Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The more things change...

(Careers New Zealand, n.d.)    
That old adage, the more things change, the more they stay the same, was brought to mind recently when a student of mine decided to study Gen Y. Gen Y - or Milliennials, iGen or Generation Me - were born during the 1980s and 1990s, and are supposed to be tech-savvy, marketing literate and 'digital natives'. Impatient, selfish, lazy, job-jumpers, yada, yada, yada.

There is a growing body of research out there that says that these artificial barriers that we like to slap on each generation may not actually exist. What is possibly more likely is that as we age, we move from one pattern of interests and focii to another set. When we are first out in the world on our own, we seek out others like ourselves, and do things that are largely incomprehensible to other age groups. When we get a bit older, we partner up. Then  bit later we think about having families which suddenly brings us face to face with having to provide for them. Then we raise them. Then we are empty nesters and enjoy causing friction with the grandkids. Then we go on cruises and complain about the food (:-D). Then we die.

Roughly in that order, though some people are different ages, or cycle through some stages a few times. Older generations whinge about the younger generation and how "things aren't the same as it was in my day".

This is not new thinking. Apparently, Peter the Hermit preached in a 1274 sermon that "The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress" (Google Answers, 2004). While whether Peter the Hermit actually preached this or not, we will run with his example of older people grumbling about the fecklessness of youth and how we were all going to hell in a handcart.

Interestingly, after five months of study, my student felt they had proved to their own satisfaction that Gen Y as a concept was largely hot air, but that Super's life stages model - image of the life rainbow shown above - had something darned useful going for it.



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