By Priya Joshi
The days of hippies, free love and anti-consumerism that our parents grew up in have ended. The generational gap has never been wider, but who’s to blame? As I sit here in my college library typing this article, I am listening to my iPod. The three other students around me are as well. I rode the subway to school surrounded by kids in my generation, each one of them with some electronic device in hand. Most of the kids I know keep their bank account full with some of their money, but mostly mom and dad’s.
This new wave of money-spending, parent-dependent young adults have been dubbed “Echo-Boomers” by previous generations and the feelings on the title are mixed. The 60 Minutes report, “The Echo-Boomers” called us the “demographic echo” of our parents, but is this true? Times have changed so drastically, not just in terms of our booming economy, but also in the media and socially. My generation is bombarded with advertisements on the television screen, billboards and the Internet that are all aimed directly at us. Caitlin Morgan, a sophomore at Manhattan College in Bronx, NY understands why her generation has become the biggest spenders.
“I go to school in the city. Am I expected to not be affected by all of the advertisements and new technology that I see everyday?” says Morgan. “Why is this such a shock to everyone? If these things had been available while my parents were growing up, they would have done the same thing that my generation does.”
The 60 Minutes report also made the point that kids these days are somewhat “celebrated” by society. We are seen as a new opportunity, a doorway into selling mass amounts of new products, and therefore we must be highly protected. Our parents have kept us under a close watch since the second we were born and the protective blanket has never been lifted. Kevin Welles, a junior at Manhattan College disagrees.
“I was always allowed to go outside and play with my friends. I rolled in mud and got the chicken pox and came home late for dinner. What previous generations don’t understand is that there is even a generational gap within our own generation!” says Welles with a laugh. “Kids who are 20 grew up far differently than the 10 year-olds now. My little cousin is getting a vaccine for the chicken pox and I’m like “What is that?””
This is an interesting point that the 60 Minutes article failed to address. I strongly agree with Welles. It is completely unfair to lump our entire generation into one product-hungry, over-protected category. Also, if we are simply “echoes” of our parents, then why are we drastically different?
Dr. Mel Levine, one of the best pediatricians in the country, stated in the 60 Minutes report that my generation is also naïve in terms of success, quoting that we “expect to rise to the top quickly.” Well, what’s the problem with that?
“If we are supposedly so valuable to society, then why wouldn’t we expect to be successful?” says Morgan. “There’s nothing wrong with believing in yourself and if he is calling our generation over-confident then I take it as a compliment.”
This defensive attitude seems to be shared by kids in my generation. We are the most studied, most sought after group of people yet and the microscope lens hanging over our heads doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.
“I think maybe researchers and news reporters should start preparing their studies for the NEXT generation,” says Welles, again laughing. “If they think we’re bad, they have no idea what’s coming in 10 years.”