Defining a generation is not an easy task since they all work hard in their pursuit of happiness, and sometimes our greatest accomplishments can also become our greatest flaws if we forget which values are important in life. Liz Zarka, a blogger for the Daily Clog, wrote in 2013 “Generation Me: The Millennial Generation’s Obsession with Being Unique.” In her article, she points out some of the flaws of that generation and how these flaws affect the way people interact. Her main argument focuses on how millennials day dream about what they want to become, and their dreams are often based on money and fame. Although millennials are somewhat admirable in the sense that they are skilled, they are ultimately a flawed generation because in their search of uniqueness and their addiction to technology, they have become materialistic and careless about human interactions.
It is important not to forget that Millennials, knows also as Generation Y, have paved the way for some of the greatest achievements in technology and science, which we all benefit from. For instance, Catherine Rampall, an opinion writer, explains in her 2011 article for the New York Times “A Generation of Slackers, Not so much,” how despite a decrease of moral values and ethics and even the inflation of grade-point average, Millennials are productive and creative when it comes to work environment and they are, as well, tolerant about social issues. Rampall observes “Technology has certainly made life easier. But there may also be a generation gap; the way young adults work is simply different… They can access just about any resource, product or service anywhere from a mere tap on a touch screen.” Basically, she implies that Millennials are effective workers, and notwithstanding having things easier, their challenges are just different from the ones older generations had to face. We have technology to thank for rendering Millennials skilled and resourceful. To further illustrate, I belong to Generation X, and even if it feels like long ago, I can still remember the time when we did not have computers, internet and cell phones. Things were definitely more complicated and time consuming, especially if you had to depend on a typewriter. Trips to the library were permanent, and don’t get me wrong because I love libraries, but I often felt frustrated with long waits or simply unavailable material. Nowadays, we are only a click away from an unlimited source of information. Messages travel throughout the world in the blink of an eye, and Millennials embrace technological progress.
Unfortunately, this same technology has essentially conquered people’s lives through social media and over consumption. Youngsters have become dependent on their devices, for their lives revolve around them. It seems like a crime to not purchase the latest iPhone model or to not have a smart phone, but where do old phones go? And what about all the other devises that in a little while will become obsolete? As a result of Millennials’ insatiable desire to purchase the latest and the greatest technology, electronic waste increases rapidly. As Zarka states, “The Millennial Generation, made up of people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s (us), devote a gargantuan amount of time and energy into maintaining an attitude of being unique.” Essentially, she suggests that Millennials’ focus is primarily on themselves. They want to show all their sides and what they have, trying to idealize what they aspire to be. They are constantly looking for the next “product,” because so is everybody else. She adds, “The clothes we buy, the music we listen to, the events we attend and even the food we eat – a huge portion of us make these consumption decisions whether consciously or not, to stand out.” This clearly implies a sense of desperation for popularity and status, and by Millennials not making their own decisions and letting society dictate what’s “cool”, they become a picture of what someone else expects them to be. They are becoming like automatic machines.
Moreover, while searching for that uniqueness, Generation Y is also decreasing human interactions. Just look around at work, at school, at public places or even at home. What has become of communication? Parents give small children iPads and iPhones to play with to avoid dealing with them, causing children’s addiction to electronic games when they should be playing outside, having fun and creating their own games. People no longer seem to share about their day with their families at table; their priority appears to be their phones to post, reply or just play. In fact, at my work during break time, it is shocking to see that colleagues hardly ever chat or share opinions, they would rather stare at their phones. We need to listen to each other to learn about one another. “If we’re going to understand our culture and how it’s changed, we need to listen to what young people say,” suggests Dr. Jean M. Twende, contributor for the Atlantic in her 2012 article “Millennials: The Greatest Generation or the Most Narcissistic.” In her article she analyzes and compares research data from three generations to prove that early studies and books which claimed that this will be the next Greatest Generation, helpful and civically involved, were wrong. On the contrary, Millennials are more individualistic, less civically involved, and careless about others. Her quote, however, suggests that the only way to understanding is through really listening to what young people have to say. All generations have been criticized, but it will be up to Millennials to change the outcome.
As you can see, technology has played an essential role for Generation Y, both positively and negatively. It has been positive while facilitating resources to improve skills for research to fight diseases and improve productivity, but it has negatively influenced young people in the sense that they have become materialistic and apathetic around human interactions. Nevertheless, Millennials are the pillar for next generations to come, and it is essential for parents to be role models for their children, teaching moral values through communication and example. Let’s learn from our mistakes to empower our opportunities in shaping a better world.