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‘Millennial fatigue’ and the rise of Gen Z

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Gen Z’ers — those born between 1996 and the present — are hoping to avoid the mistakes that millennials have made.NYT

Finally, someone was brave enough to say it. "There is millennial fatigue," Jason Dorsey proclaimed.

Dorsey, 37, is a cofounder of the Center for Generational Kinetics , an Austin-based research firm, and he was on the phone to discuss his company’s new study on Generation Z’s relationship to technology, and the implications for the rest of us (bottom line: mention Facebook at your own risk — it’s a tip off that you're no longer a young person).

But first he took a swipe at millennials, pointing out that the generation is not the youthful force it once was.

"We have this vision of millennials always being 24 and living with their mom," he said, "but the reality is that [some] are now in their mid-30s and have their own kids."

Some millennials have embraced work, Dorsey said, but others have gotten so little "real world traction" that they're underemployed and in danger of being "leap frogged" by Gen Z'ers — or "iGen," as he calls the generation born between 1996 and the present.


"We could end up with a 'lost generation' like we've seen in Japan," Dorsey said. "I'm worried for my friends that can't seem to get it together."

He paused and then added insult to injury. Just as millennials looked at baby boomers and said, "We're not going to be workaholics like you are," the "iGen" is hoping to avoid the mistakes that millennials have made.

"They looked at millennials and said, 'You went to expensive schools and you graduated with all this debt, and your expectations [for interesting work] were so high that it didn't work out and now you've moved back home."

The firm's recent online survey — of 1,000 people between the ages of 14 and 69, and an additional 250 people aged 14-17 — found that the Gen Z differs in its approach to technology in a way that goes beyond a preference for Vine, Instagram, and Twitter over Facebook.

Among the findings from the survey, conducted in October:

* More than any other generation, iGen says that social media affects its self-esteem.

* iGen thinks people should get their first smartphone at age 13 -- a full five years younger than millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers consider the right age.


* Only 4 percent of iGen think it's appropriate to talk on the phone in a movie theater during a movie, but 9 percent are OK with talking on a phone during a wedding ceremony — and 10 percent consider it appropriate to talk during their own wedding ceremony.

Then there's shopping. The new generation will find it normal to use virtual reality for things that once required leaving the home — such as test-driving a car or visiting a potential employer.

"It sounds like science fiction," Dorsey said. "But it's no more science fiction than using my mobile phone to set up a date with someone I don't know."

Beth Teitell can be reached at bteitell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.