The Millennials are coming

McMurray Musings Connects

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Weekly

My daughter was born in 1999, just months before the dreaded “Y2K crisis” that never actually materialized. The year forever memorialized – in a fairly bad, but entertaining – science fiction television show. It was a heady time, the beginning of a new era, and she was right there – primed to become one of the cohort known now as “the Millennials”, individuals born around the time when the 1900’s ended and the 2000’s began.

Now, 16 years later, the differences between her generation and mine (Gen X, as we are known) could not be more vivid. I remember a world before the Internet and cellphones, when we still sent letters with stamps affixed and when a call home meant finding both a dime and a payphone. It was just a couple of years ago that I drove her around town, desperate to find a payphone, not to call anyone, but to prove to her that they existed and were not simply fictional devices that were found on movie sets. She thought I was crazy, of course, but I wanted her to have some understanding of how the world used to be, what it once was.

She does not know a world before 9/11. Intense screenings at airports, the removing of shoes and the occasional body scan is simply routine to her, and she barely understands the context of these things or how and why they came about. She lives in a world of YouTube and Tumblr, not even realizing that years ago the very idea of Facebook was foreign and slightly strange.

She is a Millennial, through and through. She has this sense of cynicism and sarcasm, a pragmatism beyond her years, a belief in how the world functions and how it does not function and how people like me – Gen X and older – are messing it up completely.

Her generation does not see the world in terms of differences in gender, sexual orientation, race or colour. When someone once told her that girls could do anything she looked at them with disdain and responded: “Yes, of course they can,” as if they were a dunce who clearly missed the memo that came out years ago.

She was seven at the time, already light years ahead in terms of understanding her rightful place in the world and the ability of “girls”.

She is a marketer’s nightmare, as she sees right through marketing and advertising schemes with laser-like precision. She has no time for ads, as she is embracing an ad-less world of Netflix. She is merciless with those she thinks guilty of wasting her time, and she is far too clever to be captured by glossy ads in magazines.

She is already politically astute, critiquing based not on some long standing allegiance to one party or another, but on policy. She is like a scythe with political information, cutting through subterfuge and “synergistic speak” to ferret out the nuts and bolts of what is being said or promised.

She communicates differently, too, single word texts replacing long phone calls and little effort put into conversational niceties that she deems superfluous. And she knows when she is being spoken down to, when someone is trying to tailor their message to target Millennials as she knows when language is authentic, and when it is not.

And yet somehow she is optimistic, particularly about her generation and their ability to turn the ship around. Some of the older members of her cohort are already doing this she believes, their input changing how corporations, organizations and governments are run. She sees this influence as not only a natural evolution, but a necessary one – as the Gen X types continue to struggle a bit with some of the changes we have seen in our lives but which have been a part of the lives of Millennials since they were children. She doesn’t believe Millennials will change the world; she believes they already have.

The Millennials are coming. They are the digital natives, the ones who have grown up with technology that many of us once dismissed as the stuff of those science fiction shows.
They are the ones who have come of age in a connected globe, where they could join a protest on the other side of the planet simply through the use of social media. It won’t be long until they are truly running the show – and the Millennials? Well, I suspect they think it is long overdue.

– Connect Weekly –