Confession time: I've never liked Gen Y, or the Millennials, or Echo Boomers, or Generation Next.
Not the people, mind you. I love the people. They're breaking the rules and making the rest of us think differently, and God knows, in a changing and complex world, we need more of that.
What I hate are the titles we've been using to describe these people. They don't mean anything. “Gen Y” tells me nothing except that they came after Gen X. Same with “Gen Next.” “Millennials” is a little better, but it's all “When” and no “What.” And “Echo Boomers?” Please — too many syllables.
Now we've got another title to chew on.
It comes from the folks at Nielsen, who are now calling Americans ages 18 to 34 “Generation C.”
That's C as in “connected.”
Here's what Nielsen has to say:
“The latest Census reports that Americans 18-34 make up 23 percent of the U.S. population, yet they represent an outsized portion of consumers watching online video (27 percent), visiting social networking / blog sites (27 percent), owning tablets (33 percent) and using a smartphone (39 percent). Their ownership and use of connected devices makes them incredibly unique consumers, representing both a challenge and opportunity for marketers and content providers alike. Generation C is engaging in new ways and there are more touch points for marketers to reach them.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Here's the point: Who cares?
Seriously. You ever notice that the only people who aren't wringing their hands over what to do about Gen Y are the members of Gen Y themselves?
“Look at all of the weird, game-changing, high-tech, connected, collaborative things these people are doing!” the rest of us marvel. “What are we going to do about it?”
And Gen Y? They're just living and working the only way they know how. All of this new stuff isn't game-changing or mind-blowing to them. It just is. It's all they know.
Maybe the problem isn't them. Maybe the problem is us, and our inability to keep pace with the rate of change.
If we spent half as much energy trying to keep up with them as we did trying to label them, maybe we'd finally figure out Gen Y.
Or whatever you want to call them.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a Gen X'er, so what do I know? I want to hear what the rest of you think. Leave a comment and let us know.
Want to learn more?The Business Learning Institute offers a number of customizable programs related to generational differences. Check them out here: