This is Part I of a series of articles. About what? The future – and who is the future? Well, it’s the Millennials. Yes, that same generation that’s been dubbed the “Generation of Entitlement,” among others. A culture that’s been dubbed by some in the mainstream media as a “Wuss Culture” – to quote popular novelist and social theorist Bret Easton Ellis, in an interview with VICE Magazine: “we have a generation who are super-confident and super-positive about things, but when the least bit of darkness enters their lives, they’re paralyzed.” His comments, while they may seem seething, are some of the kinder words that have been said of this generation. We – and I say “we” only as a general we – are also overly sensitive, thin skinned and solipsistic and narcissistic brats who hide behind our technology while taking pop-shots at others. However, the moment we get critiqued is when our walls go up, we get upset and take it very personally. My question to that is simple: Who doesn’t?
Respected authors William Strauss and Neil Howe believe that every generation have common characteristics based on four basic generational archetypes repeating in a cycle. It revolves around a theory they first laid out in 1991 with the publication of the book “Generations,” and continuing studies built on the foundation of it. It’s quite complex and includes a theory that other scholars question, however their research implies that the Millennial Generation is comparable to those of the G.I. Generation based on similar traits. Some of these include a rise in civil engagement among our youth along with confidence and optimism. For those who don’t know, the G.I. Generation comprises of people born between the years 1901 – 1924 who came of age during the Depression, those who fought in the World Wars not for recognition or fame, but because they viewed it as the right thing to do. This generation is often called the “Greatest” of all time.
If Strauss and Howes’ theories play out in a similar fashion, instead of bringing up self-destructive youth, we may very well have some of the finest young men and women of the past eighty years on our hands. Older generations will always find faults with younger ones. “Kids these days,” is a common phrase – dating back to at least the 1950’s when Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash were the rock ‘n’ rollers. It’s common knowledge that the youths elders had problems back then, and like Strauss and Howes’ theories suggest, it’s the cycles that repeat itself over and over.
Now that the older Millennials have been in the workforce for a decade or longer, many of the changes taking place in Corporate America have already begun transitioning from the dated and older ways of doing business to keep up with modern times. The changes will only continue from here and by the time the Millennial Generation are at the top of society – CEO’s, Senators, Congressman and even the Presidency – you can expect more collaborative work and transparency in the workplace. Polls have suggested that Millennials strongly distrust company hierarchy and politicians alike.
They’re interested in bringing more honesty to the workplace, trying to align employees with work that interests them while introducing more projects that can be worked on as a team. Forbes estimates that 92% of Millennials would also like to work from home and on their time – not the traditional 9 – 5. Video-conferencing is also likely to become the new norm.
Thus far, it’s been an exciting ride through the tunnel called “the evolution of technology” and experts predict that there will be more development in this area in the coming months and years. Exactly how we got here – that “evolution of technology” previously mentioned – as well as the effects caused by the growth of social media will be covered later this month, in Part II of this article.