By Charlotte Price
If you were born between 1980 and 1995, then welcome to the club of the Echo Boomers, a generation focused on by social scientists, economists, marketers, and the overly doting parent. No matter what you name the club, whether its Echo Boomers, The Millinnials, or Generation Y, the buzz is all the same. Who are they? What do they do? And how are they going to change the future?
CBS 60 Minutes correspondents Steve Kroft and Morley Safer offer two reports on these fascinating groups of youngsters on 60 Minutes called “Echo Boomers” and “The Millennials Are Coming,” taking all the buzz and hype and getting the facts straight from the source. As an active member of Generation Y, I was curious to see what these reporters from a generation long before the boomers had to say about the up-and-coming world runners.
“Echo Boomers” reported by Kroft provided an equally positive and negative viewpoint of this generation. One of the pros being that this generation is extremely diverse and therefore the most tolerant they have seen. An article titled, ‘The Millennials Come of Age’ in USA Today by Sharon Jayson states, “Young people of this generation, who grew up with "diversity" and "multicultural" as buzzwords, are more tolerant and open-minded than previous generations, suggests an analysis of studies by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.”
Kroft also discovered that among this generation there is hope and optimism in the government and future leadership of the country, and that the Millennials are a group of hard working go-getters ready to set the job world on fire. With all this praise of course, Kroft must also slip in the less glamorous sides of this age group. For example, Kroft finds Generation Y can be naïve about the workplace; a generation focused on instant gratification, and deprived of a childhood that allowed for individual exploration of self-strengths.
Kroft supports these opinions with interviews with specialists like Dr. Mel Levine, a Professor at University of North Carolina and a prestigious pediatrician who states the generation has been, “heavily programmed” and whose “whole lives have been compliant on what some adult wants them to do.” Kroft also interviews a diverse group of young adults who represent themselves throughout the report as technologically savvy, parent loving, tolerant, brand obsessed teenagers. Overall, the report displays both the negative and positive aspects of Generation Y without much bias.
Safer’s 60 Minutes report, “The Millenials Are Coming,” displays some of the same arguments and findings but with a crustier reporter. Safer’s old wit and curmudgeon ways that slip out with comments like, “Narcissistic praise hounds taking over the office…” allows for a comedic comparison between him and the “trophy children” of Generation Y. His assumptions, while more snide and jarring than Kroft’s, provide a reality check for Echo Boomers, but is not fully disheartening and the segment ends with a message of excitement and hope for the future.
To get an overall and unbiased perspective on this generation Safer interviews people like Marian Salzman who works as an ad agency executive at J. Walter Thompson, Mary Crane who teaches Millinnials the every day basics of…well life, Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffery Zaslow, a motivational consultant named Bob Nelson and then two bright eyed and bushy tailed echo boomers themselves, Jason Dorsey and Ryan Healy. The consensus is that these children who had everything handed to them on a trophy platter grew up with a “me me me” complex and are therefore changing the workplace and social priorities.
Generation Y is more interested in family and friends than the old school “sacrifice for the company” work ethic. Safer looks at the pull this club has on the market, the decline of business formality, and how a generation of all winners is going to grow up in the real world. The question is will echo boomers branch out into world and have their fairytale dreams shattered by real life consequences or will the world mold around them, forming an entire new society.
In article in the New York Times by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais titled ‘The Boomers Had Their Day, Make Way for the Millenials,’ the authors quote Barak Obama making a comparison between generations that I find inspiring. He differentiates the generations as “the "Moses generation" that led the children of Israel out of slavery, and the "Joshua generation" that established the kingdom of Israel. The first was a generation of idealists and dreamers, the second a generation of doers and builders.”
With that said, I feel Echo Boomers can confidently take on the world in any fashion they deem appropriate, and I suspect that Morley Safer and Steve Kroft would agree.