Call me an optimist, but I am a big fan of our generation.
At only 22, I am naive I am sure, but not entirely. Being 22 means that I have millions of miles to cover and a lot left to learn. Even so, I realize that this has been one of our worst years in a long time when it comes to things like human rights violations, civil and international conflict, environmental depletion and political discord. I also recognize that I am privileged and therefore see the world through filtered eyes. I was raised in a wonderful household and am learning at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. I understand that I live in a position from which I can afford to see the bright side of things.
With that being said, I am still proudly optimistic. I think being a twenty-something today absolutely rocks. The world is changing, our culture is changing and it’s us, the millennials who are doing it.
People have loved to hate on us. I read articles and heard talk of our generation throughout most of my teenage years. They’re lazy, they’re entitled, they don’t work as hard as the last generation did. Maybe they’re right, but maybe they’re just looking at it from the wrong perspective.
Our generation is globalizing. Look at something as simple as snapchat. We use it to send selfies to our friends, sure, but it is also a way for an individual’s or a company’s micro-documentary to reach people everywhere. The story feature at face value lets us consume the collection of photos and videos that our friends want us to see. That awesome feature also allows the story of India’s Holi Day, of NYC’s SantaCon and of Australia Day to live alongside those stories of your friends. On New Years Eve, Snapchat put together photos and videos from users celebrating in Dubai, NYC, St. Petersburg and other places to help the entire world ring in the new year together. It helps us to really see that people are people everywhere you go. Now, no corner of the globe is too inaccessible.
Look at trends in travel. Aussies travel. Germans travel. Americans – not as much. That’s changing. People say our generation is traveling more than generations prior. We want to see what’s out there, we want adventure, we want to meet people and we want to be inspired. Gap years, while not yet common, are becoming more popular. More students are studying abroad. More people are backpacking and are inspiring other people to do the same through online connection and storytelling. We’re expanding our horizons and asking the question, why not?
Look at the working culture. I have plenty of friends going into finance or other similar fields that will happily work 80 hour weeks and will make bank, and that’s definitely admirable. But the start-up culture that the generation before us initiated is seriously gaining ground and many of my friends want to work for them. Many people I know want a work-life balance. They want to integrate work with play and they want a greater purpose. My generation wants to enjoy all of the pieces of their lives and doesn’t want to settle for less. Regardless of the industry, millennials want to be empowered and millennials want to learn.
Look at advertising. I recently read an article in adweek that claimed 2015 would be the ‘year of positivity’ for brands. We want to be inspired and we want to be a community. Brands are responsive to that and are joining in on that conversation, especially with the explosion of social. Dove inspired women to be proud of their bodies and happy in their own skin with their Real Beauty campaign. Coca-Cola brought people together with “Open Happiness.” McDonalds ran the ‘Pay with Lovin‘ ad during the SuperBowl. More and more, experiential campaigns designed to inspire and fantastic campaigns designed to do good are being created and they are working. We don’t simply want to be sold things; we want experiences.
There’s crowdfunding. There’s the explosion of yoga and meditation.There’s the proliferation of corporate social responsibility. There’s the increase in attendance at festivals, musical performances and other places that bring people together for the sake of creativity and creation. I am not blind to the negatives of our generation – I know they are abundant and need to be addressed – but still, I am excited about what my future holds because in 2015, I am only 22.