Another interesting email (from another Generation Y reader) on the topic of how Millennials have changed:
I think you were right about the shift in attitudes coming from hip-hop (anti-racism, making yourself into something,) school initiatives (anti-bullying after Columbine, magnet schools that allow you to meet all kinds of kids,) and poor economic opportunity. I now have a computer science degree and can’t find work. Preparation for life has to start in high school now, perfect grades don’t cut it if you want to go to a nice college (or even some of the nicer state colleges) and you need a degree. It feels like a bachelors degree is kind of the new diploma, just the baseline for maybe having a nice middle class existence at some point. You have to volunteer with community work, be on academic decathlon teams, get good scores, etc. to really be considered in this last decade or so, so just kinda drifting through high-school and letting its social structures define you while you respond passively is not much of an option now.
As to the attitude about “selling out,” it’s still there, it’s just that much of the industry isn’t driven by the huge record labels anymore. You have the Lady Gagas of the world, but they’re nothing like Garth Brooks or Michael Jackson or the huge unavoidable stars of the past. An individual with a fairly modern Macbook and Ableton Live! can totally produce their own professional quality music and share it, or sell it online, how they choose. When you’re making money on tours and popularity from the ground up on your art, there isn’t the same sense of kowtowing to some executive or focus group that made that sort of selling out stigmatized.