Millennials Don’t Need Us, That’s Why We’re Scared of Them
“[Millennials] are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers… not because they're trying to take over the Establishment but because they're growing up without one,” begins Joel Stein on TIME Magazine’s cover story on the Millennial generation.
To begin with a walk down memory lane, the agricultural revolution first gave us the power to form more complex societies and spring-boarded the innovation to come. The industrial revolution added more fuel to the fire and gave us the power to travel, start businesses, and begin the urbanization of the world. Arriving to where we are now, the information revolution has flattened the world to an incredible degree. Not only does it now take a few seconds to connect opposite ends of the world, but this revolution gave people the power to compete against the colossal, pre-established organizations like never before: bloggers vs. newspapers, YouTube directors vs. Hollywood studios, entrepreneurs vs. corporations, app developers vs. entire pre-established industries.
“Millennials don't need us, that's why we're scared of them,” writes Stein.
The mindset of the information revolution reroutes us from that of the industrial by dictating we’re no longer required to go down the traditional, established path. The unprecedented access to information gives us the resources, confidence, and knowledge it takes to “do our own thing.” Millennials refuse to accept the word “normal,” leading us on a constant search for a better way of doing things. We’re not looking for people in power to tell us what is good/bad/right/wrong – we’re using our access to information to decide that for ourselves.
This is the largest generation in history (at 92 million strong according to Goldman Sachs) forcefully dictating that there is not a “correct” way to do things anymore.
While this may seem troublesome that Millennials don’t respect the established “people in power,” they also don’t resent them. For our generation, the access to information we have has (somewhat) eliminated the idea of one “pre-established path to success” and shown us 15,000 paths. We’re not as focused on “getting a job” as “finding the right one that will make us happy” since we know we’ve got options. Access to information flattens the world in a way that we don’t have to listen to the leaders we didn’t pick, in fact it gives us a world without leaders (or with so many different ones we don’t have to pick one to listen to). And now, since we have access to all this information, we (and the parents we still live with) become our own leaders and moral compass – which kind-of makes us narcissists but at least we’re pretty, right?
So, what does all this access to information mean about millennials?
It means that our generation is changing faster than any previous generation and we’re going to be the last large birthing group that’s able to be defined by a single word (even within the “Millennials,” there are countless microgenerations sprouting up as often as new Taylor Swift feuds). We’re also better informed and better educated than every generation that precedes us. We really don’t relate to big institutions and are using our access to information to create new ways of doing things to circumvent those established institutions. We’ve also been given a much more well-rounded picture of the world and because of that we’re more open and inclusive. We emphasize the value of being a global citizen and making an impact (as evident by the 84% of employed millennials that donated to charity in 2014) and we overwhelmingly prioritize companies with a social cause/impact. It also allows us to want more than the bare necessities – we’re not just looking for an income, we’re looking for a sense of purpose (and when we can’t find it, we leave – a recent Forbes study claimed 79% of millennials would rather work for themselves instead).
Access to information has truly defined the millennial generation and created one of the most powerful groups of people in history. And as the world continues evolving into this complex digital playground we’re getting used to, it just might require our lazy, entitled generation to save us all.