In the early nineties, when I graduated from college, the media was obsessed with a generation of indifferent teenagers and twenty-somethings who couldn' t be bothered with social causes, careers, or the general state of humanity. Ironically, the same media structure which had previously been upset with the 60s generation for being too rebellious was now upset the kids born in the 70s and the 80s for not being rebellious enough. They branded us slackers and they called us generation X, ho-hum.
Fast forward five short years. The same media covering the same generation, but instead of dismissing them as slackers they anoint them business titans and revolutionaries controlling the future of business, media and culture. With technology as their ally they will not rest until they've disintermediated anyone or anything inefficient. This group of rebels are on a mission, and their drive is matched only by their insane work ethic. Never a mention of slackers or generation X.
The story that isn't being told in all of this is why a generation of slackers would suddenly create and drive one of the biggest paradigm shifts in the history of industry. Clearly part of this is a matter of perspective. The media givieth and the media takieth away, all in their desire to create sexy stories through polarization, generalization and, of course, exaggeration. However, looking deeper into the issue, is the fact that a generation of young adults, having stumbled onto a new medium (the Internet), was smart enough to seize the opportunity, taking their own piece of the pie and leaving the dead to bury the dead (think: old media).
What did we, as generation X inherit in the early 90s? The remnants of a five-yea r, cocaine-infused, party on Wall Street that ended in tears and a recession. Our generation wasn't filled with slackers, it was filled with such media savvy, and saturated, individuals that we knew that participating in the existing paradigm would only result in low pay and long hours for some old-school company. Is it is a coincidence that this same group of people are the ones who owned the media that obsessed over the slacker generation? Perhaps they hoped to guilt us to getting into line?
Equity is the revolution of our generation, as in having equity in the company you work for. This equity, in the form of stock options, is not on the same level as the equality that the 60s generation fought for, but it is certainly an evolution of that same movement. Don't believe the hype.