Generation Y throws hissy

In the aftermath of riots that erupted in London, Ont., in protest/support/celebration/no@#$%clue of St. Patrick’s Day

In the aftermath of riots that erupted in London, Ont., in protest/support/celebration/no@#$%clue of St. Patrick’s Day, an interesting psychological study has been released about the main offenders, known as Generation Y.

Now St. Paddy’s has never been a particularly violent celebration — unless you happen to be a porcelain throne — since it has no real political or societal significance. It is one of those holidays that was completely ignored until some ex-pat (in Boston, I believe) decided it was a great excuse to party.

But it says something about this stunted generation when drinking green beer and wearing Kiss Me I’m Irish buttons isn’t a good enough time that they have to ignite fires and cause an estimated $100,000 damage, leading to the suspension of eight college students and 13 arrests so far. For anyone who witnessed the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver last year, the photos and videos of the London riot looked eerily similar.

A new study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has concluded that, despite what they may claim, those born between 1982 and 2000 are more “Generation Me,” rather than “Generation We.”

Based on self-reported data obtained from high school seniors and first-year college students, the average Gen-Y’er is more focused on material goals like fame, fortune and image (thus all the YouTube videos and reality shows)rather than helping the broader community or saving the environment. Compared to Gen-X and Baby Boomers, concern for others has decreased as has political and civic engagement. Gen-Y did come across as less racist, less sexist and less prejudiced (except, oddly enough, when it comes to fat people — there’s ‘image’ again), but the study attributes this to increased individualism rather than increased empathy.

As for the Gen-Y chant to change the world and the opportunity for meaningful work? The data suggests the opposite, showing a small decline from previous generations. In fact, three times as many Gen-Y’ers (15 per cent) than Boomers said they made no personal effort at all to help the environment.

Naturally, these stats don’t and can’t apply to everyone, but it does give some insight into why some members of this generally privileged generation seem to have less empathy for the blood, sweat and tears of others. If you’ve had to work hard, save and sacrifice to finally purchase a large item (car, business, home), you’re much less likely to participate in the destruction of someone else’s property because you understand how much it represents.

I fear that as the economy continues to struggle and more businesses go under, this generation is starting to come to the realization that a lot of their support is built on a foundation of sand. And when so much has been handed to you, its loss can be downright terrifying. M

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