What Gen Yers don’t know about themselves

Now that I’m not the CEO of Brazen Careerist, I don’t have to be the national cheerleader for Generation Y. I fantasized about this moment for years: the moment when I’d write the post titled, 10 Things I Hate about Generation Y.

But it’s hard to hate people you hang out with all the time, and the truth is, I’ve spent the last ten years being a Gen Xer surrounded by Gen Yers. The pinnacle, I thought, was me spending my days fighting with Ryan Healy about work. But in fact, it turns out the pinnacle of my education on Gen Y is my arguments with Melissa about her peers that end in a snippy impasse.


Sometimes, I think Gen Y is lame and she won’t admit to it.

But I find, as I think about all the things I hate about Gen Y, that it’s hard to hate something you know so much about. And in fact, I have become a way better person myself from studying Gen Y. I have noticed that my worst traits are the aspects of myself I least understand. And that is true of Gen Y, too.

1. Gen Y mistakes the speed of the Internet for their own speed.
Gen Y are not risk takers, they are not conflict-seekers, and they are generally respectful of institutions and organizations. When Gen Y doesn’t like something, you probably won’t hear about it. They just won’t show up. I have written before about the conservative nature of Gen Y.

But what I’ve noticed lately is that this nature results in Gen Y having a difficult time making decisions. They have had their parents making decisions for them for most of their childhood, and they crowdsource decisions as adults, so when they must make a decision that no one can really help them with, Gen Y often gets stuck. (This is a huge difference from Gen X, who thrive on counter-culture, I-did-this-myself diatribes, and from Baby Boomers, who make all decisions based on how can they look like they are winning against everyone else.)

2. Gen Y wants to look like a winner more than they want to be a winner.
Gen Y is the most team-oriented generation ever. The American experience has been largely about individualism since the Declaration of Independence. So it’s a big change for such a huge generation to be more oriented to the group rather than the individual.

The result of this way of seeing the world is that Gen Y is very, very non-competitive. They were in soccer leagues where everyone gets a trophy. They enter the workplace and they have little interest in leading in a hierarchical way. And they love to use the collaborative software that serves, unintentionally, to flatten the workplace hierarchy.

But Gen Y is consumed with their image. Online, they manage themselves like they are celebrities. They revolutionized the art of the self-portrait because they take so many. And Gen Y women are renowned for dressing up at work in great clothes regardless of how much money they make or what the rest of the office is wearing.

But I think what might be the best illustration of this trend is that they don’t make enough money for a huge, lavish wedding, but they still want their wedding pictures to be gorgeous, fun, and exotic. So they elope, with a photographer, and post all the photos of a great wedding on Facebook.

3. Gen Y misunderstands entrepreneurship.
Gen Y is scared of being screwed over by corporate America because they saw their parents give up everything for corporate life and then get let down. Gen Y does not want to repeat this in their own lives. So for Gen Y, entrepreneurship is the ultimate expression of their conservatism.

Gen Y thinks the safest route in employment is entrepreneurship, so in poll after poll, the vast majority of Gen Yers say they want to own their own business. But what they really mean is they want to have a safety net. They want to feel like if they get laid off they will not be left high and dry like their parents were.

In general, though, Gen Y likes working for someone else. Gen Y likes assignments, they like feedback, they like meetings, group efforts, and after-work happy hours. These are all the trappings of people who work for someone else. Entrepreneurs are mostly lonely, anxious people, living on the edge of what’s normal. And when Gen Y gets an inkling of those feelings, they run back to corporate life.

4. Gen Y thinks they don’t believe in God.
For the most part, Gen Y has the same religious attitudes as Gen X. It’s just that Gen X frames this as an obsessive drive toward creating inclusive family and inclusive work and communities, and Gen Y frames it as not believing in God.

The reason for the discrepancy is that Gen Y frames their religious views in relation to their parents, and since Gen X had a childhood that will go down in history as negligent parenting, Gen X frames their views in relation to their own values (which, of course, have to do with their backlash against the demise of the family).

So, Gen Y actually does believe in God. Gen Y thinks there is something out there that created matter. I mean, what was there before the Big Bang? Who knows? We can call that God. Gen Y doesn’t argue with that. But Gen Y thinks God must mean the Christian God. And if they don’t believe in that, they say they don’t believe in God.

So, in fact, Gen Y is pretty accepting of all religions, and willing to participate if you put it in front of them. There are no public displays of religious protest as a way to instigate change—that is Baby Boomer territory. And there is no taking a risk and taking a stand to create a solid religious life for their kids like Gen X. Gen Y goes with the flow, supports any religion as long as it supports gay marriage, and hedges against any conflict by saying they are not really religious.

5. Gen Y mistakes their own practical behavior for revolutionary behavior.
In general, Gen Y tries to go through life by ruffling the least feathers. So, for example, Gen Y might appear to be creating a revolution at work by demanding flex-time, fair-wage salaries, and good mentoring. But really, Gen X wanted all this stuff when they were twenty-something as well, but they couldn’t get it. So when Gen X took over, they gave it to Gen Y. Gen X is the revolutionary generation.

Gen Y is simply demanding what their parents told them they should expect from the world: Work that matters and work that complements a life that matters. Those revolutionary expectations come from the Boomer parents. Gen Y is just doing what they are told.

I couldn’t help thinking this same thing when I read this New York Times Magazine article about the trend of teenage girls in Gen Y giving more blow jobs than any generation before. When Baby Boomer women had more sex than any generation in the past, it was a feminist revolution, changing the whole fabric of society. But when Gen Y teens talk about why they give more blow jobs, it’s different, but simple: they do it because while their parents told them not to have sex until it really really mattered to them, the boys are, of course, dying to have sex. So one way to keep everyone happy is with blow jobs. It’s the ultimate expression of Gen Y practicality masquerading as revolution.

209 replies
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. Amy
    Amy says:

    Really interesting article, and I admit – as a Gen Yer, I see a lot of myself in this list. (In fact, most of the time that you describe Gen Y it’s almost like you’re writing about me specifically.) But being aware of my shortcomings is the first step to overcoming them, right? For instance, I know I’m more likely to crave the stability of the corporate lifestyle, so in order to have the writing career I’ve always dreamed of, I’ll have to push way out of my comfort zone. I’m most comfortable working for other people, so being my own boss will mean I’ll have to look to myself for direction. As always, thanks for the insight.

  2. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth says:

    Being a Gen X’er I’d love to bash the Y’ers and I agree with a lot you have to say. I have read you for a long time so I know that you have hyped them tremendously. Sometimes (at least from my experience) I feel as though the Y’ers get hired at my office and within a month or so are wondering why they haven’t been promoted, or why they can’t do the work they want to do and not the work that they have been hired for.

    BUT, reading through the comments I had a thought: I was raised by hardworking, old-fashioned parents. I worked instead of participating in sports, etc. And then when I got out of college I got into the job market when things were soaring. I was able to pick and choose and make a good living without even trying while getting experience and working my way up.

    Now here we have a generation who grew up “getting a trophy” no matter how they finished. Yet now they are being forced into a work environment of great competition and low wages. That’s two strikes against them. Maybe we need to give them a break and realize that in ten years they are going to be pretty dang successful due to the fact of the shocking adjustments they needed to take to transition into adulthood.

  3. Daniel Lai
    Daniel Lai says:

    About #3

    I think a lot of people say they want to own their own business because they want to do what they love. Unfortunately, it's hard to figure out how to make money doing that. So, we stay or boomerang back into corporate america. I'm seeing more "personal projects" among friends, a kind of side hustle to test the waters. The risk averse way.

    More of a backlash to corporate america is our non-apologetic job hopping. We've figured out we can get more by going somewhere else. Seeing what happened to our parents has made us more comfortable in switching companies to get what we want.

  4. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    “When Gen Y doesn't like something, you probably won't hear about it. They just won't show up. I have written before about the conservative nature of Gen Y.”

    I(Gen Y) agree and disagree here, and yet I was going to forgo leaving a comment. I changed my mind.

    The reason I don’t speak out even though I dislike something is because that something isn’t very important to me. It seems trollish to always comment when you disagree or dislike something, especially if that something is small. I think many Gen Yers would prefer to spend time building something we support, rather than protesting or dismantling something we oppose. We choose to ignore some things even though we disagree because we are tolerant.

  5. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    After all those blogs you wrote in which you uncritically praised Generation Y, I’m surprised that the scales have fallen from your eyes. Yes, they are human and fallible. They don’t have all the answers.

    I thought your first, third, and fifth points were especially relevany.

  6. Tom
    Tom says:

    1. Exactly right – with very few exception most of my friends and I follow defined tracks. When no one pressures us, we flail.

    2. Exactly right – this is true as well. I notice from conversations with friends, that people are very reticent about mentioning any accomplishments that might seem competitive. In fact, it’s almost shocking when people I hang out with explicitly state any aspirations that involve besting others for our own gain/profit.

    3. Exactly right – my attitude to a T.

    4. This is true too. People define themselves as spiritual or agnostic.

    5. We have way too much respect for authority and give our parents too much say in our lives. Some of my friends leave the city we live in every weekend to see their parents. These people have never had serious relationships.

    This post was very incisive.

  7. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    P – Thank you for #5. I know you don’t like to really write about Gen X because people don’t really want to hear it – or they just don’t care. But Gen Xers need to hear it.

  8. Amy
    Amy says:

    “Gen X had a childhood that will go down in history as negligent parenting”. It has nothing to do with being forced to work in mines or sewing factories that other children had to do in previous generations …

    The word is “negligent”. Our parents made a choice.

    Anyone who doesn’t believe this should realize how many of us have no idea if we should actually attend our absent parent’s funeral when the time comes.

    • dumpster
      dumpster says:

       Yeah . . . I missed both my biological dad’s and step dad’s funerals myself. 

      I don’t think they would have minded.  They both displayed the epic narcissism of the Baby Boomers, the only one they care to have attend were themselves.

  9. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    It appears that the strategy of ignoring what one doesn’t like and just ‘not showing up’ is the exact one you take when deciding which comments to respond to, Ms. Trunk. Are you going to address any of the posts that call this article out as being bitter, self-indulgent garbage? Do you believe blogging is an appropriate platform to voice one’s opinion with no intention of engaging in any discussion that may cause the original opinion to evolve? I thought this was supposed to be social media, not Ann Landers.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Since this is my blog, I do say whatever I want. And then I choose to respond to whatever I want.

      And, when I was growing up, I totally loved Ann Landers.

      I actually think your comment is hilarious. So I’m responding to it to make sure people notice it.


      • Elizabeth
        Elizabeth says:

        I actually like Ann Landers too, otherwise I wouldn’t have felt confident referencing her. I have to say, in addition to supplying sage wisdom on gum chewing and thank-you notes, she’s a fantastic target for any joke about antiquated thinking. Her trademark ‘old-fashioned’ image IS what keeps readers coming back to her weekly advice column to deal with the sticky situations they encounter in the modern world.

        Thank you for the response!

  10. Jani
    Jani says:

    This explains a lot about why I’ve never fit in with my generation, and why I hate the term “Gen Y” – like we couldn’t come up with anything more creative than whatever follows after X?

  11. Eva
    Eva says:

    This is the generation that grew up pleasing authority figures. I’m a Boomer and I grew up, not trusting authority figures, so I became one.

  12. Alan
    Alan says:

    Excellent. I won’t send it to my friends because of the stuff about sex but it’s excellent.

  13. Lori
    Lori says:

    “Gen Y wants to look like a winner more than they want to be a winner.”

    actually, i think eloping and having the fabulous wedding with no guests is a total winner.

    but this seems closest related to the phenomenon of 20-somethings spending enormous amounts of time on their tumblrs and pinterests collecting images of hot women/men, gorgeous dream homes, beautiful gardens, designer clothing and accessories, adorable children, incredible travel locations, and on and on and on, while evidently doing little or nothing to actually GET any of these things. they seem to think they will somehow magically end up with all of them. maybe there’s a big quarter-life/midlife crisis pending when they figure out santa doesn’t put a beach house, a model, and a soapstone sink in your stocking.

    • Amy
      Amy says:

      Just because we use technology in ways that have never been done before doesn’t mean it’s all that novel – or nearly as disgusting as you seem to think. When I was a kid I cut out pictures I loved from magazines. Today I might save a picture of a dress I’ll never be able to afford – but it’s inspired me to learn to sew. I love pictures of beautiful gardens – so this year I planted my first herb garden (which is thriving and I’m thrilled). I fully enjoy Pinterest without expecting Santa, Mommy, Daddy, or Jesus to put anything in my stocking. Inspiration doesn’t mean impotence.

    • Lori
      Lori says:

      i commend you for actually planting a garden and learning to sew — and i’m not anti-inspiration — but there is a tipping point where inspiration is no longer a path toward doing and becomes a replacement for doing. too much input leads to too little output. there are a whole lot of people out there (not you, obviously) who are spending a ton of time appreciating what others have achieved when they could be using that time to achieve something of their own. just sayin’.

  14. Sundar
    Sundar says:

    “They were in soccer leagues where everyone gets a trophy.”

    Ah, yes. The most overused assertion directed at Gen Y since bloggers began writing about Gen Y. I remember receiving those soccer trophies for that brief period between ages 5-9 and thinking how annoying it was that the adults had watered down the merits of a trophy. The fallacies lingering behind this generic presumption are endless.

    1. Handing trophies out to everyone was something that mostly occurred in soccer, the sport Americans love the least, and know the least about. Other youth sports generally were more merit-based.

    2. Competitive youth sports, during the childhood of Generation Y, exploded into a massive business that’s partially predicated upon merit and the parents’ political clout. The goal, of course, is the college scholarship. In fact, soccer, with the demand of foreign coaches and travel expenses, became a rich kid sport in America during the late 90’s through early aughts. And it remains that way to this day. Every competitive youth sport in America, aside from some exceptions in basketball and football, requires large investments from parents in order for their child to have the necessary exposure and training so that they can be noticed by college coaches.


    I find it highly dubious for anyone to claim an expertise on millions of people, but if you must, please let go of the “trophy” stereotype because it is not only cliche, but a lazy assumption.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The whole discipline of history is a single person writing authoritatively about millions of people. We could not have analysis about the Crusades, World War II or any other time in history without being able to generalize about generations.

      People who think we cannot talk in terms of history are people who are unable to learn from history.


      • Valerie
        Valerie says:

        Yeah, except you and everyone else is dead wrong about this one. I fit the basic definition of a Gen Y-er but didn’t grow up in the West or with anything like the lifestyle described, so none of this applies to me. I’m not personally insulted. But I’m confused.

        Do people actually think Generation Y goes around clutching their dime-a-dozen trophies to their chest? Plenty of my current friends grew up getting them and let me tell you, no one gave a crap about the everybody-gets-one trophies. Kids nowadays still getting them don’t care either.

        Kids can spot bullshit faster than anyone. Not one person I know felt proud of those things and readily tossed a big ol’ pile of them into the trash upon leaving to college.

        Frankly, it says more about the generation giving out medals for mediocrity than it does about the kids receiving them.

        What’s more, your “points” only really apply to people who grew up as spoiled little rich & (likely) white kids like you. So maybe that is why you usually heap praises on “my” generation, because you identify with them- or at least, those that are upper middle class +.

        Plenty of Generation Y kids have a helluva lot more in common with the Boomers because of their socioeconomic status. If your blog contained any kind of real analysis that went deeper than vague generalizations, I’d actually be interested in learning something here about those kind of connections.

        As it is, I usually come here to kill a few minutes when I’m between tasks, because you’re usually a train wreck. And you are a very clever & engaging writer. It’s a great combination. You’ve half convinced me that *I* have Asperger’s.

    • Jim C.
      Jim C. says:

      Don’t forget hockey. Youth hockey leagues (at least in Canada) give trophies to participants. What a waste!

      • Dave
        Dave says:

        I think the whole trophy analysis thing is overdone. They don’t mean anything. Some people are bothered by that, but the trophy you get for soccer, tee ball, etc. remains one of the few “free” things about the sports. We think of the trophies as more a reminder of an activity that hopefully the kids will want to participate again in next year and some tangible evidence of participation than any merit recognition. It is actually a big deal if the kids can manage to show up for most of the games and practices. I have a bag full of trophies (I was a tee ball coach this spring) for kids who didn’t show up at the last game or league picnic.

  15. Maniak Mike
    Maniak Mike says:

    The generation Y you write about are the suck at life spineless ass licking hipsters you order around your office. Fuck you for judging us off of the most outlying worthless examples of my generation. My ship is tight and my business even tighter. I make my own desicions. I hope you enjoy being lame at life and surrounding yourself with people even lamer than you.

  16. Amy Gibson
    Amy Gibson says:

    Penelope I fell in love with your pro-gen y posts, now you’ve flipped and shown your true colors…

    I love it. I am a child of 1984 and it is all true, I can’t make decisions and I am so embarrassed by it, plus I can see that I defer to my parents, and I hate it (I moved out at the age of 27 when I bought my first home).

    However I am pleased to report that I am learning not to. I think you will be surprised in the next 5 years as we are forced to grow up. I hope we do you proud and don’t ‘resist conflict’.

    I am going to go listen to the Beatles to channel some of my fathers’ revolutionary principles and thank my Gen X boss for giving me the ability to not feel guilty for having to leave the office for a doctor’s appointment.

  17. Skweekah
    Skweekah says:

    “So one way to keep everyone happy is with blow jobs. It’s the ultimate expression of Gen Y practicality masquerading as revolution.”

    Your’s is one point of view out of many. Whose is right? I dont know.

  18. Karen
    Karen says:

    In my experience with Y and Z, which extends to living with them – by god was that hard – I’d have to say it is gen Z that I see as the monsters in the living room. Gen Y still seemed fairly socially casual, able to hear other people speak, capable of taking turns in conversation, and though they often had some gadget hanging out of their ears or in the pocket or whatever, it sorted blended in with them like a handbag or something. But some of the gen Z kids were horrific. How to describe? The first thing that springs to mind is Nasty. Nasty, nasty verbal savagery, used to intimidate the people around them into what I don’t know, handing them a royal sceptre? A near constant stream of thinly disguised, indirect verbal insults aimed at anyone within three feet who they….what? Needed attention from? I don’t know, but these young adults are graceless and aggressive. I have also noticed that they like to invade other people’s space. I have on several occasions had gaggles of them stand either immediately in front of me at a bookstore or something, while I’m looking at a shelf of books…what is the point? Is it boundary pushing? What boundary is that exactly? You actually want my personal space? You want this 20 centimetre bodily radius, of a stranger? Odd. They grew up on vampire telly, you have to wonder how these things impact….I think they’re going to be a very strange little bunch of critters. Hopefully their blood warms up before they gain any real power. God knows what they’ll do to old people then. Grind us up for space dust.
    There’s too much blowing sunshine up young people’s derriers these days. They’re entering adulthood with messianic self-perceptions.

  19. Karen
    Karen says:

    I think I might have been referring to the tail-end of gen Y actually…17-22 year olds? Whatever the hell they are, awful.

  20. Dave
    Dave says:

    This is the most realistic thing I’ve seen you write about Gen Y. Of course, as a fellow GenXer, I relate to much of your reactions, especially re entrepreneurship and revolutionary behavior. I still think it is very hard to paint a broad brush over the whole generation, but this really fits what I see with young people “starting up” companies like specialty food trucks and pan asian cuisine restaurants…and I am thinking–just wait till the real work starts. Just wait until you have kids and a family. I’m not cynical, but I think there is a lot of adaption coming and it will be interesting to see if it is different for GenY vs GenX…for example, as we became parents we got less “revolutionary” about work and started getting “radical” about parenting.

    I also wonder how they will raise their kids. It is bizarre to me, to have my kids asking for so much help already. When I was a kid, you figured it out out on your own. That was the point of education: to set up obstacles you have to figure out how to overcome. It would have been nice if my parents had signed me up for a few more things, but I do not feel neglected and I think many of my peers are way overboard in how they feel it is their job as parents to constantly entertain their kids and line up a series of enrichment activities…GenY is largely a product of such an upbringing and I wonder if the pendulum will swing back or continue along this route.

  21. Yet Another Melissa
    Yet Another Melissa says:

    Yes, people from the same generation display similar characteristics, but what I find really interesting is the way in which people of a certain generation view themselves and those of other generations.

    Myself (Gen Y) and my father (Gen X) constantly get in heated debates over the pros & cons of each generation. We both have valid, accurate, and intelligent assertions but they are such completely opposite views…..

    On another note my last office was a split between Gen Y and Baby Boomers and the Boomers seemed so very unproductive, had zero creativity and wanted team work ALL the time…. I wonder if this was just my view, but it is definetely anchored in reality…

  22. Greg Fitz
    Greg Fitz says:

    You’re just complaining about our generation without offering any ideas or suggestions on how we can improve (and no, “stop misunderstanding entrepreneurship” doesn’t count). We’re in this together, sister. Quit whining and make something happen.

  23. Esther
    Esther says:

    I agree about gay marriage — the state bans on it are in response to the rise of Gen Y, and in a decade or so most bans will be history.

    So what about abortion? If my generation has a characteristic opinion on it, we don’t seem to talk about it much.

  24. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    I agree and yet I don’t (as most Gen-Yer’s who have replied to this post).

    I do agree that every one of these traits exist in high frequency in our generation. Of course, taking something like this people need to understand that you’re not saying that EVERY person from generation Y has EVERY one of these traits, but it is enough to generalize.

    Where I scratch my head a bit (not so much as disagree, because you didn’t come out and say it) is that some of the traits you mention – most specifically bullet #2 – certainly can’t be linked to Gen-Y alone. In daily life I interact with people from all generations – while at work, on the streets and public transit of Chicago, and in my hobbies. I see attitudes like this come from all walks of life. It's not just the upper-middle class 20-somethings who think they're hot shit because they have 1,000+ Twitter followers. No matter where you look, people of all ages are out there talking themselves up, becoming part of a group in hopes of setting a world record (my hand is raised here) or posting pictures of themselves doing something cool on Facebook. If you look the Facebook statistics these days, more Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are out there Lifebooking each and every day. So I'm not entirely sure it's fair to stereotype Gen Y with having an ego complex, when it's quite clear that this spans a number of generations.

    That said, I'm all about self-awareness, and I love to read pieces like this that make me sit back and go, "ha, I'm TOTALLY like that!" After all, if you can't acknowledge your flaws, how are you ever supposed to improve? You’ve got a new follower, Penelope. Keep it up, loving your writing :)

  25. Samantha Hinds
    Samantha Hinds says:

    Sick of the “failure to launch” Gen Y narrative, we created a project called Fortnight. Fortnight Journal documents the potential of the millennial generation. Importantly, we connect its emerging leaders to history.

    Patti Smith gave us a lot of advice when we built this project.Like us, she experienced some bad foreign policy and a brutal recession.

    My generation is NOT just sitting around trying to engineer our social network avatars. How come I have been able to easily find 20-30 year old female Olympic boxers, war crimes lawyers, video artists… all of whom riff on ancient Greek thinkers? That is behavior neither meek, nor iconoclastic.

    We are drawn to classical vocations, crave mentorship, and deeply seek work that will will merit regard in the longer march of history.

    • Millennials are people too
      Millennials are people too says:

      Thank you for posting this.  As a “Millennial” I, too, am very tired of hearing the “failure to launch” narrative…kudos to y’all for sharing these stories.

    • Millennials are people too
      Millennials are people too says:

      Thank you for posting this.  As a “Millennial” I, too, am very tired of hearing the “failure to launch” narrative…kudos to y’all for sharing these stories.

  26. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    4 out of the 5 of the reason you hate Gen Y involve parents. I am assuming you are a Gen X (and that may just be my Gen Y personality), so I will just go ahead and say that the reason you hate the Millennials are do to the upbringing from our Gen X parents.

    Well, this is why we hate Gen X too.

  27. Eric
    Eric says:

    Well, I’m an old Gen Yer and I manage a department of 50~ younger Yners.

    What you said about being non competitive is sadly true.
    I’m a very competitive person but the younger Yers that I manage cannot be triggered by competition even friendly ones. It’s very frustrating for me because as a Manager I have to adapt and find a way to trigger the motivation in these Yers and these way aren’t natural to me.

    I’m doing evaluation every quarters. I’m doing follow up, carreer advices, level up plan and such for them. I did their work before. Not so long ago I was one of them. At an entry level job. So I’m supposed to rely easily on their experience but I cannot. I used to hold the Productivity Champion’s Title for 6 months before one of my guys beat me. On 50 employee, he-was-the-only-one-to-care-about-beating-my-productivity-record ! The competitive employees ratio is 1/50 Yers. I’m really shocked by that.

    The motivation can be trigger by sparkling their interest regarding the task that I give them and by the quality of their work, regardless the productivity.


  28. Spatch
    Spatch says:

    you have a great blog but I have to completely disagree with this article. You are stereotyping a group of people that should not be stereo typed for they are not all the same. I know a lot of different generations and based on your specifications aparently a lot of baby boomers I know could also be generation Y, hell even I could be a generation Y (even though I am not)

    You are a great writer I just disagree with your points

  29. Rob
    Rob says:

    Don’t know what god has to do with generations. There is either evidence for something or not. I am generation X and don’t believe in god. I meet all different age ranges, from teenagers to people in their 80s at atheist/skpetic get togethers. This one point made me questions every other point as suspect…

  30. Val
    Val says:

    “We can call that God. Gen Y doesn’t argue with that.”

    I have a hard time imagining the atheist of any generation that wouldn’t argue with that. Why call it God (capitalized, no less)? Why not call it mashed potatoes? Not to turn this into a theistic argument, but #4 said volumes more about your theological beliefs than Gen Y’s.

    (I’m on the edge of Gen X and Y myself, so I’m either completely qualified or completely unqualified to opine, take your pick.)

  31. kaysta
    kaysta says:

    As a Gen Yer, I spent 7 years in corporate America, doing all the hard work for Gen Xers that simply wanted to have BIG ideas (with no execution) and babysitting younger millennials, most of whom had trouble answering the phone without detailed instruction. Maybe we are team-oriented and practical because SOMEBODY has to be, or nothing would get done.

    PS – I jumped ship a year ago after buying my own business and have loved every minute of it. I do miss after-work happy hours, though. :)

  32. Jill
    Jill says:

    This is very interesting. I think all of these generation types are cyclical and sooner or later we’ll get back to being Baby Boomers, aka BB(2). No generation is better than the next and the next is not better than the prior. We all learn from our parents, good and bad. Maybe the key is to digest the life education, adapt it as we see fit, pass on what we think is worthy to our children, and keep on trucking. But mostly, respect each other for our efforts and ideas. It’s all good.

  33. hollywood
    hollywood says:

    The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period. Since the 1920s, the American film industry has grossed more money every year than that of any other country.

  34. Kait
    Kait says:

    So, I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago. I started back when the posts about The Farmer began so I could catch myself up (although I read a good few previous posts as well). This is absolutely my favorite post so far. As a Gen Y-er, it’s kind of fascinating to read your posts about Gen Y-ers and think about how much the information is relevant to my life. Also, it makes me feel better to know that not knowing what I want to do now that I’ve got a college degree (and a large amount of debt) does not make me an epic failure at life.

  35. Kirsten
    Kirsten says:

    I love this post and always enjoy reading your blog!! A slightly unrelated question though based on the great picture of you relaxing and reading outdoors: Where do you and Melissa get those fabulous sun hats?!

  36. Miss HR
    Miss HR says:

    I found this article and began reading, thinking–this is going to be a great article to share with peers/collegues. Unfortunately, I got to the last paragrash and your lack of professionalism lost me…for good.

  37. Lumutz
    Lumutz says:

    Sensational and unsubstantiated blog post written exclusively to increase blog traffic.

    I’m almost positive the author is an intelligent person which would means she understands the ignorance in stereotypes and sweeping generalizations. This can only mean that she wrote this exclusively to increase blog traffic, or maybe is a passive aggressive attack on a “gen y-er” who did her wrong.

    either way, this completely misses the mark. young people are energetic and precocious. they have the internet to indulge all of their interests, but since the internet is just now maturing, it’s hard to see where it can take them. but they have the drive and motivation to figure it out and try new things and not take no for answer….just like every other american generation before them.

  38. Austin
    Austin says:

    Wonderful post and insight. I felt resistance growing in me the whole time I read it. After closing it, I realized you taught me something today. It’s nice to see something so on the mark that anytime I argue with it, I learn something about myself. Thank you

  39. Jon
    Jon says:

    So funny story, I was reading this blog about a Gen X lady’s life, the minutia of her daily routine and her kid’s pig, and there was a hilarious satirical post about those self-absorbed, narcissistic Gen Yers. It was classic, truly biting satire, appearing as it did on her self-absorbed, narcissistic blog.

    To begin with, she pointedly didn’t mention the tiresome futility of speaking about generations as a whole, and took the same kinds of broad unsubstantiated potshots that pissed her “generation” off back when baby boomers were doing it twenty years ago. Very clever.

    Then she hit all the salient points: how Gen Y is completely non-competitive, which is obviated by the fact they’re unable to get a job in the worst economy in a generation. And she pointed out how they totally misunderstand entrepreneurship, suggesting (hilariously) that it’s really about doing something innovative – like 19th-century-style small scale farming – not inventing entirely new paradigms like Facebook. And one of my favorite parts was where she said that Gen Y is too soft, having been pampered their whole lives, which is totally what my grandfather said about my parents, and my parents said about my Gen X brothers and sisters!

    One of the funniest parts was when she said Gen X was the revolutionary generation, pointing out how they’ve torn down bourgeois convention by growing s–t organically and parenting.

    It’s easy to miss the joke when she points out how independent Gen Xers are, because only a careful reading would reveal the author’s reliance on an “assistant/nanny” to manage her own independent rural life, discussed in a previous post. What deft satire! Get this lady a desk at The Onion, post-haste!

    The research and linking involved in the piece was all part of the joke too, with its links to a completely irrelevant Wikipedia article about latchkey kids to prove Gen X independence, and other links to the blogger’s own half formed opinions. Talk about Meta! Substantiating your own opinions WITH your own opinions, as a tongue in cheek way to expose the vacuousness of your own opinions and the exercise itself! The spirit of Jonathan Swift is truly alive!

    Another great part is when she suggests Gen Y thinks blowjobs are revolutionary, a classic red herring argument that no one – seriously, no one – has ever tried to make. Ever. Brilliant! But maybe the best part is when, as if to suggest how inherently flawed “Generation Rants” are, she links to an article from 2004 about 15-year-olds and their fellatio habits, when everybody knows Gen Yers were graduating college that year! Or maybe not! Because no one really knows what Gen Y means! Or Gen X! Or Gen Y2K! Because it’s all bulls–t! Boy, she’s really got it!

    Anyway, ya’ll should read the piece. I’ll post a link as soon as I’m finished praising myself and crowdsourcing my decision on whether or not to send her a congratulatory email, which she wouldn’t have any use for anyway.

  40. Win
    Win says:

    This is easily the best post ever. And I’m a gen Y. So yeah, almost all of what you’re saying is true.

  41. Kevin M
    Kevin M says:

    The whole Gen X and Y thing is based on a flawed premise. Coupland’s book “Generation X” was about his generation that graduated college in the 1980s. The media latched onto those ideals without bothering to actually read the book and as a result they applied them to the wrong group of people. My generation got branded with an X, but then stunned the world by not responding the way we were supposed to. This was, of course, because it was the previous generation of youths who lived by Coupland’s unofficial rulebook, only nobody knew it. Then along came Generation Y, and now we are two generations confused, with no clear line of interests or common traits/behaviors to identify anyone. This leads many to make the wrong assumptions, draw the wrong conclusions, and just generally misunderstand each other. All because most people never bothered to read the book that spawned it all. I’m guessing Ms. Trunk hasn’t read the book, either.

    I read it. Good book. Doesn’t really apply to me though.

  42. Sprelghman Tribbs
    Sprelghman Tribbs says:

    Is there nothing that Generation X does not hate? You hate Boomers, you hate Generation Y.
    You hate everything except your selfish, narcissistic selves. Almost as ridiculous as your one Veterans Day posting where you practically called ALL troops and veterans war criminals. Yes, Penelope, you are truly the poster ‘yotch for Generation X! What a wonderful portent for our future.

  43. Anastasia K
    Anastasia K says:

    This is an interesting article. I am part of Gen Y. I constantly hear people referring to us as generation who wants everything right away. We want we want meaningful jobs, we want career growth, we want a work/life balance, and we and we want it all fast. We don’t want to slave for 15 years at a meaningless jobs with insane hours for a same, stable salary.

    And its all true. We don’t. And we get judged for this. Our parents worked really hard. I know mine did and still do. I have immense respect for my parents and the sacrifices they have made. 

    However, just because we want something different doesn’t mean that’s wrong. Just because we expect meaningful careers, great mentors, and great work/ life balance doesn’t mean that we are wrong to do so. You’ll never get something if you don’t ask for it. We’re asking for it and we are making it happen. 

    I think so many Boomers and GenXers are upset is because they HAVE slaved for decades at same careers. They’re work DID at times had to take priority over their quality of life. These aspects constituted their reality. And they are passionate about it b/c you have to be passionate or at least at peace with the way you have lived your whole entire life. Otherwise you’d be miserable. 

    I don’t judge them for their way of life, I just think it’s different. Just like no one should judge us. What we expect is not good or bad, it’s just different.

    I often have these discussions with my mom and its always interesting to hear her input. You know when you have a conversation with someone and you can tell the way they perceive the issue is so fundamentally different then from how you view it? Well thats how these conversations are.

    I told her I want to move back up north in couple of years. I told her I’ve been really thinking about what my next career moves should be as well. My approach to life is holistic. I want to live where I see fit, and I want a great job there as well. She sees this totally different. She says you follow a great job,and sometimes you have to make sacrifices, meaning you might not get to live where you want. I don’t see why I can’t have both :)  

  44. Deadhedge
    Deadhedge says:

    Great articulation of Gen Y’s response to the external forces they are facing.  I have noticed a lot of the same things but didn’t have my thoughts and words as well as organized as you do.

« Older CommentsNewer Comments »

Comments are closed.