“the trouble with young people today…”

I hate that sentence. No matter how it gets finished.


Because it’s typically a cue to launch into an unflattering portrait of Gen Y — Mark Sayers’ recent coming-of-age tribute being a welcome exception.

I’m part of Gen Y. And I’m fed up with social commentators, politicians and church leaders talking about me rather than to me.

Let me give you an example.

We often get told that Gen Y is wrapped up in technology, eternally connected but never really connecting — at least not with the people physically in front of us.

Of course, there are plenty of ways for the connecting we do through Facebook, etc to go haywire.

I certainly wouldn’t want to defend the rampant shallowness or Make Nice And Put A Happy Face On Even When Life Is In Meltdown-ness of lots of what I see (and sometimes contribute to) on Facebook.

And don’t even get me started on the bullying or desperate late night messaging with ill concealed Pay Attention To Me Or I May Hurt Myself-style subtext.

But perhaps the time we spend hunched over our keyboards isn’t totally wrong-headed — or, more aptly, wrong-hearted.

What if it speaks of our yawning hunger for connection — shot through with yearning for relationships that are close and real, in which we’re accepted and allowed to be ourselves even as we accept others and allow them to be themselves?

Or what if it taps into a deep longing for transcendence — for there to be more to life than the small, frustrating, boring distractions that so often characterise everyday life?

I’m more and more convinced that desires like these should drive us to the Lord Jesus as only one who can truly satisfy them.

Better still, having our desires satisfied in the acceptance, love, transformation and hope we find in him, is the only reliable path to genuine connection with others — both online and off.

For it’s the only way to avoid weighing others down with impossible expectations, and instead to accept and love them like Jesus as we point them to him…


    1. There’s not a lot of agreement about the exact year that divides Gen X and Gen Y. In fact, the ABS refuses to even draw a boundary, lumping them together in a single cohort of those born between 1965 and 1985. According to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, Gen Y is variously defined as starting somewhere between 1976 and 1982.

      So, those of us born in 1980 are borderline. If you feel more X-like, call yourself Gen X. If you sympathise more with Y-ers, feel totally at liberty to call yourself Gen Y.

  1. I wonder whether defining cultural experiences are better indicators than the year born,
    for example “When Kurt Cobain killed himself, did you care”, although that sounds a little too much like “If a tree falls in the woods….”
    Good article Chris, I reckon Gen Y are better at expressing limited agency to get good things done. As a borderline Xer, I think we can be a bit caught up with not being able to change the whole world, so don’t act with what is in front of our face.

    1. Hi Mike. I think you’re probably on to something with the defining experiences — so much of it has to do with our imagination and identification, doesn’t it?

      Mark McCrindle also makes the point that probably need to factor stage of life stuff in — lots of the stereotypes about Gen Ys (particularly the negative ones: being antiauthoritarian, sitting loose to commitment, etc) were also levelled at Boomers and Gen Xers in their day.

  2. I think that video / web artists will like your transcendence thing.. 🙂

    I don’t like that statement because it assumes the one saying it has got it right.. perhaps I should be saying this either..

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