers are flexible if "the right candidate" comes along.

      2. Earn some experience!
      a) Most volunteer organizations would love a tech-savvy person to help them and that is experience. Unpaid, but stop being so materialistic.
      b) Internships work. You both gain experience and (often) get your foot in the door when you start looking for an actual job.
      c) Contract agencies. Yeah, the pay stinks and there's often no benefits, but the same can be said of flipping burgers or making coffee. At least this way your next job won't suck.

      3. And finally, accept that you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Sorry, but you are not a bright unique snowflake who should be handed an executive position right out of college.

      Oh, and STOP WHINING!
    • The rare red meat of reality

      eak2000 --

      Loving your posts so far. You're giving GenY, iGen (or whatever the @!#$ they want to be called) the reality sandwich they need. Sadly, most won't eat it because they're vegans, or some other damn whiny/preachy thing.
    • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

      @Imrhien Yeah, that bit sucks. Managed to dodge that bullet myself thanks to my moderate paranoia about getting out of school and not being able to find a job. Spent a lot of time as a student looking at the "help wanted" sections related to my field of interest and taught myself the most in-demand skills. Also took whatever internships and volunteer positions I could find. Came out of school with enough experience to land a job straight away.<br><br>I got lucky, though: born with the right genes and raised in the right environment. At least a few of my contemporaries didn't get a grip on things nearly as soon. I think some of that failure came from a very idealistic worldview in which pursuing one's passions is perceived as the golden ticket to success. This worldview is sold to youth from birth. Truly, if one wants real success, one must engage in realpolitik to at least some degree, passions be damned. The world doesn't care much about how one *feels* about doing a thing: it matters more how well you can do it.<br><br>It's not an ideal state of affairs: a person should at least be able to follow the track laid out in front of them by society and still do reasonably well. It is, however, the *current* state of affairs and therefore the one we have to deal with.<br><br>Another part of it, of course, came from the relatively bad luck of their birth. I had a lot of opportunities growing up, more than I knew what to do with at times. Not everyone has those. That's a failure on the part of our society. We should, as much as possible, resemble a meritocracy. Without adequate opportunities, even the particularly meritorious may not succeed. They will certainly have a harder time of it than if they *did* have those opportunities.<br><br>Oh, Generation Y: I remember articles in the print media talking about how we were going to revolutionize everything, fix the world's problems. I remember thinking those articles were far too high-flying, but I held hope that I would be proven wrong. Now they're calling us the Lost Generation. A bit obnoxious, that moniker, but perhaps a more accurate. At least we have our character-shaping crisis. It'll be interesting to see how we change.<br><br>[Edited 1:17PM PST]
  • I take exception to at least 1 of those.

    <b>Gen Y really are lazy.</b>

    Like it or not, Gen Y are lazy and are into instant gratification much more so than previous generations. I have found new engineers to be consistently unwilling to give an extra push to ship a product as well as a sense of entitlement. Gen Y'ers wonder why they are not instantly a project engineer within 6 months. Why do you have to work 10 years to get to that position?
    • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

      @Bruizer Too right. After all, it only took them 2 weeks to beat Call of Duty!
    • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault


      And then they blame their parents and the media...
  • And even if all of the stereotypes were true...

    ...none of them necessarily apply to individuals. People are as different from each other as they ever have been.
    John L. Ries
  • RE: Five stereotypes about the Generation Y debunked: It's all our parents' fault

    Well, I can only say what I have observed. Generation Y personalities I have had to interact with and lazy, know-it-alls. Like the time I have spent working with technology means nothing, compared to what they believe. Now this does not encompass all of them, just the arrogant little snots I have dealt with. The sad thing is, the air of entitlement is not only with Gen Y, but also the people living on the government dime. In my opinion those that are unwilling to work should not live in better places than those that pay their own way.