The whole Generation Y issue is getting to me. As you may or may not know, I work in the World Vision Australia youth marketing department. Part of what we do, better than anyone else in that organisation (and, we like to hope someday, better than anybody in any market) is ‘get’ and understand young people. We recently had some ‘consultant type’ people in, from a small trend-company called Uber. They provided some fantastic insights into what makes the youth of today tick, and how we as an organisation can attempt to tap into those trends to take our message to them. (Yes, how we can market to them). It made for some interesting conversation about how the youth of today (which includes me!) are going currently and what they face in the future. A few random facts, which I think I recorded correctly.
1) The average score on anxiety tests by youth today is the same as those recorded by people submitted to mental health clinics in the 50’s.
2) Generation Y has grown up almost entirely during a period of amazing economic prosperity. Most have never experienced a recession, and even if they we’re alive during one, they do not remember it.
3) The Generation Y is one of the more ‘wanted’ generation of children. I’m gonna take some license here, as this wasn’t fully discussed. But essentially, contraception techniques, as well as social values, we’re so advanced by the time this generation of people we’re born that, for the most part, parents made the conscious choice to have a child when they wanted. As such, they have been far more lauded and cared for by their parents. This may go some way to explaining why Gen Y’s feel much more ‘special’ than their older brothers and sisters. I heard today on the radio that adoption rates have dropped to about 600 per year in Australia, down from 10,000 in the 1970’s. That in itself, is a hugely scary stat that points to a hell of a lot more lovin’ and caring going on – and a lot more ‘special’ children being raised.
This has created an environment where today’s youth do not have a significant world view, beyond their own world. They primarily feel only responsible and loyal to their family and friends. As such, they can be (and are) delusional about the world that they live in, as well as incredibly vacant when it comes to some events. Mass deaths in the middle-east don’t seem to stir any response anymore, largely because this news doesn’t concern anyone in their family or friendship circle.
So why is it getting me down? Because I can see a lot of that in myself. Because I think it’s a very hard and tough journey for most young people to make to become more mindful about their own actions and the larger story that we all play a part of. It can be quite disturbing when this ‘Happy Egg’ that they live in (their own protected environments, where the only thing that matters is their friends and family) is shattered. Mine has been crumbling for a while now. I’m going to keep on breaking it down and see what happens.