I’m not holier than thou, or anyone for that matter. I haven’t made it, by any measure, as a writer or a professional.* I was really good at soccer a long time ago…that’s totally irrelevant to this post, but I will be honest when I think I have a measure of authority.
This was deliberately written before I’d caught up on any of your blogs, going back months. It’s not directed at anyone in particular, at all. It’s loosely influenced by conversations at SXSWi, but also in the way that I everyone I met there (and in reflection, everyone I have met from the net in general) to be such inspiring and smart people.
I’m probably wrong about all this, honestly. I don’t consider myself to be “in the audience” of the content that I’m addressing, which is probably enough to just write this off and go have a cup of tea.
But my gut is telling me that there are a lot of people out there focused on describing, quantifying, and motivating Generation Y, and they’re misplacing their talent and time.
Gen Y Is Bored With Gen Y
Maybe it’s just that I’m 30, but this talk around Generation Y was not around while I was in my early and mid-twenties, and that was fine.
I wouldn’t have read it then anyway, and if I had I think once I’d made it to 30 or so I’d have wondered whether “live the dream or bust” or “respect our uniqueness” or “the new work/life balance or lack thereof” really made much of a difference as to where I ended up.
More and more Gen Y’ers are getting comfortable with their post-college lives and I think we can all move on now. It feels as if our collective voice is just repeating “blah blah blah blah“.
We’re Really Not That Different
Sure, we’re a bit** more agile with technology, but everyone else is catching up fast. Sure, that’s given us a bit of a unique profile when it comes to brands that want to sell us things and employers who want to keep us happy, but that’s their rat race.
You’re still buying things, and you probably work for someone.
Age Is Irrelevant
For the few years while young adults aren’t ready to take life by the balls and make it their own, some “we’re all in this together” stewardship can be helpful.
Then we all grow up and have real problems, and require real thought leadership that tackles the challenges that life indefinitely keeps throwing at you. You are all the people who need to start thinking about this stuff and doing so without considering age.
We’re tackling these challenges lot later than our previous generations, and don’t think for a second that the world’s going to reward us for it.
Thought Leadership Is Action
This is more a message for the brilliant writers I think are wasting their talent writing about Generation Y; color commentating our segment of the population is and could continue to be a great way to build an audience and make a life of it. If that’s your goal, I step back. I hope to say I knew the Voice of Generation Y when I’m 80 and looking back.
My concern is that I think a lot of you have bigger plans…you want to make real-life differences for people…you want to tangibly lead people and companies into an exciting future; I think you should start doing that.
Aligning yourself with a generation makes you a Narrator. You’re talented enough to be a Novelist.
It’s The Same Amount Of Work
In my mind, there’s a reason that leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Chris Guillebeau, Gwen Bell, Tim Ferris, Brian Solis, or whomever else floats your boat seem so innovative and sharp. They’re trying to push an envelope that’s not tied to an age group.
It’s interesting because if you’re in their wagon, they’re trying to push that wagon up a mountain. They’re tackling a piece of life…not the process of life.
Both endeavors take lots of work. Being a leader, thought leader, author, blogger…it’s all a lot of goddamn work. All of those people work really, really hard. (They party hard too, by the way.)
A note as well; I mention these big wigs because I very honestly think a number of you guys could join them. I think you are incredibly talented and smart people. I wouldn’t have wasted nearly a thousand words on this if I didn’t.
Stop The BlahBlah
I think the rhetoric has reached a bit of a stand-still and thoughts are being regurgitated. The Generation Y Writing Movement has plateaued. Call me wrong…I very well could be.
My feeling, for what it’s worth, is that the buck needs to stop. If what you’re saying or doing needs to be qualified with a Gen Label than rework it. Think about it differently. Take it out of the age context and find what’s really interesting.
Stop the BlahBlah and get to the meat of the issues. You can see the meat, and that’s what makes you different.
That’s your edge.
Soon the everyone else will figure it out. Soon, they’ll see the same world you see.
And they won’t give a rat’s rear end who you are anymore.
Image by Mike Baird.
I hope that my respect for all of you, anyone who’s blogging in fact, is obvious in this post and elsewhere around the web. If we’ve met or meet, I hope that’s clear in person. If I’ve offended anyone at all, please don’t hesitate to email me and tell me, because I will attempt to rectify it.
*You show me a 50 year old who’s never heard of twitter and I’ll show you a 28 year old who doesn’t know how to use it.
**I work for “myself”, which some might offer up as evidence of success. What that really means is that I have very little money and hope to heaven that what I’m working on works out. I’m writing this having spent a pretty sizable nest egg to end up with almost nothing a few months ago. I’m writing this with almost nothing to point at to say, “Hey, I know what I’m talking about.” You might suggest that my experience with 20 Something Bloggers gives me a measure of credibility, but I’d argue that I didn’t make it was it is…I just try to make it better.