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Janet Lee

Editorial Specialist, Content Distribution, TED Conferences


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Has Gen Y in America become a generation of laziness, self entitlement, and failure of will? If so, who/ what is to blame?

As a 20-something, I am a living, breathing testament to America's Gen Y population, and have been hearing a lot in the media from Gen x and the baby boomers that we are a generation of laziness, failure of will, self entitlement and loss of the "American Dream." I'd love to pose this question to the TED community (of all generations), how this idea became more prominent in American culture, and if this is something our generation is at fault for, or a product of something else...

Topics: generation y

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    Aug 17 2011: Hello all!

    Based on the way this conversation is going, perhaps I should have re-phrased my question. Birdia, thanks for your feedback. I suppose I can only speak from personal experience, but I too just like you and your siblings, have been fortunate with a family who has supported me financially and emotionally with my "journey" through my 20's. I have never taken advantage of this and have worked really hard to support myself, and find my own path, even if it meant getting yelled at and being cut off financially. I have had my moments of laziness, self-entitlement, and blaming other people--that being said, I think that the "laziness" and "blaming" and "self-entitlement" is a front for those who are actually scared, who don't have a good support group, who are afraid of taking risks, who want to find their stride, but are struggling to figure out how to do it and get it done.

    Easy answer: just do it. But, if it were that easy, why aren't more of us doing it?

    How can we get out of this frame of mind? What can we do individually and collectively to get out of the "frustration" that is effecting not just 20-somethings, but everyone?

    (They don't call it the quarter life crisis for nothing!)
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      Aug 17 2011: I am sure all generations and individuals have aksed the "who am I and why am I here" question in some way or to some degree at different phases of their lives. The difference with your generation (and even bleeds into mine as I am 35) is that you have been born into a world where information is bombarded at you in every direction. Through technology there has been an array of opportunities and connections, and possibilities someone in the past did not have. Your choices now are vast, where generations prior, perhaps not so vast. My grandmother in her generation was told she has 2 choices: become a teacher or a nurse" and it was her duty to marry and raise a family. Of course not everyone followed that, but many had because well, its "the way things are". As for those that went a different path, they still had less known opportunities as they explored.

      Fewer choices can seem easier. Not saying fewer choices is key to happiness, but people sought to find what happiness they could in the lives they were expected to lead.

      I come from a generation where we were told we could be anything, no matter your gender or race, etc. The self help age, and then, your generation never really had a taste of too many limtations. Technology has provided you with means to seek, search and connect all over the world with one click. This provides a sense of instant gratification. Yet at the same time no real map for sifting through all the information, possibilities, and opportunities available to you. A feeling where too much choice is not the answer to finding oneself, a path, or happiness. A feeling where you can become lost in the shuffle and feeling you may never truly having anything unique to give.

      I don't feel condenming technology is helpful, for it will continue. Perhaps it is more about balance. Finding meaning in your life and journey...your higher purpose, talents, passions and utilizing the powerful tools and resources available to you. Taking responsibilit

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