Impressions on the Social Age

Generational Differences

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on June 12, 2010

Recently, I read Millennial Makeover by Winograd and Hais. The book describes how politics differs with today’s younger generation, the Millennials. Millennials are positive and are likely to think they are unique and special (just like everyone else). They are likely to think they will not do as well as their parents, but are confident things will be okay. Millennials were born from 1982-2003. This generation is more liberal than conservative, supportive of gay rights (but not necessarily marriage) and are more sexually liberated than their parents – tho cognizant of the dangers. Reading the above you are probably thinking one of a few things.

  1. “Wow, that sounds just like me!”
  2. “Hey, that’s not like me at all…”
  3. “Sheesh, those generalizations sure are serious.”

I’m going to focus on the third, as that is the most relevant to my thoughts here. Reading this book, my thoughts are immediately conflicted. Firstly, I think of many of these as descriptions of my own character. After all, my mother told me I was special often, and I am confident everything will be okay, even if I know I will never get social security… However, the idea that we can be grouped into 20 year groups of similarity was distressing.

There are many differences to our upbringing over the others, and I’ve never been more conscious of this since starting internships and job hunting. Many months back, when I started my Masters program, classmates, professors and colleagues would ask me the seminal question, “What do you want to DO?”

This was my least favorite question. Ever. I was always confused. The job market isn’t a prix fixe, it’s a buffet. As far as I am concerned, the better question has always been, “What don’t you want to do?”

For example, if people ask you your favorite food when you’ve only had one meal how could you give a proper answer? If one thing is holding us together as a generation, aside from the girl power and gay pride, its the guarantee that we will all have multiple careers. Gone are the days when an employee starts at the bottom and works up to CEO. Instead, we millennials will find careers that fit as we grow. When we’ve filled the box we’re in, we’ll move to a new box and begin to fill again.

My point? Lets define our generation with positivity and acceptance, but also recognize that we NEED our positivity. We need to believe that our careers do not define us, but through our career we can create definitions that keep us happy, learning, and excited.