Are your funemployment benefits running out? Do you have even the slightest amount of common knowledge? Can you peddle bullshit to corporate drones who love treading through bullshit cause it gives them the illusion of movement? What about lists—think you could make up some lists of words? Well, do I have the job for you: Generation Guru. It's the easiest job around! Just ask Anne Loehr. She's a 44-year-old Business Coach/Generation Guru who goes around giving business seminars about how to communicate with the mysterious, enigmatic young people. Seriously.
Her class — executives from financial services, government contracting and tourism companies who have paid $25 apiece to get some help — looks stumped. As plates of scrambled eggs with bacon strips are passed around, the guru elaborates: "Reality TV . . . Gen X had MTV, Gen Y has reality TV. People say to me, 'Why do they talk like that?' Because they grew up on reality TV. Okay? It's not good, it's not bad. That's what they grew up on. They think it's okay to talk like that."
Talk like what, exactly? Loehr doesn't say, but ridiculous-sounding reality TV dialogue is a trait both of today's youth and its elders: "I was, just like, 'Whatever.' ("NYC Prep" on Bravo.) Or: "Before I like you, I don't like you." ("The Real Housewives of New Jersey," also on Bravo.)
Good point, Washington Post. It's not just young people on reality TV—it's everyone of all ages, all saying pretty much the same things. But, also, what exactly is she talking about? The way those of us under 30 are constantly saying "Please pack your knives and go," or "The judges will be looking for your Creativity, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent"? Because Generation Yers never stop saying those things. It's really getting to be a problem. The Boomers can't take it. Thankfully, Loehr is there to help—by spewing a bunch of random, completely useless generalizations:
Loehr spells out her theories on what distinguishes this generation from the previous one. "They saw 9/11," she says. "Connection is vital, they want to be connected all the time. People say, 'Why are they on Facebook all the time? Why are they texting?' They really want balance, too. They saw their parents go crazy in Generation X. They are not having that lifestyle. They are going to do it their way. They're going to go to yoga at 4, and the Red Sox game at 7, and do their work at midnight. It might be a good idea to let them go to yoga at 4!"
Yep: Generation Yers are the only ones who saw 9/11, and it really affected them. Add to that the stress of being the only generation born to 10-to-15-year-olds, and you can see why staying connected is so important to them, right? No. Well, whatever. Anne Loehr is adding you to her people-I-have-touched spreadsheet:
With a Web site and blog, one book published and another in the works, an e-mail newsletter, a graduate student helping her with research, corporate seminars and one-on-one sessions that go for $500 to $2,500, Loehr is quite specific about her ambition: "I want to touch 500,000 lives this year. I am going to touch 500,000 lives this year. I do have spreadsheets that mark how many people I am touching."
You know how you can tell Loehr is a Boomer? Cause she didn't say "That's what she said" after that last sentence. Shockingly, though, the Gen Yers don't really seem to be buying what Loehr is selling about them:
Later, Gretchen Eisenhower, 24, a Tower Club member relations coordinator who participated in the seminar, says she appreciated Loehr's take but couldn't help feeling a tad uncomfortable with how her generation was reduced to a catalogue of stereotypes. "It's a little awkward," Eisenhower says. "I feel like Gen Y is perceived negatively. It makes you defensive."
Poor Gretchen. No one of any generation likes being reduced to a bunch of stereotypes. But Gretchen is probably really defensive because, like all members of Gen Y, she's still reeling from watching all her friends and family die of AIDS. Right, Anne Loehr?
Not only did 9/11 impact Gen Y, but this generation also saw AIDs kill their friends and family.
Oops. Apparently it was "AIDs," not AIDS, that killed all of the friends and family of all the Gen Yers. I wonder what "AIDs" is. Someday, we'll probably find out. Until then, let's all familiarize ourselves with some of Loehr's "Key Words for Gen Y" in the hope of communicating with these strange people:
If you continue to use their key words, you will have an effective conversation with them, simply by using their own language.
Key Words for Gen Y
*"Text now for…"
Nice try, Loehr. But if you use those words in conversation with a Gen Yer, you'll come off like a total narc. Which is why I've come up with my own list of Key Words for Gen Y, in the hope of launching my own career as a highly-paid, people-touching, spreadsheet-making Generation Guru:
Real Key Words For Gen Y
**"Hit me bac when u hav a min"
**"That is sadder than the time all my friends and family died of AIDs, you know?"
**"Oh Emm Geez"