Contributed by Rachel Stever
When I was in high school my grandmother bought me a subscription to Time magazine. She forgot to tell me right away, which lead to a few months of wondering why it was showing up in my mail box every week. That was the year Time put Generation X on the cover. It wasn’t the first time, in 1982 they were billed as the “computer generation”. And it wouldn’t be the last. In 1999 “twentysomethings” had the cover as Time wondered if they would be able to make it out of the baby boomers shadow.
In 2009 it was Generation Y’s turn. First Europe’s youth showed up under the heading “Generation Disappointment”, and two years later, Middle Eastern youth were “The Generation Changing the World”. Then, just this month, the “Me Me Me Generation” hit newsstands and an accompanying video of writer Joel Stein trying to live like a Millennial began circulating the internet.
Depending on who is writing the article, I tend to move back and forth between Generations X and Y on a weekly basis. It’s convenient, I can choose which group I want to be associated with during any given news cycle. It also means I’ve had reason to feel defensive about my generation since I was born. But so has every generation before me. My grandmother still shakes her head in disbelief when she recounts stories from my mother’s hippie youth. And I’m sure my Victorian great-great grandmother had something to say when her daughter bobbed her hair.
I don’t think the narcissistic tendencies of teens and young adults have changed from generation to generation. We’ve always had a tendency to document and share our lives. Yesterday’s Polaroids have become today’s Instagram. It’s the delivery methods that have become more accessible. Teenagers can start their own magazines if nothing on the newsstand appeals to them and anyone can self-publish a book or keep a blog. As technology progresses, people of all generations will find new ways to broadcast their ideas to the world.
I don’t think we should write off Generation Y just yet, the youngest members aren’t even in high school. Let’s give them a chance. Besides, in another ten years or so there will be another generation gracing the cover of Time magazine.