A letter from Generation NeXt

Dear Traditionals, Boomers, and Generation X,

It seems like no matter what we do, you’ll never listen to us. You might hear what we say, but – per your ancient clich’eacute; ‘- it will likely go in one ear and out the other. But one of the great things about my generation is that we are outspoken, and yes, I am going to say all this anyway, even if you think I’m wrong – as usual.

Goal-oriented, independent, hardworking, computer savvy and focused. All these words have one thing in common: I would use them to describe the thinkers of my generation, Generation NeXt (those of us born between 1980 and 1994).

Elders, do not put this down. Please, just hear me out. You say it is a bad thing that I only work hard for something when I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel – a reward that will greatly satisfy me. So what? Goal oriented. That is what it is called. I know what I want, I go after it, I get it. Plan set and executed. What is the point in working hard for something I do not want or need? Useless. Isn’t that how you become successful – by working hard for what you want? I’m a go-getter.

I’ve heard it is a shame that I do not want to learn anything just for the sake of doing so. I disagree with that. No, I don’t want to waste my time and money in college taking classes that will not help me achieve my degree. I pay for my college, not you. I do not have that extra time or extra money. What I do have is a curious mind and an open ear. I will take education from wherever will give it to me. I read. I research. I watch educational T.V. shows. I learn a lot just for the hell of it, however, I won’t pay $300 to learn it. If you prefer I do, donations are gladly accepted.

Mark Taylor, a nationally recognized educator, said in his article, ‘Generation Next: Today’s Postmodern Student-Meeting, Teaching, and Serving,’ ‘Many of today’s students expect to take care of themselves, having done so in day care from an early age, and so look independent and self-interested. Though their occasionally demanding behavior might look dependent, they are actually assertively meeting their own needs by utilizing available resources.’ Atta boy, Mark.

Some of you believe I’ve lost the ‘grit and guts’ to work hard for the things I earn. You claim the use of technology has tarnished my ability to develop critical-thinking skills. In reality, I’m embracing a newer, faster way to do things. We are adapting to this new technology and using it for the greater good. When there is a problem at work, my technology skills can help me critically assess the situation and solve the conflict. Yes, I said it – critically.

You say I am lazy because I sit at a computer or play with my iPod or cell phone. I say those habits have made me a whiz at what hiring companies are looking for these days. I know how to navigate in most of the top computer programs. I can build a Web page. I can cut hours of film material into a 30-second commercial. I can set up a job interview, meeting, or a lunch date in a minute or less via my Blackberry. I can filter a million Google results down to exactly what I need in about 25 seconds. Can you?

When I set my mind on something, I do it. Quickly and efficiently. Yes, most generation neXt-ers do have a very short attention span. But what is the point of being bored? Why not find out what I need to do, do it, and be done? Focus. I may have a short attention span but I have great focusing skills when I want them.

‘NeXters tend to be positive; they feel good about themselves and assume that things will work out well for them,’ Taylor said in his article, ‘Generation Next: Issues in Workplace Readiness and Performance.’

And he is right. I have no doubt I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can confidently say that is another trait of my generation. We’re confident. I have no problem talking myself up, but you all are so quick to knock me back down.

Some of you say that if you take casual sex, binge drinking, and out-of-control drug use that will send us all straight to hell – throw in a little violence – then you have ‘me,’ the typical neXt-er. Excuse me. Boomers – when was Woodstock?

I say stop generalizing.

‘It should be stressed that making generalizations about generations is a slippery prospect at best, especially about a group as diverse as Generation NeXt,’ Taylor said.

Before you go to criticize my generation, please stop and think. Are we awful, lazy, undetermined, going-nowhere-fast kids, or are we just different than you? If you keep criticizing our efforts instead of learning to work with us, all you’ll end up with is a 20-something taking your job, leaving you with an unexpected, unwanted early retirement.

Things have changed, but one piece of advice to you, Traditionals, Generation X and Baby Boomers: Change really isn’t always bad.

With nothing but love,

The NeXt-ers