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.
The images they brought it were very consistent and fell into four key areas:
Lazy & Irresponsible: They believe society considers them to be lazy and unwilling to do the hard yards; that they are overly demanding and have cocky expectations. By contrast, they regard themselves as having a strong work ethos and that their cockiness is actually their innate confidence and drive.
They also resent criticism for remaining in their parental home because it is convenient and cheap. They say there is little choice due to housing prices and difficulty in saving for a deposit.
Drunk & Violent Hoons: The most common misconception of their lives, according to young Australians, is that they constantly drink to excess resulting in fighting and hospitalisation. While they admit to drinking heavily they see it as harmless good times with any associated violence and sickness associated with a tiny minority. They also maintain they live a healthy and active lifestyle overall.
Technology Obsessed: Young Australian resent that older generation see them are obsessed with new technology. They say it is not technology which impresses them but its practical applications. They are determined to use technology in order to work smarter, rather than harder. They do however accept their obsession to social media and could not fathom living in its absence.
Selfish & Self-Obsessed: Young Australians are adamant they are from being selfish as they are often portrayed. They see themselves as altruistic, caring about social issues and commonly volunteering for good causes. While they are determined this to be the case, the reality is that they tend to give of their time for a return, such as a good time or experience which help build their CVs.
Young people hate being segmented and generalised about. This partly drives their determination to be seen as individuals and their desire to personalise. Clearly so many of the common social perceptions of their generation raise their ire. Naturally they will seek out media which more accurately reflects their self-image.
While many of the stereotypes they complain about actually have much truth behind them and in some of the areas noted they protest far too much, what is important is their self-perception.