Is Generation Y Completely Stupid?

Posted By on May 12, 2009 | 15 comments


There has been some talk lately about my generation (the millenials and generation Y). Is the Internet making us genius or completely incapable of making smart decisions (dumb)?

I do not know where my opinion falls on the subject. I have had contact with brilliant Generation Y minds and also those who are still lacking the personal development needed to be successful in life.

I guess my question is this…

Did radio and TV completely erode the minds of Gen X and the Baby Boomers? Did we see a lack of control when Generation X spent a ton of time watching TV throughout the day?

The Internet has developed a communication platform that enhances the way we learn and communicate.

Generation Y may lack in terms of true research and grammar but we will never lack in connecting the the global environment.

Gone are the days when you could not communicate with the opposite hemisphere. We are living in a global information highway where knowledge is plentiful…

We may just be losing the essentials of old school thought.

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  • http://helpanentrepreneur.com Jared O'Toole

    I think we are just losing the essentials of old school thought. With every generation here are the leaders and there are people who always lack the skills. However I think we are more rounded for being exposed to so much through the web. Maybe to rounded and spread out in some cases.

    • Guest

      "there are people who always lack the skills"

      Schmoozing, I guess, is a requisite to survive in the social media realm? I'm an introvert who values face-to-face, deep connection with a few rather than a generalized template mass-forwarded to many. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the former, because too many people nowadays only want the latter. It's practically impossible to make friends with other introverts — especially painfully shy, solitary ones such as myself — because we simply aren't out there "networking" and really don't care to bother.

      Then there's the issue of math (yuck), which I can't do at all. I was a remedial student who never got the hang of even fraction-decimal-percent conversion, yet excelled in terms of written communication. Programming is a kind of math, and these days you have to know at least basic HTML to be *really* involved in the social sphere. Ironic, when considering the programming geeks were always shunned as antisocial, and yet the programmers and the schmoozers seem to have forged a partnership against anyone who doesn't match with either of these skills. In other words, I'm too shy to be a marketer yet too much of an artist to be a programmer. As I read this I'm seeing a blurb on the "Latest Tweets" scroll that says "science and math is trumping art, through influence." How sad that everyone will someday either be a sociopathic cyborg programmer or a plastic supermodel marketing expert. Either way there's no room for soul and heart in social media. It's quantity over quality and that's something I just don't want to participate in. Shy and introverted as I am, I care more about people than I do about algorithms or self-presentation. I guess that makes me a 21st-century, female equivalent of Willy Loman, and we all know what happened to him.

      (I hope we all know what happened to poor Willy or even who he was.)

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/thetylerhayes thetylerhayes

    Kyle, these kind of posts are why I follow you :)

    Sometimes, Gen Y gets ragged on just because it's easier to rag on anybody at all nowadays. I'm sure if the Internet had existed 50 years ago, there would have been just as much inane fluff flying around the Web about how the Baby Boomers and then Gen X were having their minds rotted by radio, television, movies, etc. God forbid the telephone!

    There are studies that show Millenials may not be as good at retention of large amounts of facts, but it's a long stretch between those studies (of which there need to be many, many more) and the assumption that Gen Y somehow can't function in communities whatsoever anymore.

    As an aside, I was at a networking event today where a nice gentleman repeatedly expressed fear about joining social networks (and rightfully so, if even just a bit). He continued to stress the value of face-to-face contact, until finally someone my age stepped in and said (basically), "Look, I prefer face-to-face contact, too. My whole generation does. But sometimes you can't have that kind of contact, and email/IM/text/Twitter are a much more appropriate extension of communication." That nailed it, for me anway.

    Thanks for writing this stuff, and keep up the good work!

  • http://www.divamarketingblog.com Toby

    Thanks for the link love to Diva Talks BTR show about boomers and SM. I'm a boomer who has "lived" online since the late '90's; but it's still different than having grown-up with the technology integrated into your baby toys. SM simply offers another way to build relations that spans cultures and distance and once people grasp that concept the technology is just a means to an end and the discomfort begins to fall away. That said, we all have much to learn from each other .. no matter the number of our age.

  • Chase H.

    Just because the baby boomers and other archaic and obsolete generations don't understand technology doesn't mean everyone else has to show up and speak face to face. It could be said that before written text, the best way to trade information was by word of mouth, but that method isn't very accurate and efficient with the advent of writing. Then came libraries and written text, which everyone would agree is a huge advent in information technology and communication. Then came the Internet – the ultimate stomping ground for information globally. Telling people to stay away from technology as a form of communication is just some snake oil, almost superstitious thinking with absolutely no reasonable or logical argument for doing so. It's like the baby boomers are saying "Don't use technology because it's the devil". Pretty dumb.
    -Chase – Gen X 1976

  • B.R.

    Chase H: "archaic and obsolete generations don't understand technology…"

    Keep in mind, Chase, that 'the internet' was originally conceived, developed, and physically built by members of the Baby Boom generation. Though it's use at that time was restricted to governments, universities, and hackers, the internet has been around since the early sixties.

    • Guest

      Worth noting that the boomers' distrust of technology may in fact have something to do with the panic of the Vietnam era, and the fear of Big Brother Nixon's covert surveillance campaigns along with the greater fear of the industrially advanced (and mechanically sociopathic) Soviet Union launching the bomb and destroying humanity. With Vietnam over, the Cold War in its decline, and the eventual close of the Reagan era, Gen X (the '80s generation) got comfy and gave in to MTV, NIntendo, and the early '90s slacker fad. Their own grandparents of the WWII generation had plenty to fear from Hitler's advanced industrialism that literally cannibalized six million Jews and countless other "undesirables" — and understandably bristled at the fact that much of this stuff today is imported from Japan.

      Generation Y, meanwhile, thinks the Internet is the greatest thing since Uncrustables because it's like a 24/7 sandbox they can all play in and do whatever they want with. Except the foundation of the internet — as a project developed by MIT with funding from the good ol' Dept. of Defense — speaks volumes about its underlying potential and possibly current use. But the kids are just too stupid and self-absorbed to realize the true implications of what a government-sponsored network can really be used for, especially with all this proposed surveillance legislation masquerading as a "resolution" against internet piracy. The Final Solution is what it is. Dumb, stupid kids just think they're downloading Lady Gaga for free, because they don't know their history and don't care to learn the truth.

      But the truth is out there, and knowledge is power — it's just not "cool" to go against the grain.

  • X man

    "Generation Y may lack in terms of true research and grammar but we will never lack in connecting the the global environment."

    How does connecting the global environment substitute for the ability to perform true research?

    What exactly do you mean by connecting the global environment? Chatting on a fiber optic cable with someone in another country in and of itself does not advance civilization.

    "Did radio and TV completely erode the minds of Gen X and the Baby Boomers? Did we see a lack of control when Generation X spent a ton of time watching TV throughout the day?"

    Yes. TV is a life consuming waste of time. So are video games. I would estimate 95% of internet content is either wrong, incomplete, and/or useless. I say this as a Gen Xer who wasted too much of his youth with pointless things.

    On the up side, your grammar seems ok.

  • http://fredtheben.wordpress.com/ Fred

    so true! i think people who blame technology for their kids going dumb are too ignorant of the world around them.

  • jared

    yes, and it started with the boomers, im only 22 so im a millinnial and were gonna have the ungodly task of fixing this country 1 day because the boomers have screwed us over so bad, no jobs, no social security, wars, and you need college for every damn thing, thanks alot…the only good thing to come out of the 60s was music and certain drugs, not overall intelligence

  • Ming on Mongo

    Let's face it, Boomers have had their share of "stupidity" too, and the so-called 'counter-culture' they're associated with, was really just a minority of the whole Boomer generation. It's just that the "extremes" seem so much greater and more obvious now, between the current Gen Y "best & brightest" leaders and their own "less stellar" counterparts.

  • Redd

    Jared, bang on! "you need college for every damn thing" No truer words were ever spoken…It's gonna get to the point where you'll need a 6-year apprenticeship and have 9 pieces of ID and a letter from the college to take a shit in the employee bathroom at McDonalds…Someone will have to come in and sign you off on proper position on the seat, leaning forward properly…

    Then there's the Catch 22 of needing experience to get experience…For those of you who don't understand, that's the employers who post a job, say 3 to 5 years on-the-job experience needed….How will you get the on-the-job experience if you can't get hired in the field? A college education will only get you so far…College won't give you the skilled hands God gave, college won't give you the work ethic and the drive you wake up with every morning…Experience should never be needed to gain experience, if you stick to that, you will hire no one.

  • Trudy

    If gen Y still keeps going on their roll of needing remedial english and math before they are allowed to take college courses then all that technology stuff they know about facebook won't help them much….sorry but previous generations used to enter college with a real diploma from high school.

  • Guest

    Generation Y (Z?), born in 1996 — sandwiched between the "births" of Yahoo! ('94) and Google ('98). And in contrast to most of my peers, quite a bit of an old-school Luddite myself. I actually quit high school because I was horribly harassed and bullied by the so-called popular crowd, and in my passive observation of social media (without actually having an account), I've seen nothing but the same high-school mentality — from Gen-X'ers and Boomers along with them (social media, "for those who think young," to quote the philosophical genius that is Britney Spears).

    I have dyscalculia, which is like dyslexia only with math, so I struggled with math in school but excelled in English. However, having come of age during the rigid NCLB rote-memorization era of education — and the misguided belief that high school should be a boot camp for potential MBA candidates or MIT grads, I struggled even more with the required courses in "technical literacy" that included social media. The ones who excelled at this tripe were, no surprise, the ones who already had internet accounts coming out of their ears and other (already-used) orifices (and we're not talking a serial port). The shy nerds did well with programming, but the wordsmiths, like me (and… me?) either dropped the course or took an F. The only thing I felt comfortable with, the arts and theatre, were cut in favor of technology upgrades and even faculty training seminars on use of social media in the classroom. (Not to mention sports. No money would ever be docked from football. Especially where I'm from, where one of its most infamous residents — a former governor turned two-term President — made headlines nation- and worldwide for his own very public lapses in verbal cognition. Any guesses as to where? Bueller? Bueller?)

    Needless to say, I dropped out, knowing I'd never meet the over-the-top requirements that none of our parents or grandparents had to bother with — you studied, did your homework, and went home; "socializing" was for the frat brats, and "taking one for the team" was relegated to sports (or the military). The introverted study-duddies were always thought of as odd, that is until *computer* nerds became more accepted and books, themselves, and those who preferred "old school thought" in print to the flash-bang medium of the Web became, well, weird.

    I still cannot (and refuse to) fathom the supposed necessity of 140-character blurbs and cheerleader-level self-aggrandizing in an effort to gain attention from some mop-top pop star. Sorry, Dave, but I tend to disagree on the point about Gen-X'ers and Boomers; our parents did become idiots because of television and video games; just like Twitter and texting being vilified as an "overly compressed" form of linguistic communication, so too, was television lambasted as being the sandwich-pack version of a feature-length movie, and movies themselves believed anathema to the comprehensive Canterbury-esque journey of reading books. While the merits of visual/multi-sensory media as storytelling or message-delivery format are debatable at best, I believe that a line does need to be drawn somewhere, and that social media — and the mentality of those who use it — are indeed just plain stupid. So too is this generation of which I am ashamed to be a member chronologically — perhaps called generation Y because "why" would have required too much thinking power to type. But unlike high school, where the foolishness is at least somewhat self-contained, social media opens up new opportunities for the in-crowd (including the elitist geeks) to unleash their insufferable stupidity unto the whole world. And make it popular, too.

  • Guest

    I would like to know what you define as "best and brightest." Because if it's in terms of financial success and/or "social capital," the "best and brightest" of Gen Y so far are mostly internet startup founders like Mark Suckerface and whatsisname that founded Tumblr. They only seem to be successful in their own native field, social media. Not too many restaurateurs, political activists, authors, journalists, artists or nonprofit founders of high school or college age, at least none that I've seen. Maybe for the ones in their thirties, but the only realm the rest seem to be doing well at is technology, which (not surprisingly) attracts others of their same age and text-happy ilk. Their "less stellar" counterparts might well be of lower intelligence or ability, but it's likely that many of them just aren't involved in the fields of I.T. or marketing, and so not able to compete (much less lead) in the digital-obsessed 21st-century workforce. But not everyone, period, is involved in the fields of I.T. or marketing, especially social media marketing, which does require at least a minimal knowledge of certain I.T. concepts (like search engine algorithms, HTML/CSS, and whatever else is involved in maintaining a website). Social media, for me, has its sheep (the users) and its shepherds, each of whom copies a similar style of herding off the other. It's a meta-herd of sorts, a herd of herders gathering their flock to do nothing but pull wool over everyone's Google-y eyes, including each other's and their own. Talk about the four-eyed leading the blind.

    Is "best and brightest" supposed to mean innovative? Because all Marky Marx did was steal the database of Harvard's student yearbook, just like all Bill Gates ever did was copy off Steve Jobs (and Jobs himself pull a Xerox on… Xerox). Twitter is just IRC for dumbf*ck celebrities and superficial, get-rich-quick marketing "gurus" and self-help bloggers. Pinterest is no different from sticking real-life yellow Post-it notes on your monitor, macaroni art projects on mom's fridge, or photos on a corkboard with actual thumbtacks. Blogs, meanwhile, are no different from the "old school thought" of op-ed columns or letters to the editor. It's just the fact that it is in fact open to *everyone* and that it's primarily immature Gen-Y folks *leading* rather than learning that's made it so much worse.

    Used to be, someone Zuckypants' age would still be doing an apprenticeship rather than running his own company, unless that independent franchise was a lemonade stand or the boss died or he proved legally that he was 27 in leap years. Now he's practically CEO of the world, even though he's nothing more than a screwed-up a**-burger who has no sense of professional decorum, and doesn't have to, because he's the boss, and if you're not on Facebook, you're square (Google "circles" notwithstanding). He's a spoiled brat who wears hoodies to meetings and has given a new meaning to "board room"; I believe there's a skateboard ramp — a skateboard ramp! — leading up to the central office at FB HQ. Social media's popularity with young people is the "decline of old school thought" — for the first time, kids are becoming the boss and making their parents and grandparents'(or at least their parents' and grandparents' respective generations) adapt to their whims or perish. In that regard it's also a harbinger of the decline of Western civilization. (Read Lord of the Flies if you want to know why children should not be in a position of authority.)

    Social media? No thanks; I'd rather learn viable, worthwhile skills and put in my time than visit YouTube for skateboarding tutorials with supposed six-figure potential. Methinks one or two Gen-X'ers must have felt nostalgic and sold their respective souls to gen-Y just to make Rick Astley popular again. If I was alive in 1987 I wouldn't have liked "Never Gonna Give You Up" then, and I hate that song even more today.