I work with computers, it is my job. All day I type on them, look at them, think about them. Its how I make my living. When I’m at home, computers and other electronics are everywhere. I can’t escape them. When someone in my family has trouble with their device they often come to me and say, “my iThingy” isn’t working, can you fix it?” The truth of the matter is that my job revolves around enterprise databases and UNIX operating systems. So, I”m really not too good with iThis and iThat electronics.
I believe Tim Elmore correctly asserts that the so-called Millennials or Generation Y is best understood by those born pre-1990 and those post 1990. The line of demarcation is based on the explosion of the Internet into the daily lives of humans throughout the globe. This generation of young people are not merely influenced by technology they are “defined” (p. 13) by it. Elmore does a wonderful job introducing his readers to the life of an iYer as he calls them.
As anticipated, Elmore explores the positive and negative impacts of social media and the like. I felt he gave a pretty balanced analysis of the pros and cons of the connected iYer.
Elmore provides many two column charts showing contrasting ideas. For instance, on page 35 he has such a chart highlighting the pros and cons of the typical iYer. Here is a sample:
|They’re adept at multitasking.||They have difficulty focusing.|
|They hunger to change the world.||They anticipate doing it quickly and easily.|
|They own the word of technology.||The expect easy and instant results.|
Elmore uses many stories and analogies to drive home his points. Most were helpful and effective. One in particular stood out. He tells the story of some young African elephants that had strayed from their heard. Upon being found some time later they were found to be extremely aggressive, even killing other animals for “fun” which is unlike a typical elephant. Elmore then relates his point, “Like the young elephants, young people who spend most of their time with peers may drift into a lifestyle that won’t work in the real world. Many are truly lost and need to find their way back to a path that lead to maturity” (p. 110).
A criticism of this book is its repetitive nature. Elmore spent three-fourths of the book describing the iYer and the remaining one-forth of the book showing how we as mentors and teachers can best reach them. I felt he could have condensed the descriptive narrative.
Some of the most helpful content was in the final three chapters that dealt with how mentors, teachers, and parents can best shape and move the iYer into maturity. Specifically helpful was Elmore’s seven stages of learning an iYer moves through has they incorporate truth and information into their world view. He then gives an example of how these worked out in the life of a young “cocky” iYer named Justin (p. 181-183).
Although not an overtly Christian book, Generation iY is certainly helpful to anyone who is trying to lead and mentor young people in the context of a Christian relationship. Elmore has a passion for developing these young people into leaders and I found his enthusiasm contagious. For more tools and information about growing iY leaders you can find them at Elmore’s organization. I would recommend this book anyone who is trying to get inside the mind of an iYer.