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Marketplace Scratch Pad

T-t-talking about my generation

Scott Jagow Jun 23, 2009

One thing that’s clear about this recession — Gen X-ers are competing against their Baby Boomer parents, who are managing the Generation Y-ers, who are trying to keep economic hope alive for their Generation Z kids. It’s a pretty spicy generational stew.

Yesterday, NPR’s All Things Considered aired a story about the new “technology tension” between generations at the office:

“You can have Gen Y-ers who are busy looking at their BlackBerrys. They’ve got their laptops flipped open, they’re engaging in social networking right during the course of a meeting, and you have a boomer rolling their eyes, not understanding it,” says Michael Walsh, the CEO for LexisNexis U.S. Legal Markets. “Two-thirds of boomers that were surveyed indicated that they felt that use of devices, technology — such as e-mail, social networking, the Internet, etc. — contributed to a decline in office etiquette.”

Meanwhile, Gen X-ers are caught between having to manage and bridge the gap.

In a new book, “The Future Arrived Yesterday,” business and technology journalist Michael S. Malone says the workforce is in for radical change, thanks the Gen Y-ers. From Entrepreneur Daily Dose:

“Managing this generation may not only be a nightmare, it may actually be impossible,” Malone writes. “It is quite likely that some sizable percentage of these new workers… will never work in a steady job on the payroll of a single employer. And an equally large segment may never know a career different from that of a ‘permanent part-timer,’ contractor, or consultant.”

Malone cites a piece written by Jake Halpern in the Boston Globe Magazine in which that author says evidence might suggest “this generation, which is flooding into the workplace, will create chaotic, unpleasant, and utterly unproductive work environments that will drive many a good business directly into the ground …”

Ouch. But Malone does give Gen Y some props and says their “fierce independence” will help shift the country from a corporate economy of worker bees to an entrepreneurial one of innovative thinkers and rapid change.

It’ll be interesting to see how Generation Z fits into the mix. Yes, they exist (born mid-90’s to early 2000’s). And yes, a Generation Z-er did recently win the National Texting Championship:

By the way, what comes after Generation Z?

For the musical portion of this post, I’m looking past the obvious, timeless Who song. Instead, I’ve picked a song from my generation (Gen X):

Here’s to drum machines
Stonewashed jeans
Credit cards, fax machines
Big bow-headed chicks and frat guys
Wearing forty dollar tie-dyed t-shirts
And big bold paisley ties
Here’s to living off dad as long as you can
And blending in with the crowd
Oh, my generation
My generation
My generation should be proud.

Damn straight.

Here’s Todd Snider with My Generation (Part II):

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