Emerson, that great American poet, said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” The art of writing and of reading, from either end, could also fit into this aphorism of journey and destination. When you start to read, say a blog, do you hurry to the end? Or enjoy the journey? When I write for you, I often find the most interesting ideas along the way. And what should I report? The destination or the journey?
This time my original destination was an article, A Millennial’s Version of the American Dream. Really!? Do Millennials have their own peculiar version of the American Dream? Apparently so. But that raises the question, “Who, exactly are the Millennials?” as well as the question, “What is their unique American Dream version?” You see? I was beginning to define the way-points of my journey. Just barely having left the runway, I needed to change my ticket. Something that can be done only when flying by Internet Explorer.
So the first great question on the journey, “What’s your generation?” I’m a Baby Boomer and I have heard of other generations, but was surprised by what I found. There were three generations before me. At least three! Not to get too historical. And there are also the well-publicized three that come after me. The reputable source is Wikipedia.
- The Lost Generation describes those who fought in World War I. The members of the lost generation were typically born between 1883 and 1900.
- The Greatest Generation is the generation that includes the veterans who fought in World War II. They were born from around 1901 through 1924, coming of age during the Great Depression.
- The Silent Generation, also known as the “Lucky Few,” born 1925 through 1942, includes most of those who fought the Korean War and many during the Vietnam War.
- Baby Boomers, the generation born following World War II, from 1943 to the early 1960s, a time marked by an increase in birth rates, and associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values;
- Generation X, abbreviated to Gen X, the generation born after the Post–World War II baby boom. Born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.
- Millennials, also known as “Generation Y”, with birth dates ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.
- Generation Z, for people born after the Millennial Generation. With no agreement on the exact dates, some starting it at the mid-2000s to the present day, i.e. the generation currently growing to adulthood. Perhaps they will yet distinguish themselves and earn a name.
Good information to have. Millennials are the youngest members of our current work force. So if they have a different version of the American Dream, it might be good to know what it is. So, my journey turned to answer, “What is the Millennials’ unique version of the American Dream?”
Tara Gentile, author of the article and a self-proclaimed Millennial, began the article by saying,
The next generation of consumers isn’t buying what you’re selling.
We’re just not that into cars.
And we’re just not that into houses, either.
We’re really not into a lot of new stuff in general.
So what’s a 21st century company to do?
Tara is telling us that from the perspective of the Millennial, the original American Dream was a nice house in suburbia with a fancy car in the drive-way. Bigger the house and fancier the car the dreamier the American Dream. She includes, “the chemicals to make yours the greenest lawn in your suburban neighborhood.” The American Dream was Consumerism – “buying new stuff in general.” From cars to homes to green grass.
Gentile further defines the American Dream by saying,
In a recent interview, Greg Goldner, millennial expert and freelance TV host and producer, told me, “We want to work from home when we can, creatively collaborate with others, and have random Fridays off.”
Any product or service you create that facilitates flexibility is going to have a great chance in the millennial market.
As a Baby Boomer, this all seems a bit disingenuous. I suppose they at least buy the food they consume. They must have some kind of battery-operated vehicle that gets them to the food store and back before the food melts or spoils. Doubtless they have table and chairs in their modest cubicle upon which to eat their airy food. And an Air Mac? With FiOS? Trying so hard to be sincere, Millennials seem to forget about the reality of living in the 21st century!
The road on my journey had turned a bit rocky with many potholes – Millennials have smoother roads doubtless. But this led to yet another ticket in my multi-destination air-flight. I couldn’t help but wonder what the other generations thought of the unique dream of the Millennials. I am much too reticent to post my own Baby Boomer comments at the end of this marvelous blog. But was I ever rewarded in supposing that there were others of various generations less timid than I!
What do Gen Xers think of this? A comment on the blog article by Signel said,
One day you will realize that life is really about building a family/friends. Nothing else really matters. Not your cell phone, not your xbox, not the latest and greatest whateveritis.
I say this as a genx that has all the gadgets. They do not define me. Spend less time thinking about yourself and more time investing in your relationships. Far more rewarding than a friday off. I promise.
Well, thank you Signel! That was refreshing. Insightful too. Anyone else out there have anything to say? Of course there’s the inevitable sarcasm, which in this case was hard at first to recognize. Orange Clover wrote,
I love this article that tells me how special I am. I am nothing like any generation before me. No 20 year old has ever been described as idealistic before the millennial generation. Please write more articles like this.
It sounded so sincere that it took Stacey Brook’s comment and a duplicate posting by Orange Clover to prove this sarcasm was laid on thicker than butter on hot scones.
Pretty sure you can find some sarcasm in the above if you look for it. (And my guess would be that it wasn’t written by a millennial.)
Thank you Stacey. What about the Baby Boomers? What did they think of the Millennial’s American Dream? Fortunately, Moi! was completely taken in with Orange Clover’s remarks, thinking them totally sincere. Totally!
“No 20 year old generation has ever been described as idealistic before.”
Really? Do you know any history? How about the peace and love, anti-war generation of the 60s? ( As it happens when I was 20 something)
Does your youth prevent you from considering the possibility that EVERY group of 20 somethings think they are unique, only to find out as they mature that this is less true than they imagine?
Whoah! Moi! You need to relax. Less morning coffee or something. Of course, we Baby Boomers do tend to think remarkably alike. Thank you, Moi! Absolutely true. Every generation thinks themselves unique until they discover, with grating finality, that they are much like those before.
All we need is to hear from one of the three generations previous to the Baby Boomers. Not likely to hear from too far back. I don’t mean to be rude, but the farther back one goes the less likely 1) to find someone with the strength or interest to bother with the Internet and 2) to find someone who knows how to use the Internet. But I did find a post from Grandpa Whittles that will have to suffice. Our journey is coming to a close. I heard the landing wheels clunk into place.
If you want to:
A) Rebrand America (domestic + international)
B) Create millions of new jobs
C) Revitalize the world economy
D) Give the entrenched power structure a hell-of-a-shake
Here is the opportunity — over the next quarter century, 2,000,000,000 people will join the world’s middle class. They will look to America for lifestyle standards which according to this article are changing. Groovy.
The recipe for accomplishing A,B, C, and D (and a few more) is as follows:
1) Democratize access to NRG (eN-eR-Gy).
2) Develop an “NRG – Sip it, Don’t Guzzle it” alternative for every device used in modern life …
Now, you may wonder how I decided that this Grandpa was a part of the Great Generation. He gave himself away: “Groovy.” Obviously, an attempt to endear oneself to Millennials with vocabulary that came out of the Baby Boomer Generation will fool everyone except a Baby Boomer. Sorry Doctor Whittles. I’m not buying your formula. Although, I like his, “Sip, don’t guzzle,” advice. Sounds like a Baby Boomer… hmmm.
You are free to unbuckle your seat belt and move about the cabin. The journey is over.