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Generation Y: What Are They Thinking? (Part 2 of 4)

This week I am blogging about students and their impact on culture. Specifically, I am covering the research we’ve uncovered about what they are thinking. In this blog, I will cover how they plan to influence the world; how they will use their voice.

Early Generation Y young adults have been “activists.” They resemble the Baby Boomers back in the 1960s, but with technology. They plan to influence the world by voicing their thoughts and passions for everyone to hear. Today, much more than their parents’ generation, they have vehicles everywhere to be heard. If they like something or don’t like something—they can start a petition on-line, blog, tweet, make a movie, post a viral Facebook announcement or a video on YouTube. They have embraced advocacy like no other generation—even the Boomers. (They may not want to make the sacrifices other generations made, but they will find a way to be heard from their bedroom or campus.

Jason Russell is a friend of mine. He was one of three Gen Y grads who traveled to Uganda and made a movie called Invisible Children, which chronicled the plight of child soldiers. Their organization helped petition the U.S. government to take a stand. In 2009, President Obama signed a law helping Uganda.

Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, a young Christian activist, started Two Futures Project, which has changed how Christians address nuclear weapons. People, old and young, have gotten on board with him. Thanks to his efforts and others, support for a nuclear-free world has never been brighter.

As a middle school student, Zach Hunter got involved in the slave-trade issue, when he discovered that slavery was still an issue even today. Zach is now a senior in high school, and his organization Loose Change to Loosen Chains has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to free slaves and grow awareness.

What’s interesting today is—young people don’t even have to leave their hometown to get involved. I believe caring adults must encourage involvement—and challenge kids to stay involved even when the novelty of their cause has worn off.

Whether you’re an employer, a parent or a teacher—this generation expects to have a voice; they want to weigh in, to tweet, to vote, to text and update their profile. Get ready. They will be heard.

Where do you see this in your world?


To get a copy of my latest book, Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, go to:


  1. Erin Kinzel on March 2, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Hi Tim,
    I work at Bethel College and attended your presentation a few weeks ago. My boss bought your book for our office and I can’t wait for my turn to read it. 🙂

    My thought about this, not just for Gen Y but for myself and for other generations, is at what point do we become overloaded and desensitized? We are at a time in history where we know more about devastation in all parts of the world, and for me, it’s often easier to tune it out because I simply don’t know what to do with it. I can’t donate to EVERY cause that comes my way, I can’t possibly fix the problem; I end up feeling helpless and I turn it all off because I am overwhelmed.

    My question lately has been, how do I create healthy boundaries for myself? How do I determine the amount of time and money and energy I’ll spend helping others, and then how do I live that out in REAL LIFE and not just on Facebook? It seems that Gen Y is going to face similar questions, and I wonder how we can help them create a filter for all the causes that come across their path every day. How do you take Facebook and Twitter and YouTube activism and make it actually mean something?

    I suppose part of the answer is the same it’s always been – there are some people who are happy to support a cause in ways that are less meaningful, and there are a few who will rise up and do something about it and be a catalyst for true change. My concern is that we don’t overwhelm people with so much that they eventually throw their hands up in exasperation and retreat to their own little world.

    Thanks for this series on Gen Y!
    Erin Kinzel
    Assistant Director of Marketing
    Bethel College (Indiana)

  2. Guest on March 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm


    Once again excellent writing and observation. As a Gen Y myself, I am constantly drawn to causes and dream of changing the world for the better. With the introduction of the internet and more specifically social media, it has become more and more obvious that our generation will either be heard or deafen everyone else by trying.

    The drawback of course is that without training and character refinement, we will be outspoken with no respect, impulsive without restraint and dominant without consideration. It’s absolutely essential that we be trained and refined by those who understand how to train and refine.

  3. Charles Flemming on March 4, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I want to kind of play off Jamie’s insight.

    I’m concerned about how quickly young idealists become involved with a cause without necessarily having done due diligence. They often don’t know history. Linear thinking–simple logic–seems to be foreign to many of the young adults I talk with. I have noticed a growing susceptibility to propaganda.

    I am passionate about reaching the Millennials for Christ. My children are of this generation. I see so much potential. But I also see a lack of discernment as to root causes and real solutions. What is going to happen when they discover Utopia isn’t go to happen in a fallen world? (Do they even know they’re living in a fallen world?)

    How do we equip them for reality without destroying their idealism?

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Generation Y: What Are They Thinking? (Part 2 of 4)