In order to be fully versed in what I plan to have as a series of podcasts this summer, I have been reading some of the research on Millenials. Twenge was recommended to me by someone who has several clients who are millenials, and that person thought that Twenge’s conclusions were supported by what they have seen. My thoughts are below:
- Twenge’s research method and her writing are a bit different. She bases the book (this is the second edition, and it’s had a chapter added) on some pretty interesting surveys done for dozens of years now on high school and college students. She and her grad students have compiled lots of these studies and have gone back through the questions they asked, enabling her to make some fairly broad statements with at least the backing of several surveys that have not changed the questions they have asked, enabling a solid set of responses.
- She also uses google’s word search features in interesting ways, looking to see the prevalence of key phrases in fiction over the years.
- She then pull anecdotal evidence from her classes, the classes of friends, her kids, and her kid’s friends, topped off with a heavy dose of pop culture.
- The anecdotes and pop culture bugged me occasionally because of their, well, anecdotal nature, but they also made her writing very lively. She’s funny as shit as well, and takes a fairly Gen X approach to kids these days.
- I kept wanting to know where she stands on this generation, and I kept feeling frustrated because I felt she wasn’t sympathetic enough. I also kept trying to check myself, because lots of what she has identified – again at fairly high levels – is spot on and very useful, and of course can’t be applied to everyone. She does note thought that she finds generational differences compelling because of the similarity of the culture that kids are raised in, whether that culture be pop or parenting.
- A clear limitation that I’m not sure she acknowledges enough are the disparities in income, ethnicity, and gender. She tries throughout, but the book does read as a snapshot of a very specific class, race, and gender perspective.
- She also has no problem noting where she thinks Generation Me is far beyond its predecessors, especially in the acceptance of LGBTQ folks.
- She finishes with a set of advice that she offers employers – my guess is that this is a solid consulting business for her.
- In combination with Malcolm Harris’s Kids These Days and danah boyd’s work for Microsoft, there is a solid body of research out there about this generation. I’m not sure where the whole ‘we know we are being observed factor comes in’…