Media X: A Formal Protest

One of the first things I regularly do when I get to work is have an early-morning chat with the co-worker in the office next to me, a steely-eyed person of extreme intelligence, superior talent and frightening bursts of righteous indignation. She is part of Generation X, a demographic that brings out the beast in old hippies like nothing else.

As you can imagine, we fight a lot. And she's right a lot, so I do a lot of backing down until she leaves, which is when I start chuckling.

See, I'm not interested in winning the argument; I just want to amuse myself. I am, after all, a member of the same cohort that produced a president so monumentally self-absorbed that he threatened the future of the entire country just to get a blow job.

So maybe I'm not the right guy to complain about generational differences. But it feels good, so I'm doing it. Boom, baby.

Because the Millennials are really crapping up the media business.

I'm not talking about their famous and hugely undeserved sense of entitlement. No, the real threat is their smarmy informality, which turns even the most critical communication into blather.



My first encounter with this was when I was reading the online coverage of last year's OMMA Global Digital Conference in Hollywood. A young blogger's take on a speech by an influential media executive was a one-sentence rag on what the guy was wearing.

I have no problem with 140-character conversations. I don't even mind some Gen Y jerk-off at the Coffee Bean calling me dude. But this was business. I wanted to hear this guy's take on digital technology, not snark about his fashion sense.

Look, not everything that works in a "Daily Show" skit or on a social-media site is worth emulating. The attitudes of people who are just beyond their pimple-bearing years may get you laid at SWSX, but it does nothing for insight into anything else.

This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't so contagious. Unlike citizens in sane countries, we slavishly imitate our offspring. And advertisers and their agencies, being closer to the virus, get the disease first. It's not just that every marketing interaction now sounds like a scene from Pineapple Express. There's real shooting-yourself-in-the-face potential here.

One agency PR person now accompanies news release attachments with Twitter-like ruminations in the email text. It includes the flak's personal opinions about the news being pitched, entreaties based on how nice the executives being publicized are, or how it would really help the flak if I just wrote something. Sometimes, there's even implied criticism of colleagues at the agency.

I've worked on projects where Gen Y buzzwords like "gay," "sick" or "chill" are tossed around with abandon by 50somethings. (Note to my marketing and media friends: You are not baristas. Do not call me dude in meetings or interviews. If you do, I'm swinging on you. Dudes.)

Now you'll have to excuse me. My co-worker wants to discuss why the economy is all the baby boomers' fault. Which sounds chill.

3 comments about "Media X: A Formal Protest".
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  1. Nina Lentini from MediaPost Communications, December 17, 2008 at 8:20 a.m.

    Dude! Word that.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 17, 2008 at 5:12 p.m.

    Way !

    Encore !!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Josh Mchugh from Attention Span Media, December 17, 2008 at 9:56 p.m.

    This wouldn't be a problem if it *weren't* so contagious.


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