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Monday, March 8, 2010

Generation (fanbo)Y: How did brand loyalty evolve into part of our identity?

Anyone who’s spent much time around me in the past year and a half or so knows how I feel about Android: I won’t touch another mobile OS so long as Google’s is an option. Most also know how I feel about Apple: Steve Jobs should be castrated and skewered. I feel very strongly about my tech brands, and I’m not alone.

Widespread fanboyism is a fairly new phenomenon. Our generation, known as Generation Y, seems more emotional than generations past. Whereas I grew up used to hearing people say “I think,” while walking around the campuses of Columbia I mostly hear people say “I feel.” I have people argue with me all the time, often vehemently, about various products: Microsoft vs Sony (Anthony), Apple vs Google (Elvin), Square-Enix vs Blizzard (Rob)… and that’s only technology. Think of how you feel when someone puts on music you don’t like, and how you feel when your favorite song comes on. Have you ever classified someone based on their clothing style? Further, have you ever felt some level of animosity toward that person if their style was significantly different from yours? Be honest here, you’re only admitting it to yourself. I won’t tell, I promise.

In no way am I innocent of this. When it comes to my identities, I’m borderline psychotic. I love my music, games, and gadgets passionately – but I hate others with an almost equal passion. The other day, I was discussing this with Rob and explaining my view on how Generation Y is adopting new identities, and he brought up an interesting idea. Maybe the old identities are becoming irrelevant now because of a cultural shift. Children are being raised and taught away from racism and societal roles for men and women are crippling sexism. Could it be that we just need something new to align with and fight over? Are the new identities simply replacements, or a proper expansion? What do you think?

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