Like Father, Like Son, Or Not
By Alexa Breslin
Echo boomers, millennials, Generation Y. These are three terms given to the generation born between 1982 and 1995. Some are barely out of college, others still in grade school. However, we all have one thing in common; we are the children of the baby boomers.
In September of 2005, CBS’s 60 Minutes did a program titled, “The Echo Boomers.” As correspondent Steve Kroft reported we quickly learned the term echo boomers came from the demographic echo Generation-Y became of their parents, the baby boomers. The hour then consisted of interviews with doctors, a professor, historian, and two real, live echo boomers all discussing the most talked about generation to date.
“They are multitaskers, with cell phones, music downloads, and instant messaging on the Internet,” reports Kroft. “Through sheer numbers, they’re beginning to change society. They have affected school construction, college enrollments, product development, and media content,” he later added.
One of the most important unwritten rules regarding the very serious game called our lives is that things change. Unexpectedly, unwillingly, inadvertently, they change. In a world where society and the economy are facing drastic changes, so are its people.
“It’s naïve to believe generation after generation will continually follow in each other’s footsteps,” says Katherine Rimola, 21, a graduating Communication Arts student of Marymount Manhattan College who will receive her diploma with only three years of college under her belt. “We’re not spoiled,” she continued, “we’re just different.”
Nick Summers, then a college senior at Columbia University and editor of its newspaper, said during the 60 minutes interview, “my generation tends to be very overachieving, over-managed, very pressured.”
“I’ve always been an over-achiever, since I was in grade school. I knew I would be able to complete my BA in communications in three years, so I did,” Rimola said.
Two years after the first program aired, CBS decided it wasn’t enough and went on to do a second episode of 60 Minutes this time titled, “The ‘Millennials’ Are Coming.” As Correspondent Morley Safer reported this time around, the episode explored virtually the same things “The Echo Boomers” had but this time with an intent focus on the workplace.
“The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text,” reports Safer. In other words, in “millennial” terms, we can do more than two things at once. What’s so bad about that?
Why yes, Mr. CEO, I can communicate with five people at the same time via internet thanks to AOL’s instant messenger. I can also type a paper, update my iPod, e-mail a professor and talk to my mother on the phone all while watching my homegirl, Oprah. This is what we, the echo boomers, call multitasking. It will become useful to you when we place our seven different assignments on your desk all a day before they’re due.
As for being “tech savvy,” we know we are. There is no denying it; Generation Y has been technologically spoiled. We have things the baby boomer generation never could have dreamed of having. Our parents have transitioned to getting up off the couch to the television and decide which program to watch between their five channels on their tiny black and white television, to now relaxing on their Lazy Boys while flipping through the five-hundred and then some channels on their 60-plus inch flat screen TV equipped with surround sound and something called high-definition that makes a football game appear as if it’s happening in their very own living room.
These technological advances do not mean we don’t work as hard as our parents once did in the workplace. It doesn’t mean we don’t have high goals and it certainly doesn’t mean we’re not willing to do whatever it takes to reach the point in our lives we have dreamed we would once be.
Jason Dorsey, an author of two how-to books for the twenty-something millennials, told Safer, “We’re not going to settle. Because we saw our parents settle and we have options. That we can keep hopping jobs. No longer is it bad to have four jobs on your resume in a year. Whereas for our parents or even Gen X, that was terrible. But that’s the new reality for us. And we’re going to keep adapting and switching and trying new things until we figure out what it is.”
“It’s a different world now,” says Ryan Donde, 21, a fourth-year business student at Montclair State University. “My dad has been at the same job for over 25 years. I can’t say I’ll ever want to stay somewhere for that long.”
This only raises the question, how exactly are the echo boomers a demographic echo of our parents, the baby boomers? What exactly do we replicate? Concluding everything we have heard from 60 Minutes we don’t play outside like our parents once did, we have things our parents never did, and we don’t work as hard as our parents have.
Here’s the bottom line, CBS: the echo boomers aren’t replicas of the baby boomers. Maybe we’re not like our parents, where’s the harm in that? Maybe we are clueless. Maybe we’d rather stay inside to watch the E! Network than go outside and run around. Maybe we think we’re more special than everyone else just because our parents told us so. Maybe we’re even crazy enough to believe our futures are in our hands, but the ones who are crazy enough to go after what they want are usually the ones who succeed.