I received an email last week from someone who is writing a book for Zondervan on “twentysomethings.” She was soliciting help from twentysomething bloggers who would be willing to review and comment on parts of the book (in progress) and answer general questions. Being interested in writing and editing, I volunteered (even though I barely qualify!).
She asked: What are some general characteristics you have observed in twentysomethings in this country? I responded off the top of my head and have decided to put my response here to see what you think. Am I right or wrong in these things? What did I forget? So here it is:
OK then – totally off the top of my head and in random order:
I think the generation at large tends to be….
1. Hesitant towards commitment. They like to keep their options open. This would involve serious commitments like marriage – many are more apt to cohabitate or generally eschew such relationships – and very minor things like weekend plans.
2. Short attention span. Maybe it’s the ADD generation – maybe the result of living in an age of sensory overload and stimulation that would be unthinkable fifty years ago.
3. Cliquish – not in a bad junior high way. Maybe tribal is a better word. People in this generation tend to identify with a group of friends (yes, like on the show of the same name) that becomes almost like a family.
4. Difficult to stereotype. This is no knock on your project or even this question, but it seems that this generation resists the kinds of labels and stereotypes that demographers and advertisers like to afix. There are always exceptions to every rule, even the trends I’m noting here.
5. I think there are some subtle inconsistencies at work here too. On the one hand this generation prizes individuality and self-_expression, while on the other it craves community and belonging. It hesitates to commit (as noted above) but wants commitment from others. I don’t have a catchy label for this observation.
6. Anti-institutional. Alleigance to institutions (like denominations, schools, political parties, whatever) is just not a priority. Even the kind of brand loyalty advertisers used to count on seems far from certain. Perhaps this is the result of having more options than anyone in history, of seeing more advertising in a day than their great-grandparents did in a lifetime.
7. Cynical. This is in many ways a related observation to that presented in 6 above. Excessive exposure to marketing of every conceivable measure leaves this generation cynical about anyone promising something. They’ve heard it all before. It’s fake, canned, cheesy, uninteresting. Perhaps “jaded” would be a better term here because it is not quite so negative.