It’s chic to dump on Millennials, that generation of US-based humans born between 1980 and 1995. 60 Minutes, a US television news program, and a book called Generation Me make them sound like fragile little crybabies who crumble at the thought of every challenge. I finished reading Generation Me this week and think that the character traits that the book assigns to Millennials (selfish, sexually promiscuous, narcissistic, cynical, prickly) are present in more than abundant quantities in their parents and their grandparents. Just look at Silicon Valley and the people who form the echo chamber of Web 2.0 grandiosity or attend any Web 2.0 conference. You will see that it’s all about: I, me, mine and myself.
But here is why I like Millenials:
(1) They dispense with the bullshit.
Here’s one generation who does not believe in careers. Finally, people who can see things for what they really are. How refreshing. These people do not believe in loyalty to a boss, a corporation, a nation state. Why? Because they grew up with parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents who have been fired (or rather “made redundant”, a more polite term) from corporate jobs with 2 weeks pay despite the long hours and hard work they’ve put in. They’ve seen supposedly democratic nation states put people in prison without a trial, corrupt politicians continue feeding a war machine that benefits mostly corporations and very rich people. And what does this generation get in return? Debt. More debt. Because they see things for what they are, they’re very independent and you can’t pull the wool over their eyes when it comes to work. They know it’s a purely economic transaction. They’re prepared for it.
(2) They’re the first Internet generation.
Very reliable for figuring out how to work gadgets, tweak wireless networks, understand social networks, find stuff online, figure out which wireless carriers provide best value, etc.
(3) They work hard.
Contrary to the books and news reports about their supposedly slacker ways, this generation works hard. Well, they’re younger so they can stay up all night and still have enough energy to work hard the next day. But because they’re living in a tougher, more competitive environment (and don’t have the luxury of a cushy corporate job where you CAN slack off, they way their elders did), they actually work much harder. They’re in deeper debt and can barely afford decent housing or medical care, so they have no choice.
(4) They’re much more internationally oriented and travel to other countries.
One might call them the “EasyJet Generation”. This group grew up with budget airlines, meaning, a lot of them have traveled to Thailand, India, Peru, Argentina, and other distant corners of the earth on budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet. That means at a young age, they have some perspective on life that their parents or grandparents at their same age, did not have until well into their 50s and perhaps not at all.
(5) They aren’t into “classic rock”.
With all the music in the world, why listen again and again to the Rolling Stones, Cream and Led Zeppelin? There is so much new music out there and from a lot of other places. This generation likes to explore new music, including rai, French hip-hop, Bollywood mashups, Cafe del Mar mixes, etc.