According to LiveScience.com, the term “millennial” most specifically refers to the generation of people born between 1982 and the year 2000. TIME Magazine called it the “Me, Me, Me!” generation- a title that would come as offensive to many. However, many millennials are embracing the label, saying that those who do not possess high narcissistic capabilities will not travel so far in life; that being narcissistic is, in fact, the key to success.
So what is it really like to be a millennial? What makes us this way? What causes adults over 35 to be so confused or lost as to why the internet is so essential in everyday life?
It has to do with the time in which the internet was publicly available. On August 6th, of 1991, the internet became accessible to anyone with a computer. At this time, the oldest millennials would have been 9 years old. The millennials in my graduating class were yet to be born. Cognitive development occurs most quickly and effectively between the ages of 7 and 12. According to the theories of Piaget, this would be referred to as the “Concrete Operational” stage. This is supposed to be the time in which children become less egocentric and more aware of others. However, it was during these years that millennials were submersed in the instant satisfaction of seven hundred cable channels, and an ability to play games on a computer. The simple procedure of pressing buttons and immediately seeing that transfer to a screen in front of us was the beginning of an inability to wait. And that inability characterizes our generation.
When you think of narcissism, most would think of loving oneself. Perhaps narcissism comes from an inability to do the work to make others appreciate, love, or have affection or adoration for you in some way. An inability to put in the work, and wait. Now it’s easy to argue that people have been narcissistic for ages, however, the ability to share our faces and experiences on nearly limitless platforms instantaneously gives way for impatience.
Adults and teachers often accuse the millennial generation of being incapable of normal face to face to communication. And think about it- how do we react when Twitter is over capacity? When that little whale is looking at you, telling you that- no, you can’t post that picture of what you had for dinner- you become angry. Some, enraged. You wanted others to envy you for your superior dining experience but now you have to wait. Waiting makes us angry. We don’t want to call our friends and tell them, because they probably wouldn’t care, because what we have to say doesn’t serve them in some way. We want to show pictures so that without words, we can make others envious. We are too impatient to develop balanced friendships, because we are used to the speed at which we can make people envy. Why have friends when you can have paparazzi?
Which brings us to Instagram. Instagram allows users to post as many photos as they wish and tag them for all the world to see. Some users choose to have their pages private, but I have learned from personal experience that some people lock their pages simply to make you feel privileged to view their photos. They’ll add anyone that requests, but they want to make their life seem like it’s worth keeping from others. So that you’ll be interested. And maybe, they can seem like a celebrity.
Speaking of celebrities, YouTube has opened the door to allowing nearly anyone to be a celebrity. Many girls are self-titled “make-up gurus”. Many girls, like user Blair Fowler, purchase products and clothing, and review them for other girls, sometimes gaining so much influence in the online community that they are often offered products in exchange for giving a review (whether positive or negative). These girls are well respected, and usually make an average of $1 per 1,000 views. This seems fair, as they put a lot of time, effort, and money into making videos, and really do aide consumer satisfaction. However, the popularity race mostly comes down to who has the most money to buy the most things. According to a recent article by Neil Patel of Quicksprout.com, he writes that, “By analyzing the likes of over 1000 photos, images that are about lifestyle (fancy cars, homes, living a luxurious life) or that are personal tend to get the most engagement. Photos that don’t contain either of those two elements tend to get 11.4% less likes.” People like to envy other people. It’s the only way that magazine like People or Us Weekly get any attention. We like to think about what we don’t have, because as millennials, we only focus on what we want, not what we already have.
Sometimes, that’s not a bad thing.
Studies show that millennials have better job hunting and resume building tactics. Being concerned with one’s self- appearance and impression upon others causes them to build themselves up in a (hopefully) professional way that makes them more appealing to business owners and executives. Millennials want so bad to be financially stable, popular, well-liked (two different things), and do what they love. Those that present themselves across many platforms and are not slanderous or reckless with their internet reputation gain big points with hiring managers. Employers want people that can appeal to other people. Who can make consumers need the product or envy the lifestyle. They want college graduates who put themselves out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr, and yes, even Google+. They want manipulative people who know how to utilize social medias and create a desire for something, whether it be a social cause, a product, or news.
And if we can try to care about others in the process, maybe we can break the status quo.