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Talkin’ ’bout my generation.

February 10, 2009
talkin-bout-my-generation

From facebook to LinkedIn. Gmail to Outlook. An amalgamation of all the things I use on a daily basis.

Who is driving the technology agenda? Big surprise; it’s Generation Y. Gen Y, consumers 18-28 years old, are somewhat of an enigma to marketers. They juggle smartphones, iPods, blogs, microblogs, personal and professional social networks, and actual human relationships, all the while being productive at work. I recently had a fascinating conversation with a Gen X co-worker (29-42 years old), who could not for the life of him understand this phenomena.

Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester Research said the key distinction between Generation X and Y is that Generation X uses technology when it supports a “lifestyle need” whereas tech is “embedded into everything Gen Yers do” making them the first “native online population.” Melissa Hamilton, digital guru at Rodgers Townsend, argues that “kids today can multi-task like no other, which makes what they do in a day all layer up on top of one another – so they do ‘network’ all day but in between doing a million other things.” I completely agree.

All the buzz around social media in The Lair recently has prompted Greg, a Gen Xer, to join the digital party and create his own facebook account. Check back for Greg’s post on the trials and tribulations of a novice facebooker.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    February 10, 2009 8:58 pm

    Just remember Gen X started the internet revolution. Gotta represent.

    I do agree that the assumption that Gen Y is not effective or productive is false. Gen Y productivity just looks and feels different to us. Just as Gen X productivity looked and felt different to Boomers when it hit the scene. We were labeled slackers back in the day. But we handled our business.

    I’ve seen what terrific things you freaky Gen Y folks can do. I stand on the bridge between two monster generations and get to observe and work with both of them daily. I value the hard work and dedication of Boomers. I value the flexibility and innovation of my generation. And I value the creativity, techno-comfort and team mentality of Gen Y.

    I do think some things require mono-tasking and note taking and old skool tools like books and the telephone and face-to-face conversations with devices turned off. But The Lair is proof that there’s a middle ground. X can learn from Y just as Y learns from X. And we can all learn a lot from Boomers.

    Terrific post, Alex.

  2. MelissaHamilton permalink
    February 11, 2009 3:33 pm

    Ditto on “terrific post” in that you called me a guru.

    Just kidding.

    It does amaze me how technology for Gen Y is like breathing. And to top it all off, their use of technology is not only causing a major cultural shift in the marking world, but also the discussion of public and private, education, family, politics, legislation and so on. As a GenXer myself, I often find myself struggling to keep up. I’m on Facebook, I half-ass twitter, and I don’t text. My 19-year-old sister laughs when I email. And I am in the industry.

    But to Crystal’s point, there are lessons to be learned and patience to be had that I hope Gen Y will soon appreciate as they move at lightening paced speed through the 20 different forms of social computing they do in one day.

    I teach Ad principles and practices at St. Louis University, and my students were shocked when they heard that employers are now checking your “digital persona” before hiring . . . keeping track of all of the networking that is done in one day while doing 20 other things is imperative cause once it’s online it’s public.

  3. February 11, 2009 9:42 pm

    Kerlick: you’re right about Gen Y’s affinity for and comfort with technology. As you point out, we were really the first generation to grow up with this stuff.

    In some ways, this has been great for us. We consume more media (and thus more information) faster than any previous generation could. Many of us use this capability to educate ourselves and stay abreast of current affairs; it is easier for us to stay informed and thus keep our government accountable. Social media and information technology are allowing democracy to thrive in ways never envisioned by de Tocqueville or Hamilton.

    On the flip side, however, I wonder how our constant immersion in technology will affect us mentally and personally. There is something disconcerting to me about -always- being connected, and frankly, I am somewhat surprised at the success of platforms such as Twitter. While I am no psychologist, I would think human beings naturally need some element of privacy on a daily basis…to collect our thoughts and maintain control over our personal lives.

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