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
- 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 dot.com 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.