Contradictions in Characterizing Gen Y

Hey old people, stop telling me who I am!

As I look around for commentary and articles relating to what I’m writing about here, I often come across articles that take a generational bent to discussing what’s going on with us young people.

While I understand the practical need to create categories and make generalizing statements, I find it hard to believe that anyone can accurately sum up the characteristics of a generation still in its 20s. After all, we don’t know who we are yet. So how can you define us?

To that end, I find a lot of contradicting assessments. A huge factor here is that the recession has thrown a giant wrench into our self-discovery and transition into adulthood. That so many of us are apparently living at home is probably much more a function of the crap employment landscape than some unhealthy dependence on our parents. You’d better believe the majority of these “boomerang” kids are OUT as soon as they can afford their own place.

So with that in mind, here’s my breakdown of who I am, maybe, according to everyone else:

I am AN A**HOLE. We are self-absorbed, don’t care about other people’s suffering, feel that it’s not our place to help others.


I’m some public-minded, tree-hugging do-gooder. We love to volunteer, we are environmentally conscious and we are more and more interested in public service.


I am lazy and spoiled. I want more money but less responsibility. I’m used to being coddled and told what to do rather than figuring it out for myself.


I am entrepreneurial and driven. We are interested in starting our own businesses or finding alternative ways of making money rather than the traditional career path. We are willing to work hard (or at least, maybe just for now while we have no job security?).


I am useless in the home. We are losing traditional “female” (and “male”) skills. We don’t know how to clean or sew or any of the stuff that our moms did.


I am more adventurous in the kitchen than my mom. We are trying new things and willing to learn new skills. It’s not that we are losing domestic skills, but men and women are sharing them more (see the same study that says we’re losing domestic skills).


I am a cheating hussy. We don’t value marriage and we put career over relationships.


I mark a turn in the divorce rate. We are getting married later because we take the commitment more seriously and want to avoid the family break-ups that we experienced when we were younger.


So, there you have it. Generation Y: Generation Bipolar.

One thing is for certain. We are a generation that is rather put-upon. The most complimentary article up there is the one whose ultimate purpose is promoting a forum for young adult women. Sounds nice, right? But then I see, this little oasis of a website was  launched by LEVI’S. An elaborate marketing scheme. I feel like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when he finally decodes the message with his new Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Pin.

“Don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine.”

10 responses to “Contradictions in Characterizing Gen Y

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