The Millennials are a generation of people (age 19–25 in 2016) who have at their disposal all they need to make their dreams a reality, and do so at an unprecedented rate. They are a group of young consumers born into a world of fast information and real time access. According to Pew research, the Millennial generation, also known as Generation Y, amounts to 75.3 million, surpassing the size of the baby boomer generation. They think differently.
Unlike the previous age groups, they don’t want security. What they seek is engagement, and are attracted to environments that allow them to tap into their passion and individuality.
The Millenials not only wield a burgeoning influence over how popular things become on a mass scale, but are largely influencing the direction in which our world is headed. The amount of tools available to them is astonishing. It’s available to all of us, however, in my opinion, they hold the title of the fastest and earliest adopters.
As everything in life comes in opposites, this generation has a gamut of its own challenges to face. While the desire to ‘change the world’ has never been more attainable than it is today, the amount of distractions preventing such fulfillment, whatever shape it may take, seems to match the scope of the opportunity.
Below I list three trends that are quickly becoming standards, and carry with them the keys to both empowering and distracting those on a mission or those seeking to live, to use Paulo Coelho’s expression from the ‘Alchemist,’ their personal legend.
The Three Trends
1. Connectivity. It’s no secret that our world today, excluding certain pockets that are quickly catching up, is the most connected it’s ever been. The advantages of having such open access to one another are innumerable and speak for themselves.
One would think that this social phenomenon has no dark side. Unfortunately, the screens have been stealing young people’s attention, often leading them to isolation. Sherry Turkle has a lot to say on the topic in her seminal TED Talk amply titled ‘Connected, But Alone.’ She speaks on how young people are brought up with impoverished social skills and carry the emotional burden that comes from chronic loneliness and fear of cyber bullying.
What may help alleviate this growing issue is placing more value on genuine connections and conversations. Yes, social media and the internet at large are phenomenal places to catalyze new relationships, but they are not satisfactory in and of themselves.
Relationships have to be nurtured and screen time will never replace the feelings and significance that comes from the experiencing a person-to-person interaction.
2. Content. From ten ways to tie a shoe lace to breaking news, it is all out there, are we are all quite literally drowning in it. The Internet is bursting at its seams from stories of both personal and impersonal nature and we are just getting started. With so much content at our fingertips, it is not hard to see that we are breeding a culture of overwhelm where things could quickly get out of hand.
On the positive side, information has never been more free and available. Just tap your finger on a keyboard and you can learn virtually anything, growing your personal knowledge bank. The web is teeming with books, online courses, discussion forums, blogs, etc. Want to learn a new language? Polish up accounting skills? Get a real estate license? Learn to make films or write books? Conduct a study? Write an article? Easy. It will take time and work, but it’s all there.
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Back in the pre-digital days, obtaining a crucial piece of information could mean spending half a day at a library. And that’s without a guarantee of getting our hands at the sought after bit. The Millennials could not even fathom that way of living. It sounds soooooo slooooow to them.
But once more, there is a price to be paid for the speed and it lives in the domain of endless distraction. Information links have become rabbit holes that may or may not yield much value. What they do do; however, is suck time.
Focus is the key to empowerment here, a miracle remedy that can turn weeks’ worth of mindless browsing into something of great value for the researcher and ideally a circle of intrigued bystanders.
3. Mobility. In Africa, many tech startups are circumventing the desktop based business altogether, aiming straight for the phone. More young people are packing up and leaving for adventures overseas. We are living in a mobile economy of a growing number of freelancers, volunteers and adventurers. The world’s never been this open and its citizens more eager to explore it.
On a purely pragmatic note, the challenges of moving about from café to café means jumping networks and thus compromising security. This means that when on the road, your notes as well as financial information could be at a risk of exposure. Judging from the headlines and the exponential growth of cyber security markets, this will continue to be a hot topic for years to come.
On a philosophical note, the advantages of mobility include increased sense of freedom, creativity and satisfaction for those on the road. We learn so much from visiting a new culture, not only about those we interact with but also about ourselves. Challenges arise when as travelers we project our own values onto those whose perspective differs from our own. Rather than viewing the differences in a negative light, we can learn to celebrate and nurture our global diversity. After all, in nature, it’s those most diverse systems that thrive the most.
By keeping our minds open, devices secure, and prejudices aside, we not only participate in generating interesting content but also forging more genuine connections with our foreign neighbors.
So, what are you waiting for Millenials? Connect, log off, focus, get skills, and go for it — change the world!