Technically, I’m a generational hybrid between Gen X and Gen Y. I recall Grunge, though I was too young to really be a part of the scene (though I did cry when Kurt Cobain died). And I was also young during the advent of the internet, though I can’t say I was a digital native. So I think I can comfortably speak for both generations. And, in my humble opinion, these two generations will do a much better job at the helm than our parents. Here is why:
We know the world is in a precarious state: The cost of gas just went through the roof here in Canada and it’s a struggle for many to fill up their vehicles. The gas, product of the middle-east, fuels wars and feeds instability. We know this, and we know that, like a tumour, it is spreading and killing us. I’m not saying that the younger generations have real solutions to the epic problems that face humanity. In fact, I think there is a general malaise, a sense of helplessness and doom amongst many. But, I also think that the first step is understating of the problem. My hope is that, as the gen Y’s move in and Gen X’s move up, they will begin to use this knowledge to make real changes to the way the world works.
We get technology: It’s obvious and some say it’s overstated. I mean, does it really matter that I know how to send a tweet or keep a blog? Who cares if I know how to tether my computer and edit movies? It may seem trivial, but I think that these skills mean more than seem. The workplace of the future is in technology. You may be doing a traditional job, but the platform is all-new. A salesperson will not be communicating by phone and a teacher will not be standing at a blackboard. This is reality and the younger generations are many steps ahead of their parents.
We want more from life than work: The executives at my work are in their fifties and sixties. They get in at 7 am and often don’t leave until 8 pm. They fret about that company as if it were a child- it’s their priority and there is a sense that it’s the overarching purpose of their lives. Then there are colleagues my age and younger. We stay do stay late if a project needs to be done, and we check emails incessantly. But, I perceive a real difference in our approach. While we still do care, we also know that our employment is tenuous. We won’t get a pension and expect to be moving through or out of the company in the next few years. When work is done, we leave and take yoga, dance class or simply hang out. If someone asks me what I do on a daily basis, I am just as likely to say windsurf or read as I am manage Polar product. This is healthy and I think it will lead to a more motivated workforce that finds creative solutions and lives more fulfilling lives.
There are no more illusions: This is not meant to be esoteric or deep. What I mean is that the childhood with mom and dad and pie and swing sets is a phantom that was created for public consumption in the 50’s. I’m not even sure if that ever existed. But if it did, it’s gone. The world is more transparent now, and information- whatever kind you want, is there for all to see. Porn- I recall seeing every variety of gender doing incredible contortions with bizarre apparatus before I could even reach the gas pedal of the car. And I had been overseas before I could even navigate my home city. What does this mean? I think youth today are on the whole less naive. They have a better perspective on reality and it will lead to better decision making down the road.