Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Leading Generation Y

Pam Nissler gave me a fascinating Master's paper by Lieutenant Colonel Jill M. Newman of the United States Army. Click the title of this entry for a copy. The paper concerns defining, recruiting, and retaining a generation that prefers to call itself the Millennials. I liked this summary: what Newman calls Generation Y was "born between 1978 and 2000 and comprised of approximately 80 million people. They are the most parented and protected generation yet. Generation Y is highly confident, highly educated, techno-savvy, adept at global and diversity issues, team oriented and multi-taskers. They are also impatient, skeptical, blunt, expressive, and have grown up with a sense of entitlement."

The paper is insightful and useful reading for librarians.

Every generation has its own kind of intelligence. As the parent of two Millennials myself, I like this generation a lot, and see much to admire. But I'll make a prediction: if the problem of the Boomers is that we are so self-centered that we destroy communities rather than build them, the problem with the Millennials is that their very collaborativity, enhanced by technology, has the potential to make them the most spied upon and oppressed people in a long time. There's a pendulum swing between individuation and social consensus; both extremes are dangerous. For all that the Boomers have been insufferable in many ways, we have enjoyed extraordinary personal freedom. Imagine McCarthyism, but this time, fed by a government with instant and detailed access to your online accounts, cell phone calls, IM chats, and more.

Newman notes the Millennial longing for the reestablishment of "a regime of rules." As I've noted before in my talk on generations, I worry that we are, in fact, raising a generation of soldiers. Soldiers are indeed necessary, as are police. But we don't want a police state, and there's more to patriotism than obedience. Obedience coupled with despotism is a recipe for conflagration. It behooves us more than at any point in history to ensure that our national course is set by thoughtful leadership.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, when I tried clicking on the link, I was unable to download the paper. Evidently the file is corrupted. I managed to find the paper at -- but I could only get it if I was willing to pay $19.95 for it (which I am not). All of the other links I found were to the same corrupted file that you originally linked to.

Jamie said...

Hmm. Just tried it again, and it worked.

Not sure what the problem is. But I get it reliably whenever I click on it. - Welcome

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