With every passing year, I find that my perspective on life matures and tend to notice the differences between Gen X’ers and the ones who have come after us, our children. Issues such as faith, family, politics, race, and relationships are viewed differently by the Gen Y crowd, also referred to in some circles as the Millennial Generation. Let’s look at a few examples of some differences between Gen X’ers and the Millennials:
- Gen X believes in playing by the rules, working your way up the proverbial ladder, to reach success at some point in the future. GenY believes that rules are fluid. When the rules don’t fit, they create their own. Gen X waits on opportunity to present itself, while Gen Y is more comfortable in creating opportunity.
- Gen X has a mindset of individualism while Millennials tend to seek the support of others to reach a goal.
- Gen X’s use of technology has been a learned and adapted process. Gen X tends to use technology based on their needs. Gen Y was born in the Internet Age. For this reason, the use of technology in all its various forms comes more naturally. It is integrated in their lifestyles and many would be lost without it (i.e. “Why write a letter when I can just IM you?”).
- Gen X values freedom over money. Money to Gen X’ers is a tool to gain freedom. Gen Y values money AND freedom. Money is needed to maintain their lifestyle.
- Gen X lives for the future. Millennials live for the here and now.
When it comes to romance, Gen Y seems to be more fluid in their relationships. Gen Y are responsible for the popularization of FWBs (Friends With Benefits), although this phenomenon has been occurring throughout history albeit more discreetly. It has been my observation that Gen Y views on marriage and relationships are more of a financial and intimacy partnership as opposed to something that is intended to be a forever thing. In a way, can you blame them? It is the Gen X’ers who have created the highest divorce rates recorded in modern history.
It is just as easy for Gen Y to find and embrace close, personal relationships online. While many Gen X’ers have also embraced this practice, it is more natural for the Millennials. Gen X’ers tend to be more cautious when meeting people in the social networks, it is a seemless transition from the real world to the Internet for GenY. Gen Y is more comfortable meeting people online, starting relationships, and openly sharing details of their lives in cyberspace. In fact, to mosst Gen Y’ers, there is no real difference between the real world and the virtual one. With the advent of popular virtual realities such as Second Life and World of Warcraft, Gen Y and beyond have no challenges exisiting in both the real world and the virtual one.
Maybe these are some of these reasons Gen X’ers and the Millennials have difficulty understanding each other. We each occupy different places in time. I’m certain our parents felt the same way about us. All we can do is continue to talk to them, try to understand them, and learn from them as well.
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