Gen Y: Indifferent Or Just Different?

Impatient. Demanding. Selfish. Lazy. Indifferent. Gen Y has managed to collect a whole bunch of cliches over the years, and apart from being tech-savvy, most of them aren’t very flattering. Often it seems older generations simply assume the worst of us and we live down to their expectations. But I think that while the cliches might be true, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We are impatient if that means we aren’t willing to wait around for results, changes and answers. We are demanding if that means always questioning everything instead of accepting things as they are. We are selfish if that means asking for more when we feel we deserve it. We are lazy if that means not believing work is the most important thing in life. And we are indifferent to politics and politicians if that means we find them collectively uninspiring and out of touch.

The recent Gen Y episode of Q&A tackled this very issue of our generation being seen as totally apathetic when it comes to politics and global issues. I do not think of myself as a political person (in fact, I must admit I almost changed the channel when Q & A came on…) I do not have any strong allegiance to a particular politician or political party. I do not understand half of what goes on in Parliament, nor do I care. I have minimal respect, trust or belief in anything politicians have to say.

However, there are a few select issues that I am extremely passionate about, and am willing to stand up and be counted for. Listening to Samah Hadid, the most eloquent and intelligent 23-year-old you could ever come across, talking on Q&A I realised that generation Y-ers are not indifferent about world issues, we just show our interest differently to generations past. Rather than take to the streets about an issue we make small changes in our everyday life, circulate a video to inform others, sign an online petition or make a small donation towards the cause. And this week, focusing my kindness project to world issues, that is exactly what I did.

For global warming I caught the bus to work and had my very own earth hour at home by turning off all the lights. For changes in our policies and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees I signed a petition and spread the word about an incredible documentary called Go Back To Where You Came From, one of the most personally moving and globally significant documentaries I’ve ever seen. For marriage equality I – along with thousands of others – donated money for a same-sex couple to have dinner with the PM and tell her their story. I did this through GetUp!, a fantastic website making such political action far easier and more accessible to our generation. For saving Tasmania’s forests I wrote to my local MP, also through GetUp!

I believe each of these issues are connected by a need for us to let show more kindness and compassion – whether it be to another human being or to our beautiful planet. Generation Y is indeed very different to past generations, but just because we are not passionate about a political party does not mean we don’t care about what is going on in our world. Far from it – I think Samah summed it up perfectly when she said the difference of our generation is that “Our compassion, our commitment to human rights, is not conditional on political election cycles”. And that seems like the opposite of indifference to me.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lexy Raine
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 21:07:08

    Well said!


  2. Lesh @ TheMindfulFoodie
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 09:58:06

    Fantastic post and absolutely love the Youtube video!


  3. veggieatlas
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 11:40:34

    Beautifully written and the video compliments your post so well. I didn’t see Q & A but Samah’s words are so true – especially since our politicians are more like robots than people (spouting an irrelevant party line) and any individuals trying to make a difference in politics seem to get ridiculed or spat out. Small, daily changes/actions like yours are gold!


    • happydancecat
      Jun 30, 2011 @ 21:00:25

      Thankyou, veggie! Yes, sad but true, it seems the politicians let us down at every turn. So luckily we don’t rely on them to get our voices heard and our point across! It certainly is empowering to take some form of action – no matter how small it may seem, if enough of us take the same action it becomes a whole lot bigger.


  4. Rachel Banks
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 12:32:59

    Thanks for restoring some heartfelt hope in our generation Cat! I absolutely loved this post and will be hopping online to watch the “Gen Y” Q & A as soon as I get home tonight. It never ceases to amaze me the fear, distrust and disapproval caused by any point of “difference”. The world will live in now IS DIFFERENT to that of past generations (whether for better or worse will always be a point of contention!) and accordingly it is imperative that we adapt and find new ways to create and communicate meaningfully, which I think Gen Y is doing. The sooner we stop making comparisons and learn to embrace and accept change and difference the better the world will be.


    • happydancecat
      Jun 30, 2011 @ 20:53:34

      Thanks, Rachel. You’re doing a lot to restore hope for us yourself! It’s definitely worth watching if you get a chance. You’re absolutely right – the world is forever changing and each generation changes with it. One would like to think that each change brings us forward into a more tolerant, open-minded, compassionate society. And I do believe our generation has the power to collectively make that happen on many issues in our lifetimes.


  5. Kelly Lauder
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 06:51:39

    Right now I am trying to figure out a way to send this to my entire school. We need to stick together, and make changes in our own lives. Thank you.


    • happydancecat
      Mar 05, 2012 @ 21:03:21

      That’s very true – school is the best place to learn how to stick together to make positive changes, in our lives and other peoples! Thanks for reading and commenting, Kelly. And good luck with your own kindness journey!


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