Several years ago, when Facebook was just gaining traction, I sat around a boardroom with a marketing team planning a campaign to reach young people. One senior person piped up at one point and insisted “we have to have a Facebook page,” to which everyone nodded in agreement. My response was less sanguine, in the form of the following question: “why?”
It’s easy to lament the negative influence of Facebook. Especially so if you are in the older demographic and don’t have a real appreciation of how it works. The biggest complaint is that it has replaced face-to-face and even phone-to-phone friendships and therefore has an adverse effect on relationships. Speak to heavy users – the younger demographics – and, for the most part, the contrary appears to be true.
Young people are slipping through the net according to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). One in two of those recently eligible to vote are not registered. Is this because they are simply apathetic, forgetful or could not be bothered? Or is there something more deliberate in their actions and they are actively avoiding the electoral roll?
Much to their chagrin young Australians are often portrayed as overly-materialistic. We think of them as always buying the latest and greatest. That their priorities are about living for today and enjoying their earnings rather than being bogged down with planning and saving for the future.
The complained about ad was for a cake
mix. It featured two girls in the playground eating lunch side by side. The one
asks what the other is biting into and she tells her it’s a bakery treat. The first
then launches into a diatribe about her perfect mum who bakes everything
herself from scratch. Once she completes the diatribe the second girl says her
mum also likes the “real home baked taste” before adding the punch line “but at
least she’s got a life,” indicating the product offers her a short-cut which
allows her to get on with other things. Following complaints by some
stay-at-home mums this last line was cut from the ad when it next appeared on
I showed this to several groups of women and they responded by
expressing their displeasure and annoyance. Not at any offence caused by the
ad, but by its censorship. And the most vocal of these were stay-at-home mums.
“Who are these people who complain?” one asked.
Young Australians are determined that they are generous, giving and civic minded. They recognise that the rest of society views them as selfish and self-absorbed and are resentful of such perceptions. It is an inherently unfair label and very far from the truth as they see it.
It appears that young Australians have many bones to pick with the media. They resent the way in which they are commonly portrayed – lazy, spoilt, selfish and drunken hoons. Far from it if you ask them – this is precisely what we did.
For our just published study Gen Y/X – Has Reality Bitten? we asked 18-30 year olds to bring along to our group discussions in some media cuttings and imagery which unfairly portrays their generation. We also asked them to bring in those images that reflect their lifestyle more accurately but which are rarely seen.