I’ll bet when Neil Howe and William Strauss came up with that cute little phrase, they never anticipated this cool, futuristic sounding term, would become another lazy soundbite mainstream media would apply to generalise a generation of unique individuals.
Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are growing in numbers within the workforce, cultivating an increased mass of consumer power, so advertising companies have to find new methods of marketing to seduce the millennial consumer, as technology is increasingly drip fed into the valves of mainstream society.
There is no definitive information that pinpoints an exact time period millennials were birthed into this crazy existence, but it is safe to say millennials were young adults at the turn of the 21st century. Unfortunately this was probably at a time when *Nsync and the Backstreet Boys battled it out for boy band supremacy in the music charts.
I find the constant flow of negative criticism levelled at millennials exhausting, because individuals born into a time they had no control over are painted as a narcissistic group, who only truly express themselves through the filter of a smartphone, desperately yearning validation and will break out into an ice cold sweat if out of arms reach of a technological mobile device.
In 1962, J.C.R. Licklider had a concept known as the “Intergalactic Network” where he envisioned a global structure of computers that could connect and communicate with one another. Licklider’s forward-thinking would influence and eventually develop into something we call the Internet. The origins of the first mobile phone can be traced back to 1973, Atari released the first commercially available games console in 1975, which also happens to be the same year the first home computers became mainstream; the origin of first laptop can be pin pointed to 1981 and smartphones have been around for just over 20 years.
So if these technological innovations were created for people to use, in good conscience how can we blame millennials for using products that were created for them to enjoy? Television was successfully introduced to the masses in the 1920’s and I’ll bet that inventor John Logie Baird would be filled with unapparelled joy at the idea his invention would not only be utilised by millions of people throughout the world but would eventually go onto birth great content like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Westworld or the Real Housewives franchise?
I do have some genuine concerns about the fast paced nature of technology and its impact on social behaviour and human interaction, but I’m interested in the impact technology has on all members of society regardless of birth date. It’s undeniable that attempting to navigate the cyclone of digital media can be treacherous and there is no doubt that younger generations continually have more exposure to more content than the generation before, but it can’t be all bad…can it?
If it is, why do we tend to sit back and mock millennials and not generation X who were the parents and guardians? Does a millennial who was raised in the city have the same outlook as a millennial living in the country? Does a millennial from a middle eastern background have the same approach to technology as a millennial of oriental decent?
I don’t see why we should knock millennials, whose only crime was being born into a time where technology was not only more affordable but more accessible. There may be some noted negative effects associated with young adults who grew up at the turn of technological advancement, but I’ll bet there were more concerns to be had with the young adults who were born during the mid 19th century when sold out crowds were entertained by public executions.
Until next time.
P.S. As an added bonus if you feel that you want to asses exactly how millennial you are please feel free to partake in the quiz (the link is below)