Amongst the unfortunate company of terms such as “squad”, “basic” and “lit”, “millennial” is a buzzword that’s risen to notoriety in recent years and seems to frequent our screens more than ever but what does it really mean? Should we be content with this label?
There is much inconsistency around the exact definition but according to Goldman Sachs, a millennial is someone born between 1980 and 2000. However, rather than just being used simply as an age category, the term comes with a lot of stigmas. Synonyms are multiple, including “Generation Y” and “echo boomers” amongst some slightly less forgiving names given such as the Chinese Government’s choice of “ken lao zu” which compares our generation to parasites, being too lazy and hedonistic to ever leave from under the wings of our parents. Charming.
From leeches to goldfish. A Microsoft study undertaken in 2015 concluded that millennials have an average attention span of a measly 8 seconds as we “find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli”. Being blamed on excessive use of smartphones, this short focus time has been mentioned in recent news whereby the NBA is considering shortening basketball games because it is clearly too much of a stretch to expect the youth of today to engage with. Maybe this, teamed with our apparent need for instant gratification, are why apps such as Snapchat and Instagram prove so popular as they can be enjoyed with minimal effort in minimal time.
Speaking of social media, our obsession with it has not been unnoticed by those defining us millennials. Seemingly a simple like or comment on our posts is enough to validate our very existence as our little sensitive, entitled souls crave attention 24/7. Whether it be to show off our caramel macchiato, our contour, or our creps, we just can’t tear ourselves away from the smartphones as we carefully craft the personas we wish we were IRL. This openness on social media means it’s often not difficult to identify the political affiliation of much of “Generation Y”, especially regarding Brexit for example, where the clear majority are outwardly liberal. As a result of (rational and encouraging), vocal expression on issues such as the NHS, representation and immigration, members of older generations have often been quick to brand millennials as staunch communists. It’s hard to believe our naïve, idealist young minds are even capable of forming an opinion without getting sidetracked along the way. #thestruggleisreal
Despite being the best educated and most politically engaged generation thus far, it is safe to say the modern millennial receives a lot of negative press. As much as we may need to reflect on our actions with regard to exacerbating image obsession, celebrity culture and consumerism for example, we do redeem ourselves to some extent when it comes to the game changers such as the environment where our actions now and in the future, will prove vital if we have any chance at change; any chance at fixing the problems made by the predecessors so quick to judge us. And let’s be honest, in a world where Donald Trump can be president, we know there’s a lot that must be changed…
Yes we may be outspoken, yes we may have shorter attention spans, and yes we may be surgically attached to our phones, but I for one do not mind being a member of the so-called “millennial generation” if it also comes with traits that we are educated, active and, of course, “woke”.
P.S To those of you who made it this far without ending up on a Buzzfeed quiz in the process, a special pat on the back, you’re above average.