More Ritalin Please…. Generation Y is here

I received a very interesting powerpoint presentation recently in my email – “Generation Y Perspectives” that appears to have been prepared either by or for NASA.

Here are some of the “defining characteristics” of Generation Y:

  • Demands instant gratification
  • Expecting (NOW! Not 5 minutes from now)
  • Quickly bored
  • Multitasking
  • Empowered
  • Impatient if delayed… but highly adaptable
  • Attracted to large social movements
  • Instant information

So some of these are true of any generation (such as the “large social movements” one – remember the 60s anyone?). Some of these seem to be full-blown manifestations of ADHD. Not much one can do about that, I suppose.

But what I do find interesting is that this is the crowd that is supposed to stay focused long enough to build us a lunar base program and a Mars program (in addition to whatever else we dream of accomplishing in space in the not too distant future, such as Space Solar Power Satellite systems…). Somehow I find that hard to believe.

Sure, there are space enthusiasts in their teens and 20s (I’ve met some pretty amazing ones at places like the Space Generation conference) – but as with their predecessors from my generation (X), they are the miniscule minority. There are 70 million Gen Y’ers according to that powerpoint presentation. What % do you think give a real damn about space? Enough to alter their life-plans around pursuing a career in it?

My guess is about as many as did in the late 90s, when the first boom presented a much more compelling and lucrative alternative for their creativity and desire to express themselves.

The frontier is still there – it is cyberspace, not outerspace. All the PR in the world won’t change that, nor will it alter the economic and accessibility advantages the former holds over the latter.

5 thoughts on “More Ritalin Please…. Generation Y is here

  1. They are also called “Millenials” and “Echo Boomers”, as most/all are the kids of Boomers. (So it’s our fault.)

    Fortunately, I raised my daughter to have an interest in space issues (I’ve been taking her to advocacy conferences since she was 12), a questioning mind, and an appreciation for the long term. She’s now a brilliant, albeit snarky, college kid (wonder where she got THAT from?)

    Point is, limited attention spans and an entitlement mentality are not limited to a single generation in this country – unfortunately. And many are more focused on keeping their jobs and their bellies full than they are long range space dreams that they, more than ever, are convinced will never apply to them. We’ve always had an uphill battle to capture hearts and minds. A sinking economy, dollar, and perpetual war for perpetual peace aren’t helping any.

  2. Generation Y is raised in the city on MTV, videogames, cellphones. Isolated in groups with others of his own agegroup in enclosed classrooms, usually kept away from responsibility until the late teens or early twenties.

    If a child is raised on a farm or ranch, or otherwise given responsibility early, taught useful skills and competencies, rubs elbows with responsible working adults frequently–the child learns achievement early, and gains self-confidence to attempt more.

    Psychological neoteny: the retention of juvenile characteristics throughout life; a lifelong flight from responsibility; the Peter Pan syndrome

  3. I was born in 1989 and am fairly interested in space (I’m not going to do a career to do with space because I want to live here in atlantic Canada).

    I’m sure that if it was their job to stay focussed then people my age would…probably.

  4. While the short attention span of a web-surfing generation is not conducive to commitment to long-term programs, I still maintain that Leadership is the make or brake issue with any project like the projects that NASA Does. That leadership needs to come from the President, Congress and NASA.

    With any organization, corporate culture is rarely changed from employees banding together and taking their issue to management. Culture is changed and initiatives are completed when management sets a goal, communicates it, and then leads the way.

    So too is space exploration in America. If private enterprise can cross that barrier to entry (SpaceX) it will change the game, but it will still be based on leadership.

    If a president did that (and not one has in quite some time) we would find an engaged and involved Gen-Y.

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