During my pre-work email check a couple of days ago I overheard the television say something along the lines of generation Y (Gen Y) being the laziest generation ever. Having thought about it, I'd have to say I agree. I'm one of the first to admit how lazy I can be and even now I'm writing this in notepad at work when I should be doing filing. But isn't it a bit broad; these generations are vague in definition and I'd have thought most generations in the past would have been called the laziest ever.

For me, Gen Y consists of the kids born from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, the same group of people who have recently finished school, who were the main users of myspace and msn messenger and more recently facebook and twitter. Because of this I would have thought that the above comments were just a product of our immaturity; that we were new to this work thing and hadn't learned what employers expected of us. But that doesn't hold up now, I'm no longer just out of school, I've been working for a couple of years and still haven't changed. Besides, some of the most mature people I know are the worst. I work with two girls who are engaged and have mortgages, still they are the ones who send the most demotivators and spend all day on the phone. And as said before I don't buy the whole "it's just the way we are" argument. When it comes to nature vs nurture it's much more satisfying to say it's somebody else's fault.

Generation X (Gen X) were at one point defined by Beavis and Butthead: two teenagers who spent their days in front of the television watching music videos. Usually though they'd have to leave the house to get into humorous adventures and entertain themselves. At the time they were probably considered lazy by the adults around them, but Gen X grew out of this image and turned into the do-gooders that we know today. Aside from marking the adoption of computers to most corners of western culture, they also brought the overzealous vegans, the climate change obsession and a mass of "me to" lawsuits claiming negligence to exploit public liability loopholes. Even now they are trying to make the world into a magical utopian kingdom despite how determined everyone else is to not care.

Possibly the biggest shaping factor of Gen Y for me though is the "nanny state" effect. For those unfamiliar with it, it's the extreme measures by which people are trying to change society in the name of "saving the children." I live in Australia and this has resulted in all sorts of meddling, from enormous tax on pre-mix alcohol to the development of a nation-wide Internet filter. Michael Atkinson is probably as infamous among Australian gamers as Jack Thompson for being the one person stopping us from having an 18+ rating for video games, under the same guise of preserving innocence. These people seem to be oblivious to the wonders of the Internet, and the futility of their self-righteous crusades.

If Gen X were defined by being raised by television, then Gen Y has been raised by the Internet. A lawless wasteland of porn and pirated media, the Internet is a mystical land where the shocking is commonplace and anonymity is king. Gen Y marks the first time in history where it has not only been normal, but socially acceptable to spend hour after hour in front of a computer. And why wouldn't you, anything you could ever imagine or want to see is on the net somewhere. Why would you go out and see your friends when you can contact them instantly on messenger or by text messaging? Why would you go out and watch a movie at the cinema when you can just download it? This freedom is what currently defines the Internet, and while it allows us to experience the world in spite of those who want to smother us with bubble-wrap, it does have it's downside.

I'm talking about disenchantment with the real world. I recently watched Love the Beast with Eric Bana (bought, not downloaded) and in one part he is speaking with Dr. Phil and discussing whether he should rebuild his totalled falcon and go back to racing. Dr. Phil says that we should each have something that we enjoy doing, that thing we go to work to pay for, that thing that becomes not just part of our life but part of our identity. He also says that by not having something like that you are not experiencing the ups and downs associated with it, the emotion and achievement: you are denying yourself a part of life. Is the Internet killing our desire to go out and witness life by serving all this experience up to us at the click of a button? Even ten years ago if you wanted to form a band you'd have to hunt through classifieds for musicians, get lessons, slave away on your music and set and do the hard yards. Now you can download recording software, create your own backing track from free loops, get a million fans on youtube and sell your songs on itunes- all without leaving your home.

This instant access to stockpiles of data marks an irreversible transition for the whole world. Of course, there are always those opposed to change, clinging on to the old way of doing things for dear life. I went to the cinema recently and saw the obsolete anti-piracy message. The way it is shot and the matching soundtrack paint a picture of Gen X trying to hold the seams together on movie distribution. I was in a band until recently and I couldn't help but laugh at these other bands complaining about the Internet- all we saw were possibilities. I've discovered more bands I like through youtube than through the radio, and these are the ones I spend the money on down the line. For music, to do anything but embrace the Internet is hilariously outdated. But this isn't good for other industries like games or movies. I doubt the bloated film industry could support itself with t-shirts, movies only really have the product to sell and no way to combat piracy. I think video games will go the way of steam and cut out the price-jacking middle-men. This is all tangential though, these digital forms need to find ways of embracing the Internet instead of fighting it because it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Even though I've convinced myself this is inevitable, I wouldn't be surprised if the 'nanny state' slammed the door on the way out. David Wong of Cracked wrote an article on trolling and suggested that ending Internet anonymity might be a possibility in the future if the wrong people got behind it. The magical freedom of the Internet would be washed away, people would be held responsible for their offensive humour and ill-willed comments. The companies like movie distributors and record labels would push it in the hopes of maintaining their self-indulgent empires and the previously mentioned do-gooders would jump on the band wagon to "protect the children." The Internet, the cornerstone of Gen Y culture and last sanctuary for those who want to be allowed to act like children, would become the last conquest for the over-protective. I apologise for making it sound like an apocalyptic battle and that no good could come of it- but like the proposed internet filter, it wouldn't stop those who wanted to bypass it; it'd only ruin it for everyone else, the people who probably were doing the right thing in the beginning.

You don't need to have my wild speculation skills to understand that the Internet is growing fast. Our connections are getting faster, the quality of content is improving and people are finding new ways to use it effectively. Piracy is just a side-effect, a symptom of a greater change for these archaic industries to fear: connectivity. Will it blur the lines of culture into obscurity? Will it break-down language barriers? I'd say that the further you look into the future, the more likely this is to occur. With the ability to instantly speak to people on the other side of the world, people will no longer be limited by geographical location in their employment. Global universities and qualifications might appear, auction sites where people compete for more sought after services and projects could become prevalent. As with the music argument earlier, older industries might hate the idea of this, but I can see the possibilities.

With this talk of the future comes those who will take over from us: Generation Z. They aren't too far away, maybe only five to ten years. As we outgrow the social networking side of our generation, they will be finding new ways to shock and horrify us. Hopefully they will find new ways to make us feel like we're actually living in the future instead of a depressingly dull world where our only escape is the digital crack we call the Internet. If we don't blunder witlessly into living out the Matrix, I look forward to calling them the laziest generation ever.