It seems that I’ve recently heard a lot of complaints about this “younger generation,” known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y (those born after 1984—or between 1980 and 2000—depending who’s doing the explaining).
Employers moan that Millennials don’t want to work: they arrive late, lack motivation, and do not make good employees. Customers complain than Generation Y doesn’t seem to care and looks strange.
True, each successive generation causes angst and head scratching from their elders. However, with Gen-Y there is an additional factor at play—the emergence of a postmodern mindset. (See What Does Postmodern Mean?)
Generally, Gen-Y, and to a lesser extent Gen-X that preceded them, have postmodern perspectives on life, whereas prior generations are more likely modern thinkers. Herein is the rub that causes the above frustrations.
One element of the postmodern outlook is that they want meaningful work and to make a difference in the world.Career, wealth, and possessions tend to have little draw to postmodern people. And this excites me.
I recently asked a 21-year woman if she would soon be graduating from college. (This was a bad assumption on my part.) She hemmed a bit and then admitted that she had just dropped out of cosmetology school—her second post-high educational effort.
She realized that a career in cosmetology would be a shallow and meaningless pursuit. She wants to make a difference in the world by helping those in a third-world country—she leaves in two months.
Another acquaintance abandoned her career path as a paralegal and is cranking through grad school—so she can join the Peace Crops—and then aid governments in developing countries. Another 20-something friend is wrapping up a yearlong stint in Russia.
Even though he’s not yet back to the States, he is already planning on a return trip as soon as possible. A fourth friend simply desires to travel the world—to help the people she meets.
I could go on and on about this “younger generation” who are set on making a difference, have forsaken materialism, and seek meaningful work—and it excites me greatly—Gen-Y has the potential to make this world a better place.
Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.