How the next generation will surpass Gen Y

The last company I founded, Brazen Careerist, was full of Gen Yers. In fact, for a while, I was the only person in the company older than 25. I spent a lot of time learning to adapt. Fast. And the whole time I thought to myself: I can’t wait until these kids need to adapt to the next generation. I want them to know what it feels like.

At this point, the oldest in Generation Z are just turning 13, and we have enough information about the two demographics to predict what will happen. Aside from my case of schadenfreude, I’m particularly interested in Generation Z because my sons are smack in the middle of it. But also I’m interested because if we understand the impact the next generation will have on the workforce, we’re better able to adapt our own careers for it. So get ready: 

1. In generational conflict Generation Y will hide.
All generations have conflict between each other. But conflict is really bad for Generation Y because they hate conflict. They are the generation that moves home with their parents because they get along so well, and they apologize for quitting because they can’t cope with disappointing their boss. Generation Y is sunny, upbeat, and non-confrontational. Which means that Generation Z, raised by pragmatic, confrontational Gen X parents, will think Gen Y are lame. Weak. Delusional. (Which are the negative traits of kind and non-confrontational.)

2. Gen Z will lead Gen Y almost immediately.
Gen Y hates to stand out. Their idea of leadership is leading from the middle. Or pretending people don’t like leaders. This has not been a problem for them because Gen X doesn’t want to lead. Gen X just want to go home to their kids. So the only people providing top-down leadership at work right now are Baby Boomers who refuse to retire and exist miles and miles from the cutting edge of everything except the new retirement.

So there will be a power vacuum when Gen Z enters the workforce, and they will take it over very quickly. All they’ll need to do is say, “I want to lead.” No one will challenge them. And, conveniently, Strauss and Howe point out that generational tendencies are cyclical, and Generation Z is poised to lead. They grew up in a time of turmoil: economic demise, war, rampant, random shootings. Generation Z will take charge, create stability, keep everything in line.

3. The passion problem will be passe.
Gen Y is immobilized by their need to “do what they love”. Their Boomer parents instilled in them the fairy tale idea that passion should guide what they do. But Baby Boomers have never had this, except when they were unemployed at Woodstock, and their impractical, dreamer career advice has left their kids unable to make decisions. Gen Y has a passion problem. But this will end when Gen Z comes on board.

First of all, Generation Z will be the education generation. They will have been homeschooled at a rate we have never seen before, so they will be great at identifying what they like. Generation Y, on the other hand, was schooled by teachers who told them what to study to ace the test, and parents hired tutors to help, which means Gen Y is particularly good at taking tests and bad at figuring out what they like. Generation Z will fill the gap and simply tell Generation Y what to do.

Generation Z will give meaning to work in a way that Gen Y has talked about but has been incapable of achieving. Work will be about creating a national sense of stability. Work will be about helping families to adjust to the new economic realities. Work will be about helping people build new paths through adulthood that do not focus on the corporation. Gen Z has been priming for this their whole lifes, with their counter-culture, Gen X parents.

4. Gen Z will out-communicate Gen Y.
Right now, Gen Y are the best communicators at work. They are the first generation to be taught social skills at work, and they are genuinely kind and concerned about people. Additionally Gen Y are the first generation who grew up writing for a massive audience, even as kids, and they are the generation with the best writing skills in history.

This will all seem old-fashioned, though, when Gen Z is on the scene. Gen Z communicates largely through video. They use YouTube like it’s Google. For example, when they want to know how to beat a video game, they search online for a video to tell them: no reading.

Teenaged boys are giving video game lectures to thousands of other kids. Teenaged girls are political activists who have their own video platform before they’re thirteen years old. The poise Gen Z has in front of the camera will translate to workplace confidence and charisma. This will be the age of verbal communication rather than written, and Gen Z will shine.

5. Gen Z will force Gen Y to live more in reality.
Gen Y’s obsession with travel is rooted in their acute need to feel special and different and document it in a way their friends approve of. Also, Gen Y has no money, so they are forced to say they value experience above possessions since they can’t afford possessions beyond their de rigeur Apple equipment and marked-down high-end purchases they self-define with.

Jan Chipchase is a great example of the travel-is-everything mentality; he does brag tweets about his job that is nearly 100% travel. Another example: Gen Y brides who forgo the wedding and just splurge on a big trip and a photographer to document the dress in an exotic location. Gen Y lives on Facebook and Instagram, and their reality is whatever is in the photo.

Generation Z is over the photography thing already. Every gadget they have has a camera. Their parents have documented their every move, and they are expecting to have no disposable income, so they won’t’ need to post photos justifying their existeence.

So Gen Z will shine a light on Gen Y and expose a lot that Gen Y hasn’t seen before. But the truth is that every generation keeps the generation before them more honest. In the end, I’m grateful for the Gen Yers who worked with me, and forced me to see myself differently. I am less cynical and more sunny becuase I was surrounded by Gen Yers.

And they will be better, too, once they get over the shock of someone younger than them in the mix.

149 replies
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  1. Alex
    Alex says:

    Dear Penelope,

    I’m a Gen Y, high educated (Master’s degree in Engineering, B.Sc Eng and currently studying a MBA), entrepeneur and ex-employee of Gen X. Let me tell you something, YOU Gen X envy us. You haven’t reach leadership you’ve always been the shadow of baby boomers, and you afraid us. Gen Z’s wouldn’t survive against us, because we’re inventing a new world, new jobs, new workforce, we are highly educated, so what could do they against us?
    You wrote that we avoid conflict, for the love of science my dear!! justify that scientifically (if you know how to do it).

    With all the respect you deserve,
    Don’t be so resentful about our actual success and future leadership

    Sincerely, Gen Y’er

  2. Generation Y
    Generation Y says:

    To think Generation Z is going to differ much from Y at all is a delusion I think you have created so you can convince yourself your kids wont turn out to be huge failures like Generation Y. Both generations were raised by the internet and the social norm is now non-confrontation. Want to break up with someone? Text it. Want to vent about your political views from the safety of your room? Youtube it. Generation X and the Baby boomers screwed Generation Y out of any chance to prosper in the business world. So all Generation Y can do is try to keep a positive attitude. Generation Z will try to help Generation Y put the economy back together but it will all be in vain. They will curse the old farts who put them in this impossible predicament. Society will collapse, the internet will die and the circle of life will go on. I’ll see you in the thunderdome!

  3. Killjoy
    Killjoy says:

    Xenophobe, I’m not Gen Y and I tell you all this using a description is not racist explaining to people something they don’t understand is pointless you can say you’re well travelled but I’m guessing you’ve been 2 maybe 3 cities in your own country and claim well travelled, I’ve worked with people onshore offshore in the desert in zones where travel is limited by air support these people are from all over the world yes they are great people and all but when I get back home there are people that are stagnant and not great they Fester in the their segregated community’s isolated from other races their only values they are within theft and rape violence destruction and hatred for the people that are natural to that area,
    I am so sick and tired of YOUR racist Xenophobe we have serious problems not being addressed because people want to dance about the issue trying to be polite while they destroy and rape like a Virus spreading outwards they’re is no cure other than removal these people you know who they are yet you want to deny it so your all hipster with your iPhone all environmental you believe that lie that there should be a tax from carbon emissions, Simply Fess up to what you really believe and stop fooling your self these people are not minority’s They’re invading and they will destroy your way of life they don’t want to escape what was bad where they came from they only bring all that with them and their offspring are worse then they as they grasp the language better and understand people fear saying anything because it seems racist so they steal and rape and torture in the name of their religion when caught they say they’re being persecuted for their faith

    WAKE UP THE INVASION started awhile ago it was not soldiers at the gate with guns they want to breed us out.

  4. ctom9
    ctom9 says:

    Don’t you think my generation has had enough belittling and badgering? We are not having it very easy and I am nothing like you generalize me to be. My mother did teach me to be passionate and live to be happy. That is because she is a liberal. I grew up and saw the real world. I am now conservative. Liberals love to rely on the institution. That is why they encourage their kids to get a degree in something they love and they will be successful. Just get C’s they’d say. C’s get degrees. Whichever generation becomes the most conservative and the fastest will be the leaders after the last of the scumbag baby boomers have left. Growing up with you guys have left most of us with mental problems by the way; Divorce, alcoholism, immorality.. By the way the reason we do not learn anything in school is because the professors are all you guys. Your idea of an education is to indoctrinate us all to believe in the same hippy policies you guys have been preaching since the Haight Ashbury opened your little drugged out minds. Yeah your time is coming. It is right around the corner. Soon you will be gone and no one will miss you. That plastic surgery does not even make you look pretty. It makes you look like cat women and those puppets that ventriloquists use. You are going to die ugly just like your souls. There will also be a party. We all have job openings yeah!!!! Unless you plan on allowing more illegal immigrants into this country before you are gone. That would really put the icing on the cake. You will have truely destroyed America then. Not our fault look in the mirror.

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    Oh to be a member of Generation Y.. Sometimes I think we should be renamed “The Scapegoat Generation”. We get belittled so much by the older generations and are constantly reminded about how things apparently used to be better in their day. I suppose respect for elders is more important than civil rights (am I right, boomers?) I can see how people might mistake our politeness to authority for submissive passiveness , but I think most of us understand that if you want to succeed, you sometimes gotta smile and hide your resentment. We learned from X the uselessness of rebelling without a cause, and we learned from the vets and the boomers that corporations usually don’t see us as much more than expendable paychecks, so why should we break our backs for them? Also at least half of generation Y grey up in the conflicts you mentioned. I was about 10 I think when 9/11 happened, and 16 when we went into an economic turmoil. I highly doubt most of Z remembers any of that. Just my 2 cents. Peace.

  6. SlimJimmi
    SlimJimmi says:

    Sound to me like the author would rather attack gen y because her children are in gen z. if this is true, then she’ll be contributing a bit to the decline in the discipline that we see in every generation; all because she’d rather see her gen z kids as angels that can do no wrong.

  7. Kel
    Kel says:

    Penelope you remind me a lot of the other gen X parents that I deal with on a daily basis who are all convinced that their children will change the world. My parents, boomers, we’re very much in the camp of praising your child for everything they did. It made for a harsh reality for me when I was thrown into the world as an adult and suddenly had to deal with reality. What I see gen x doing is even scarier, you aren’t just praising your children you are expecting greatness out of your children. Gen Z is disconnected. They are even more narcissistic than us gen Yers. What Gen Y might actually succeed in doing that the boomers destroyed is bringing back the value of the family unit.

  8. Ben
    Ben says:

    I’m 20, I guess I’m a Gen Y.

    Our cyclical patterns have been disrupted by the poisonous educational and societal environment for our children. Gen Z may come out with computer savvy expertise and a fresh opposition to the boomers views, but they are also tainted by the oversexed, over-leisure, and unrealistic behavior of their parents coupled with a massive lack of habits of productivity.

    It really doesn’t matter though, hands down, the boomer generation annihilated the future of all Western generations to come – The massive economical expansion and a complete disregard for the finite resource bases that the entire system is based on will negate any aggregate generational views. How is it that not one boomer can come out raging about the fact that we are using our resources at too fast of a rate to continue our civilization?

    SOME Gen Z’s may come out real smart, but it scales with how much their parent’s would have let them be. Boomers and Old Gen Y’s are terrible over-parents, and will destroy their children’s sense of intuition and independence. Many Gen Y and Gen Z’s will adopt a learned helplessness of society, gain mass anxiety turned hysteria, and hate the boomers no matter what, due to the economical disregard of future generations.

    In fact, boomers should have most their social security benefits taken for the sustainability of the future generations.

  9. Ben
    Ben says:

    In the past, when the aggregate flow of information per country (or per society), was steady and rather slow, these generational cycles had huge influence. In other words, without the huge jump in the ability to collect information and learn that came from the internet and modern media, many character traits were left to the person’s view of the preceding generation. E.g. We know not to back our entire lifestyle with our mortgage like the boomers, as that is unrealistic, unsustainable, and inconsiderate to our children and all descendants.

    We see this manifest in economic crisis, the 2008 crash which was encouraged by consumer debt and failed housing speculation took ~40% of my education fund. Not that the education market is healthy anymore, the institutions run like businesses now and have incentive to have people join any degree program, rather than programs which correspond to the future job market in the country.

    This entire problem is clouded by our resource depletion – which demands immediate population control and super-organized lifestyle logistics, e.g. pure socialism, sustainable development, etc, due to the horrible ignorance of the boomers and their parent’s in not understanding the rate at which our usage of finite resources climbs as we developed.

    And while the future possibility of hundreds of human generations were blatantly wiped from all plausibility, you were probably whining about some stupid personal financial peril. E.g. not being able to buy your second SUV or the summer cottage. What the hell was the point of that when your kids will be selling their bodies for resources and your dollar will be too inflated, and your arm too weak, to help them live an enjoyable existence.

    Time have changed. It is quite blatant, to all generations after Gen X, that they have completely taken advantage of an unrealistic system, and have left the future of humanity with barrel scrapings. If your a boomer and you have an opinion, please just keep it too yourself, as the opinion did not take into account your horrible ignorance. All boomers have a huge negativity complex, and need to blame problems on others or they will ignore them, hands down, hence your tone against Gen Y’s.

    Can you accept that your unrealistic financial habits completely destroyed the possibility of prosperity for your children’s future? And the mass spending of all boomers alike made such a consumerist and advertizement-plagued society that your kids heads are probably mush do to the constant bs they are subject to? Of course, on the other hand, they probably see through it, they can probably see through the baby boomer bs, and they will in time see through you, and loose respect for you, do to an ignorance to obvious problems.

  10. Ben
    Ben says:

    I don’t want to leave too much negativity, even though that is all you left us, I do believe it is wrong to put others in that state.

    Your kids won’t live a normal life, the time to come will be highly unpredictable and unrealistically difficult to adapt to. There’s a few things you can do to ensure a better life for your kids.

    – Make sure they are independent and intuitive, NOT bookworms. You want your kids to be able to think of the solution with no resources needed, as opposed to needing a “book” (or factoids) to regurgitate for every situation they get themselves into. This is best done by.. leaving them be! Don’t tell them to do homework at some time, barely help them, leave the house in their control for long periods of time, get angry at them and teach them discipline. This is important for their growth. People forget that we are designed to be running through the jungle naked looking for food, we miss out on some skills by not doing that.

    – Master petty survival skills. Theft, cooking, food storage, hunting, foraging, farming, basic construction (engineering), mechanical expertise (for device repairs), siphoning, fire-making, martial arts, charisma, good dietary understanding, first aid, panic psychology, firearms, camouflage, intelligence gathering, geography, lock picking,

    – Get them to a suitable location. Need a freshwater watershed, southern states or a isolated watershed. Also want temperate climate, no permafrost, arable land. Need low human density, high biodiversity for food resources, and a rugged terrain to deter other survivors from venturing in.

    – Need a small, well-organized survival crew with only enough women to ensure continuity of bloodline. Females are more so designed to care for the child directly while the father is for the gathering or indirect care. This circumstance we’ve made contradicts this, so we need to protect the women more aggressively and thus reduce the numbers to a 1:1 ratio if that.

    – Most importantly, you’ll need to induce a dominant sense of logic in them, where they realize and respect the fact that emotional and instinctive behaviour is detriment to the their survival now. In the past, instincts created survival, but now you’ll have to be logical to make use of the available resources super-efficiently, while also being able to let go of others much easier, as the coming time will be one of population management.

    Goodluck to yourself and your family.

  11. VisitorX
    VisitorX says:

    I always laugh when I hear people talk about how great young people are with technology. Our country has been on a 50 year decline in technical education and ability. When I was in high school, I wrote my own video games. The young gen Y programmers I work with – college grads – are befuddled by pointers. Our high-tech industries are filled with stupid fads and project management “gurus” who pish-posh at the notion of sitting down to think about how software should be designed as a waste of time, and pitch dangerously stupid ideas about how to produce critical systems. And what is the result? Our country’s best fighter jet is BILLIONS over budget, and has design flaws that kill our own pilots. We can’t build rockets to reach our own (20 year old) space station anymore. We rely on importing engineering students from foreign countries to keep our university science and engineering departments staffed.
    This is nonsense. The kids are not alright. Piss poor discipline and dishonesty from the parents. Stupid, airheaded children who don’t pull their weight on the job or in the classroom. Ask some old teachers about how the kids are today compared to when they started.

  12. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    Interesting but I do differ with you on some points.

    I’m part of Gen Y (born 1991) and the “passion problem” of our generation does resonate with me but not in the way that you might think. I had older parents and so was raised by baby boomers, but my mother had given up her low-level jobs in my childhood – she had an opportunity to go into education and get a career she was passionate about (a high school teacher) in her 40s.

    I would argue that the “passion problem” is something that the older generation that raised Gen Y has pressured onto us. “You have so many opportunities nowadays [not actually true] compared to back when I was your age, do something you love instead of the crappy jobs I had to work!”

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but my parents were very insistent that I didn’t have to do what they had to do in their youth, and to grasp onto opportunities (higher education) so I could get ahead. They wanted me to get a passion-filled career and/or a job that pays tons of money.

    The problem is that in their day an undergrad degree would have shot them to the top of their post-graduation jobs, but nowadays it’s the level of education everyone’s expected to have.

    Gen Y has been pressured by parental figures to stand out even if we’re average (see: our internet culture borderlining on self-celebrity) and do something we love. But I, and many of my friends, don’t care about standing out and also don’t care about what job we have as long as there’s /something/ there that’s good, and that getting any job is a good thing in our economy.

    If I end up with an average, entry-level type job with not much to recommend it except that the people there are really great to work with, that’s good enough for me. Or if I had a boring job with nothing else to recommend it except that it pays steadily and pretty well, that’s good enough for me. Etc. Etc. Not everything has to be amazing, but as long as /something/ is good, it’s good enough. I’d be happy to stay there and work and hopefully get promoted somewhere down the line. I can channel my passions into my personal life. But I know that if I do this (and likely will), it’ll disappoint my parents because they would want to me to do something solely creative instead of sporadically putting my creative talents into a non-creative job.

    They’ve told us to aim for the best, the most passion-filled projects, that anything else is settling for less. But I think much of Gen Y now see that taking any job you can get in this economy is good, that at least you have a job, at least you’re making a steady income.

    And as a generation I think we are moral. We do like to compete but here’s the thing: we don’t like winning if it’s at the expense of someone else.

    The reason we don’t like hierarchy is that it gives some people leeway to treat others like garbage with no consequence. After all, where has ultra-competitiveness and hierarchy in business gotten us? It gave us this tanking economy, for a start. Rich people on the top of the food chain have basically gambled entire livelihoods away – so I don’t see why your generation is so enamoured with these traits when they’ve caused so many people so much grief. But I digress.

    We are morality-centred and a very empathetic generation (how can we not be when everyone’s stories are on the internet for us to see and put a name and a face to?) which is why competitiveness is less of a ‘thing’ for us I think.

    Sorry for the length of this comment. Your post was very interesting and did give me food for thought. I do think it’s a little too early to assign such important characteristics to Gen Z-ers, I think it depends who is raising them as well, Gen X or Gen Y, but I guess we’ll see!

  13. Abdul Rmih
    Abdul Rmih says:

    if Generation Z thinks Generation Y are lame, weak, and delusional, then Generation Y as well should have the same mind set. Since Generations Y as well has been raised by the “pragmatic, confrontational Gen X parents”.

  14. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    I agree with Bill, generation X will be a nothing but some third world migrants and will be living in slums. I mean look at generation Y most of us do drugs and are dirt poor thanks to Obama what makes you think anything can get better theirs no God so theirs nothing to make anything better. Gen. X will just be as worse nothing but obese dumb wited drug addicted assiodine fouls. The goverment sucks North Korea what’s to nuke us China wants to invade the United States. Obama does shit to help he’s nothing more than a second Hover plus Obama what’s Gen.X to all of the U.S.’s debts and Obama what’s the Miliatary Budget to be cut which leads to weaker Miliatary he just answered China’s dreams. Gen. X will be lazier, More drug addicted &,more people won’t be able to go a second without a cookie or Technology I don’t care if its racist or offensive to you but the truth is the truth I study this stuff I went to Harverd any if you are afended Gen.X wasn’t born yet when they are Gen.Y won’t even be alive. So suck it up. Many of are grandchildren will be Gen.X it is subsected that at this point Gen.X will be the most uneducated & most short lived in history. We figured out that a majority of Gen.Y will live longer then the the last Generation but Gen.X we astimite will live to be in their mid teens to their late 20’s. Where ever the writer of the website got his facts were very wrong…

  15. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    I agree with Bill, generation X will be a nothing but some third world migrants and will be living in slums. I mean look at generation Y most of us do drugs and are dirt poor thanks to Obama what makes you think anything can get better theirs no God so theirs nothing to make anything better. Gen. X will just be as worse nothing but obese dumb wited drug addicted assiodine fouls. The goverment sucks North Korea what’s to nuke us China wants to invade the United States. Obama does shit to help he’s nothing more than a second Hover plus Obama what’s Gen.X to all of the U.S.’s debts and Obama what’s the Miliatary Budget to be cut which leads to weaker Miliatary he just answered China’s dreams. Gen. X will be lazier, More drug addicted &,more people won’t be able to go a second without a cookie or Technology I don’t care if its racist or offensive to you but the truth is the truth I study this stuff I went to Harverd any if you are afended Gen.X wasn’t born yet when they are Gen.Y won’t even be alive. So suck it up. Many of are grandchildren will be Gen.X it is subsected that at this point Gen.X will be the most uneducated & most short lived in history. We figured out that a majority of Gen.Y will live longer then the the last Generation but Gen.X we astimite will live to be in their mid teens to their late 20’s. Where ever the writer of the website got his facts is lie because they are very wrong…

  16. rich
    rich says:

    haha you really came at us there Penelope. I dont really appreciate that as someone from Gen Y. Your assuming that everyone in Gen Y doesn’t want to lead, ever. That is a pretty broad assumption.

  17. john bishop
    john bishop says:

    This article is complete conjecture and smacks of bias.
    How can you comment on an entire generation like this?
    Penelope, in my humble opinion, you are wrong.

  18. Tristan
    Tristan says:

    What I learned from this article: Gen X’ers are even more narcissistic than Baby Boomers.

    I didn’t know that trend spotting meant making broad, sweeping generalizations in order to satisfy simplistic(and self-aggrandizing) worldviews. This Gen Y’er is not impressed…

  19. INTJ
    INTJ says:

    I so hope you’re right! As someone from the tail-end of Generation Y), I get so annoyed by the Gen Y traits you have listed here (being non-confrontational and not wanting to push the Boomers out of leadership, only wanting to “do what they love” without any sense of pragmatism, and the whole “travel the world” thing, especially with Gen Y women).

    I suppose I’m different because I was home schooled and always got along better with younger kids.

  20. Abby
    Abby says:

    So I am the youngest of gen y and about to defend us.
    -First off the idear that we are not well travled is true, but keep in mind as soon as we were old enuff to be taken to other countries the economy crashed.

    -Then we graduated high school and collage with high honors degrees and had no jobs to be found.

    -I want you to see that dose not meen we are not cutlery diverse, because we embrace diversity and atleast where I live, have at least 35 different nationalities represented in my class alone.

    -We are not tech savy, that belongs to gen z. We are tech dependent, but have no idear how it works.

    -I think the reason we are optimist is because we raised to be. Our parrents told us “do what makes you happy” and “you can be anything you want”.

    – As for team work, we had to get along with each other, our numbers suppas the babby boomers. And were on nearly every team sport imaginable over our summers.

    -We were sheltered from our parrents as childeren, but things got real when had columbine, 9-11, and economy crashed. We saw our parents who we love struggles and was a reality check to us all.

    -As a positive person, I am about to say what I admire about the other generations.
    *Gen x and z can cope being alone for vast amounts of time.
    *Gen x made all of the new technology we have today.
    *Gen z not only understands how technology works, but can creat their own and do it for fun.
    *Gen x went outside their confort zone and made us feel welcome in an unwelcoming world.

    Only constern for gen z is their interactions face to face. As a y, I embrace it, but they hate it. They are multi taskers not team players. Have fun Gan x watching us have brake downs when they join the work force.

  21. Zach
    Zach says:

    Well, i have to point out a few things here, first off that statistically generation y actually have it alot worse than the baby boomers and gen x did. they are the most educated yet under employed generation in history, its not easy for them, when i got out of highschool i was making 11 bucks an hour and my house was 25 grand, i was able to pay entirely for school working part time, and easily save for my house which costed 25 grand, it was a basic home, but better quality then what you would get today here for 300 grand, my daughter got out of highschool making 11 dollars an hour, which is average here with no education, her school costed 20 grand. she got no job. so lets just give the y’ers a little bit of a break here, i know this is not the case for every y’er but statistically their numbers for an easy life are not looking good, its not even close to fair when compared to their parents life, infact their parents are now being called, the luckiest generation. I only worry about generation z tho, atleast gen y was raised before everyone started drugging their kids, so many gen z kids have been hopped up on rediculously damaging and addictive drugs prescribed by doctors called “profesionals” i think they will make an interesting addition to the work force, in a sad humorous kind of way. i do not look forward to training them. the huge percentage of kids in america who are addicted to drugs that literally render them emotionless. they are freakin insane, literally insane and will not have good job preformance. the only hope generation z has is the death of the baby boomers, freeing up soooo many houses and lowering the price. and the only chance for gen y, is the exact same thing. for two different reasons, and yes im generalising, but im speaking statistically, the facts, the numbers, lets stop hating on the next generation all the time and just realise how lucky we were to be baby boomers and gen xers, the average person our age was born right after the bad, right into the good economic times, of relative peace and prosperity, school was cheap, houses were cheap, infact baby boomers and gen xers mostly only gain from gen y’s current suffering, and then only complain that they are lazy or stupid. looks at the facts people, i wouldnt wanna be 22 with loans no job and the most expensive living costs. and i wouldnt wanna be 8 years old and be on ridalin for the last 4 years. because i was lucky, and they are certainly not.

  22. Joe
    Joe says:

    I completely disagree. One society as a whole is “dumbing” down we think were advancing day by day because all of this new technology that is being made when in reality. Smart phones, you tube, Google all these features are being made for us to have a more simple life. Let me ask you this? get a kid from generation Z and see if they can tune a guitar with there ear and on there own and not with their Ipad or Iphone bet they cant. You say Z will pass the Yers because of videos and communicating and learning through you tube instead of Google. Once again wrong…. Whats going to happen if all of a sudden all these programs fail or shut down or even fade out. How will anyone learn how to do anything without teachers and people with experience verses being home schooled. You need to travel the world to see it for what it really is and not what we as the “Middle class” are brainwashed to see it as. Z is going to be stuck in the social media world more then any generation ever. They are going to date more online talk more and text more through screens and phones. They literally will become socially awkward and anti-social more then any other generation. Think about it back when we did not have cell phones Men and women in this country where less awkward had to go up to each other and write there home phone number down and actually put a social effort in dating. Now people are hiding through screens and text no one talks on the phone anymore and dating online is becoming more and more popular. its sickening. The reason why us yers travel and speak about what we would like to do or want to do is because were always open to new opportunities learn new things being happy! and mainly disgusted with how the way things are going on in our economy and disgusted with all these distractions like “Jersey Shore” and every single ridiculous reality TV show. Things aren’t how they are suppose to be. We have people in the U.S complaining everyday of how they struggle and how they are going to pay this next bill and how they are going to get food on the table well meanwhile they have family plans for Iphones drive BMWs and Mercedes Benz. When they don’t realize by just being an american citizen alone is a HUGE advantage. If you become homeless in this country what are you going to do. Go to California or down south to Florida sleep on the beach and when you want to eat people will give you food or you can go to the nearest shelter or food bank and when you want to drink you will go to the nearest water hose and drink all the water you want. When there is little children in other places of the world like Africa and India who starve and walk miles upon miles to get to the nearest well. and families are making upwards of 1-2 american dollars daily. Thats why the yers are the way we are. Thats why we travel. Thats why we live up to every moment and take pictures and share them with our friends. God help the future generations !

  23. cabomba
    cabomba says:

    Penelope Trunk, I would like to point out that you need to be more realistic with your expectations for your son. Generation Z has many many problems of their own should not be over looked, such as health, short attention span, reliance on technology.

    Its pointless to brag about you son’s generation now because I’m sure the children of Gen Y will surpass them too. It could just go on and on, so what is the point. And may I point out that the real competition for your sons is not Gen Y but the rest of the Gen X population! Each generation completes amongst themselves. Your home schooled sons will be completing against children who have been to school and learnt to socialize with their peers on a mass level and on a daily basis.

    Don’t be sour about having to adapt. Adaptation is part of life, change is the only constant. Us Gen Y know it very well. You should be grateful for you Gen Y employees for keeping you on your toes. In fact you should thank them each for challenging you and hopefully opening your mind just a little bit more.

  24. Trash-Talkin' Bout My Generation
    Trash-Talkin' Bout My Generation says:

    Sheesh, don’t you think it’s a little early to count us out? And actually it was Generation Y that grew up with the violence and turmoil – Generation Z won’t remember that stuff, they’re too young. Generation Y is the Columbine generation.

    I don’t want to feed into this same old bashing of the generation that comes after me. I think it’s way too early to tell with Generation Z. I know they will be spoiled as all get-out.

    The children of Gen X are going to be as sheltered and overpraised as Gen Y because Gen X was neglected and dismissed. The children of Gen Y, however, won’t be as overpraised and sheltered because Gen Y’ers will backlash against that.

    I don’t think homeschooling is going to be a positive development at all. The average American doesn’t know enough to teach.

  25. jennifer Anne
    jennifer Anne says:

    all I know is that we are all living here on Earth TOGETHER!
    Now that is said. I have worked with some very VERY lame 20 something people. They must have their head up their asses in not wanting other people to enjoy what WE WORK FOR. They follow you to the coffee pot and are lazy when it comes to doing work … yet they never seem to get in trouble … facebook, being bossy and stupid at best to describe Generation Y. Like saying you leave me out to drown at 41 you’ll just smell the crap in the sun I left 4 you when I die. Tired of being poor and broke and unhappy and listening to stupid gangster rap and seeing tragedy after tragedy and none of you doing ANYTHING about but saying sucks 4 you. sick people get a life and grow up TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT YOU DO AND SAY AND THINK! GET IT TOGETHER AND STOP THE TWERKING AND TEXT AND DRIVING AND STUPID DRUGS. GROW UP! a concerned 41 year lady.

  26. meh
    meh says:

    So generation Z is going to be really good at video games and will think that being a good photographer will involve knowing how to use a camera phone. Because of this, they grow up to be John Connors and save humanity.

  27. troconnell
    troconnell says:

    What a truly disappointing post. You could of said something encouraging, or constructive, but instead decided to vent your frustration out on the generation that came after yours. And by doing what? Talking about how Gen Z (the offspring of Gen X, imagine that) will supposedly be superior. What have you accomplished in this post other than to stir a beehive?

    Everything you say is unfounded speculation and wishful thinking. What you described (both positive and negative) can be found in every generation. Everyone here can find examples on both sides of the +/- spectrum.

    There are frankly, to many of your “points” (as idiotic as they may be) that make very little sense or just personal opinion. You win in the sense that I am overwhelmed with horrible arguments, find the whole effort pointless, and can’t even pick one to debate. You would be best taking a moment and looking inward at what you are really angry about before you start to generalize for your own self satisfaction.

    I’m sorry you have a blog, and I am even more sorry that I forced myself to read this.

  28. jennifer Anne
    jennifer Anne says:

    Generation Y – self entitled and don’t go the extra mile in wanting to learn business processes and procedures.

    Generation X – my generation has too much pushing and shoving and competitions to get and keep a job.

    Baby boomers – frickin bullies to the core. Especially the women always ganging up on a generation x woman whose trying to keep cool and keeps on with the social bs.

    There are good people out there but too much social aggression and wrong people whom make bad laws, pad rules and push those of us whom can be effective in the workplace out because of eh hemmmm INSECURITIES lifestyle, favortism (does the boss like me) or just plain right out uncivilized to those of us whom need and want to make a living, do our jobs, keep the one we have and produce good quality work and have a quality life free from crack addicts, illegals with music too high, every now and then getting to hear wind breathe water and live life. enough of your spoiled generation IT IS TOO RETARTED TO EVEN COMPREHEND! push for more jobs and more ethical practices in the workplace. Its time for your generation to start working for us whom placed proper work processes for ALL of us to get ahead in the working world. 40 somethings as myself are fed up with always having to be on the soap box!

  29. Alex
    Alex says:

    Can I just say, deserving of a mention also is the fact that one huge reason gen Y’s have no money is because of the baby boomers will not retire. They can’t lead because the positions aren’t there for them to fill.

  30. Tara
    Tara says:

    I respectfully disagree… As a Gen Y member, a lot of our issues come from the fact we have been “re-educated” in the work place. Unless you are from the Upper class, you were shoved in a very diverse, in every way possible, (largely economic,) environment. The kind of environment Middle Class Baby Boomers spent the first 16-18 years of our lives “sheltering” us from. This first hand exposure to people that were so vastly different from us created this epic bond of embracing new ideas. This was also at the beginning of the rise of social media which we championed.

    But, our parents made sure we were broke. As they stood by and let the College system be over run by profiteering and greed. Letting people pay $200 for a text book of which nothing has changed but the cover in 10 years. And so. Congress made sure the cost of normal goods speed past the rate of incomes as if it was nothing.

    They let the military try to snatch up every single person they could to go fight an illegal war so private industry can make money selling weapons, stealing oil, and opium. (Yes, I’m not an Idiot Afghanistan is the words largest producer of Opium… Opium is what makes CODEINE, Ie it’s it nearly every single pill the USA consumes!)

    Generation Y is submissive out of survival. We have had everything our parents taught us BEATEN out of our heads as if we were fools for believing there fairy tales. You work hard, you go to college, you get a good job… Ha ha ha… Riiiight! *Wink* No, no, no, it’s bow your head or you won’t eat, or make your over priced rent.

    Generation Y, is sadly waiting for their parents to just die and hopefully not pissed away their inheritance before then. It’s the only way we will ever own homes.

    They bankrupted the government. They argue of social issues that no longer matter. The last President’s Grandfather was a Nazi Banker for crying out loud. We are the most uneducated generation not because we chose to be, but because our parents didn’t want to deal with REAL protest when we figured out all the crap they were up too.

    Born 1986 ~ In the 10th grade I was sitting in History Class (Ironically) watching the 2nd plane hit the tower in 2001… I was a Senior in High School when the declared War on Iraq. And I was a Senior in College earning my Business Degree during the greatest Stock Market crash since the Great Depression. God Bless America. ;)

  31. Dimenty
    Dimenty says:

    The truth is, we don’t lead because we weren’t allowed to. Helicopter parents did their best to ensure that everyone had a trophy and everyone got an invitation to the birthday party. Problematic as it is, we are quite reluctant to believe that not all people are equal in gifts (despite the fact that there are many types of gifts indeed).This is the legacy that incapacitates us. In the real world, feelings are hurt and disappointments are had. The behavior is learned-mid grade effort=equalizing reward class wide=no possibility for failure. Workplace provides opportunity for failure and singular reward, which is both unfamiliar and uncomfortable for adults who were consistently taught to blend. These teachings in the formative years breed avoidance, narcissism and antisocial tendencies when the fantasy begins to shatter (specifically avoidance which is what many of you are perceiving as laziness or nonconfrontational behavior)
    I am in gen y. My mother overinflated my self esteem, to be sure. However, she dogmatically upheld expectations for success and personal responsibility (highly unpopular in gen y) that have insulated me from some of these tendencies. if you are in gen y and lucky enough to be given some skills to guard against these traits, the benefit is that you don’t need to expect stiff competition in the workplace (joke, obviously). anyway, i plan to work as hard as my parents did to become successful and leave these lazy peers behind and raise children who understand that life is not about you, because you are fleeting. It is about the positive contribution that you can make in a short time to the collective whole.

  32. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    from a single gen xer / workplace politics aren’t supposed to matter so much. Every job is suppossed to have a purpose behind it. We all fill out an application, everyone has to put bread on the table. No one should divide people so much through physical / social standards just to get a job / career. People should be hired by qualifications in order to keep doing for yourself and family. No matter how many kids to feed or husbands to care for. Generations aren’t the problem dividing American values and people into a giant hole is. If you see something wrong in the core of leadership or someone your age is doing not right go through the proper channels of resources to speak up so it doesn’t happen again. I see all types slacking on the jobs (facebook, it’s because i know so and so so i get this, sexual harrassments shhhh don’t say anything or you won’t work tomorrow)…. standards it’s not a generation thing EVERYONE needs to work TOGETHER TO get out of the creepy sandquick within the Alpha regimine. Awful!

  33. j Annie d
    j Annie d says:

    truth is……we are what is formed through the parallels of society. Every generation has it’s garbage. Most people live upon the fundamentals of an encourageable society. The majority of people don’t see generations as a nation and world as a whole. Alot of stereotyping and division. … time to get it all together for the price of consequences will be tremendous. We all deserve to work. even though my comment didn’t get published.!

  34. David Evans
    David Evans says:

    When I was 13 years old, during my first year of college, I was quoted by the Arizona State Press, making a statement that has oddly become more relevant with time.

    “We are not Generation X. We are the the generation that will solve for X.” – Oct 19th, 1999

    Also, I hate to break it to you, but leadership jobs require a minimum of 10-15 years of experience. It’s not so simple as walking in and saying, “I want to lead”.

  35. Brutus
    Brutus says:

    Quasi-intellectual American pap, if you look at Penelope’s career profile there is not much there that would make her an authority on anything except she is a reasonable HTML worker who knows how to get people hooked on her ideas, through the hammering of her keyboard on her lonely farm in the wilds of Wisconsin (what else is there to do there?)
I would rather read someone who had more authority, experience, and learning but even their predictions as to the future would be mostly wrong because circumstances are constantly changing, live for today

  36. j Annie d
    j Annie d says:

    only if we could all see that one within and stop stereotyping others and GET ALONG! smile at someone just because they might be 10 years younger or older or someone doesn’t have children or this or that… we should of learned this a YEAR AGO AND YEARS BEFORE TO STOP HATRED IN THE WORLD!!!!!

    That’s why Penelope’s article disturbed my thoughts as a woman in my 40’s. We shouldn’t save our emotions to express through technology or the who’s who.

  37. Bilal
    Bilal says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I know I am a little late to the party with this discussion, but your post was very thought-provoking. Disclosure, I am a Gen Y, but since this is an intellectual discussion about ideas and concepts I have no need to be offended by your perspectives.

    That said, I’d ask you look at Generation Y globally, just through what you directly perceive in North America or the West.


    In the Arab/Muslim world (where I’m from), Generation Y is the heroic generation. We stood up against the dictators and tyrants our predecessors bowed to and generally cowered away from. We are still dying for the right causes in Egypt and Syria.

    In Europe Generation Y must cope with the failures, ineptitude and inefficiencies of their predecessors. We are seeing 30-50% unemployment rates with little to nothing being done to address the problems at their root. Are we asking for a hand out? NO. We are asking for economic policies that channel more *existing* wealth into the real economy, so as to stimulate job growth for not just Generation Y, but everyone. The ones standing in our way, from a policy perspective, are from Generation X and the remnant Baby Boomers.

    In East Asia, where money is flowing (at least to a greater extent than in the West), Generation Y is spearheading changes in private and public sector cultures, so as to enhance efficiency and accelerate growth. Companies such as Sunrise have taken the bold step to put aside their traditional linkages with Cable and have decided to simulcast anime to the world via YouTube for free. Unheard of only a few years ago, and *still* unheard of in the non Gen Y dominated media industry in the West.

    If there is one thing that is true about Generation Y, it is that Generation is the least understood and the most scapegoated. Look. We didn’t F-up the world, nor are we legitimizing an F-ed up world. We sought to educate ourselves on ideas, concepts, beliefs and all the good stuff in liberal arts. Yet, the job market we met was not one that appreciated the development of ideas, it would much rather distance itself from the very embers that led to the Renaissance.

    Based on my observations, Generation Z will end up just like Generation Y. They will see a dysfunctional world and they will – under Y’s leadership – grow to disdain the status-quo. Yes, it may be Gen Z (when they themselves are parents) who will take on the culminating role of changing the world, but they’ll merely be implementing the ideals of Generation Y.

  38. says:

    Gen Z is the weakest generation America has ever known. Ridiculous, selfish parents have created a legion of mush. These kids are not prepared to do anything but be loved.

    Nobody will be running anything. We have given our freedom away. The goal is that everyone is just lazy, poor and equal. I persoanlly blame it all on Gen X, my generation.

    Gen X was too busy babying their precious little angels to keep an eye of the socialist takeover. We voted socialist after socialist into power because it feels nice. After all, capitalism is so mean. The dream is over, so learn to enjoy the government teet :)

  39. Joshua sade
    Joshua sade says:

    Soo this person wrote this sometime in the end of 2012 I take. Well he said that they would just be turning thirteen if they were part of gen z, I would have just turned 14, the thing is gen z actualy started around 1995 so actualy you would have been wrong to say they had just turned 13. I have done extensive research on this matter. Also it made me wonder. What are we as gen z gonna be like when we run the show, when we are uncharge of this world. I can hardly wait. :)

  40. Julie O'Leary
    Julie O'Leary says:

    I am only at the beginning of this article and already enjoying it immensely! After employing a few Gen Y, I can relate. As a mother of two Gen Zs, I am curious to know what the future holds for such a teensy weensy generation. From what I have read, they only amount to 23 million. That is 25% the size of Gen Y and only 50% the size of Gen X. At least they will have an easier time getting into institutions of higher education. I am a graduate of UT Austin. I really want my kids to attend school there, but UT has a top 10% policy. They will not accept incoming freshman unless they graduated in the top 10%. This was not the case when Gen X arrived at UT, but shortly became the policy after I graduated. Now I can see it is because Gen Y was so large, schools could be more picky. I doubt this will still be the case when Gen Z attends university. Maybe Gen Z will experience a quieter and less competitive world….I certainly hope so. It will be interesting in deed based on population and cohort numbers alone.

  41. Riddles
    Riddles says:

    As a Gen. Yer (1989) I have to strongly disagree with this article. It sounds like, as the writer admitted in the beginning, they have an underlying grudge towards Yers. Dont get me wrong, I see a LOT of my peers doing the things in this article, but you cant cover everyone under the same blanket.

  42. Sally
    Sally says:

    Hello, maybe I overlooked it or just need a nap, but could you clarify the ages you (for the purpose of your article) consider to fall into X, Y, and Z? Thanks.

  43. Keenan Wall
    Keenan Wall says:

    This is very different in canada, our generation Y and X are very party characteristical (sit by a fire with a beer and girls) we are happy and have the we don’t give a f___ idea in mind and aren’t mean comments to each other are used in a funny tone. now generation Z in canada is very weird they are against drinking and weed they stick to them self wear a lot of black and some depressed and cut them self, very mean to each other and don’t know how to party without looking like a wannabe, also always attached to there cells

  44. bumblebell
    bumblebell says:

    You just sound like a narcissistic mother: totally obsessed with your own Generation Z offspring that you feel the need to put other people down in favor of them. Get a freaking grip, lady.

  45. Beth
    Beth says:

    Interesting take on newly formed generation…I do take slight exception to the idea that Generation Xers “don’t like to lead” – I do not find that to be the case. We are impatient and cynical at times, but growing up we never expected to be coddled – we are independent, spirited and often seek to lead where others will not or seem incapable (precisely because we can be impatient). A generalization, yes, but another side to the critique that GenX doesn’t lead. We are leaders as much as the prior generation – there just happen to be a heck of alot more babyboomers…

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