Talkin’ Bout Y Generation

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Images

Generation Y is sick, yo! We’re 70 million Americans strong, born between 1981 and 1992, and always have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ back:

Ahhh Generation Y! Our best days start (and end) with Fruity Pebbles. Two 25 year old guys—LeBron “King” James and Mark “Thief” Zuckerberg—are the co-valedictorians of our class. We’re allergic to voicemail, addicted to texting, and checked Facebook twice in the time it took to read this sentence. And studios, if your action flicks don’t have at least three explosions, you’ll be lucky to get an illegal download from us guys. If that.

*****

We were first dubbed “Generation Y” in a 1993 editorial to distinguish us from Generation X (born between 1972 and 1980). It’s only fitting the piece ran in an “Ad Age” publication, because we are the most marketed-to-and-researched generation of all time. The problem is “Generation Y” is a dreadful name: a) it’s not original, b) it’s not clever, and c) it’s dead wrong.

You see, we are nothing like our Generation X brethren. Generation X grew up on MTV and is a little darker. And can you really blame them? Their childhood coincided with their parents’ 1970s Me Decade hedonism. Their best video game was Atari (1977).

No, Generation Y admires its grandparents the most, a.k.a. The Greatest Generation. It’s not hard to see why. Our grandparents were born into the Roaring 1920s. They languished through the Great Depression before years of war overseas battling Jew-hating madmen. Sound vaguely familiar?

But there are two glaring differences:

1) Our grandparents were more hardcore. When my grandfather was my age, he survived a kamikaze attack in the South Pacific and spent three days on a lifeboat alone with a gashing neck. (I go to the gym Thursdays. Sometimes…)

Ornery critics sneer that us Generation Y’ers are soft. That we were pampered too much as kids. We’ve been called the “Trophy Kids” because we were raised hearing “no one loses”. The Clint Eastwoods of the world have a point. When I was six years, I went an entire soccer season without even touching the ball in a game—even though I was starting midfielder. Yet I still won a trophy for “Team Spirit”. At youth swim meets, the winner got the blue ribbon, but even the fat kid who finished two minutes later got a maroon-colored ribbon just for finishing. (Trust me, I’ve got at least three collecting dust in an attic somewhere thanks to the 25 meter butterfly.)

I can tell my Dad worries that we take HBO’s “Entourage” too seriously. That we think fame and money will just happen. The reality is we don’t look like Vince (even though we’re already better actors), and we are facing years of hard work and “learning the craft”.

2) We got the sweetest toys ever. Our grandparents’ blockbuster new game growing up was … Monopoly (1935). Meanwhile, Generation Y has enjoyed the fruits and Apple of the exponential part of the technology curve. We’ve gone from blowing on “Super Mario 2” Nintendo cartridges to make them to work, to “The Sims”, to “Avatar” in 15 years.

However, this is not to say we were spared by the retail-ideas-so-dumb-they-are-brilliant department. Our aunts and uncles had the Pet Rock. We have the Snuggie:

The Snuggie Generation

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  1. alec says:

    I lost my virginity when I was 12, and I was a late bloomer.

  2. kjr2110 says:

    This is fantastic. I stumbled upon this blog via some old “depressed pug” pictures a friend sent me, and after browsing I have to say, well done. About this post specifically, I think you’re spot on with most points– “everybody wins”, how important the internet is for our generation and that we’ll never fully appreciate how since we know nothing else (and btw, I think it has a lot to do with our apathy, everything is so global and accessible that we feel we don’t need to deal with much because we can always get away from it…can always go teach English somewhere). I’d like to hear more about unpaid interns conquering the world– because they’re doing work that should be paid for, and done by older people? I definitely think it has irrevocably changed our generation’s attitude toward work, careers, and success. Anyway, great job! Thanks especially for the link to the MRS degree video, my friends from school (CC ’08) are going to get a kick out of it.

  3. mathew says:

    you are great, greets from austria!

  4. Jay says:

    You might want to read up on Vietnam and the connection to Kent State and Nixon. Please don’t compare them to Columbine and the WMDs in Iraq.

    Nixon resigned in disgrace largely because of a public outcry (absent with Bush) that had roots in the Vietnam war. As with WWII, the war media you consume is largely controlled. Ours was not. We heard the daily body counts on the news. We knew what war was really about. Death and destruction for both sides. It’s not a game.

    The mass murder at Columbine, while horrible, was committed by children against children, not military representatives of the Ohio state government against adult civilians exercising free speech against the Vietnam war. The students at Kent State were part of a genuine grass roots movement, unlike the astro-turfed teabaggers of today.

    Some of the “greatest” generation were all too willing to let their sons die by being drafted into a needless and illegal war. Except for the draft part, perhaps some of you do have some commonalities with your grandparents.

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