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Are we a generation of sell-outs?

July 25th, 2005 · No Comments

In 1999, America’s Business Week magazine published this about “Generation Y”:

[Born] between 1979 and 1994… [they are] 60 million strong, more than three times the size of Generation X, they’re the biggest thing to hit the American scene since the 72 million baby boomers.”

Today, Melbourne’s The Age newspaper quoted Richard Neville on the same group:

“The iPod generation hold the key to the future…”

At first, the thought of being part of the iPod generation seemed ridiculous. What’s going on here? Can an entire generation be identified by our worship of an electronic gadget? It seemed to cheesy. Surely baby-boomer Neville had stumbled: there must be a greater glue bonding my generation than a portable music player? Perhaps something a little more noble, something a little less self-serving?

There probably is, but I think we’ll have to earn it.

Think of the iPod: it’s constructed using a cocktail of toxic chemicals, but not many owners would even be aware of that. There are more advanced, less expensive rival music players, but still some consumers pay a premium for the iPod because of its advertising-driven status. With a button, the iPod seperates owners from their community.

Uninformed, materialistic, disconnected. Yep, I guess a few of my peers are tuned-out iPod owners, but iPod Generation goes too far: when I look at my gen-Y friends, I see another picture.

We are informed. We know that information on the world and our place in it doesn’t come home-delivered on TV. Our understanding of the world also comes from the mp3’s, blogs, conversations with friends, family and strangers. We watch 7/9/10 news running dog-on-surfboard stories, and wonder when the billion-people-on-less-than-$1-a day stories are going to seem more important to the Baby Boomer news directors.

We’re not materialistic. Yes, we like to look nice and yes, we do like the idea of living in a house. But many of my friends have taken jobs
We can become known as the iDeal generation. Informed, values driven, connected.

This is a vision where we may not all have portable music players: we might not be defined by our possessions, but we might find ourselves a world worth living in.

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Category: Understanding people


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