Friday, 30 May 2008

Generation Why?

Suddenly everything I read seems to be talking about Generation Y. I’ve just finished reading Peter Sheahan’s entertaining, thought-provoking but also rather irritating book Flip. Put simply this challenges you to think counter-intuitively and turn things on their head to find the way forward. This leads him to conclusions such as ‘Action precedes strategy’ and ‘There is no wisdom in crowds’. Essentially it’s about coping with accelerating pressures by not carrying on acting in the old ways. (I’ll come back to suggesting a couple of flips the arts might think about.) He is also a global speaker on Generation Y – and boy, does he remind you of this - and makes a great deal of his youth.

And the papers seem to have been full of it. I’ve never bought into ‘generations’, perhaps because I was born on the cusp of two – the 110th anniversary of the birth of Arthur Rimbaud being practically the last gasp of the baby boomers apparently, or a premature arrival of Generation X – and always thought they were simply journalistic stereotypes. (And like all stereotypes, not without some truth.)

I blamed the baby boomers for Thatcherism, and Generation X for grunge. Many people in the arts have perhaps always been Generation Y – portfolio careered, striving for work/life balance, more concerned with job satisfaction than salary, not accepting historical patterns etc. Do we, though, also share the potential for being forgetful of the past and complacent about things we may soon have to learn will not always carry on – like cheap global travel, relatively plentiful employment opportunities, social cohesion, cheap credit and economic stability?

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