Sunday, May 06, 2007

Millenials In The New Millenium

Echo Boomers: Not Your Daddy’s Rebellious Youth
By Matt Rasmussen

Echo Boomers is a term designed to refer to the offspring of Baby Boomers who fall between the MTV Generation of 1974-1985 and the Internet Generation that starts at about 1995. An inability to agree on the name and years of this generation says a lot about the general lack of knowledge about this sect of the personality.

Here’s what is clear: they (read: we) are self-absorbed, but they (we) are also self-aware. Our generation knows what is popular, a factor that comes into play when forming opinions. It is not uncommon for things to be rejected simply because they are perceived to be mainstream, yet at the same time, we ironically champion products of mass-hype.

Reality TV is lampooned and laughed at, but also a drug that we consume in copious amounts.

In the 60 Minutes segment on “Echo Boomers,” correspondent Steve Kroft and a number of Echo experts weighed in on who we are and what we think. One of those most “insightful” revelations was that everyone in Gen Y is special, and as Middlebury College student Andie Gissing points out, there are trophies given out for just about everything. While this is no secret, the fact is our quest for self-esteem doesn’t end there.

Even in grade school, the fact that thinking highly of yourself is allegedly beneficial to your health is hammered into us (but not really, because if teachers used violence that would hurt our feelings, and thus, make us sick). Being constantly reminded how great we are and with the prevalence of grade inflation, well, we started to believe the hype. Fulfilling Andy Warhol’s famous “fifteen minutes of fame” quote, we really have gone on to prove the idea that, well, as far as we’re concerned, it’s all about us.

We have MySpace and YouTube, which are just the beginning of a very long and very well known list of sites designed for us to sell, well, ourselves. It’s not just important to be popular: it’s important that people know that we are popular.

Why is popularity key? Because we learned what we know from TV.

Our ideas of normality come from its portrayal on sitcoms and melodrama. “Saved by the Bell” is a normal high school with wacky kids, “Salute Your Shorts” is the standard summer camp. We know what we think because of media, but not in the way marketers would like to think.

We know we’re supposed to spend time playing video games and on the Internet and eating fast food and watching cartoons and smoking, drinking, having sex (but wearing condoms!), driving drunk (but wearing seatbelts!), and going to parties (but calling our parents!). How do we know this? Because we’re told to (and because we’re told not to).

We’ve been called a generation that is not rebellious, but the fact is we are rebelling in ways that other generations couldn’t. We don’t rebel against the government because we’re not told that it’s great. We rebel against good taste because we’re told it’s cool to listen to mall-punk and rap-metal that gets Tipper Gores and Jack Thompsons pissed.

We rebel against marketing because we download music and use the Internet instead of watching commercials and calling up radio stations. We are united by common interests, but understand the value of noise-canceling ear buds and personal computers.

And you know why it’s always going to be all about us? Because once the boomers and gen-x caught onto this, they practically shat themselves. Once we were old enough to determine what marketing conventions were and how the world worked (or at least as far as we understood it to work), we decided we didn’t like it. If we have the power to make television companies figure out how we can watch shows whenever we want, make websites give us a place to talk to friends and share pictures for free, and make government agencies waste millions of dollars telling us what not to do, we’ve gotta be doing something right.

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