We’ve all seen multitudes of articles and blog posts that discuss Generation-Y. Many of these pieces call us self(ie)-obsessed, ill-equipped, narcissistic and all-around unworthy of the world we’re inheriting.
Sure, not all articles about Millennials are bad, but there does seem to be a large number of them.
One of the main concerns in these articles is the fear that Generation-Y isn’t ready or isn’t equipped to inherit the things on which our parents have worked hard their whole lives. It seems Generation-X is afraid to hand over the keys to the future.
Tech-Obsessed and Self-Absorbed
The question is, why is Generation-X so afraid of Generation-Y? And, what is it about Gen-Y that makes us seem so ill-equipped for life? Is it our seemingly over-the-top vanity and constant selfie-taking, or our “me, me, me” attitude, driven by the ability to broadcast our lives to millions? Or, is it something else entirely?
If you Google search for articles about Millennials or Generation-Y, you’ll find that many of them tend to blame technology for this generation’s shortcomings. We grew up during a technological revolution; we were the first generation to have constant access to computers and the Internet.
We were developing when Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were doing the same; we grew up alongside the most popular websites, apps and devices. It could be argued that because of our relationship with technology, we’ve become too self-absorbed and not personable or able enough to make it in the real world.
While there may be some truth behind the idea that technology has changed people, it’s not the sole factor that makes Generation-Y different from the previous generation. And, it’s definitely not the main reason for Generation-Y's shortcomings.
The truth is, each generation is vastly different from the previous one. This is due to both changes in the world around us and differences in parenting style, from generation to generation.
So, why is Generation-Y seemingly so different from Generation-X? And, why does Generation-X seem so afraid of letting Millennials take over? The main reason this has become such a major issue is because it’s being discussed constantly.
We’ve all seen it: The Internet is full of Gen-Xers analyzing Millennials and scrutinizing their different ways of thinking and doing. The constant attention dedicated to the issue is making it seem much larger than it really is. When Generation-X was coming of age, their parents were just as freaked out by the thought of them running the world.
The difference now is the fact that we all have the power to broadcast fears, hopes, criticisms and random thoughts we have to millions of people.
Gen-X now has the option to write articles, conduct interviews, publish blog posts and write witty social media statuses about just how ill-equipped they fear the new generation will be.
Generation-X and Helicopter Parenting
While many people want to blame Generation-Y's shortcomings on technology, one fact remains: Technology didn't raise us. Yes, we've seen many advancements, which will continue to come.
We communicate differently; we get things done differently; we even work differently. But, most of these differences don’t account for the major issues continuously associated with Millennials.
Each generation brings about changes in parenting style. Baby Boomers were famously hands-off; they didn’t coddle their children. Instead, let their children figure things out for themselves. When Generation-X became parents, they went to the other side of the spectrum and became “helicopter parents.”
The term "helicopter parenting" was first used in the 60s to describe how some parents “hover” over their teenage children, but it wasn’t until Generation-Y that it became a common parenting style.
Helicopter parenting is extremely hands-on, and it’s more common now than ever before. Many Millennials had parents who, at least to some extent, used helicopter parenting methods. Some common attributes of a helicopter parent are:
Constantly protecting the child from rejection, failure, etc. Rather than allowing the child to experience these things and learn from them, the parent shields them from failures by fixing things anytime failure or rejection may be a factor.
Doing basic, everyday things for the child, even after he or she is old enough to do so on his or her own. Washing dishes, doing laundry and other basics life tasks are continuously completed by the parents, even after the child is more than old enough to handle it.
Holding the child's hand through job interviews, classes and other similar situations. Instead of teaching the child how to apply for a job or go to an interview, the parent coaches the child every step of the way, sometimes even completing the work themselves, to ensure success.
Many Millennials have become emotionally stunted from this overprotective parenting style. When you go through your life having someone shield you from failure, how could you be equipped to deal with real life on your own?
Parents want to protect their children, which is natural, but many Generation-X parents took that a step too far. The popularity of helicopter parenting is the main reason why so many Generation-Yers are seen as ill-equipped and self-absorbed — it's not the fault of the Internet or technology in general.
Where Does This Leave Us?
The truth is, we’re not that much different from our parents than they were from theirs. Each generation differs, and each generation fears handing over their hard work to the younger generation. But, there are some serious problems with Generation-Y that are being noticed.
Sure, the Internet, which Generation-X is so quick to blame for Gen-Y shortcomings, has, in a way, become the very thing that allows them to openly broadcast their fears. But, it doesn’t mean their fears are totally unfounded.
The main problem is where they’re pointing the blame. Selfies, technology, iPads, computers and social media have had an impact on many of us, especially those of us who fall into the Millennial generation, but those things didn’t raise us.
We weren’t taught how to live our lives from our computers, and we didn’t learn what it’s like to succeed or fail by taking selfies. These are things we either learned or didn’t learn from our parents.
Generation-X doesn’t realize that their over-caring and overbearing parenting has left us with the self-absorbed and imbalanced personalities they now fear. It’s easier to blame the Internet than it is to reflect on what they taught us while we were growing.
It’s easier to remember that they were loving and protective than to consider that maybe their protection stunted us.
They speak about how poorly equipped we are for the real world, for taking over their companies and stepping into their jobs. They talk about it constantly, as if, maybe, by talking about it enough, they can protect us from it. Or, maybe, this time they're trying to protect themselves.