There’s a new generation and they are not all that bad. Most popular media likes to talk about Generation Y or Millennials as the “Me, Me, Me” generation. They are described as selfish, with a tiny attention span and needing instant gratification. Well it’s simply not true and seeing our millennials in such a negative way makes us miss out on the value of truly wonderful people. Millennials were born between the early 1980s and the 2000s. They are preceeded by Generation X and followed by generation Z (those born after 2000).
I happen to know and love nine generation Y people and I can tell you that there is more to them than obsession with digital media and narcissism. I believe that we have a lot to learn from this new generation and if we want to keep on our creative and social toes, we need to follow their lead and stop running them down and start running with them.
Millennials are believed to read less than us older people. But new research argues that they in fact read much more than the previous generation, consuming a lot of online news stories and conducting numerous daily searches. According to Dan Tapscott in Growing up Digital, Millennials read more and they read better. They are skilled at scanning for important key words and main arguments; they can digest information faster and more efficiently that the generation X reader.
Millennials are believed to be disconnected and socially isolated (stuck on Facebook with no real connection). But millennials are more connected and more socially able than the previous generation. A recent book by Clive Thompson, Smarter than you Think, looks at the effects of digital media on us and describes millennials as “conversational thinkers”. Thompson explains that millennial brains are skilled at dialogue and conversation. Millennials like to discover things in relationship and in dialogue with others, they like to share information, and co-construct meaning in conversation rather than in isolation.
I have had the good fortune to spend quality time with my millennial nieces and nephews over the holidays and I have been reminded of their many personal and generational qualities. I really believe that we can learn a lot from the young people around us and their connection and passion for the world they live in and their ability to create and connect quicker and more spontaneously than us old generation X-ers ever could have. So if you want to bump up your creative potential I suggest go find a millennial and beg them to have a conversation with you, listen to them, learn, and walk away feeling younger and enriched.