Friday, 5 August 2016

Let's stop the 'generation blah' blah

One of my most fun pastimes on Twitter is tweeting about generations.

I don't know if it's just the people who follow me but I always attract a couple of responses complaining of over generalisation and stereotyping.

People do make too much of generation differences and often misrepresent the research.   My favourite worst example of this was a presentation in Saudi Arabia using generic suggestions about generations from the USA.  If you understand that generational differences are based upon very different experiences people have in their lives, particularly whilst they were teenagers and their brains for rapidly changing, then you'll recognise that's nonsense.

Sorry but a Saudi teenager has a very different teenage experience from one in the States, particularly if they're a woman.  Indian teenagers will have had a different experience again.  It makes no sense to extrapolate from one (usually the US) to another.

Here's a good summary of the issue.

At TechHR it's happened twice (actually several responses to two tweets).  Once in response to a tweet about someone else's presentation and comment, and once a retweet of an HR magazine article about graduates.  Well sorry the presenter was talking about generations and the article was about graduates.  What can I do?  Particularly in 140 characters.

As well as being vaguely annoying the responses are unhelpful for two other reasons.

Firstly we have to be able to talk and tweet about things,  You might not agree with what I or another speaker are saying but its important I'm able to state it without snarky responses.

Secondly - and again, you might not agree - but generation differences are real.  It's just that they're not the only difference which exists.  People of different genders are different, different national cultures are different.  So are people of different religions, experiences, perspectives, orientations and all sorts of different things.

Actually you put all of that together and the only way to respond to people and their differences is to treat each person as an individual.

That doesn't mean it's wrong to try to disentangle the differences between gen y and baby boomers, or men and women etc etc.  So let's just not do the generation blah blah thing.  Please.

Photo credit - Satya Sinha

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