There was a lot of discussion at #truManchester about this so-called ‘Generation-Y’, with two entire tracks dedicated to the theme. Debate raged about who actually Gen-Y refers to, and the topic cropped up even in seemingly unrelated tracks.

In my mind the debate centres around one central premise- is Gen-Y an age group or a mindset? Plenty of articles and some of the #truManchester participants argue for an age group, but where the boundaries lie, there is no agreement. Is it a child of the ‘80s? Someone over fourteen when HTML was invented? Those born since 1978? (Perhaps some   wishful Gen-Yer there…)

My problem with the age definition is that it results in sweeping views of how ‘young people’ behave and has given rise to a spate of Sunday magazine filler. This is besides the arbitrary approach to differences in education, attitude and upbringing. It is frustrating, if not dangerous, that some fail to recognise that not all of this group are middle class, nor do they all have access to constant online communication.

This is why I believe the argument of ‘Gen-Y’ representing a mindset is more convincing. If we’re going to talk about Gen-Y in the sense of communication style, then surely attitude is the only unifying factor. More accurate perhaps, would be the term, ‘Internet generation’, applicable not only to those who have been connected since birth, but also to people who are completely comfortable online. Having been at #truManchester, I can testify that there are certainly a good number about; in fact many are more communication savvy than some ‘Gen-Yers by birth.’

The term Gen-y is probably going to stick around for a while, if only to provide ‘Gen X’ with an object of fascination. (Watch out for Gen-Z though, they’re already on the up apparently…) For now I will be taking all pronouncements on the topic with a pinch of salt…Or should that be the irony beloved of Gen-Y?

-Siobhan Morrin


A #Tru Gen Y Experience

Really, what is the fuss about Gen Y?

Being labelled as one myself and yet still unsure exactly what this meant, I was relieved to find many others at the truManchester unConference equally confused. However, after much debate and from everything I saw t’up north, for all the hype there might be about the new technology obsessed Gen Y’ers, the true masters of the social media phenomenon are our older, wiser counterparts. 

Pierced Gen Y'er

Am I Really Gen Y?

Having grown up in an environment where the phrase ‘to Google someone’ got you a dirty look and text speak was unheard of, those savvy members of what’s affectionately been termed Generation X are far more switched on when it comes to capitalising on the new technologies out there.* Perhaps it’s having to actively learn how to use these channels rather than picking them up organically that makes the difference.

Learning exactly how to use a tool rather than playing about to watch celebrities must definitely have its advantages. Combine this with the personal experience gained from being a longterm member of an industry and you’ve created a social media monster – of the good kind.

The Breakfast Club

The Real Social Media Experts?

Of course, there will always be those that struggle but that’s the same across both generations. It is for that fact that I propose to end with the (slightly cringey) cliché: you’re only as young as you tweet you are…

* – If you need proof of the appropriate use of affectionate here, do a quick Google image search: Gen X displays our favourite mullet wearing crowd of The Breakfast Club; Gen Y, a painfully over-pierced youth – a true stereotype if ever I saw one – but that’s for another post!

Sarah Fuller