Generation-Y will easily go down as the most self-absorbed generation the world has ever seen. A combination of helicopter parenting, silver spoon childhoods and smart phones has created the most personally invested group of human beings imaginable. Since birth, Generation-Y has been raised and coddled by our parents. Having been the focus of our parents' lives, we have become the sole focus of our own lives and it needs to stop.
It is really no question as to why this atrocity has happened. The dawn of reality television shows and celebrity gossip blogs that follow the every move of the rich and famous has made us long for the same kind of obsession and attention that they receive. However, the average person's life is not nearly interesting enough to be captured by professionals. The intuition and intelligence of our generation of course came up with a solution – capture and overshare every moment of your own life.
Having a device with a camera and internet access at all times has made every person the star of their own reality show. The ability to be your own camera crew encourages a person to create the appearance of a false lifestyle that really only accurately constitutes for a few moments of their time each week. Regardless, we search for every opportunity to inflate our social standing and make ourselves look more important than we are.
Too often we hear from our elders that smartphones are going to be the downfall of our generation and they truly will be. According to research by Ispos OTX, Americans between the ages of 18-34 report spending 3.8 hours a day on social media. Assuming you sleep an average 8 hours each night, that means over 23% of the time you are awake you are actively engaging in social media. You're losing more than an entire day each week to tweets.
Why is this a Big Deal?
Sure, most of the time this activity isn't directly hurting anyone. No one is being wronged directly or mistreated, but there are a ton of people being misled. It is human nature to be competitive and to fit in. The self-invested culture of our youth is spreading rapidly because people are following their peers in the way that they share and live their lives. More and more people are becoming pseudo-socialites in a world that doesn't actually revolve around them.
As more and more kids turn to this, we lose more and more opportunities to better the perception of our generation with those that are in charge. One of the biggest problems amongst Generation-Y is delayed adulthood. In our parents' and grandparents' generations, it wasn't uncommon to be out of the house and married in your early twenties.
Our generation has taken a different approach. According to research done by The Network on Transitions to Adulthood, half of young adults under the age of 24 are still living at home with their parents. This increased at-home lifestyle started in the 1970s, before any of this recent economic downturn, so we should stop using that as our only excuse.
We complain that there are no jobs and that the older people aren't moving out of their positions. Can you honestly blame them? The previous generations look at us with disdain and pepper us with lectures starting with, “when I was your age,” and they're right. Take a third party look at some of the people you know and the way they carry themselves. This self-obsession prevents us from helping the people and the world around us, yet we continue to complain about it.
Is it Solely Our Fault?
A popular retort to any accusation made by a parent or adult to a Y is the fact that we're only like this because past generations made us like this. While this is partially true, the blame is still to be put on us. The previous generations have instilled in us an idea that an extended education is mandatory for success – not only by telling us this daily as we grew up, but by refusing to hire someone without a degree even for an entry level position.
We are the most educated generation to date, meaning we also have the most schooling. Whether this is a weakness or strength has yet to be ascertained. Obviously, those coming out of Tier 1 schools and who know the right hands to shake to get employed are doing fine, but unfortunately not everyone can be that lucky. Higher education at a community level without strong networking opportunities may not always be the strongest way to move forward.
Our demographic is scared to do the jobs that our grandparents did. We are scared of working with our hands, let alone getting them dirty. We have an idea in our heads that we are all destined to be celebrities and CEOs, so we shy away from tasks that we deem below us.
What Should We Expect?
There is little that any sole person can do to combat this widespread epidemic of self-absorbed twenty year olds. The best effort we can make is to realize when we are part of the problem.
We need to stop spending so much time on social media and start spending more time on ourselves and our own lives. Actually living a better and more interesting life is a lot more rewarding than pretending to live one.
Just remember that while you're tweeting about how hard it is to find a job, someone your age is out there doing a job you don't want. When you're blacking out at the bar on a Monday night, someone your age is making those drinks for you. When you're sitting around pretending to be rich, someone is actually on their way there.