“BlogTops” are weekly blog posts that myself, my good friend Fei, and hopefully you will join us in discussing topics that we feel the majority of millennials are dealing with or have dealt with in their lives. To keep it creative we pick one specific word for the weekly topic and then we are letting our imagination and creative writing take our blogs in whatever direction we so choose. It could be anything from generalizing the topic, to specific memories, to something serious, or funny. It’s anything goes! If you want to join along tag your posts with BlogTop on Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, etc. and we will be sure to promote your blogs on social media!
This weeks blog topic is STEREOTYPES
I’m going to start this off with some social psychology. According to the Oxford Dictionary the definition of stereotype is:
A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
We all stereotype each other. Our society runs on stereotypes. As individuals we perceive ourselves as belonging to certain groups that share similar factors such as characteristics and beliefs with other individuals. The perception we have of groups are called stereotypes.
A few quick points about stereotypes:
- Stereotypes are aids to explain situations quickly. We live in a fast paced world with information being thrown at us constantly.
- Stereotypes are used to simplify cognitive thought. The brain processes a lot of information and stereotypes simplifies this process.
- Stereotypes are shared group beliefs. They are used to predict and understand the behaviour of other groups.
McGarty, Craig; Yzerbyt, Vincent Y.; Spears, Russel (2002). “Social, cultural and cognitive factors in stereotype formation“. Stereotypes as explanations: The formation of meaningful beliefs about social groups. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–15. ISBN 978-0-521-80047-1.
I think the obvious lesson anyone can learn from stereotypes is they are never always factual. Just because you meet one person who fits the criteria for a certain stereotype, it doesn’t mean everyone else will fall into it too. Legitimately believing and assuming everyone else fits into it shows ignorance.
Do many Canadians love hockey? Absolutely. Do they all? No. We don’t.
That’s just a silly example, but when you start assuming and more importantly believing that ‘all these people are stupid’, ‘all these people are weak’, ‘all these people are evil’ that is a cause for concern.
Seeing these BlogTops are for millennials, you’ve probably heard some of these attributed to generation Y:
- The Me Generation
Can’t say those examples paint a very positive image about my generation. It’s caused quite the reaction too as many articles have been written against them. Here is even a YouTube video on the topic.
There have been a number of facets that have caused these stereotypes. One example would be unemployment rates. For millennials in particular they have been at an all time high. This can give the impression of laziness when in reality many factors are at play. Including the fact the state of the economy has made it extremely difficult to find positions.
To me though the largest culprit of where these stereotypes are originating from is growing up in the digital age. My generation has been exposed to disruptive innovations that have changed society. Innovations such as the internet and social media has changed the way we interact. It’s changed communication.
If you compare generation Y to other generations you will find we are more visually likely to portray these negative attributes compared to previous generations. I think the fact ‘selfie’ is 2013’s word of the year conceptualizes that.
The internet has allowed the opportunity for my generation to be self-expressive to a much wider viewing audience (the entire world). Unlike in past generations, we now can voice to the world what we are eating for lunch, and that we are going for that run. We can let the whole world know all about ‘me’ because the technology exists for it. Just like the technology exists for others to be exposed to it.
This visible rise of ‘me’ talk certainty does give off the impression of a more narcissistic and self-centred generation. So it doesn’t personally surprise me that millennials do get these generalizations put on them. For me the key thing to remember is that is just what they are. Generalizations. They aren’t the truth, or at least don’t tell the full story about me, or about my generation. I don’t have one friend who I would consider to be truly self-centred or only cares about themselves (Except Fei… check out her blog to see what I mean ;)). People are just examining this generation as a whole and not individually because as social psychology has taught us, it’s quicker and easier.
For those millennials who don’t fit into these stereotypes just keep doing what you’re doing. Prove these stereotypes wrong. We milennials who are hardworking, leaders and are motivated need to just keep at it. Don’t let a stereotype define who you are.
Till next week!