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Posts Tagged With: millennials

Adulting: Because Being a Grownup Should Only Be a Temporary Affliction

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I remember being a kid trying to figure out what set adults apart from the rest of the masses of “watery moles” (Thanks, Florence King,  for that reference I will be using often).  In my best estimation, they were bigger than kids, had breath that smelled like coffee, cigarettes, alcohol or artificial mint, drove cars, watched news and complained about work.

They were there to make us eat vegetables, follow rules, go to bed early, live in fear of saying swear words and make sure our clothes matched.

Another common characteristics of the adults of the human species, in my estimation as well as the estimation of many of my peers – real and fictional (Peter Pan counts), is that they didn’t know how to be silly or have fun or otherwise prioritize imagination, spontaneity and the joys of getting dirty.

Generally speaking, it seemed that being a grown-up meant earning the right to make kids do stuff “because I said so” and avoiding answering questions like “why” – or just generally making the answers up.

Having been a human of adult age for quite some time now, I think it’s safe to say that my burgeoning anthropological-analysis skills were spot on.   Adults are generally just more serious “watery moles” who have entered a life stage seemingly devoid of fun.

Lets consider this concept of the adult / grown-up life-stage for a minute.
It’s one that I have been grappling with a good amount lately, both as a professional who studies culture and consults for companies and brands and as a human resisting the confines of conformity. 😉

I remember when i first started seriously examining the topic.  It was several years ago when, on what felt  like my “bazillionth” project helping clients understand “Millennials” (the seemingly perplexing generation of humans born sometime between the early 80s and the year 2000).  In particular, I had been forced to finally develop a framework (which still works today) that showed the divergent sets of life-stages being occupied by the “adult”-aged sub-sets of Millennials

You see – the world has changed a lot since their parents were kids. Hell – it had changed a lot (and continues to) since their parents had become parents.  There are and were a number of mitigating social, cultural, etc. circumstances that prevented adult-aged Millennials (let’s just go with 21+) from fitting neatly in to the “grown-up” mold.

The term “extended adolescence” had been thrown around for a while.  Lots of talk about “entitlement” (still present) and other forms of behavior associated with being young and naive.  The fact is, however – that there are / were adult Millennials still in a semi-dependent life-stage: relying on their parents for financial, emotional and otherwise logistical support navigating the transition to on-thief-own.  Then there is / was the group who – not even thinking about marriage yet – is / was enjoying the freedom of being on their own, having the money to “play” while exploring career options and working hard to make a name for themselves.  Then there is the group that most closely resembles the standard definition of an “adult” – those who are starting families and getting more serious about their professional lives whilst doing things like buying houses and new cars and starting to explore retirement savings plans.

But here’s the thing that, regardless of life stage,  seems to have come to pass as part of “Millennial” Adulthood and has also rubbed off on “the rest of us”.  The idea that “adulthood” (noun) doesn’t have to be a definitive end.  Rather – you can maintain the trappings of youth that help keep us all curious, creative, energized, fun and otherwise still interested in exploring this human experience from a naive and ultimately rewarding point of view.

You just have to realize that there are certain behaviors that constitute the “responsible” part of being an adult. Otherwise, the rest is crap and you should just scrap all preconceived notions of what an “adult” (noun) looks like.  Rather, just selectively practice the skills / art of “adulting” (verb).

As defined by urbandicitonary.com

Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.

Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8am and appears well groomed.

You see, there are certain kid behaviors and characteristics that are super-valuable if you want to thrive as a human being.  For example:

Play:  this is behavior we do as kids to prepare ourselves for adult responsibilities.  But what separates play from adult responsibilities is that it is done for enjoyment, rather than for a serious or practical purpose.  We do the activities of play because they are fun.  We learn things, we experience consequences and then we brush them off.  Because it’s not so serious.  When we choose to be adults in the traditional sense we tend to take everything too seriously and always have an agenda – win or lose.

Fearlessness:  daring to express ourselves and test our limits without fear of reprisal or injury.  The sheer will to not care what people think and just boldly do what the voice at the core of our being tells us to do.  Because even if you do get scraped up or break a bone or get your heart-broken – all of those things heal and we are better off for ware having had the experience.

Curiosity:  the audacity to ask “why” at every turn – to see the world with fresh eyes as often as prolifically as possible.  The need to have things explained to you “like a three-year old”  because “because I said so” is just not a good enough answer and if you ask “why” often enough you eventually find out that nobody really knows anything – that we are all making it up as we go along and that there is always room for interpretation and there is always more to learn.

Creativity:  perhaps the last bastion of childhood that some lucky and enlightened humans have been lucky enough to carry on in to their grown-up lives.  This is the art of envisioning the reality that you want and making it happen by any means necessary – even if it means coloring outside the lines or putting something out there that might be utterly imperceptible to others or simply allowing yourself to temporarily exist in a fantasy of your own imagining.  It’s the art of making yourself think beyond the tangible by allowing yourself to dream.  It is the behavior that allows newness in to the world. It is probably the single thing at the root of the other three behaviors / characteristics listed above.

But let’s not devalue the importance of “adulting” as a  behavior.  In balance with the childlike behaviors above, these acts are necessary for survival so we may free ourselves up to thrive. Example adulting behavior includes:

Holding down a job: showing up on time, completing tasks and otherwise establishing a track record of being able to support one’s self financial through delivery of a service to others and playing nice with other humans in pursuit of the same.

Paying taxes:  because somebody has to pay for all the things we take for granted, like roads and schools and feeding / caring for those who can’t support themselves.

Voting:  the act of being accountable for creation and direction of government so we don’t become a race of lemmings or victims. Nobody wants to fall off a cliff to their death simply because they didn’t take the time to learn what’s going on and punch a few holes in a piece of paper.  If you choose not to vote for your leaders you give up your right to complain.

Eating right:  deciding that the cake made out of fruity pebbles (it’s a real thing – i narrowly avoided that non-adulting behavior this morning) does not count as breakfast and realizing that in order to actually keep your adult body functioning so you can do all the cool stuff you want to do well in to your old age that you need to be careful about what you put in it.

Listening to others:  being mindful of hearing other people’s points of view and not just putting your fingers in your ears and screaming when someone is saying something you don’t want to hear.  The fact is, we don’t all agree and need to respect one another’s right to divergent opinions so we can get along in harmony.  The side benefit is that sometimes you learn something and often learn to empathize with your fellow humans simply by being open to new words or experiences that might bear similar motivations to your own.

Cleaning up: yourself, your home, your car, your desk,etc.  Because dirt = germs and chaos and cleanliness  = space to think, grow and thrive.  Also – a clean “anything” is more welcoming than a dirty one – which means you will invite more humans in to your world that you can play with. If you can’t seem to create a clean tidy enviroment for yourself, you could always hire from a company like, Denver Concierge’s house cleaning service. Then you just focus on your work and play!

That being said – it is all a delicate balance.  All work and no play makes any human a dull sack of flesh. But all play without accountability for one’s actions can lead to serious consequences.

But i think the new generations of adults (I refuse to use the “M” word anymore) have  taught us a few things about a life well lived.  There’s nothing wrong with choosing the lower paying job because you get to spend more time with your kids or taking the road less traveled because it looks like more fun.   And you don’t have to separate your creative self from your work life or not play at the office.

Life is a curious wonderful time where we spiritual beings get to have this awkward and amazing human experience.  Lets remember to enjoy the ride and – by all means – practice “adulting” responsibly, but NEVER EVER become a full-fledged grown-up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Love, Haters and Hipsters: The Irony of Being A Millennial

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I have officially decided that I’ve  spent too much time commenting on a recent Facebook thread started in the last day  by fellow bloggers Eve Kerrigan, Rachel Gall and Anna Akbari, about a recent article on Millennials called  “Generation Wuss” by Vanity Fair’s Bret Easton Ellis.

I am, however, compelled to share and express my very “special” point of view in a blog post.  No, I’m not an “entitled millennial”,  just a Narcissistic Anthropologist who needs a fix.   Also as someone who has been studying, marketing and helping  to develop brands and products for Millennials since before they were even getting their first driver’s licenses  – I have a point of view on the topic.

I honestly say that I feel a great deal of empathy for this cohort who has been the object of intense scrutiny and marketing-targeting since they started getting an allowance.  They had the distinct privilege of growing up during the evolution of the information age and I think it’s safe to say that everyone feels we are officially at a point of “TMI”. The aforementioned article dishes out some tough love for what he essentially chalks up to a  hypersensitive and seemingly ill-prepared-for-life cohort.

Lets take a step back and reflect upon this generation that entered the consumer world with so much love and fanfare.

 Lets start with the love.   Their parents – mostly boomers – decided that they were going to love them with all their hearts  – and the fierce dedication of a tiger protecting it’s prey. They gave them everything they didn’t get from their parents in the form  of constant cradling with self-esteem focused education.

They also gave their time: micromanaging every aspect of their school and extra-curricular lives to make sure they grew up to get into the “right” college and become successful, well-rounded adults.  They encouraged their passions and told them they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up.  And after 9-11, when the sub-prime crash happened and we seemed to “lose everything” – they became the epitome of close-knit families.  Which is good – because as the young adults were graduating college with no job-prospects to speak of there was a home for them to come back to until (some are still waiting) they could get out of the nest and get on their feet.

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But lets remember that their parents aren’t the only ones who have loved them.

Millennials have been the object of the marketing community’s affection ever since they started being able to count money.  Not only did they begin their lives during a period of economic prosperity, which gave them above-average spending power from a young age, but since their parents also wanted to be their best friend’s and openly engage them in household dialogs they have always had a huge influence on family purchases as well – everything from groceries to home electronics to Mom’s next car.

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Then they started to grow up – and the haters came out of the woodwork – especially when they entered the workforce.  Employers couldn’t handle their neediness – for work-life balance that kept them from wanting to live for work, for rapid career advancement, for constant feedback on their day-to-day performance and for their boomer colleagues to be their best friends and family.

Given what some would call their coddled upbringing, it stands to reason that they entered the “real world” in a state of fantasy – believing in their infinite value and that the world has been waiting on pins and needles for them to com share their specialness.  And the disappointment has been palpable as HR organizations scramble to retain and grow their next generation of worker-bees while Millennials began experiencing a “Quarter-Life Crisis” – dropping out of the corporate world to go back to school and re-learn or to create careers out of their passions, less they end up like their parents who gave their lives to their jobs and lost everything as the market crumbled to pieces.

But unlike other generations – Millennials don’t have to go back to square one and stew when things got tough.  They have  globally-wired communication to share their woes – and to seek affirmation from their peers.  Social media means they can find friends by the hundreds and thousands to affirm their contributions great and small.  The blogosphere has provided a medium for their musings and media has provided a soap-box for their angst.  So, not only do they get to put it all out there, but they also get to suffer the consequences  – among them being barraged by generationally-driven editorial backlash by those who find the Millennial point of view to be insufferable.

It’s no wonder that hipster culture emerged as the Millennial embodiment of Irony.

If nothing else, this is a generation who knows how to poke fun at their situation and themselves and use social schizophrenia as a way to play with the concept of adulthood. What else  can a generation do that grew up being adored and are now dodging bullets from every direction – whether it be economic or simply socially un-empathetic.  They were blown up into big beautiful, colorful balloons and then popped the minute they left their padded homerooms. But they are finally growing up and finding their “option C”  by creating new concepts.

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They are adults and young adults who place tremendous value on play.  They put serious energy into social commentary in the form of cartoons and couture.  The mating game has become quite literal with apps like Tinder.  They raise funds for entrepreneurship as a team via platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe.  They Instagram their exploration of the world – like a  virtual refrigerator filled with art class projects  and they will never EVER stop wearing Chuck Taylors to work.

I for one am excited by the energy I see entering the workforce – and the fortune 500 warriors who are doing their best to help this generation make their way.  I am also impressed by how Millennials are waking up to their collective purpose – to create a new world that works for them – and asserting that power using their consumer clout.   I know at least the world-class brands and marketers I work with have been eagerly engaging very deeply to understand this generations unique context and develop brands and business models that are far more empathetic – no tot mention building business organizations to nurture and groom their future leaders.

I also think that the collective cultural kick-in-the-pants that Millennials have been getting is preparing them well for the road a head.  It’s good for them to have to fight a battle and know that they can win – and they will win.  But here’s the deal – when this generation steps up to take the gold medal that they actually earned, I know in my heart of hearts that they will take the haters with them.

Because this generation of sensitive superheroes is actually all about the love – and they have been taught to share.

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Love: There’s an App for That #millennials

Some more perspective in Millennials and love from So-Called Millennial. I particularly appreciate the analysis on love and “risk”…

So-Called Millennial

Happy Valentines Day Art Print Image courtesy of Allison Johnson Creative

I thought the title of this post was rather clever, but upon googling it I found that The Bold Italic has already used it, so I thought I’d at least give them a shout-out. The tech panel event they hosted called “Love? There’s an App for That” has already passed, but if you’re located in the SF Bay Area check the other upcoming eventsThe Bold Italic will be hosting.

Alright let’s get down to business! I’ve been studying the many facets in which millennials demonstrate pragmatism and practicality, and I thought it would be interesting to examine how this trait influences their ideas of relationships. I know– love and practicality? They don’t seem to go together. And if you read on, that may be something millennials need to do some soul-searching about.

This week Time Magazine released an article called Millennials in Love:…

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Generation Y, Millennials, pop culture, Rituals, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Millennials in Love: Why They’re Not So Different From Their Parents After All

So excited to have gotten the call to participate in the dialogue in this article….

Ideas

There’s nothing quite like a new generation setting out to breed. It’s an exercise in feverishness and fretfulness, in urgency and appetite, a sweet and simpleminded leave-taking of the senses in the pursuit of, well, a lot. Sex, certainly—plenty of that. Then there’s companionship, and security and the esteem of your friends—to say nothing of yourself—and the basic thrill of thinking that maybe, just maybe, you’re in love. Only a handful of years earlier, the same demographic was nothing but a swarm of pre-sexual children. Then the mating software booted up, but it was constrained by bodies and minds way too young to do much about it. And to the extent that anyone tried, there were parents, teachers and society as a whole policing their behavior.

Then all at once the limits are gone—the young breeders jump the traces and are set free to have at it. Soon enough, their…

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Millennials, sociology, Trends, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The Loneliest Generation?

This article poses an interesting paradox: how is it that the most socially networked generation in history is also potentially the loneliest? I suppose the idea here is that in the era of being able to carefully curate your public facing identity we are missing the ability to make more intimate human connections and thus limiting our self actualization ability.
I am not sure I buy it – honestly. I think the social network environment actually opens up more opportunity for human intimacy – introducing us to people with similar ideas and ideas that we may never have met otherwise – allowing us to have friends wherever we go and thus giving us more possibilities to connect with one another and further our pursuit of “who am I and what am I doing here”.
Interested in thoughts out there. Are Millennials really that lonely?

So-Called Millennial

Recently a clever video went viral called The Innovention of Loneliness which illustrates some of the modern problems that have been introduced because of the Internet and technology. If you’re a millennial, most of what the video talks about will feel familiar, like the ability to “self-edit” and constantly be plugged-in to our communication platforms. Mark-Anthony Smith of Entitled Millennial wrote about his personal experience of growing up with social media starting with AOL Instant Messenger all the way back in 1998! His experience should also be very familiar to the average millennial. It correlated with my experience as well, and acknowledges that the internet (for good or ill) is an integral part of how millennials grew up.

I thought I would follow up by talking about the video, and some of my thoughts on the impact the internet has had on our ability to relate with each other.

The…

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Generation Y, Millennials, pop culture, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Millennial Wedding Rituals: Nuptuals With A Social Media-Inspired Twist

I recently attending a wedding where my wife was performing a special selection of songs for the ceremony. It was a Cinderella-style event for one of her voice student’s sisters and her college sweetheart husband. Ole Miss, to be exact. The only reason I know is because at some point during toast there was a wedding party fraternity fight song.

In any case – I was happy to be there to observe the support the couple and observe the ritual. Everyone who reads this blog knows I love a good ritual. I suppose I would be a poor Anthropologist if I didn’t.

Wedding rituals are always fascinating. They differ based on the level of society (band, Tribe, Industrial, etc.) as well as the cultural context one comes from, but in the U.S. there are some fairly standard traditions: The religious ceremony presided over by an officiant that typically includes an exchange of vows, the inclusion of a bridal party as well as groomsmen (to support each member of the married couple in their preparations and to help them cope with the impending commitment – as well as being part of the ceremony to demonstrate this support), the tradition of wearing good luck charms (something old, new, borrowed, blue, etc.), the “giving away” of the bride by her father (waning patriarchy’s still like a good exchange of human property) and of course the big damn party to celebrate the happy new couple – because no matter who you are or where you live we love to share our happiness with others – and in this case do it until it hurts – financially speaking of course.

Another tradition that we see in western weddings as they have become more of a “production” is the program: setting the scene (and expectations of length) and giving recognition to all the members of the wedding party.

In the case of this particular wedding, I enjoyed the addition of a couple of very Millennial twists to the program, which I thought blog-worthy. In the spirit of making sure everyone got credit for being unique while still being part of the team (a very Gen Y trait – “we are all individuals but can’t be successful without the support of our peers” ) and in the social media tradition of making sure no moment went un-shared, the program included:
– hand-drawn custom avatars of the entire wedding party that included nuances down to the type of dress and which side they part their hair
– an embossed invitation to post pictures from the wedding reception to a twitter hashtag
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Naturally we have seen other Gen X and Millennial wedding traditions come to pass in recent years to coincide with our modern “way” – such as the new tradition of the wedding party “dancing” down the aisle or into the ceremony (for those with more conservative parents) which you have seen all over YouTube.

I wonder how wedding traditions will continue to evolve as generations become more tech savvy, geared toward personal recognition in an expanding global pool of social networks and inclined to take formalities less seriously as our conceptual economy encourages left-of-center thinking to inspire new ideas.

For now, however, I am pleased to see that “the kids these days” are still inclined to hold on to the traditions that remind us we are human while making a point to add new widgets of relevance.

Good luck to the happy couple. Regardless of the times, love is a tradition that always endures and hopefully the rituals don’t overshadow the sentiment.

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Culture, Ethnography, Generation Y, Millennials, Rituals, Trends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Guest Post: Homelessness

Evidence of one generation’s intentions to make the world better: A Millennial perspective on homelessness with some sociocultural support. Great read!

So-Called Millennial

By Michelle Adams, Contributor

A man in the street begging for money, a women on the side of the road holding up a piece of cardboard saying “Homeless, Will Work for Food,” a family sleeping in their car, a tent city underneath a bridge—all these images represent homelessness.

Most people, millenials included, have certain stereotypes about homelessness. They view people who are homeless as lazy, dirty and mostly suffering from drug problems. Homelessness pervades all aspects of culture and every walk of life.

These views about homelessness were collected from teenage volunteers at South Oakland Shelter during Global Youth Service Day.

Some of these views are actually accurate views of homelessness, while some represent misconceptions throughout society. Many people view that homelessness can be easily solved by giving people money or food. Others believe that homeless people can attain jobs easily. If there are part time jobs available, why not…

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Generation Y, Millennials, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Millennial Soap Box: Global Poverty

it all starts with the desire to do something. Millennials have that despite feeling overwhelmed by the world’s problems. Here is one example.

So-Called Millennial

No one really likes a soap box, unless they’re the one standing on it. So I ask the reader to join me on the soap box, because there’s enough room for all of us.

In my last post, I talked about the pressure on millennials to find ever-elusive fulfillment. I have to say though, I’m actually very content and fulfilled with my life. But since I was a kid I’ve struggled horribly with boredom. Now, with a toddler, graphic design work, this blog, and friends nearby ready for park play dates at any moment, I’ve been able to keep this propensity toward restlessness in check quite nicely.

But, this morning as my son was eating breakfast, I felt an urge to sap some of my boredom so I grabbed my Kindle Fire and looked up Pinterest to see what was new as I finished up my coffee. Expecting to…

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Generation Y, Millennials, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Civic generations + Pressure

A generational cycles theory – inspired pop
culture perspective on how context may be similar but resulting behaviors perceived differently..

So-Called Millennial

MAD MEN DREAMS

I finally caught upon Mad Men the other day on Netflix, and sometimes when I watch an episode it’s at the front of my mind that, like millennials, the GI generation has been labeled a Civic generation by authors Neil Howe and William Strauss. The idea that millennials are categorized as the same archetype of Don Draper & friends is probably counter-intuitive to most millennials.

In an episode of Season 5, Don Draper attends a modern theater show called America Hurrah, and is offended when the play calls out the emptiness of consumerism. America Hurrah (NYDaily News) was “extremely controversial” at the time, and “helped usher in a breed of theater that was experimental, political and in-your-face,” according to Cynthia Harris, who was part of the original production.

Mad Men is today’s great social commentary that documents the slow unraveling of post-WWII culture. Aspirations of the age…

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Categories: Art, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Generation Y, Millennials, pop culture, sociology, Trends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

From my perspective, this is not an accurate portrait of generational life stage value, but rather paints an almost ethnographic portrait of a naive and privileged subculture…especially when you throw in an ironic Instagram feed ( ironic because sometime soon the kids posting will realize their own misinformed douche-ness).

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Emerging Workforce, Generation Y, labeling theory, middle class, Millennials, Narcissists, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment

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