General Question

gkimball's avatar

What's your observation of young people today? Gen We or Me?

Asked by gkimball (35 points ) July 6th, 2012

Some authors say the Millennial Generation is selfish, celebrity-obsessed, addicted to their texting, spoiled by their helicopter parents. Others say youth are aware of global issues, altruistic, egalitarian. What’s your observation? I’d especially like to hear from young people and their teachers. I’m writing a book about global youth and have 12 questions if you know people 19 and other who would like to be heard. Thanks.

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26 Answers

blueiiznh's avatar

I don’t generalize especially in a generationaly sense. I judge people straight up as they are, stand alone
Sorry, but IMHO it would be a disservice to judge and bias in that regard.
just sayin

Coloma's avatar

My daughter and her boyfriend are both 24 and they are bright, articulate, knowledge seeking types and have strong values and preferences. I’m with @blueiiznh , no way to generalize and really, there is no new news under the sun. EVERY generation is about individuals much more so than trends. Those that adopt certain trends are still individuals within the trends of their generation.

augustlan's avatar

Judging solely by my own teenage children and their friends, I’d say they’re more aware of social issues and more compassionate than my friends and I were at their ages. I’ll send your question to them, too. They’ll have better insight on young people as a whole.

janelle's avatar

I’m currently in college and surrounded by many other youths, sad to say that the majority of what i’ve seen is the opposite of what the first two commenters stated. I mingle with different groups and converse with most of the people in my classes and it’s hard to find someone that’s truly intelligent, has an appreciation for the arts, etc. Most of them won’t even know how to survive in the “real world.” We’re raised with the skills to pass classes and to get good grades on tests, not much more.

bolwerk's avatar

Who is depriving whom of access to jobs and education? To say the least, boomers and gen X set the tone in public policy when taxes get slashed to the bone and huge debts get run up to pay for older people’s pensions and roads. (The under 30 crowd has trouble even affording to use cars anymore.) Naturally, this debt is for the younger generation to pay for – while jobs get shipped to China as older retirees decamp to Florida and milliennials have to run up huge personal debts to get a degree after years of remunerated effort.

If the millennial generation is selfish, it’s only because they learned from the “best.”

rooeytoo's avatar

Judging from what I read in the paper and what I see when I walk down the street, there are a lot of wankers and whiners.

I have also come in contact with good kids who will become the pillars of the community.

A lot has to do with how they are raised. If their parents are whiners and wankers, chances are they will be also.

Aethelflaed's avatar

They seem awesome.

Most of the people I know are either specifically doing something to better the world (like becoming a therapist to help mild to moderately abused kids, becoming a sexuality educator to help destigmatize queers and empower youth, international relations and politics, becoming a special ed teacher, becoming an environmentalist, etc) or are constantly finding ways to turn the thing they love into something that also helps the world (the woman whose an engineer for a comic books company who’s always pushing for better representation of women and minorities, the public school employee who helps out all the refugee kids, the woman high school biology teacher who will answer any of the kids questions about their changing bodies without making it awkward or a big deal, etc). Almost everyone volunteers and/or is involved in some form of activism. (Though, I mean, sometimes their politics are obviously wrong.) Most of the 18–19 year olds are… if not really aware of political issues, interested in changing that.

The addicted to texting thing bugs me. Partially because there’s no reason to privilege talking on the phone as better for everyone just because you were raised with it (::cough cough:: Sherry Turkle ::cough cough::), but also because it’s always assumed that texting involves talking about trivial and insipid matters. Texting is such a great way to let everyone know “hey, local congressperson A just backed horrific bill. Tweet them your disapproval at their handle now, and if you have time later, call them.” Or, “if you need free/cheap housing/medical care/food/etc, here’s some resources”. For all the ragging on texting and social media, Boomers have not really figured out that social justice has found texting and social media to be an integral part of mobilization and organization.

Coloma's avatar

@Aethelflaed Maybe, but us boomers were the original pistons in the engine of change. Those of us that came of age in the 60’s & 70’s WERE the generations that pushed for civil rights, sexual equality, environmental awareness.
Texting and tweeting are extra vehicles for communicating and networking but just like writing, one does not have to have a computer and word processor to bang out the good stuff. The pen is still mightier than the sword however it shows up. :-)

ShanEnri's avatar

In my opinion they are no better and no worse than any other generation!

Fly's avatar

Can a person not be both globally aware and an avid texter? These generalized categories can and do overlap with about 90% of the Generation X population. That is not to say that there aren’t extremes, of course (i.e. Jersey Shore).

You can tell a generation based on its technologies, lifestyles, clothing, music, etc., but it’s really not possible to characterize an entire generation of people by personality traits like selfishness or altruism, and I have never understood why people insist on doing this; it’s really as ridiculous a generalizations such as “all Asians are bad drivers” and “people who care about school and grades are complete nerds with no lives.”

For the record, I’m 18 and a part of Generation X.

Coloma's avatar

Generations don’t matter, every era makes their contributions and every generation thinks their generation is special. The young can learn form the old and the old can learn from the young, and so, the circle of life continues. :-)

gkimball's avatar

Here are the global youth book questions to forward to youth 19 and younger, where ever. Thank you!

Greetings from California. I’m writing a book that gives you and other young people around the world an opportunity to say what’s on your mind. This is your chance to be heard. Many of you have wonderful suggestions for how to make our world a better to live in, so I’m asking people age 19 and under to respond to 10 questions. I have translations in other language.
See www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Global-Youth-SpeakOut/160382763986923 for photos.
(I’ve written other peer-based books for youth, including The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide and How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce: Kids’ Advice to Kids.) Please also forward to kids and their teachers so they can be part of the global youth book.
Thanks, Gayle Kimball, Ph.D. gkimball@csuchico.edu

1. If you could ask a question of the wisest person in the world,
what would you ask her or him about life?
2. What bothers you in your daily life? What practice best helps you stay calm?
3. If there was one thing you could change about adults, what
would it be?
4. What would you like to change about yourself?
5. What do you like to do for fun?
6. When have you felt most loved by someone else?
7. Why do you think you’re here on earth; what’s your purpose? How are you influenced by global media (TV, Internet, advertisements, etc?)
8. On a scale of 1 to 100, how highly would you grade your
school? Why?
9. What work would you like to do when you’re an adult?
10. If you were the leader of your country, what changes would you make?
11. Imagine you get to write on a T-shirt going on a trip around the world. What do you want your T-mail to say to people?

What questions are missing that you’d like to answer? Your email. . . . . . .
What first name would you like used in the book to quote you?
How old are you?
Girl or boy?
What city and country do you live in?
Gracias! Merci! Danke! Arrigato! Chi chi!

> > > > >Previous Books:
> > > > > Essential Energy Tools book and 3 videos.
> > > > > 21st Century Families: Blueprints for Family-Friendly Workplaces,
Schools and Governments. (Equality Press)
> > > > > How to Create Your Ideal Workplace (Equality Press)
> > > > > The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide (Equality Press)
> > > > > 50/50 Parenting (Lexington Books)
> > > > > 50/50 Marriage (Beacon Press)
> > > > > ed. Everything You Need to Know to Succeed After College (Equality
Press)
> > > > > How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce (Equality Press)
> > > > > ed. Women’s Culture (Scarecrow Press)
➢ > > > > Ed. Women’s Culture Revisited. (Scarecrow Press, 2005)

Bellatrix's avatar

Just like any other generation some are self-absorbed and think it is all about them and others are totally engaged with their community and the world they live in. The majority fall somewhere in between.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Coloma…......... “us boomers were the original pistons in the engine of change”. For real? What kids today do doesn’t count, because they weren’t here first? Check it out: neither were the Boomers. The leaders of women’s lib, civil rights, environmentalism in the 60s and 70s were, by and large, not the young kids, they were Greatest Generationers. MLK was born in 1929. Malcolm X was born in 1925. Audre Lorde was born in 1934. Betty Friedan was born in 1921. Gloria Steinem was born in 1934. Caesar Chavez was born in 1927. Rosa Parks was born in 1913. Shirley Chisholm was born in 1924. And the concept of civil rights, of women’s rights, of protecting the environment, was not somehow a new concept in the 60s and 70s. Margaret Sanger? Christine de Pizan? Frederick Douglass? W. E. B. Du Bois? Harriet Tubman? Susan B. Anthony? Sojourner Truth? Olympe de Gouges? Mary Wollstonecraft? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Emma Goldman? And that’s just looking at civil rights in the post-Enlightenment Western world, save for Pizan.

For the “original pistons in the engine of change”, sure seems like those movements got a crazy ton of criticism for being racist, sexist, homophobic and heteronormative, transphobic, neo-colonialist, heteronormative, classist, and otherwise oppressive, often to the point of being so alienating to young people today as to have rendered themselves irrelevant to many. And maybe a woman who’s been called out several times for her privilege-denying routine should not be including herself in that group of change-starting Boomers.

laineybug's avatar

A while back my government teacher said that the social issue of our generation is gay rights. I completely agree with that, as do many other teens who are very much aware of this issue and have already started trying to help deal with it. We may be privileged, but we still care about other people. Most of us do anyway. My middle school and high school have had a fundraiser for every big natural disaster that happened during the school year. I may text with people a lot, but it’s generally to help work out problems in their life or mine. And frankly I don’t really care what the celebrities are doing, unless it’s to help people out.

gkimball's avatar

Dear Laineybug, I hope you’ll answer the book questions above, thanks, Gayle

laineybug's avatar

If I could ask one question about life of the wisest person I would ask them how I could help people believe in themselves. So many people I know don’t believe in themselves at all, and I wish they could see that they truly are good people. What bothers me in daily life? How close minded everyone is. It really isn’t very fun being around people that refuse to see anyone else’s point. To stay calm I take big breaths. It really does help. If I could change one thing about adults it would be how many don’t listen to the ideas of the younger generation. Many young people have great ideas, but people don’t listen to them. One thing that I would like to change about myself is how critical I am of everything. It’s not very nice to see a stranger and automatically think “that person is not attractive.”. I like to read, listen to music, and hang out with my friends for fun. I also actually find sewing pretty fun too. I felt most loved by someone else when my mom texted me out of the blue just to say that she loves me, when she doesn’t have a texting plan so that text cost her money. I don’t really know what my purpose is. I’m not sure if I even have a purpose. But if I do, I’m sure I’ll find it by the time I’m gone. I am only fourteen after all. I’m influenced by global media by seeing people supporting things they care about, and that’s what I want to do. I want to stand up for what I believe in. I would rate my school as a 5. The place is pretty old, and so are some of the textbooks. The computers can be unreliable at times, but the teachers are some of the greatest people I know. They incorporate fun in the learning so we can enjoy it and some have an open door policy. You can come in any time after school that they’re there and talk about anything that might be troubling you. When I’m an adult I would like to be a therapist for teens. I know many people that have anxiety problems, self esteem issues, and depression and I want to help them. I want to let them know they have someone they can talk to. I don’t even know what I would do as leader of my country. I don’t think I would really be cut out for that job. So I don’t think I would change anything. If I could write anything on an international T-shirt, I would write “You’re beautiful, don’t forget that.” So many people doubt themselves, people just need a little reassurance now and then.

gkimball's avatar

Thanks so much for being part of my global youth book. I’ll quote you, just need state or province. At 14, people should be having fun. Why do you think many of your friends suffer from anxiety, depression and low self-esteem? I’m really interested in your observations. And, it looks like you’re clear that one of your purposes is to help others. Thanks again!

laineybug's avatar

I’m from Maryland. I think so many people I know have these issues because they don’t feel like they have anyone they can talk too. They secretly worry that they’re not good enough or that nobody will understand what they’re going through. They still go out and have fun, but after that fun ends, they go back to worrying and being upset.

josie's avatar

I hope it is Generation ME.
Because if it is Generation WE, that means they won’t feel any guilt about asking me to pay their bills.
I am over 19.

bolwerk's avatar

If you’re over 35, they’ll be paying your bills for a long time.

Clarelad's avatar

Whatever way young people behave today is down to what privileges their parents allow them to have. Kids are let away with everything because mums and dads like to be seen as “friends” rather than “parents”, basically meaning that parents give kids what they want to stay on their good side. That allows the young person think that they can walk over their parents which is wrong. This usually happens in homes that have no discipline and no responsibilities. In our home you were not fed until you had your chores and when I came to the age of 16 I was paying mum to stay in the house, If you did not do what you were told you were hit etc… At the end of the day the mother was the boss and if you kept to her rules everything was good.

bolwerk's avatar

Yes, @Clarelad. Decadent modern man lets his children get away with anything, and spoiling one’s children is the result of modern decadence. Not like people in the ideal past, who had their children doing manual labor in exchange for a dignified meal.

I’m sure Mitt Romney will fix this problem.

Clarelad's avatar

When I was growing up it wasn’t the case of whether we wanted to do something or not, it was you just did it. None of the family complained about doing something, it was natural for us to do what we told and none of us would have thought about going against our father because he was our father and we had more respect for him to do that. Every morning before school we had to milk the cows and turn the hay. The thing that confuses me is what is it in children’s minds that they think they can do what they want. On a farm today it would not be tolerated. But as well as a job on the farm how could they hold down any job. It’s all based on structuring yourself and structure is one thing that many kids do not possess.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Those who criticize our generation forget who raised it.”

I was born at the beginning of the so-called Millennial Generation, and I teach those who were born in the middle of it. As many have already said, our generation—like all generations—is a diverse lot. I find it very difficult to make generalizations beyond the dead obvious observations one can make about our facility with technology (something that becomes much more pronounced as year of birth increases).

Every year, the number of students who do—or want to do—everything digitally increases. I was taught typing and Microsoft Office in school. My wife, who is only a few years younger than me, was taught HTML and computer programming. My younger sister is a full-fledged digital native. Many of my students use laptops and iPads as their only note-taking device, whereas my professors would have considered them distraction machines.

This observation is incredibly mundane, though. It tells us very little about the personality of any individual. I have spoiled, selfish, celebrity-obsessed, students, and I have globally aware, altruistic, egalitarian students. But so did my professors. Texting may be new, but it’s just a replacement for other modes of inattentiveness. The stories I have about students are identical in overarching plot as those of my oldest professor. It’s only the details that have changed—and not all that much.

bolwerk's avatar

@Clarelad: disobedience is a sign of a healthy anti-authoritarianism. But your contention that kids today have it so so so easy is just plain false. Kids today have to work harder to get ahead than recent previous generations. Going to college isn’t sufficient for getting a dignified job the way it was for boomers or even Gen Xers. School hours are longer, and there is actually less freedom to roam around and do things kids should be doing because of overbearing parents and civil liability issues.

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