A MESSAGE TO OUR iY GRADUATES Article by Abidan Paul Shah
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on May 28, 2016)
Ecclesiastes 1:4 “One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.”
Many of you are wondering – “Who are the iYs?” They are the younger group of Generation Y or the Millennials, born between 1991-2001. Unlike the older Ys, the iYs have a very different mindset. We cannot afford to ignore or be ignorant about them any longer because they will soon be the largest demographic in the US. In fact, about half the world’s population will be 25 years old or younger, which social scientists are calling the “youth bulge.” They warn that any time there is a surge in youth population, there will also be a rise in violence. The rise in group violence in America and across the globe in recent years is proof that it has already begun! What can we do? To start with, we need to understand what made them the way they are.
Think about the major events of the past two decades – coming of the Internet in the mid 90s; terrorism at home with the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 and then September 11, 2001; school shootings starting with the Columbine massacre in 1999; biggest financial crisis in 2007 since the Great Depression; the rise of extreme religious violence in the world, especially with ISIS recently; the coming of smart phones, text messaging, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). As much as all these events have made a significant impact on the iYs, the main impact was much closer. We are the main impact! Tim Elmore explains this in his book “Generation iY: Secrets to Connecting with Today’s Teens and Young Adults in the Digital Age” (2015 edition). He uses 4 words to describe the iYs. I’ll summarize it here:
- An Overwhelmed Generation: We’ve made decisions for them all their lives and now they’re facing the world on their own. We’ve expected
the best from them constantly and now they’re too stressed to perform. 94% of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their lifestyles; 44% said they felt so depressed it was almost difficult to function; almost 10% had considered suicide in the past. This is why they try to escape reality by turning to online fantasy.
- An Overconnected Generation: We gave them technology too early, too much, and without accountability. They don’t need us anymore. They have Google and Wikipedia. They’re connected 24/7 with their peers online who are more important than real people across the room. Most of their connections are shallow but who cares. They simply go around repeating what others say, nothing new or unique.
- An Overprotected Generation: We have saddled them with safety seats, safety belts, and safety helmets. We’ve told them – “Don’t go anywhere. It’s not safe.” Is it any wonder that they don’t want to take any risks? Now many are also struggling with obesity and other health issues.
- An Overserved Generation: We’ve told them repeatedly – “You are special and everyone is a winner.” Guess what?! They actually believed us! According to a lag-time study at San Diego State University between 1975 and 2006, there has been a big climb in narcissistic tendencies among American students. A growing number now actually have Narcissistic Personality Disorder! Every day I come across employers who are frustrated because anytime it gets a little tough, they’re gone!
To all iYs – If you want to be the trendsetters among your peers, you will have to be different. In other words, “Be an iY by age but not by attitude.” Learn to be patient not instant. Communicate with people face-to-face. Remember, you have to earn it. You are not entitled to it. Listen to adults and not just to your peers. Don’t listen to adults who have ulterior motives. Be slow to tear down old boundaries. Learn to take risks. Technology is no substitute to expertise. It’s not all about you. You’re not always right. Make Christ your Savior. Pray and read God’s Word daily.
To all of us – It’s not enough to expect just the iYs to change; we have to do some changing as well. Begin by taking responsibility for where they are. Don’t condemn constantly. Embrace them. Give them adult responsibility. Reward real skills and remind them that not everyone wins. Invest time in them by teaching life skills like budgeting, cooking, planting, and maintaining. Give them hope for the future. Pray for them. Make Christ your Savior. Remember 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”