Friday, April 24, 2009

Generations X, Y, Sarah Perez, and here we go again?

Earlier this morning Sarah Perez posted a piece on ReadWriteWeb citing a LexisNexis study about the differences between Generations X and Y.

Those of you that have been around the blogosphere for a while know that this 'generational divide' has caused more than a few debates on blogs and social networks before.

This time it's different.

First, the LexisNexis study is the first (that I know of) to actually divide us into THREE groups.  Boomers (ages 44-60), X (ages 29-43), and Y (28 and younger).  Since that has been an ongoing part of the debate, the distinction as drawn by LexisNexis is important.

So what does this 'mid-boomer' (that still feels like a 'Y') think?

"Two-thirds of all Boomers agree that Personal Digital Assistants (like the Blackberry, for example) and mobile phones contribute to a decline in proper workplace etiquette"

It depends entirely on the job.  If you're in tech (and not constantly texting or making personal calls), it can be PRODUCTIVE.  If you're working in a retail store, building roads, or managing an apartment complex ... the cell phone stays in the car.  Unless it's there for emergencies, there are gobs of industries where you don't need and/or shouldn't have a cell phone ringing at all.  On the other hand, if you're a news reporter ... By all means, text away!

....Speaking of cars ... if you're texting in front of me at 65 MPH, I'm worried about you.....

"Only 17% of Boomers believe using laptops or PDAs during in-person meetings is "efficient," while more than one third of Gen Y do"

No argument (Me?) but many of the 'Boomers' that I know find it totally intimidating to have a laptop in front of them during important one-on-one meetings.  I don't.

"Only 28% percent of Boomers think blogging about work-related issues is acceptable, while forty percent of Gen Y workers do".

The most important one of all but not because of what it said.

Reality check on this one.  Again, it depends on the industry, but if you work for a Fortune 500 company and blog negatively about your company or industry, don't be surprised if a little time passes and then you get a pink slip?  Obvious? Maybe.  Do people do it?  All the time.

In many cases, all three groups need to be careful about what they put online, depending on what they do for a living or expect to do in the future. 

Generalizing ...

Boomers:  Have a tendency to be less self-involved and are objective, especially those that have been up and down a few times (economically).  It may sound corny but we're all still learning.  Boomers have the most experience.  Nothing's changed here.  It's called WISDOM.

Generation X: Quantifying this group in these times is almost impossible.  Of course, they 'get it' as far as tech.  Most grew up with it and  ... The younger you are, the more apt you are to embrace change.  That's extremely important especially in these times.

Gen Y is the group is the one I worry about the most.

Some brilliant minds out there but, in general, some parents (and/or mentors) needed.  Sorry kids, the answer you're looking for probably isn't on MySpace. Obviously, this doesn't apply to everyone, some of whom are working their way through college, etc.

You have the most amount of time to do YOUR thing  (statistically). Stop listening to the gloom and doom on the news and/or worrying about peer pressure and start dreaming.  If you know what you like, work hard and go for it!  There's a better than even chance that if you LOVE what you do, you'll be successful.

We're all individuals across all three groups.

Sarah Perez, like Tamar Weinberg, Shana Albert, Louis Gray and so many other members of the Generation Y 'family' are all stellar examples, in their own ways, of 'getting it' and making it work for them.

I could cite examples in the other groups.  I'm sure you can to.

The key is communication.  The Internet is facilitating that (in good and bad ways).  Boomers SHOULD engage the other groups. Positive, insightful bloggers should blog.  We can all learn from each other.