Who Is To Blame For The Echo Boom?
By Amanda Yazdi
No, we are not talking about the sound of an airplane traveling faster than the speed of sound. We are referring to a sound much louder and farther reaching—it’s the sound of corporate America cashing in on the largest and fastest growing generation of Americans since the ‘60s—CHA-CHING!
Echo Boomers is the name that has been given to the group of pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults born between the years of 1982 and 1995, according to a recent 60 Minutes story profiling this ever-growing group. They are the offspring of their Baby Boomer parents, but the similarities end with their DNA.
In terms of modern conveniences and accessibility to them, the Echo Boomers have grown up in the best of times. What their parents would consider to be luxury items, these youngsters call necessities. 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft interviewed an Echo Boomer student and editor of his college newspaper at New York City’s Columbia University. When asked if he owned an iPod, he quipped, “Of course--aren’t they a legal requirement now in the subways?”
There are some sweeping generalizations made by the so-called experts on the behavior of this generation. Particularly bothersome is the comment made by historian Neil Howe, who claims that, "Sometimes, they don't know what to do if they're just left outside and you say, 'Well, just do something by yourself for a while.’ They'll look around stunned. You know, 'What are we supposed to do now?'"
Even though I am officially a “Gen X-er” (the predecessor to Echo Boomers—also know as Generation Y) I take offense at that comment. Not everyone between the ages of 12 and 25 grew up with their hands glued to a remote control or a computer mouse. Granted, some may have been sent to summer camps to learn how to play outside, but others of us spent our fair share of afternoons riding bikes and learning how to throw a spiral football from our big brother.
Other criticisms included the Echo Boomer’s constant need for praise, ‘at-a-boy’s, and slap on the back reassurance on the job. According to Dr. Mel Levine, a professor at the University of North Carolina, the phenomenon is called “visual motor ecstasy, where any cultural accoutrement that doesn't produce instant satisfaction is boring. As echo boomers grow up, they'll have to learn that life is not just a series of headlines and highlight reels.”
In support of that statement, it may be true that a generation eager to please is also one that has gotten used to instant gratification. But whose fault is that? The original Boomers have brought this one on themselves. However, they are not the only ones to blame. Their desire to track the every move of and provide for every conceivable want and need of their precious cargo has been enabled by the dollar driven media and big business conglomerates who put credit cards and cell phones in the hands of anyone old enough to dial or swipe. Still don’t believe that marketers are to blame for the gotta-have-it attitude? The cost of a brand new Toyota Scion (made to order online): $15,000, Apple iPod 80GB with video: $349, having what you want at your fingertips: priceless.
Can you hear me now?