Search the site

Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


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

All week, I’ve been blogging about what Generation Y is thinking. Today, I want to wrestle with a paradoxical reality they face every week: their obsession with both authenticity and appearance.

Stop and think for a moment. Few would argue that teens today value authenticity. They want to “keep it real.” They love genuine, earthy stories, food, language and entertainment. (Note the popularity of YouTube and reality TV shows.) They’d rather view something raw and authentic than packaged and over-produced.

At the same time, they have been conditioned to care deeply about how they appear; how they look; how they are perceived by others. You don’t have to search hard or long to see this reality. Notice how much time many of them spend updating their Facebook profile making sure the right photo is up; note how long they take to get ready in the morning (according to Dr. Jean Twenge, Gen Y takes longer to get ready in the morning than either of the last three generations).

This seems to be an oxymoron. Or is it? Do they have to work hard to appear real? Is authenticity a performance for many of them?  They are very aware they’re being watched and followed…and many of them love it. So what can we do as we parent, teach, coach and lead them?

I’d love to hear from you on this one. If there is a kernel of truth about this paradox, what can we do to help them pursue their true identity?


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


  1. K Soss on March 4, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Tim, There needs to be some guidance for Christians about the line of submissiveness. Some spouses take advantage without giving the love, honor, and cherish part of the equation. If the spouse is a non-believer, they are able to have their cake and eat it too. This puts the Christian in between a rock and a hard place, which is intolerable. Moses gave the possibility of divorce because of hardend hearts. Perhaps we are there again as a society. See Matthew 19:8.

  2. Jeremiah on March 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Tim, I agree that it seems as though Gen Y is putting on an act to be perceived as “being real”. But if everything they are doing is an act or a performance, aren’t they doing exactly what they asking previous generations not to do?-put on an act? As leaders, maybe we can strive to point out this dualism, and help them move past the act to being genuine and up front with themselves and others.

Leave a Comment

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