Why It’s Good to be a Millennial

I love being a millennial. I don’t know if it’s because I’m glad I grew up with the internet, or because I’m glad that the internet comes so easily to me. From social networks and blogs to e-commerce and mobile apps, new media is so deeply integrated into my daily routine that it’s practically subconscious.

I wake up every morning with Marimba playing from iPhone alarm. Swipe. Check E-mail. Delete, Respond, Mark as Spam. Check Flipboard: news, social media, weather. Shower. Check Stylebook: get dressed. Hop in my car. Realize I need gas. Check Citibank mobile: make mobile transfer. Check Gasbuddy: geo-locate cheapest option. Check Google maps: phew, no traffic. I turn on Pandora Internet radio and tweet about my insufficient caffeine consumption just before the clock strikes 8am.

New media is not only mindlessly interwoven into my life, but within itself as well. It’s no longer efficient for me to individually check my social networks, the news, and the weather, so I do it all at the same time. Even my e-mail accounts flow together to create a delicate network of forwarding filters that has been in development since AOL was still relevant.

It feels as if my every action relies on digital media, regardless of whether or not I am even mindful of its presence.

I’m not here to tell you that I’m the voice of my generation (or even a voice, of a generation… thank you, Lena Dunham), but I do know that my morning routine is far from unique.

Google the millennial generation and you’ll find out that we’re pragmatic idealists who are shaping the world, impatient and entitled with unrealistic expectations, and my personal favorite, not that narcissistic. 

And this is all just on the first page of Google.

But, if we’re being honest, how many people actually leave the first page anyway?

…Fine, I’m too narcissistic to leave you hanging. Google’s first page holds 89% of their web traffic, 42% is associated with the number 1 search result alone. A statistic I know because I am studying new media, like many of my generational counterparts.

If you search for the keywords “millennial generation” alone you’ll find 2 million hits. While some are negative, blaming technology or the generation gap for creating misunderstanding and mismanagement, others are positive, praising our progressive nature and digital savvy.

There seems to be an overwhelming need to figure out not only why a group of 76 million Americans are the way they are, but also to determine who is responsible  (TechTarget).

The need for anthropological understanding is nothing new, nor is the generational clash. What is new is the pace at which we are moving. According to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, every 2 days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization through 2003, and that doesn’t shock me in the slightest. …It’s probably because I’m a millennial.

My generation was born in the digital age where consumers can expect higher value at a faster pace. Digitalization began before we got here. It’s what we know.

I’ve read dozens and dozens of articles, blog posts, and forums debating the millennial generation. I’ve read at least 20 alone called something along the lines of, “The Millennial Generation from A Millennial,” and what I keep coming back to is, so what? No matter how long you spend analyzing, categorizing, and contextualizing, there will still be a digital divide, which is where our focus should lie.

I am not arguing that there shouldn’t be space in the conversation for anthropological discussion, just a less prominent space. The constant debate over whether we are the most arrogant or brilliant generation to-date is not productive for the workplace.

We need to move the conversation from “how to coordinate the millennial generation,” to “how to coordinate innovation across the corporate hierarchy.”

In my work experience, I have valued the advice and knowledge of the senior-level, Gen-Y employees that I have been fortunate enough to interact with. Decades of experience provide business insight that is invaluable and irreplaceable. We know that and have no desire to pretend otherwise.

We are there to work for you and learn from you, sharing our knowledge doesn’t detract from that dynamic. There is little room for top-down communication in business, internally or externally. Allow us to engage in a corporate culture that fosters critical thinking, strong values and open dialogue.

Our knowledge of new media is our strength, and we want to bring value to the table. We don’t aim to come across as threatening or condescending.

My most successful employment opportunities have been in organizations where innovation is welcome from all team members. Junior employees will become stronger assets for your company if they are emotionally invested. Allowing them to openly share their digital expertise is the best way to foster that investment.

As a millennial and self-aware digital addict, I can’t help but wonder how much progress we could make if everyone focused on integrating industry best practices more seamlessly with digital technology, rather than playing the millennial blame game. Gen-Y and Gen-X will learn to work together, just as the Baby Boomers did before them, so we might as well focus on what we have control over.

I realize that I mentioned Google 5 times. I’m a millennial. Ask me a question, and this is what you get in response: http://lmgtfy.com/. For the record, I made it to page 4 writing this.