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Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Star-Crossed Lovers: Millennials and Books? Not So!

Some good news came out of the Pew Research Center the other day:

http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/10/23/younger-americans-reading-and-library-habits/

Millennials are reading books! And a good deal more often than their predecessors, Generation X. Additionally, they’re more likely to use libraries than the previous generation, for more than just movies and music. (Which, incidentally, is a terrific perk; where else will I be able to get the entire discography of Boz Scaggs for free?) This information flies in the face of the perception of Millennials having the attention spans of newborn puppies.

It’s a book of campaign promises.

Interestingly, Millennials do enjoy e-books, but not at the expense of physical books. This is a relief to those of us who wouldn’t know what to do without being able to use a dust jacket as a bookmark, or who would pine for the smell of old paperbacks. We see e-books as providing the benefit of saving room; they prevent us from having to find room to stow a book on a long trip, or even on a subway ride. Why bother when you can read one on your phone?

Additionally, there has been a push recently to replace hefty, unnecessarily expensive textbooks by placing the information on e-readers. (E-readers are any electronic devices that allow the user to read an actual book – it can be a Kindle or a Nook or an iPhone or a tablet, for example.) This makes sense, as the information in these textbooks is often replaced within a year or two by new editions. As long as it’s possible to reduce the exorbitant costs, then it will likely be a worthwhile endeavor.

But what could account for this trend toward auto-didacticism occurring in a generation that has been derided as not being able to read anything longer than a tweet (or a short and sweet blog post like this one)?

There are a few theories. One is that ‘nerd is the new cool.’ We’ve reached a place where knowledge is not just power, but in vogue. It may be a reaction to the previously accepted norm of the 1980s and 1990s, where being cool was actually anti-intellectual. ‘Too cool for school,’ was a popular eighties term. Another theory is that, since Millennials often don’t have the expendable income we’d like to, libraries are a free and easy way to entertain ourselves in our downtime.

Likely, it’s a combination of factors involved. Whatever the case, it is a welcomed trend.

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A Response to Generation Screwed

A fascinating article was recently penned by Joel Kotkin for the Daily Beast the other day, called Generation Screwed. You can read it here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/07/15/are-millennials-the-screwed-generation.html

His take is backed by sound numbers and good analysis. Those numbers and analyses suggest that the game is rigged against the Millennial generation by the Baby Boomers and Generation X. But not out of hubris or malice, but out of fear and stupidity.

The previous generations have taken what they could from what was offered without fear of the well running dry. Now, the well is running dry. Boomers aren’t retiring as early not, because all of a sudden, the money isn’t there to move to Boca Raton. And considering the palpable desperation frothing from the masses of 18-29 year olds looking for gainful employment, companies that are looking to hire new workers are low-balling Millennials

The Millennial reputation, oftentimes well earned, is that we are whiners, and who strut about with undeserved sense of accomplishment. Working with Millennials in a professional environment can be extraordinarily frustrating.

Millennials

In Ron Alsop’s The Trophy Kids Grow Up, he discusses the unusual precedents that our generation sets up for the workplace. We don’t like dressing up for work, and we don’t like our personalities infringed upon or stultified. We want flexible schedules, steady pay-raises, and a clear path up the corporate ladder. This rubs many in the business world the wrong way, and this is perhaps why many major companies are uncomfortable hiring us. But it’s a feeling they steadily have to get comfortable with. We are unavoidable, considering there are 90 million of us swarming the work force in segments, year after year.

There need to be new and clever ideas if we are to have it anywhere near as good as the previous generations have. There is a serious debate going on in Washington DC, and indeed, all over the world, on how to ensure that the wealth of nations does not dissipate taking care of generations who have grown used to spending without paying much back. We need to impose responsibility on those in power, and take that power away from those who refuse to be responsible.

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