The book I’m reading right now is by twenty-five-year-old Ryan Heath: “Please Just F* Off, It’s Our Turn Now: Holding Baby Boomers to Account.” The book is great and offers incredible insight into what young people have to offer and why baby boomers need to get out of their way.
It’s published in Australia so you can’t buy it in the U.S. in stores. So it’ll cost you $40 to buy the book from the Australian publisher and have it shipped, but it’s worth it. In any case, I will tell you some of my favorite parts here.
The premise of the book is that baby boomers refuse to retire, refuse to admit that their ideas are outdated, and they are making their institutions irrelevant to young people, who are basically refusing to take part in baby boomer institutions. Heath focuses a lot in Australia, because young people are leaving in droves. But a lot of his points resonate in the U.S. also, where young people have little interest the all-consuming corporate life that baby boomers have institutionalized.
Heath describes his generation with great one-liners like, “We’ve been to IKEA more than we’ve been to church.” And he does a great job of describing how totally different his generation is from the baby boomers. Of young people’s energy he says, “It’s not a counter-culture or a mass protest. It’s not even a movement — it’s a view on hundreds of little movements, technologies, communications, social networks and practical philosophies.”
His ability to describe his generation is reason enough to buy the book. Young people will cheer at his ability to frame them in an extremely positive light and his ability to inspire excitement. The U.S. supports a large industry of baby boomers selling themselves as experts on generation Y to other baby boomers who want to retain gen-Y employees (who usually leave after less than two years). This book also makes you wonder about the ability of baby boomers to train other baby boomers on how to handle gen-Y employees.
Heath also does a great service when he tells boomers to change how they are dealing with young people. He warns boomers that, “We lead a much grander lifestyle than our incomes suggest, we solve problems in a flash and we’ve read about the latest dumb thing George Bush said before most of you have even turned up to the office.” He describes the power of blogging and being part of a networked community and says, “We want conversations not lectures.”
Heath shows that the impact of a networked community and a generation that refuses to receive lectures is that hierarchy is dead. “You are playing the wrong game if you thin power and influence and even fun is about being in control anymore,” warns Heath. “Hierarchies can’t cope with the new complex world we live in unless they are rigidly enforced as in the case with armed forces. But they aren’t needed for most things in our lives. Networks are designed to negate hierarchy — their members collaborate rather than compete.”
He has great insight, and he’s brave to dis the boomers when they still control almost all media outlets. Generation X might bristle at the unbridled self-confidence and optimism of Generation Y. But the Xers will be relieved to see that finally young people have the demographic force to take the boomers to task. Ryan Heath is the beginning of a tidal wave.