Coddled, entitled, narcissistic and lazy. And yet they have the ability to change the world. So what should we make of them?
Many people think Millennial are a faulty generation with problems over-exaggerated and a product of the entitled “Millennial hipster” archetype. Others say that they have it tough as a result of shifting economic, technological and social changes at a faster pace than ever before. Before we delve deeper into some more specific millennial traits, let’s take a look and see where this generation is in 2019.
1, Finance and Consumerism
Millennials are the fastest growing cohort filing insolvency. Can this be real? According to Newswire, 37% are in a financial difficulty. The fact that the we grow up to believe that higher education is an indispensable need in their lives, has led many to believe that it is the only way of becoming ‘someone’ or successful. And because of that, millennials move out of the family nest much later than the previous generations, learn less practical skills and struggle to eke out a living because of debt.
We are a generation that is no longer defined by the work that we do, but by the experiences we purchase. Why? Because the Millennial generation is a consumer society, built on a culture that had been shaken up by social media towards experiences. Conspicuous consumption of images and messages, a world of surface appeals targeted at deep human need, now visualised through phones, tablets and laptops. It’s targeted at our inner urge to shock. We are run by our subconscious drives to enjoy experiences instead of materialistic gains. Thanks to social media, many millennials are disillusioned and fragmented towards an affluent lifestyle that doesn’t really exist.
The ideal consumerism of a Millennial resides within living for the experience and these experiences translate well to social media: generation growing up knowing to document their life on facebook and instagram. It is good at filtering things, conveying the user that life is a carousel of eternal joy and amazement. But is it though?
2, Career and Devotion
Do you often hear people say “no matter how much they pay me, I will stay here, I love my job and I’m devoted to its cause.” This notion has been waning amongst the Millennial generation. But why? Well the answer is twofold.
Firstly, the idea of a good life has been built around elements of wealth that few can afford. There is a diminishing regard or appreciation for normal lives with normal jobs, or raising a child, maintaining a good relationship with a partner in extreme difficulty, keeping order at home or keeping a not so exciting job responsibly or cheerfully. This statement does not necessarily mean that ordinary is what people should aspire to have. But people should be directed towards the idea that there are a host of things, too often ignored that happen to be ordinary and good. And the lack of patience and wanting unrealistic achievements in a short time leads to more anxiety and disappointment in life. When it comes to career, fewer people in this generation have been witnessed to make devotions to career or family in comparison with previous generations. Out of 10 Millennials, only every 4th is a parent and 71% is said to be dissatisfied with their current employment, with a chance to change jobs in the future.
Whatever the case, deep job fulfilment is hard to find. As humans, we are insatiable by nature. But the drive that millennials feel for recognition can be used well to appreciate hard working employees. Corporate environment should not care more about the long term gains than their employees whom they seek to exploit. Whereas millennials must overcome the need for instant gratification and learn the joys of working hard.
But on a second thought, this lack of devotion is quite understandable and deserves no blame. Many millennials do not want to succumb to madness at the paradox and compromises involved in living a repetitive and mundane work-life, offered by many corporations that take too little regard for their employees. This generation is open to more opportunities than its predecessors. They receive more information much faster, travel more, learn more about the world and live freely. The primary obstacle to this is more financial than cognitive. They are a generation that needs more time to build up a stable income and (pay off their debts) just to support a family. Only one of every third Millennial owns a home – which is lower than the Baby Boomers at the same age. So no wonder, Millennials will need more time to follow in their parents’ footsteps. But they will catch up eventually with the right guide by their predecessors.
3, Relationships and Tech
It is easy to forget how much we’ve evolved through technology, from idle phone calls to text messages. In an instant, we can simply video call and connect with our loved ones, faster than ever in history. This was merely fiction a few decades ago. It’s the same innovation that can get us one click connections. And yet several reports state that people suffer from society’s silent epidemic: loneliness. How is possible that the most connected society in existence become the loneliest?
The 21st century has left many in a hurricane of messages bombarded by information, new ideas and solutions to convey that you need this ultimate frenemy. Ultimately, this digital age of the century has given birth to new forms of interaction like social media. Social media is like life’s fake resume. It’s a drug, a source of dopamine. It gives the ‘feel good’ experience when receiving text or likes or attention. Whereas the trauma of being unfriended, ignored or disliked is a depressing thought. So like every other drug, we need more of it, it hooks us to it. According to Simon Sinek, many Millennials are lacking the coping mechanisms to deal with stress, depression and anxiety. So do they turn to their friends and families to express their emotions? Rarely. It is commonly social media. Why? Because social media offers temporary solutions against depression, stress and loneliness. As mentioned before, it boosts dopamine like a drug, as long as its frequent and consistent. So what are the long term consequences of this?
The first existing result is a decline of neighbourhood interaction. We lock ourselves more and more into our bubbles. Nearly anything can be purchased or any basic need satisfied with a few clicks. So why even bother moving out of our comfort zones?
The second is ‘Superficial friendship.’ Thanks to the technology that we had develop and carry with ourselves every day now undermines human relationships. How? According to Robert Dunbar’s theory of the cognitive limit of social relationships, a person can maintain a stable relationship with around 150 people. Yet with hundreds or thousands of “facebook friends” it has hard to even keep track of everyone. And when there is too much of something being offered, its value suddenly depreciates.
And thirdly, the lack of deep meaningful relationships
This is of course, this is not a technology or social media blame game. There are fantastic inventions that had done a lot of good. But seeing that no day goes by without using our phones or laptops, it is concerning and how it altered interactions and coping mechanisms with every day life.
A solution to all this?
The journey of life is arduous and long. Impatience conjoined by instant gratification is a partial cause to many Millennials’ difficulties. But in truth, the Millennial generation does not tray too far away from previous generations. The problems we experience are a reoccurring challenge to every culture and society. That is: how do you carefully steward, guide, and prepare the new generations for the difficult road know as: life. Become financially independent, find meaningful relationships, grow as a person and constantly be on a pursuit for happiness.
Founder of Times International