January 7, 2012 by readlisaread
I was recently invited to present at the Canadian Public Relations conference in Victoria this spring. This opportunity came about through my affiliation with Royal Roads University, where I am Associate Faculty. But it was actually my day job that is relevant here. Our panel’s session is about communications in this “brave, new, broken” world. As I spoke to the organizer about what I could offer, a picture started to form in my head about these kids that I hang out with. When I was an adolescent/just reaching adulthood, my generation didn’t really have a name– we were the “post Baby Boomers”. Then, Generation X started to get all of the attention, with their angsty-new age concerns and disgust with their inheritance from the Boomers. Gen Y followed, as everyone knew they would. They are a generation bent on making change– the New World Order, and Occupying stuff, and generally just finding reason to be political. My middle school charges do care about stuff– they participate in Pink Day and insist the Love is Louder, they are aware and curious about things going on around the world, and they surely are Plugged In. To the outside eye, it might seem they are always taking up one cause or another, and the outside eye would be correct.
The observation I make, though, is that the causes cycle with the limited attention span of a so-called Digital Native. This is the generation of no follow-through, no “commit to the bit”, no worry about what happens if they drop the ball, because before it hits the dirt they are on to the next thing. A number of years ago we worried about the phenomenon of the Hurried Child. This generation, too, seems to be moving at click-speed, but without feeling the pressure of juggling all the expectations placed on them. “Mediocrity, Soon!” is their battle cry. I don’t think they lack care and concern, they just can’t work up the energy too often to display it.
I imagine sociologists or scientists or statisticians have given them an official moniker, but I couldn’t be bothered to look it up. Meh.