Gen Y sometimes gets a bad rap. We’ve all heard the stereotypes by now — we’re lazy, we’re spoiled, we’re arrogant, we’re not willing to pay our dues, and we want to do work that we truly love. We want work-life balance, we don’t want to settle, and most of all – we’re entitled.
I’ll admit this: for a while, I thought some of these stereotypes about my generation were…true. But even worse, I felt like our generation was indifferent to social change. As an Economics major, I felt like everyone around me wanted to join investment banking or consulting, and wanted to catapult to the top of the corporate ladder right away. They didn’t want to waste a second before making tons of money. But really, that didn’t make me tick. I wanted something more than just profit – a meaningful career where I could truly contribute something, while also doing what I loved.
As I learned more about social issues, I realized – Gen Y is passionate about social change. But where are these powerful voices? Most of the people writing about issues like health, education, humanitarian aid, human rights, environmental issues, or politics are all much older. Many of them are distinguished academics, aid workers, NGO professionals. True, young people our age don’t always have the experience to discuss these issues at length — I’m not pretending I’m any expert. But I am willing to learn, and I want to write at least what I do know, so that I’m getting my voice out there. But in the blogosphere, so few of our generation are even engaging in the conversation about social change. Most of the Gen Y conversation centers around careers, work-life balance, personal branding, and topics related to marketing and media.
All that is great, but we need more than this to tackle the challenges of our time. We need young people to actively care about social issues and to do something about it. The first step, I believe, is education: before we can truly add value and take action in a truly meaningful way, we have to gain a deeper understanding of critical social issues. And one way we can do this is through writing, blogging, reading, sharing our knowledge, and learning from one another.
So this week will mark the beginning of “Be the Change” – a series of guest posts from my fellow Gen Yers related to social change. I hope that in the next few weeks, the guest posts that we see will inspire you and teach you about critical social issues. I hope they encourage you to take action, and convince you that social change is important. I hope they cause you to look inwards and reflect — what issues do you care about too? I hope they help dispel some stereotypical notions of Gen Y, by showing that we are working towards change. And most of all: everyone has a role in social change, and I hope that bringing together some of the passionate, intelligent voices of our generation confirm this.