Maybe it’s because I am representative of my narcissistic generation, Gen Y (also known as “Generation Me” or “The Millennials”), but I cannot escape wanting to write about us.
If you’re anything like me, me, me, you consume media at lightning speed, you’re on Google’s life support product line, watch the Facespace InstaTube during the day, and sleep-tweet at night.
Back in October 2011, I read “The kids are actually sort of alright” by Noreen Malone in New York Magazine, one of the most cynical and yet hopelessly accurate reflections by a fellow Millennial, written for Millennials. Malone writes about the plight of our over-skilled, over-confident, over-indulgent, over-connected and over-distracted generation post-GFC (that’s Global Financial Crisis, for the Gen-Xers and Boomers out there). Approximately 2 billion of us grew up as a generation that expected to gain everything and the material, technological, and in most cases, the emotional support to go with it.
One of the best points that don’t come across enough in the article is that Millennials are still growing up. Up until now we were just past puberty and barely in our adolescence, but we are in a pretty sweet spot going forward: Millennials are growing up, and for the first time we’re learning to articulate ourselves. To quote one of our generational heroes, Seth Godin, we have “game-changers” up our sleeve too. Take a look at Millennial poster-boy, Mashable’s Pete Cashmore, in Fast Company’s, “This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business”, by Robert Safian. He’s been building a very modern digital media empire for the last few years and he’s only 26 years-old. It’s enough to make you well-up with optimism and pride (and perhaps a dash of self-pity).
Despite competitive career circumstances and inheriting a planet riddled with sustainability issues, we’re one of the most open-minded, passionate, optimistic, and active generations in a long time. Our over-connectedness has served to educate us of our predecessor’s histories, including the triumphs and failures of the Boomers’ Flower Power movement, while enabling us to act on our creativity – limited only by auto-correct and 140 characters of thought at a time, as well as our imagination. Technology has inspired and enabled us to engage in our own political movements (think #OccupyWallStreet and #Egypt during the Arab Spring), as well as adopt innovative and legitimate new business models that redefine and decentralize many outdated, ineffective or non-transparent economic systems (hello, iTunes).
In my early twenties I was a politically apathetic Millennial. Today, in my later twenties, I’m far more optimistic and capable of effecting change – if only we were all lucky enough to be given a break. Right? What often drives us is something as simple as self-satisfaction, mastery of our own work, and the occasional praise (feel free to “Like”, “Share” or “Follow” this blog).
I, for one, am very proud of the progress Millennials have made, and are still yet to make. It’s a breath of fresh air and we can now all sit at the big adults’ table to start talking about the future. Jessie J’s right, it’s not always about the “money, money, money”. “We just wanna make the world dance” – and know that we’ve succeeded in this thing called “change”.