The fastest micro-generation explains sex, politics, and work…
It used to be that a generation was defined by a couple of decades, like the Silent Generation (born roughly between the years 1925-1945), the Baby Boomers/Generation X (1960-1980), Gen Y/Millennials/Echo Boomers (1980+). But, according to Jack Myers, author of the hot-off-the-presses book Hooked Up, there is a transformation afoot that warrants a complete rethinking of our generational definitions. Myers studied the opinions by sampling a cross-section of the 21.2 million people born between 1991 and 1995, and he thinks they represent such dramatic shifts in attitudes and priorities from the generations that preceded them that they warrant a micro-generation all their own and a new name: the Internet Pioneers, the first micro-generation that was born totally hooked up.
This hooked up micro-generation is about to enter the work force, and there is a strong chance that they will completely reshape all of our beliefs about the world, the work we do, and the products and services that will dominate the global conversation.
Hooked Up’s insights come from a targeted survey that Myers conducted with IPSOS/OTX to study the world of individuals who were never without the Internet. Their research paints a picture of a set of beliefs and behaviors that clearly distinguishes these Internet Pioneers from any other group. This is a micro-generation that:
• Grew up with Nickelodeon (not Sesame Street) as their childhood television experience
• Read Harry Potter at bedtime
• Defined politics through Clinton, Bush and Obama
• Framed their current events through the lenses of 9/11, the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma, the rise and fall and rise of Wall Street, the Iraq War and the Occupy Movement.
50% of them are on Facebook and 50% update daily, 44% write their own blog, 52% post their own videos to YouTube, 58% engage with virtual worlds, 83% play online and/or console games, and 90% shop online.
There’s a lot to say about the sociological changes that the hooked up generation embodies. First and foremost is the choice of the descriptor, “hooked up”, which we all know to have both a technological and a sexual association. In the age of pocket porn when sexually explicit videos can be found at a click on our phones, it’s no surprise that new attitudes toward sex would be a central theme that drives everything from dating behaviors to love of Lady GaGa.
But our focus is on the world of commerce, and Hooked Up lays the groundwork for some very fundamental questions about how we’ll incorporate the Hooked Up generation into our existing companies and how they’ll put their unique stamp on the world of work.
Here’s the beginning of a primer, with the hopes that others will build on these thoughts to prepare the world of business for the Hooked Up generation.
How to Play in the Hooked Up World of Business:
1. Authenticity rules. This is a generation that sees through slogans and expects their voices to be heard. They’ll dig deep for facts and make sure that businesses keep promises. If you’re selling to the Hooked Ups or hiring them—how will your company measure up on the transparency scale?
2. Loyalty is hard earned. Online experiences bring out the best and worst—loyalty when it’s warranted and abandonment when trust is violated. How consistently does your business connect to your customers to stay on top of concerns and innovate ahead of your peers? What shifts in culture do you need to put into place now to prepare for a Hooked Up workforce?
3. Community and live conversations are equally important. What are you doing to keep a real connection with your community of customers? How would you rate on the responsiveness scale with your employees? Do the people you interact with feel like they’re contributing to your cause?
The Hooked Up generation is a tribe that has the Internet in its blood. They expect to engage and communicate with more of a sense of the instant than any other group born before 1991. Let’s pave the way for a new work environment that taps into this culture of connection, collaboration, and expression.