Gen Y, a force to be reckoned with

(The Malaysian Times) – GENERATION Y is a generation that has arrived. Popularly referred to as the Generation Y, Gen Y for short, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s are variously labeled as being self-centred and egotistical, but at the same time also open-minded and vocal.

Technologically-savvy, this generation has a high penchant for information technology (IT), computers, internet, mobiles and smart phones and myriad forms of modern gizmos including I Pads, Tabs and what have you. 

These young people use social media extensively for communicating and networking, and have embraced platforms like Facebook, Twitter and other chatting applications, reported Bernama.


Referring to the Merdeka Day that Malaysians recently celebrated, Psychology lecturer Karen Tan, who herself belongs to the same Gen Y agreed that for some youngsters, Aug 31 is merely a public holiday.

According to Tan, most of them grew up without much understanding about what the day meant.

We reflect how our family members react to this very special day. This means that with the passage of time, most people’s understanding of the significance of our Independence Day celebration has been declining.

“This started way before Gen Y and I personally think it would only become worse in the future,” she said.

She also commented that although the Gen Y learnt about the history of the nation, but the way they were exposed to it was not effective.

For most of the students, she added, ‘Sejarah’ (history) is the least preferred subject.

“It is a subject associated with boredom, uninspiring, heavy with facts (with lots of name and dates to remember) and so forth.

“Sad to say, as far as Gen Y was concerned, we went through an education system that did not promote the appreciation of Merdeka Day celebration,” Tan said.    


Amaraa Reyna Arunan and Olivia Eloise James belong to this Gen Y, also called the Millennial Generation (The Millennials). Born in the mid-1990s, they are both students of a premier college located in an upscale neighbourhood of Sri Hartamas near here. 

Amaraa, who wanted to become a psychiatrist, is the eldest of three siblings, and devotes part of her free time for charity work despite her heavy college workload.

She is involved with charitable organisations such as The Befrienders, Makna Cancer Foundation and Make A Wish Foundation, Malaysia.

At the same time, Amaraa also loves ice-skating and, in fact, has won many medals in local and international tournaments.

Her college mate, Olivia, plans to pursue law upon completing her Cambridge A-Level programme.

This petite soft-spoken lass from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, places a high emphasis on self-discipline, a principle she embraced after returning a prefect score for five straight years during her secondary school.

Also the eldest of three siblings, Olivia told Bernama that if she gets a chance to study law abroad, she would still return home.

I want to contribute to my country in my capacity as a lawyer instead of staying in other people’s country,” said Olivia.    


Unlike what some people think, today’s youth are very much involved with the current issues, with what is happening around them, and in the world.

“We are, in fact, standing up for what we believe in and creating awareness about issues such as environment, diseases and even politics.

“My involvement in various charity organisations is my way of contributing to the society and the country.

“Each one of us has to contribute because this way, we will be able to buildstrong foundations for our country. For example, by helping the poor, we are breaking the cycle of poverty,” Amaraa explained.

As for Olivia, studies keep her occupied for most of the time but she still keeps in touch with the current issues by following postings and discussions on social media, particularly facebook.

She spoke to this writer about some of the issues discussed intensely on facebook, such as the ‘Black Out Incident’ during the 13th General Election and news reports about school children eating in the changing room.

“Certain issues can go viral on facebook. It goes to show how powerful facebook is. The young people tend to believe the information posted on it. If some people find that the information is incorrect, they can correct it by their own posts,” she said.

Both Amaraa and Olivia are looking forward to the next General Election, and to exercise their right as first time voters.

“The Gen Y youth are well aware of the political situation and I am very hopeful that our votes will be able to usher in a better tomorrow for all Malaysians,” Amaraa said.

As for Olivia, choosing the right candidate, the right leader would be crucial.

“I want my wakil rakyat to focus more on education,” Olivia echoed her feelings.     


Psychology lecturer Karen Tan said many studies and experts maintain that Gen Y was, in fact, collaborative, talented and open-minded by its very nature.     

Personally, she said Gen Y members are fast movers focused on short-termsuccess.

“We are engaged, committed and prepared to work as hard as the previous generation did. We are technology savvy but still value face-to-face interaction with others.

“This is particularly true when it comes to performance, career discussion, spending quality time with friends and discussing or dealing with serious issues in life when personal interaction is still the preferred method,” she said.

According to Tan, from the psychological point of view, the technological development has changed the way the Gen Y lives and thinks.     

“The Gen Y is the first generation to have grown up with personal computers and internet. This enables us to expose ourselves to another culture in an easy and convenient way. Hence, we are more accepting and open minded in general,” she added.

Tan concurred that the Gen Y’s reliance on social media for information does have a huge impact on their judgment.

“Since we cannot stop any individual to search for information through various social media, I would say it is very important to make sure that we get the right information from the right source. To do this, education seems the best avenue,” she said.    


Contrary to some beliefs, The Millennials absolutely love the country as much as the previous generation.

Tan justified her statement by referring to the increase in the Gen Y’s participation in the 13th General Election held in May this year, a clear indication of their concern about the nation.

“As I have mentioned, The Millennials do things differently compared to their predecessors. We would act as soon as we see the significance of it and know that we could do something to change the future.

“I think the best way to tackle Gen Y, if the politicians or the government indeed want to win their votes, is to do what they preach,” she said, adding that mere rewards are no longer a good enough strategy as the percentage of educated adults was increasing as time goes by.