Generation WE: The Movement Begins… from Generation We on Vimeo.
(Apologies up front for the length of this post. It began as a short comment on the video above – viewing of which was prompted by a Tweet from PresenationZen's Garr Reynolds – @presentationzen. It grew to over 1300 words.)
If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know I often write about Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads. Roy is one of the more prescient business/thought leaders on the planet. Roy wrote this five years ago,
At the peak of the Baby Boom there were 74 million teenagers in America and radio carried a generation on its shoulders. Today there are 72 million teenagers that are about to take over the world. Do you understand what fuels their passions? Can you see the technological bonds that bind them?
Baby Boomer heroes were always bigger than life, perfect icons, brash and beautiful: Muhammad Ali… Elvis… James Bond. But the emerging generation holds a different view of what makes a hero.
Boomers rejected Conformity and their attitude swept the land, changing even the mores of their fuddy-duddy parents. But today's teens are rejecting Pretense. Born into a world of hype, their internal BS-meters are highly sensitive and blisteringly accurate. Words like "amazing," "astounding," and "spectacular" are translated as "blah," "blah," and "blah." Consequently, tried and true selling methods that worked as recently as a year ago are working far less well today. Trust me, I know.
The world is again changing stripe and color. We're at another tipping point. Can you feel it?
Most people couldn't feel it. Some still can't.
The video above acknowledges today what Roy was talking about five years ago. Though I might challenge Gen-We co-writer, Eric Greenberg's assertion (in the video) that Generation We are progressive. To a boomer, progressive suggests a pure liberal agenda. I don't believe that accurately describes millenials.
Might I suggest that Generation We are more correctly Progessive Conservatives – concerned about social justice, social welfare, family stability, community life and more. (Red Tories in the Canadian political vernacular.) They have many of the attributes of what Tom Brokaw called the "Greatest Generation" – the parents of the Boomers.
Williams again (posted on my 49th Birthday),
Baby Boomers were idealists who worshipped heroes, perfect icons of beauty and success. Today these icons are seen as phony, posed and laughable. Our cool as ice, suave lady's man James Bond has become the comic poser Austin Powers or the tragically flawed and vulnerable Jason Bourne of The Bourne Identity. That's the essence of the new worldview; the rejection of delusion, a quiet demand for gritty truth. We're seeing it reflected in our movies, our television shows and our music.
[NOTE: Daniel Craig's James Bond is truly James Bourne – more Matt Damon than Pierce Brosnan, Sean Connery et al.]
Baby Boomers believed in big dreams, reaching for the stars, personal freedom, "be all that you can be." Today's generation believes in small actions, getting your head out of the clouds, social obligation, "do your part."
A Baby Boomer anchored his or her identity in their career. The emerging generation sees his or her job only as a job.
Baby Boomers were diplomatic and sought the approval of others. The emerging generation feels it's more honest to be blunt, and they really don't care if you approve or not.
Boomers were driven, self-reliant and impressed by authority. Emergents are laid back, believe in working as a team, and have less confidence in "the boss." [For his own sake, the President Elect needs to keep this in mind.]
Idealistic Boomers had an abundance mentality, believed in a better world, and were opulent in their spending. Emergents see scarcity, believe in doing what it takes to survive, and are more fiscally conservative. [Make a point of reading this, as well.] All emphasis added.
Responding to Roy, I wrote this in my long essay/short book, A Networked Conspiracy (now available as a free pdf download here – or click on the link in the right column to get the CD/Booklet version from Amazon or Wizard Publishing),
…to begin to understand Emergents*, we need to understand their attitudes and values.
– A hunger to be part of authentic community.
– A commitment to lasting relationships.
– A desire for their stories to be heard.
– A disdain for hype and empty rhetoric – Don’t tell us what you believe, show us – be real.
– A mission in life beyond money, sex & power.
[*The word "Emergents" is used here to mean millenials.]
Boomer Progessives want to believe these Millenials have idential values to them. They don't!
Gen-We played a huge role in giving President Elect Barack Obama his mandate – but if he becomes simply a Chicago Pol in power – they will abandon him. (I hope the decision of Rahm Emanuel as Chieif of Staff has more to do with Emanuel's steel-willed pragmatism than it does with his and President Elect Obama's strong ties to Chicago's Daley Machine.)
The Gen-We video rightly states that these millenials are not interested in partisan politics. They did not vote for Obama because he was a Democrat. They bought his message of Hope and Change. (Note the stat that 41% of college students consider themselves independents – and as a further example, over 30% of the Colorado electorate are registered independents.)
Greenburg and Weber (acknowledging the impact of Generations writers, Strauss and Howe – who also had a significant impact on Roy Willams understanding of generational change) highlight the difference between the confrontational world of Boomers and the civic-mindedness of Gen-We,
Every survey and attitudinal study— including our own—confirms that today’s young people respect and are eager to learn from well-intentioned people of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. This is a dramatic change from the experi- ence of many people from past generations, who grew up believing that intense intergenerational conflict is natural and unavoidable. In their massive study Millennials Rising, generational scholars Neil Howe and William Strauss report, “Most teens say they identify with their parents’ values, and over nine in ten say they ‘trust’ and ‘feel close to’ their parents. The proportion who report conflict with their parents is declining.”
Although Baby Boomers may have invented the motto, “Don’t trust anyone over 30”—and even lived by it, at least until they themselves turned 30—their children, Generation We, are ready to trust and work with them. Page 141, Generation We pdf document.
In the hyper communication speed of the third millenium after Christ, Gen-We have a realistic expectation that the incoming president will live up to his post-partisan positioning/posturing. Follow their discussions on Facebook, on Twitter and in blogdom. They are watching, talking, texting and blogging and President Elect Obama will have a very short time frame in which to show he can and will live up to his statement,
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
With God's help and our prayers, I believe he can. The strong hope of Gen-We, is that he actually will.
UPDATE: In further scanning Generation We, whilst still seeing much good in it, I feel it's important to recognize that there is a level of anti-Christian sentiment in the book. Christians (specifically evangelicals) are seen as part of the problem. (Greenburg surveyed evangelical Christians in Denver, CO and Birmingham, AB. Those particular locations would tend to skew results, methinks.) See the comments and quotes on pages 110, 114, 142 and 167. And though he is quoted extensively, from Greenburg's perspective, Dr. Martin Luther King's strong Christian faith appears to have had no bearing on his actions. The book is significantly more pro Alternate Spirituality – reflecting Greenburg's own spiritual journey – Page 186 pdf document.
As he writes on page 196, Greenburg was influenced by Dr. Paul Ray who helped him "craft the thesis of the book." Ray, co-author of Cultural Creatives (described by one wag as the New Age version of Richard Florida's Cultural Class), is the Director of the Institute for Emerging Wisdom Culture at Wisdom University – a school founded by Matthew Fox, a defrocked Dominican Priest and panenthesist – Fox is best known for his Creation Spirituality.
Addendum: Please note that Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber's book, Generation We is available as a free download.
Also note that this post has been written before I've actually read Generation We. The end notes and the search function in Skim, the pdf reader I use, helped me discover the impact of Strauss and Howe on Greenburg and Weber. And that search provided the quote five grafs above.