The Millennial Mindset — A perspective

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There’s been a lot in the media lately pertaining to older generations trying to understand or having certain opinions about those of the Millennial generation. A common you find is that we are lazy, don’t want to work for anything, ...

There’s been a lot in the media lately pertaining to older generations trying to understand or having certain opinions about those of the Millennial generation. A common you find is that we are lazy, don’t want to work for anything, that they are addicted to screened devices which they rely on as their main means of social interaction. Being that I am at the front of the Millennial age cohort and that many of the people I provide my professional services to are my fellow millennials, I feel obliged to offer a Millennial’s perspective.

I think that the millennial mindset and way of operating is a result of the way parenting has changed alongside the evolution of technology over the last twenty years. I'm old enough to remember the days of no pagers (let alone smartphones). Back then you were lucky if one kid on the block had an original Nintendo, and we had to play outside a lot more. During my senior year of high school, I was one of the few people to have a cell phone, and it would get confiscated if the school security saw it. Now kids go into panic attacks if you take away their phone, with studies showing that their brains respond the same way that a cocaine addict’s does when going through withdrawal.

This can point to the disconnect felt by other generations. The way that millennials learned to socially interact, via the screen device, is completely foreign to the older generations, who simply assume there is a problem with the millennials. The real problem is the lack of a bridge to help the different generations communicate more effectively with each other — and the first step towards building that bridge is to acknowledge that every generation is the product of the system in which each age cohort grew up, rather than perceive any generation as better than another, or hold the perspective that the old way was greater and this new way is lessor.

From the perspective of older generations, society may seem to be becoming too busy and stressful. However, let’s consider how the millennial’s perspective of the world has been shaped. Since 2000, or more specifically an event that happened in 2001, ours has become a fear based society focused on constant information gathering. With the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle, this need has been met and fits perfectly into the worldview of an already sheltered and coddled cohort and their emerging mediated means of interaction (the screen). Just as children learn from modeling their parents, burgeoning adults study and learn from the generations before them, but in the fifteen-plus years of this new millennium, as my generation has been learning, growing, and watching our elders create the world that we have today, it's possible that we have become jaded.

We were told that college was the way to a prosperous future. So we went to college, amassed debt, started out in the world, and then what happened? The market crash of 2008; let’s not forget the little bit about the cost of living steadily rising since the 1980's (around when the Millennials were entering the world); and, despite all of this, income levels have remained the same.

As the second decade of the new millennium comes around, this has been our experience: we have no money, college debt, and stagnant jobs. While the powers that be have been giving tax breaks to large corporations and bailing out "too big to fail" banks, they have been quietly making millions (billions?) off federally-backed student loan debt and repayments, often for degrees that don't even come close to qualifying you for a job that can pay off that debt in a reasonable amount of time. And that debt doesn’t go away, even if we file bankruptcy.

So let me get this straight: Large companies can basically destroy the global economy, and not one person receives any kind of real blame or goes to jail. Instead the country and minimum-wage-working Millennials pay to bail them out, while the government (and other corporations) make money from the student debt that we must also pay.

What would be our motivation to interact with the system in its current form? Is it merely laziness, or do we merely refuse to actively participate and accept the way things have been going?

I think this is starting to show in this current election cycle. Many of my friends (a.k.a. the lazy Millennials ) were fired up about Bernie because he was actually addressing their concerns. And I think this is only the start.

Taking into consideration the macro aspect of this topic, think about the future landscape of the world. It's becoming clear that many of the jobs that currently exist can be performed by machines or robots, and that is becoming more of a reality. Things like 3D printing, quantum computing, and possibly emerging A.I. are going to lead to a world where humans have a lot more free time on their hands. And what could be more scary to a governing body than an unoccupied, bored populace? It's a good thing they created all these online worlds where people can entertain themselves for hours on end (many while being taken care of by their overprotective parents).

The important thing to realize is that while Millennials may act in a way foreign to older generations, there is still an important process going on: the development of the human consciousness. Just as the generations before them were hounded by their predecessors for the new behaviors they exhibited, yet still found time to develop themselves and eventually contribute to society as a whole, Millennials are now in the process of changing the society in which they grew up, reshaping it in ways they believe can be better.

To close it out, let's return our awareness the topic of building a bridge between generations, and integrating some of the old and some of the new in order to help the world emerge as a better place. Together we can create a better world.

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