How to think like the next generation

No one wants to seem old and outdated. The key to avoiding this is learning how to think like the next generation. So recognize what you care about that younger people don’t care about. Not like a house and mortgage – that stuff is dependent on what stage of life you’re in. I’m talking about things that are not dependent on stage of life – values and your outlook, which tend to be more generational.

When it comes to Generation Z, the most jarring shift  is that they’ll be obsessed with the bolstering of public institutions. This is a generation that cares about consensus-building and sticking with the systems that bind us together. And in order to rebuild after crisis, the generation will stress conformity – because noncomformity is a guilty-pleasure of a generation with no crises (like the Baby Boomers growing up in the 50s). Generation Z will focus on being part of the whole rather than differentiating themselves as special.

Given what we know about Generation Z here are four things you can stop caring about.

1. Linguistics gymnastics for gender-specific pronouns.
If you came of age in the seventies, you have an annoying tic of using the unexpected pronoun. For example, “If your child wants a Barbie, be sure to get him the latest one.”

Generation X, being more aware of the debaucheries of feminist tyranny, are more easy-going about foisting Barbie dolls on girls, but still, Generation X will periodically throw in a “they” in annoying situations. For example, “If a bully finds a willing victim, they will go after that victim.”

Generation Y has come up with nothing new, because they’re the non-innovative generation. Generation Z is saving us all from plural pronoun problems with “yo,” As in “Hey, Yo, meet met at 10pm.” The word yo means you don’t have to specify if the group is male or female which would, of course, mean you would need to stress over the problem of calling women “you guys”.

And this is just the beginning of the language of inclusiveness from a generation that will promote the greater good with every tool they have, even linguistics.

2. Whiz-bang technology.
Generation Z is over the idea that we can get technology to do anything. The Pew Institute reports that they’ll choose their devices based on battery life.  It’s clear to me after watching four seasons of  Regular Show that Generation Z’s appreciation for the over-the-top, very expensive, self-involved animation of Dreamworks and Electronic Arts is zero. And when I tried to explain why our BMW stereo is better than the iPhone, my son fired back to me, “it doesn’t matter how good the stereo is, I can control the iPhone from the backseat.”

When people come to our house to visit and ask what my kids do for homeschool all day, my kids show everyone Minecraft. You would think everyone’s first reaction would be, “You play video games all day?” But, in fact, their first reaction is, “This is 1980s animation!” And it’s true. But my kids don’t care.

So it’s becoming old-school to be impressed with new-fangled technologies. Generation X and Y use technology to differentiate themselves. Generation Z realizes that they have better things to do. So you might as well realize that too.

3) Retirement. 

The word retirement will be like the word typewriter.  The only difference is, there are still typewriters around that you can buy for $300, but by the time Generation Z comes around, there will be zero retirement funds. There will be nothing to reminisce about. The biggest reason for there being no retirement fund is that there is no money.

Generation Z will look a lot like the people who gave all their money to War Bonds —  self-sacrifice for the greater good will come naturally, so their lack of retirement won’t bother them.

But separately, and fortunately, there is also no need for retirement. We have a new understanding of what work is, and work is something that you do in tandem with your life, and they support each other intellectually and emotionally. Work is something you do to make your life full and engaging.

Generation Z will change careers on average five times in their lives. They will drop out of the workforce twice to take care of family. And they will be more comfortable than any generation in history with a major ego-crushing salary cut. After all that, the difference between what Baby Boomers are calling retirement and what Generation Y is calling work is nothing, so there will be no need to for retire in the future.

4) Shelf space.

If we did a graph of the importance of shelf space throughout the last hundred years, we would start with the Baby Boomers, who constructed McMansions with disgustingly dated built-in shelves, and filled them with all of their possessions. Generation X would have wanted that, but they didn’t have any money. So they rented out rooms and filled the shelves with books and CDs and DVDs. I had friends in small apartments who used to stack their trade paperbacks three deep, in the same way that people park cars three deep in NYC; You have to have a map to know how to find your stuff.

Generation X is the only generation who had to store three types of media for music: records, cassettes, and CDs. (Side note: As an homage to this moment in shelf space history, Starbucks issued a CD called My Last Mix Tape. I looked at the barista and said Wow, this is the best title ever for a CD. And the barista looked back at me with a blank stare.)

In the history of shelf space, Generation Y will be known as the itinerant generation. Raised to search endlessly for happiness, (“Do what you love! Live your best life! Follow your dreams!) Generation Y searches endlessly for something that doesn’t exist, which means they tote all of their belongings around in something that ranges from a backpack to trunk space.

When Generation Y finally does buy a house, it’s always small, because Generation Y needs to save their money to do fun things, so they can post the pictures on Facebook about how fun their lives are. Their small houses are decorated in shelf space-fetish-ization: wallpaper that has books, books that are color-coded, and turning things that used to consume shelf space into shelf space.

Generation Z needs no shelf space. Everything is digital. And all of their expectations of owning a shelf large enough to put anything on have been squashed. Generation Z will be focused on accumulating patriotism, national spirit, and a badge of global citizenship. The new shelf space is in our hearts and minds.

 

Posted in Office politics
91 comments on “How to think like the next generation
  1. OMSH says:

    You’ve said so much and yet, the thing sticking in my head is that first photo. I don’t keep books unless I love them (Diana Gabaldon, for instance), so I don’t have enough books to color code. That said, if I did have enough books to color code, I WOULD BE ALL OVER IT. I fail to remember things like titles or authors, but I can ALWAYS remember the book’s color. Color coding would be the most awesome reference ever for me!

  2. Kim says:

    I love your Gen posts! I work almost full time for a not for profit small religious org and I’m gen X. I find more and more that I am working all of the time to motivate gen y and z folks. Our older generation (boomers) find that intrinsic (read selfish) motivations are about all that works, but I’m discovering through a lot of my own research (often spawned by your posts) that motivation of community/other than self and building something larger than yourself works great!~ Keep these coming.

  3. Emma says:

    The way you refer to the youngest generation and predict their sacrifices and rebuilding really, really reminds me of “World War Z.” Poor kids, the zombie apocalypse will shape their lives.

  4. Mairzy says:

    Thank you, Penelope, for writing the blog that will force me to send your future messages to the junk mail folder. I have been the primary – and sometimes the only – earner in my household for 37 years. I am too young to retire and too exhausted to give a rat’s ass about working one more day. You say that I’m a part of the generation with no crises. I wonder if you would say that if you had my job – 7:30am-5:30pm every week day and weekends when we do deployments. I cannot move up in my organization because there’s nowhere to go. I cannot move out to anything better (yet). After 37 years of nonstop work and now being in a job that does not suit me at all, I am so exhausted that I have lost enthusiasm for anything. Thank you for pointing out that I have no crises. I guess losing both my parents, one of my brothers, a husband, and a job (twice) makes me crisis-proof. I wish you a crisis-free future.

    • zan says:

      As a writer and producer who likes to sell her skills and wares, I certainly see the value of knowing what the current market will bear. But as a as a human being, I think this kind of generational generalization serves to create and promote the underlying discord in our culture, between ages and sexes and political preferences. We’re not talking to each other, we’re not listening to each other…we’re taking each other’s demographic measurement. But what do I know? I was an only child raised by a musician father and a writer mother, so I never knew where the hell I belonged. I still don’t. And, whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all want to belong, which is, I think, what drives the individual to the most available age group.

    • Jane says:

      You really can’t make generalizations about a whole generation of people. A generation consists of an enormously diverse group of people–rich and poor, educated and illiterate, able or disabled, white and black, etc. And they all are supposed to feel one way or another?

      I’m sorry you have had crises in your life, most people our age have.

      • Penelope Trunk says:

        The study of history is the study of generations. It’s absurd to say that it doesn’t benefit us to look at humanity from this perspective. Of course looking at the lives of individuals shows us something different. But in order to understand enormous trends that shape history you have to look at enormous swaths of people.

        Penelope

        • Jane says:

          Well, you are only looking at white, middle class people. You certainly are not looking at hillbillies in the US or the desperately poor on a Native American reservation.

          • Penelope Trunk says:

            Newsflash: I’m living in the middle of rural poverty. I live in the poorest county in Wisconsin. And there is no stoplight in the whole county.

            So I am in a pretty good spot to tell you that broad sweeping generalizations of generations apply to rural people as well as city people. This is true now and it was true during the Middle Ages, and throughout the rest of history.

            Penelope

          • Jane says:

            I do appreciate that you live on a farm in Wisconsin. However, I don’t think that means you can speak for all (or most) rural people.

      • Jen says:

        I give weight to the collective persona of generations born out of the coming of age. Just because the people who comprise various generations have different creeds, colors, religions, etc., does not diminish the things they endured or celebrated together in time. For every action there is a consequence. In all the years I have spent writing and reading about generations, it is the shared consequences that seem to solidify generation identification most.

  5. Becky says:

    I’m with you except for retirement. It will still exist until we find a way for our minds to live as long as our bodies. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic for my generation. I’m a Gen-Xer, and I don’t expect the kind of retirement my parents are enjoying (although, to be fair, my dad consults several days a week and my mom volunteers almost daily – they are only in their seventies, after all).

    But eventually, our health will fail us, and it’s hard to be productive when you can’t see, hear, or remember anything. At that point, we’d better hope that our nest egg is enough to get us through.

    • Jim C. says:

      I’m 66 and retired and have the opposite problem. My mind is fine, but my body isn’t what it used to be.
      I’m a geologist. I currently work half-time at my old job. I expect to work part-time in other jobs until I can’t do it any more. The arthritis in my knees is the biggest problem I have right now, but it’s starting to spread to other joints. As long as my cardiovascular system holds up I’ll consider myself lucky.
      Someone on CNBC said a year or so ago that it is ridiculous for people to expect to be on vacation for the last third of their lives. There’s some truth to that, but on the other hand most of us won’t live to be 100. If I make 85 without becoming an invalid I’ll be ahead of the game.

      • in the trunk says:

        I’ll consider myself lucky if my brain doesn’t go. My maternal grandmother and aunt had/have senile dementia, and my mom’s looking a little iffy. I’m extremely worried I have the gene, so am planning on beginning the no wheat/no sugar diet. I’m hoping it will prevent plaques from depostiting in my brain. Generally speaking, it will hopefully arrest the inflammation process in the arteries and joints. (I think the brain thing is probably inflammation also).

        This link goes to a doctor’s blog. He also has a column in a psychology magazine. It seems a very practical alternative to the Atkins/Taubs low carb diet.

        http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

  6. cortney says:

    people have been using “yo” since the 90s in the same way you have credited it to gen z here. smh.

    • Leslie says:

      I immediately thought of Half Baked (1998). We also called each other “B” and “Dog” a lot.

    • CdrJameson says:

      And it works perfectly well with ‘you’, which we’ve been using for somewhat longer.

    • Lauren says:

      Here in the South, we solved the problem of a 2nd-person plural pronoun ages ago with “y’all”.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      An discussion of arcane grammar makes me so happy. So thank you for engaging.

      Here’s a quote from the post I linked to.

      “Note: the kids also use “yo” as a generic pronoun to refer to someone even when they know it is a boy or a girl. So, for example, even though they know the person they saw at school was a boy, they might say, ‘I saw yo at school,’ instead of ‘I saw him at school.’

      I should have just used this quote. It says what I was trying to say, but much more clearly than I said it.

      Penelope

      • Gunhild says:

        In Sweden they artificially made a synthesis of the words for “him” and “her”, so they now use a gender neutral pronoun. It spurred a big debate i Denmark, but people here are not generally in favor of such a word. It’s too artificial.
        I resently read my moms master thesis (she’s 60, I think the thesis is from around 1982 or so) and I was very impressed to see, that being a girl she consequently uses “she/her” when talking about a person of unknown gender. It is very time-typical and I am sad we don’t do that any more. I think I will copy my mom’s approach to this in my own thesis.

  7. Harriet May says:

    It’s definitely true, about Gen Y needing to save their money to do fun stuff so they can put the pictures online. I am much too invested in Instagram. And marathons are so expensive.

  8. Gary Sarratt says:

    NPR News, this morning, had a piece about a study that some psychologist with an Indian name (I couldn’t catch it) had done. He had 2 groups of people. He constructed projects and goals for them to do, to achieve. He indoctrinated one group on the virtues of working for “The Greater Good”, got them fired up, and to work they went. The other group he indoctrinated on selfishness, individuality, and self reliance. Mind you, he stressed that said goals had to be accomplished, and they should work with that in mind. After some days, or weeks, whatever, the second group outperformed the first in every way. The NPR people were astonished to see that individuals working for their own reward or satisfaction advanced the greater good far more than the others. I tweeted, “why the surprise? #Ayn Rand”. Now, why am I writing this? Oh yeah, your third point. GS

    • thatgirl says:

      Please define the “greater good” such that staunch individualists advance it better than collectivists. Extra points for not blathering on about hospital wings or university buildings, whose derivations come from (and continue to be funded by) collectivists.

      • Gary Sarratt says:

        It was just a project. Lighten up. I liken it to, say, a football team. They know that in order to win, they have to perform as one–play team ball. The hitch is, each member must do his very best, as his position dictates, or the team will not have a chance. When each worker finds reward (money, applause, glory, affirmation, a sense of his value to the team, whatever it may be), or desires it, or demands the best of him/herself in all they do, the team, organization, church, army, etc. will succeed.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I see this playing out all over the place. People who are ambitious and goal driven end up getting so much more done than people who are idealists and pie-in-the-sky driven.

      So if a big go-getter spends 10% of their energy saving the world, and someone who is more touchy-feely and not-goal driven spends 90% of their time saving the world, the go-getter will still generate more save-the-world results. Because results are results, and impassioned ideaism is just that: idealism. No action.

      Penelope

  9. Marc says:

    War bonds, especially during “The Great War” were really good investments. We should all be so lucky as to have the interest rates offered on war bonds from WW2 available with the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam.

    In fact, based on what you’ve written in the past, I am virtually certain your great grandfather made a ton of money on war bonds in both wars!

  10. Mike Kosinski says:

    Great post. You are so insightful – especially regarding generational topics. I’ve always felt I’ve transcended the generations. (I’m not sure why.) Still, you open my eyes – and mind – to new ways of thinking.

  11. Rebecca@MidCenturyModernRemodel says:

    Well, Gen Z doesn’t get to own down sizing. Seriously? It is all around us. I am a legal baby boomer, because the cutoff is 1964. But, I bought a small house way before it was fashionable even when we could afford more (**blech** more to clean). And, for the most part, I have dumped most of my books for practical reasons (small, damp house), and because everything I read is now digital. My albums are gone, my CDs are gone and my mix tapes long played out.

  12. tara dillard says:

    You are so funny.

    I graduated college into Jimmy Carter & 21% interest rates.

    It’s all about intellect, hard work, & change.

    My career is thriving in this stinking economy.

    This economy is easy compared to the early 80’s.

    EASY.

    What is tough about now? Please explain.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    • Lindsay says:

      Unfortunately the facts about unemployment rates, and the cost if living relative to incomes, don’t back up the story you extrapolated from your individual experience.

  13. Lindsay says:

    I’m Gen Y. We’ve considered ‘you guys’ to be gender neutral ever since I can remember. I have memories at like 8 years old of addressing a circle of friends (all of us girls) as ‘guys’.

    • Becky Castle Miller says:

      Yes. I’m 31, which I think it the older end of Gen Y, and “guys” is gender neutral.

    • in the trunk says:

      I’m a tail-end boomer and we addressed either sex with, ‘oh, man, that’s cool,’ etc. Now ‘dude’ is unisex.

  14. Mark W. says:

    I think it’s important to look at retirement in the U.S. over its entire history rather than just from a generational perspective. There’s a good five part series of articles that defines and describes five distinct periods in the historical evolution of retirement in America.
    The following was taken from the first page – “But retirement wasn’t always the stuff of sweet daydreams. 150 years ago, almost no one thought of retiring. In fact, the idea of retirement as something we should all aspire to has only been around for about 60 years.
    Retirement is a new idea, and for most of its history, it wasn’t popular with older people. Most of our great-grandparents probably hated the very idea of it. Apparently they had more common sense than we do. Retirement was never designed to help older people; it was designed to get rid of them.”
    Exactly. Our society seems to have a propensity for idolizing the young and trashing the wisdom of the old. I think there’s a lot of people in their retirement years that wish they weren’t retired. Fortunately many retirees never really retire but instead find new work and careers.
    I wholeheartedly agree with this paragraph above – “But separately, and fortunately, there is also no need for retirement. We have a new understanding of what work is, and work is something that is something you do in tandem with your life, and they support each other intellectually and emotionally. Work is something you do to make your life full and engaging.”
    The link to the first article in the series is http://www.thenexthill.com/a-brief-history-of-retirement-in-america-part-1.htm .

    • redrock says:

      I will happily work every day until I drop dead. But as someone said before: it only works if your mind and body hold up. A century ago that was no problem: very few people got old enough to even consider anything like retirement. And social security and retirement savings are also about reducing poverty in old age, when we need a caretaker or when we are not highly productive any more, when pulling out the weeds takes more time on your farm, and the young ones just allow you to keep going because they are gentle people and the old one toiling in the field is just part of the family.

  15. joe says:

    Boomers=selfish/partiers
    Gen X = Cynics
    Gen Y = The Lost Generation
    Gen Z = Fascists.

    Got it

  16. Razwana says:

    Gen Y is also a little obsessed with ‘finding the next Facebook/Twitter’ and become overnight millionaires. The generation before relied on winning the lottery to achieve the same thing….. ;-)

    Love this, Penelope. There are some rather serious comments here though – I didn’t think you would be ruffling so many feathers with this post !

    – Razwana

  17. Ann Stanley says:

    Is it the two glasses of cabernet shiraz I’ve just drunk or is this post absolutely delicious? I laughed, and now I’m just going back to savour it. So much food for thought!

  18. Jim says:

    I had to chuckle over the line about storing records, cassettes, and CDs. I’m 45; I’ve had all three at the same time. The records are gone (I had hundreds; they’re really bleeping heavy; I got tired of moving them around). I still have all my old mixtapes. I bought equipment to digitize them some time ago and now I listen to them on my iPhone. I’m not sure why I still keep the cassettes.

    I bought my sons (13 and 16) some CDs at Christmas and they immediately ripped them. Lesson learned.

  19. Jim Taggart says:

    This has to be one of the worst analyses I’ve yet to read on generations. You don’t define Gen Z, you make some wild assumptions and you mix up the general characteristics of the generations. For shame, Penelope.

    • John says:

      Jim – Gen Z is people born in the early 2000’s to today. What type of definiation do you expect for a population that is currently, yet to be born to 11 years old?

  20. emilysteezy says:

    I’m interested in this Gen Z and technology nugget… I work in the auto industry in the area of automation, cars that talk to eachother, the Google car, all that stuff that is moving towards cars driving themselves. I think it’s sort of stupid and I see no reason why cars need to drive them self, but the baby boomers I work with think this is the best thing going. Penelope… interested to hear what you think Gen Z will think of this breed of technology, and whether or not they’ll continue the research in this area, or if it will just flop once the older generations move on?

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      This is such an interesting comment it didn’t really occur to me that high tech is so far ahead of itself that one generation builds it for the next. You never really know how it will be used in practice.

      This reminds me of how my ex-husband’s father was on the team that invented GPS. It was top secret and they were building it way way ahead of when any consumer would ever see it.

      Penelope

    • Greg says:

      Hi emilysteezy,
      If the initial results from the driverless cars are anything to go by, they might be safer then having a human driver. I think it’s too early to say.

      BUT, if driverless cars do have fewer accidents then gen Z may not have the choice to drive themselves. If there are fewer accidents then this will effect insurance. In the long run, insurance companies might not find it worthwhile to cover people who want to drive cars themselves.

      btw, here’s a great article about driverless cars:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/business/economy/29view.html?_r=0

    • Jen says:

      I read the other day that people were putting off getting licenses until 19? Something like that. I think transportation will be a huge issue for future generations. More transit, fewer POVs, less consumption or money for consumption, greater emphasis on the walkability of our cities, etc.

  21. Gary Sarratt says:

    You forgot 8-tracks.

  22. JustynaK says:

    Love this post! Very insightful. I laughed out loud (here I’m dating myself :) when I read your barista comment on the mixed tape CD. Same thing happened to me when the Gen Y I was with looked at me with a blank face. So I’m getting ready for the Zs!

  23. Christina says:

    Oh man, you’re so harsh on Generation Y (my generation, I was born in ’84). Although some of the things are familiar, like, I get along with my parents, own about as many possessions as the millennials you linked to, and don’t aspire to ever buy a McMansion (like my parents have), but a small condo in the city (Chicago). And I was always told to do what I love, and I hope that’s not for naught. :-/

  24. Siegfried says:

    Interesting, I am not really sure which generation I am. I don’t really need shelfs as I do digital but I love books ;D
    best regards

  25. mdhansen says:

    I don’t care what ‘gen’ we are….W,X,Y or Z. If we could all just leave our presumptive bullshit about one another at home, we might all just get along a whole lot better.

    And the couch in the picture is really a daybed.

  26. John says:

    I have two boys in Gen Z. I have seen your the exact same thing with regards to battery life, cartoons and games. However I have also noticed that they seem to dwell in the extremes.

    They will watch the Regular show on tablet or they will watch on the 50” TV. But do not make them watch it on a 32” TV. They will watch a movie with the most current CGI or pre-CGI special effects but they prefer not to watch any movie with early CGI special effects.

    So much of their life has been asynchronous and blend definition, I think we will find that their definition of conformity will be rather fluid and open ended. For example: ask them to explain the difference between a movie, made for tv movie & a tv show.

    As Gen X that has managed Gen Y’s for a number of years. It has been interesting to watch them change as they start to get married, buy homes and then have kids (especially have kids).

  27. Chris @ Mold Removal says:

    I am a split Gen. I love digital media mostly but still appreciate the value of sitting down with an actual book and keeping hard copy records. I do appreciate some Baby Boomer that either attempt to adapt to the digital age of information and ways of communicating but I sometimes have to remind myself that this came naturally with my childhood. For Boomers, it was science fiction at one point. Keeping up is one thing every great business person should make a priority.

  28. Karelys says:

    The last line welled up tears in my eyes.

    Not sure why yet.

    Also, reading about shelf space, uniformity, patriotism, and global sameness made me think of scenes in movies like “5th Element” and some other movie I can’t remember the name. Essentially everything is the same in futuristic movies, very pared down, minimalistic.

    I thought it was just an exaggeration of the future but now I can see how that is possible.

    People will still look different but the uniformity will probably come in terms of thinking and maybe even morals. But I am unsure how that’ll happen unless all the nations of the world are caught up at once to the same technology and provisions that everyone has.

  29. Joyce says:

    Hi! First, I like the color coded books and the self-driven cars. I’m Gen Y. Do we have another name for Gen X, Y, and Z? I thought Gen Y is also known as Millennial.

    Second, every generation simply reacts towards their circumstances. Wars require patriotism (Greatest Generation). Depressions cause fear (Silents). Booms create optimism (Baby Boomers). Technology teaches independence (Gen X). Peace inspires cooperation (Gen Y). Competition forces innovation (Gen Z).

    Third, we are seeing some long-term trends: lower birth rates, larger cities, later marriages, longer life spans, etc. So classifying generations may not be as relevant because we’re all in this together.

  30. addy says:

    Your resentment of gen Y (who are currently at the age you wish you still were) and adoration of your precious children’s generation is getting really old. Your own personal issues seep out of every post you write and it’s boring. I was thisclose to unsubscribing after your rant about preschool but this basically seals it.

  31. Jim C. says:

    Lots of interesting posts on this thread. What I don’t get is the main topic here. Why would anybody would want to “think like the younger generation?” Understand them? Certainly that’s a good goal. But to change my view of what is important or to change my tastes just to fit in? Absolutely stupid herd mentality.

  32. Davers6 says:

    One of the best things you’ve written … very thought provoking, stimulating and original!

    I’m soooooo relieved you don’t seem to be spilling your guts as much recently about the better-kept-private dramas between you and The Farmer. When you DON’T post that relentlessly annoying crap you’re quite readable … keep up the good work, and whatever meds you were on when you wrote that, PEEEEEASE STAY on them.

  33. Rachel says:

    I don’t think so.

  34. Gunhild says:

    How can you generalize about whole generations so easily?! But you do, and it is so brilliantly done I absolutely love reading your Gen posts. I don’t know how you achieve the overview for this, but I recognize so much of what you are saying. Love it.

  35. Amy says:

    Your point about retirement was strong, and your point about shelf-space was brilliant. Bravo! I totally agree. I love the way you paint Generation Y as the hokey, “Live your best life! Follow your dreams!” generation, and how you basically say that Generation Z is over it. I’m a Gen Y-er but I have an eye for spotting trends so I’m already starting to exhibit what you speak of in Gen-Z.

  36. Kristine says:

    You said ” Generation Z will focus on being part of the whole rather than differentiating themselves as special.” Right now, personal branding is really big … do you think the pendulum will swing the other way with Generation Z?

  37. in the trunk says:

    Penelope, you seem to be saying that Gen Z (grand-kids I may have) are going to be minimalist, good little Comrades.

  38. in the trunk says:

    Extremely dislike the color-coded books. Not only do I find it tacky, but you’d have to go out and buy books by color, not by what is intelligent or what you want to read.

  39. Liz says:

    “Regular Show” is made by JG Quintel who is squarely Gen Y. I think you give Gen Z a little too much credit – they’re what, 9 years old? They are still products of the generations before them (and yes, whether you want to admit it or not, a heavy influence from Gen Y, which is not really as terrible as you want to believe).

  40. Julianna says:

    I hope nobody in Gen Z gets sick or hurt!

  41. Kitty says:

    What about the boomer who are “retired in place”? I am on the trailing edge of the boomers and have spent my life watching the leading edge boomers suck up all the good jobs with great benefits, early retirements, profit sharing, etc. Then along came the following generations and the boomers either skillfully arrange for their own children to take over their cushy positions, bankrupt the company, or better yet, just retire in place and refuse to leave. So many of them are just sitting, doing nearly nothing, refusing to admit that their skills and ways of work were outdated decades ago. In fact, fiercely protecting their outdated cultures of work. So many 25 year olds I know can spin circles around the 50 year olds because the 25 year olds know how to use technology to engage people and make things happen quickly and efficiently. But they are relegated to the outer edges in menial positions with no chance of making a difference as long as the boomers can still get themselves to their desk to sit every day.

    • Gary Sarratt says:

      I see that a lot too, Kitty. The stock market crash didn’t help that any, either. But people are funny. I’ve worked with people over 62 who were losing money by not drawing their pension and social security. They were holding the plum jobs, and many of us wanted to dynamite their asses out the door!

  42. Hot Gan says:

    Steady boss, his thanks for the info …
    I have much to learn from your blog …

  43. Katherine Bengan says:

    In order to stay competitive is this fast pace society, it is important to adapt to all of the new technology or you will be left behind in this emerging job field. A way you can achieve this is by reading your favorite blogs and putting what you learn into action.

  44. Hannah says:

    Interesting take on Generation Z; I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I agree with what you said – especially the retirement. If you find something you find enjoyable and fulfilling, and you can make money from it, why “retire” from that?

    The only point I disagree on is the patriotism. Travel is becoming more accessible to more and more people all the time. From my own experience, and the experience from others, experiencing more “global citizenship” leaves people *less* patriotic and nationalistic (especially since most governments around the world are perpetuating major screw-ups right now – it’s a lot easier to recognise that from the outside).

    Personally, I hope Generation Z will experience more of a world without imaginary borders, where they’re not automatically limited to the set of cultural beliefs they were brought up with, and where they can go out and decide for themselves where they call home.

    • Gary Sarratt says:

      Oh great. Not only existing as cash cattle for our own incompetent government, but everyone else in the world, as well. Let’s not seal Gen Y and Z’s fate as slaves to billions of people, instead of just our own 300+ million. China has enough of us, already.

    • Lizzie says:

      Thanks for making this point. I hope Penelope addresses the implications of “global citizenship” because I’m only generation Y and borders and nation-states are already starting to seem archaic! Thanks to tourism, globalization and the unbridled power of multinational corporations, the need to band together to create change is increasingly taking on a global dimension. Gary’s comment on here feels exceptionally out of place to me – we must be coming from dramatically different worldviews. Anyway, I think words like “patriotism” and “nationalism” might be describing a particular sentiment that will need to take on a different form for future generations.

      • Gary Sarratt says:

        It’s a wonderful and workable concept–on paper. But look at what just happened to the citizens on little Cyprus as a result of erasing borders. Someone is never going to play ball; Russia left Cyprus to twist in the wind.

  45. Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging says:

    You have excelled yourself with this one. I love the ending and I love this line:

    “it’s becoming old-school to be impressed with new-fangled technologies.”

    As a later adopter who only got a mobile phone last year it means I’m finally coming back into fashion. Hooray.

    I’ve noticed younger people are into collecting experiences and checking things off bucket lists. It would be great to think they stop aiming to accumulate physical possessions but patriotism, and a badge of global citizenship seem to compete with each other. I wonder how that will pan out…

  46. Kevin says:

    I’m confused about when your cut-off date for Gen Y to Gen Z is. Howe puts it at 2004 but you seem to be including all children younger then high school, which seems a little too inclusive in my humble opinion, uniting a generation based solely on their stage of life relative to technological innovation and not the political/economic situation which in the long run I think will be more useful in differentiating the generational attitudes of Gen Y and Gen Z.

    As a 19 year old firm Gen Y-er who has studied generations fairly closely I feel like you’re selling Gen Y way too short and making far too many assumptions about Gen Z based on a very small sample size of their lifes. Gen Y is more than halfway adult now and it’s still far too early to anticipate just how we’ll mature into midlife because ultimately the history that shaped our childhood will also shape our young adulthood. The complaints that you have about Gen Y were also espoused at this stage in their lives of the generation born in the first two decades of the 1900s- too soft, too team-oriented, too nice, they were the first overly pampered Boy Scouts and they couldn’t make it in the real world. Then they lived through The Depression and WWII and were given the collective confidence and empowerment to lead America into the modern era and now of course we call this generation The Greatest Generation. My point being, it is FAR too early to write off Gen Y, especially in these troubled political and economic times, and immediately assume that it will be the next generation (of which we hardly know anything except speculation) will solve our problems

  47. Emily says:

    I worked with a guy at my last job who thought technology could do anything. He was in his early 60s, and by that point in his life was so used to being completely amazed and blown away by innovation that he had just accepted the fact that the impossible was possible. The things he assumed we could do on the internet had absolutely no remote foundation in reality, but compared to the incredible inventions that had happened in his lifetime, these were nothing.

    As a member of Gen Y, I barely remember a time before the internet. People had cell phones in high school. I don’t know a time before space travel or the microwave. For the most part, all of the innovation I’ve seen in my life has been evolutionary, not revolutionary, and this is even more so for Gen Z. Their blase reaction to technology is exactly because of that — it’s no big deal. I hope that doesn’t make us less likely to innovate or to think big.
    I wouldn’t say that Gen Z is disinterested in technology — I’d say that they accept it as a very normal part of life.

  48. CA says:

    Hahaha. This is way too funny to me.

    Generation Y is the social generation. The generation that wants to “follow their dreams” to post about it on Facebook.

    But we are also too busy to follow our dreams because we are too distracted by the 10 new pictures posted on Instagram.

  49. T says:

    Hey. I like to go through your archives, which is why this comment is so ‘late’, I suppose… I like your blog. I really do. I also like the way you see trends or talk about unconventionality. You know, the fun controversial stuff and etc etc.

    But here’s the thing. You look at GenZ like ALL of the kids in the western world are homeschooled, digital whiz, smarty pants geniuses who’re going to skip post secondary education to pursue something better.

    I think you may be over-generalizing…

  50. Mark Shutes says:

    Every generation has their strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to remember that no matte what those are, you’re stuck with each other and you all have to find a way to make it work. Great string here though!

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