Something struck me last night as I watched the 7.30 report on the 2DayFM prank scandal. After three days of the story I was only half paying attention until radio veteran Mike Carlton piped up about how the Austereo management had let down “these kids” who were now at the centre of a firestorm.
He was expressing the view of many people on this topic, but I had to go back and check. Michael Christian probably does qualify as a “kid” in media circles. He’s 25. But the other half of the Hot 30 team that is now in hot water, Mel Grieg, is 30, and until recently taught at the Australian Radio School in Adelaide.
According to the ARS website: “We’ll teach you everything from classic communication techniques, producing great shows, copywriting, voiceovers, commercial production, promotions, all the way through to using new media like podcasting and internet radio to score your first gig.”
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Yolo. Hashtag, yeah.
No, this column isn’t about Yogo, the delicious chocolate yoghurt substance of yore.
It’s (kinda) about a phrase that’s fast catching on with Gen Y, so much so that even a few of my older colleagues are aware of it.
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Spending hours sorting mail and doing the coffee run might have been seen as perfectly appropriate tasks for the office junior in the past, but this new lot of Generation Y employees seem to be more educated, more tech savvy and won’t mind telling you to shove your old school pecking order.
A recent CISCO workplace survey targeting Generation Y young professionals and university students in 14 countries, including Australia, found that 52 per cent of Australians surveyed indicated that they would, ‘sacrifice the extra salary for the opportunity to work wherever they’re most productive and happiest’.
Unlike the previous working generations who are not too eager to change jobs let alone careers, members of Generation Y seem to embrace change and feel more empowered in the workforce. They don’t perceive their jobs as a lifetime commitment that pays the bills. Instead many of them strive to secure jobs in line with their desired lifestyle.
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In an interview discussing his increasing philanthropy late last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg noted that “when you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place. So, what we view our role as, is giving people that power.”
Facebook, for Zuckerberg, has a role to play in power systems. It can be a political tool for leaders. And he’s right, but only conditionally; a number of other groups need to come to the party before we can consider social media a tool for good.
I spent a recent weekend helping Year 11 students understand what it means to be a leader, and I can safely say that I don’t share the pessimism about our future that the majority of headlines concerning ‘young Australians’ seems to show. But nor can I say in good conscience that the future is all roses.
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Earlier this week, 86-year-old Leroy Luetscher temporarily became my idol. The Arizona pensioner was reportedly enjoying a spot of gardening when a freak accident left a pair of garden shears lodged in his eye socket. That’s right, his eye socket.
The handle went past his eye and through his neck, eventually resting on his external carotid artery, leaving him to walk around like some sort of Edward Scissor-Face.
Luetscher, who is expected to make a full recovery, said he was “grateful to the doctors and staff” and left it at that. No blog. No finger-pointing. No attempt to use the incident to become a breakfast radio star or get a retweet from Snooki. The guy was all class and dignity. Elderly blokes like Luetscher make Jack “check out my one arm push-ups” Plance seem like no big deal.
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Gen Y. We revel in a hook-up culture of “joyless, pitiless sex”. We treat people of the opposite sex (and the same sex) as objects for us to consume. We don’t just go out and have a few beers on a Friday night, we have ‘spit roast’ (the verb, not the noun) parties after hitting up the meat market.
We brush our teeth with bottles of Jack Daniels, and personally, barely a day goes by where my phone isn’t avalanched by sext messages.
Yeeeeesh. I wish. It’s no surprise to anyone of my generation that baby boomer commentators just don’t get Gen Y. But when we’re debating Gen Y, there’s something that everyone – Gen Y and pundits alike – seems to miss.
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A friend recently told me of his horror when a colleague asked a co-worker why she only had one child.
It was a dangerous question to ask a mere acquaintance in front of the rest of the office. What if the answer had been a heart-breaking miscarriage? Marital disharmony? A crippling amount of debt? Infertility?
No doubt the 21-year-old woman’s thoughtless question left her older workmates clucking their tongues at Gen Y’s arrogance and lack of manners.
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Ricky Ponting had a lot to live up to when he took over as captain of Australia from Steve Waugh, but two more World Cup titles, a maiden Champions Trophy and equaling Waugh’s 16 test record winning streak cemented him as a leader to rival his predecessor.
But if Ponting had big shoes to fill, his successor - Michael Clarke - will look like he’s stepping into Ronald McDonald’s boots.
Fairfax journalist Roy Masters perfectly summed up up the feelings of the Australian public on the issue of Clarke as the next commander-in-chief of the Baggy Green brigade.
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For the last quarter of a century, it’s been something of a national pastime to bag ad man Siimon Reynolds for being a wanker. But if Gen Y – a group who know a little something about being pilloried as superficial, materialistic, self-obsessed fame whores – were old enough to know who he is, they might be tempted to claim the 46-year-old as one of their own and insist he be treated with more respect.
Perhaps it’s time all of us — Yers, Xers and Boomers alike — rethought our attitude towards Reynolds.
For a case can be made that he is not the pretentious tool of the popular imagination, but rather a prescient pioneer who intuited where society was heading and adapted to the economic and social changes being set in motion by Thatcher, Reagan and, in Australia, Hawke and Keating, at the time he was coming of age.
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Young Australians have often been labelled as lazy and lacking many crucial skills, leaving many older Australians to worry about the future of this country, left in the hands of those who lack the ability to look after themselves.
A bunch of survey results released recently echo these fears, focusing on the loss of traditional knowledge in the younger generation.
Simply put, women are not learning the skills that traditionally women once knew, and men are losing the manly abilities they once had.
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We don’t mind if you can’t sew. Just wear underwear.
According to a survey, the vast majority of Generation Y females are losing their womanly ways.
Traditional female skills such as sewing, ironing, cooking, homemaking and other ‘womanly’ traits are on the decline and instead women are driving automatic cars and contributing to a growing incidence of consumerism.
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Sometimes people just get it plain wrong. And that goes for me as well.
Often we’ve thought that Generation Y are so preoccupied with themselves that they are not interested in the world around them. Or worse, they’re interested but not doing anything about it.
The stereotype goes along these lines: locked up in their bedrooms, on Facebook 24 hours a day, playing computer games, comfortable in the world of anonymity. And no social responsibility. Well, it’s time to put all their prejudices back in their box. Because what has happened in Brisbane in the last few weeks is the total and comprehensive counterproof.
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Quite frankly, I’m a little jealous. I can’t remember the last time I threw a brick at a shopfront, kicked a Royal Rolls Royce or even pulled a face at a grumpy copper.
From memory, it was around the 14th of Never. While I’m not a huge fan of placing my face in the path of a moving police baton, I have to admit I’ve been getting a bit envious of those thronging British Gen Y masses on television.
Now, I’m not in any way condoning the rock pelting, glass smashing and general widespread destruction- but I am condoning the protests. How exciting it must all be.
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Entering a newsroom as an aspiring young journalist ,it can safely be assumed that even the most educated individual is naïve to the workings of the world. It could be said this never changes.
Working in the media you come across countless information and are exposed to thousands of stories. Some of them are uplifting, showing us the amazing things humanity is capable of. Others just show the dark side of a species bent on destroying itself.
More and more I find myself reading information and stories that make me disillusioned about the future. I am constantly raided with information about joblessness, climate change, rising house prices, incompetent government, racism, sexism, wars being waged apparently to protect me.
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Sitting around in a café the other day, one of my former colleagues bemoaned the fact that young people where not as active as him when he was studying. He raised his frustration that each generation is getting more politically lethargic and ranted about the generational changes we are seeing.
Apart from reminding him that ‘his generation’ had not done such a bang up job in solving the world’s problems, and actually delivering some new ones, the whole area of ‘generational research’ is one that is deeply flawed. That is, to clearly define a population’s attributes based on their ‘generational status’ tends to homogenise a population by their age – despite there always being significant differences within each cluster.
Despite this, we see books and papers about Boomers, X-ers and Y’s – all presented as if this is the missing ingredient in understanding the way of the world and what is going on with our society. So is this the case?
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I am 19 years old and last Monday night there was a party at my friend’s house.
Not just any party, but a holiday-launching, noise-polluting, parent-make-grumbling kind of party. There were girls too, lots of them. I didn’t go.
Instead I was stuck to the edge of my couch with my eyes glued to the television. They were going to talk about euthanasia on Q&A.
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In the world of employment, the growing skills shortage is like a low, black cloud building on the horizon.
While the GFC slowed the demand for labour it didn’t change the fact our workforce is ageing. In a few years more people leaving the workforce in Australia than joining it.
As workplace age management expert Alison Monroe quipped recently, “the only thing that changed during the GFC is that boomers got two years closer to retirement.”
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A 21st birthday, with a house full of family and grandparents. The birthday girl and all her friends come from middle class families who are supportive and loving. They all attended good schools, work casually, go to uni and have active social lives.
It sounds like a scene of suburban tranquillity, so why is the only thing going through my head is: am I only the person who’s noticed that the birthday girl and many of the friends are completely wasted on drugs?
Talking to the mum and another girl, all I can think is ‘how can she not notice? She has to know. Is she too embarrassed to say something?’
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Perhaps one of the reasons that Gen Y has a distinct sense of entitlement is because we grew up with John Howard as our Prime Minister.
After spending a decade under conservative rule, we had heard stories of Whitlam, Hawke and Keating and wanted our taste of social reform too.
When Howard’s long innings finally came to a close in 2007, it felt like Gen Y had politically come of age.
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Last month, Woodstock Festival – the event that’s come to represent Baby Boomer youth culture in our collective consciousness – turned 40.
Given the Boomers spawned the crazy consumer consumption habits that sent us crashing towards the GFC, it was only fitting for promoters to get the talent off the couch, jab them with Botox and organise the requisite merchandising and exorbitant ticket pricing. Ka-ching!
Meanwhile, the media and marketers have been celebrating ageing while concurrently exploring ways to delay its visible signs in order to appeal to the cash-cow that is the Boomers’ retirement fund (albeit one reduced by the GFC).
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In a speech to Young Labor seven months ago I said that generations were often unfairly criticised by the ones which preceded them.
The young adults of Generation Y are often generalised as being plagued by apathy and indifference.
They’re sometimes called lazy and ungrateful for the many perceived advantages they have over earlier generations.
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When I was 19, I started mapping out my career plans. I was in my second year of university when I decided to volunteer as an unpaid intern for two full days per week at a magazine publishing house. My baby-boomer father never understood how I could do it for two years without pay (while working weekends in retail, where yes, I dealt with the worst customers imaginable and cleaned up kid vomit from the floor of my store), but I had faith in the fact that it would one day pay off.
One day was not this week, because this week, Employment Minister Mark Arbib is urging Gen Y to readjust their ideas about work and employment, stop the “snobbery” associated with certain means of work, and take whatever jobs they could get. For someone whose attitude to work has more to do with paying university fees and funding my internet bill than snobbery and a class act on the career ladder, Senator Arbib’s comments did not go down too well. And I was not the only one to notice.
Generation Y has long bore the brunt of the attention-seeking, lazy, power-hungry generation that refused to put in the hard yards for their future, something which the Senator might have capitalised on in his address to a young labor conference last week. What he failed to recognise is the fact that Generation Y has suffered long enough as a result of this stereotype, and as such, was ditching conventional forms and methods of work in favour of something that works for them.
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As a member of ‘Generation Y’ I’ve come to grips with the various stereotypes and countless sledges that come our way.
Everyone loves to bag us. John Birmingham was even quoted to be “looking forward to seeing them get run over by the coming recession”.
So to any haters I have some bad news: the recession has had little negative impact on Generation Y at all.
In the immortal words of John Lennon, “Nothing’s gonna change my world”.
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I borrowed my first book from the University library the other day. I realise that doesn’t really seem like a big deal but for me this momentous occasion becomes interesting because I am a third year student. In the three years I’ve been at Monash, I’ve not once borrowed a book until now. In fact, the only time I visit the library is to steal free wifi and there was that one time I forgot my notebook so I had to use the free computers to check Facebook.
But the reason I haven’t borrowed a book before is not because I’m a bad student. I mean, my grades are only average but I think that might have something to do with the number of hours I spend drinking instead of studying.
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