The Special Generation
By Mark Galaritta
Do well in school. Do what you love. Be a friend to everyone. You’re a special kid. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If it does then you’re part of Generation Y, the Echo Boomers or the latest term: The Millennials. A generation of young Americans who were told since the day they were born that they are special, and they took those words to heart.
The Echo Boomers is just one of the many terms used by 60 Minutes in two reports titled: The Echo Boomers in 2005 and The Millennials in 2007. Millennials are the generation born from 1982-1995 who had all grown up with a cell-phone in one pocket an Ipod in the other, and their fingers at the computer typing their essays while chatting with their friends.
The Millennials are a growing breed of smart, overachieving and driven young people who are expected to take care of the growing number of retiring Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964.
In the report, “Echo Boomers,” Dr. Mel Levine, a professor at University of North Carolina and one of the most known pediatricians in the country believes the youth of generation Y take all their influence from their own parents. "Parents feel as if they're holding onto a piece of Baccarat crystal or something that could somehow shatter at any point,” says Levine. “And parents therefore are protecting them, inflating their egos. Massaging them, fighting their battles for them."
So why shouldn’t the echo boomers think they’re not special? They’ve been raised to think that way from their parents since birth by staying focused in school while doing their best in other hobbies as well.
Some students at Marymount Manhattan College, who are part of Generation Y, believe this is true, because they too were raised this way. Josh Hashmi, a 20 year-old sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College says: “I always call my mom for everything,” when asked for his reaction the to the 60 Minutes Echo Boomer report.
Hashmi isn’t alone. It’s common to still find a college student or graduate between the ages of 18-25 still dependent on their parents. Today it’s not rare to find a college graduate living with their parents while they work. This move is considered financially smart, as college graduates try to save on living expenses.
Raising the children of Generation Y in this way has had an affect on the workplace as well. Dr. Levine says he has spoken to CEOs of major corporations and their biggest complaint wasn’t an Echo Boomer’s work ethic, but that many young workers tend not to think long-term.
Dr. Levine believes that Echo Boomers live for the moment and nothing else. He says concludes this style of life is visual motor ecstasy, where anything that doesn’t produce instant satisfaction is boring. Generation Y believes everything they do, whether at work or at life, should be instantly satisfying or at least up to their standards.
It’s not uncommon to see a college graduate switch jobs after a few months or even see a college student switching schools after a year. “I probably will switch out of Marymount Manhattan College,” says 19 year-old Shane Mehigan. “I feel like other school’s have a lot to offer, with my goals in life. People change and I’m not happy here, so I want to do what makes me happy and can get me somewhere in my career.”
Mehigan is just one Echo Boomer constantly on the move to find himself. Surrounded from birth by parents who told them everything they did was okay so long as it made them happy, the Echo Boomers are still trying to find their own happiness.
The report says that a question that should worry historians studying Generation Y is whether this over protected and ‘special’ generation will do more harm than good in the future. Can this over watched, overachieving and overprotected generation live up to protect the people who raise them and make an even stronger country than they were born in?
Leah Hagenstein an 18 year-old Marymount says the future of Generation Y is yet to be determined. “I don’t think that it’s bad. I don’t believe were all alike in that way. We were just raised that way.”
The future is clearly uncertain for Generation Y and they’re just graduating from college or still working on their degrees. Wherever the Echo Boomer ends in the future, it will likely be somewhere they are happy and can do things their own ‘special’ way.