Millennial-ism: A Lifestyle Addiction And How To Fix It

I called this a lifestyle blog. In fact, an everything but the kitchen sink lifestyle blog, meaning an unfiltered reality of the way I go about my life.

The following post is a take on what the reality of a Millennial lifestyle and my hopes for the future.

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I was sitting in class a few days ago, Changing Media Business Models to be exact. A print publication from Texas spoke to us about how print isn’t dead, and just because you’re not doing what all the cool kids are doing doesn’t mean you’re a loser.

The thing all the cool kids are doing in this example is going digital. While this publication in specific does have a digital footprint, it’s not as big as you’d think a media company would have.

As a media company, essentially pitching to a room full of Millennials and soon-to-be college graduates, it was interesting to hear they were looking for print reporters instead of someone who is a wizard when it comes to the 9,863,781,012,749 forms of social media (okay, so that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point).

At the end of the company’s presentation, they asked the room what we wanted from a place of work. I responded with something the entire room seemed to agree with:

If you (corporations) don’t know everything about digital, don’t expect us to.

Yes, I grew up in the digital age, but that doesn’t mean I know Twitter’s 10 year plan or what’s included in the next three iPhone releases.

While it’s obviously fair to expect us to know what we apply for, it’s not fair to assume we know everything.

The expectation that Millennials have some sort of magic knowledge and understanding of the digital world that no one else has is stressful. While some of us know more than others, no one knows everything.

This whole “Millennials in the workplace” conversation brings up a lot of other issues that Simon Sinek discussed in an interview he did with Inside Quest.

In case you saw the duration was 15 minutes and you didn’t feel like watching that entire video (even though I recommend you do), I’ll explain the main problem Sinek found (and science backs up) about Millennials in the workplace.

Sinek: We’re addicted to our phones

Science: But really, we are addicted. Texts back, likes, favorites and shares all cause the brain to release dopamine, making us feel good. Dopamine is also released when people drink and smoke, causing them to become addicted….ergo, we are addicted to our phones.

This is the sad truth. We’re looking for validation from a screen, whether it’s likes, retweets, shares, favorites or a simple text back.

Sinek brings up that because we have cell phones, we scroll through Instagram instead of talking to co-workers while waiting for a meeting to start. We focus on finding the right filter for a picture of our food instead of enjoying a dinner with our family. We text other friends instead of enjoying the presence of the friends we’re physically spending time with.

All of this leads to superficial relationships and stress due to a lower self esteem, according to Sinek… and he’s right.

 

While it’s a problem in Millennial’s personal lives, it’s also a problem in the workplace.

Companies see Millennial’s addiction to a digital audience as a possibility to generate revenue, so they hire us. What they don’t see though, is behind that profit turning addiction, is the inability to hold personal relationships and patience…two key factors that cost companies time, money and opportunity.

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Opportunity cost:

I’ve heard people say that personality makes people more attractive. That can be applied to digital versus in-person relationships.

You can get 100 retweets on a promotional piece, but after people see it, they’re not going to spend hours over dinner with it.

What will they spend hours over dinner doing? Talking. At a restaurant.With a real person. Growing a personal relationship, building trust, and promoting a product via word of mouth instead of SEO.

 

Time cost:

While the world of digital can mean wonders for cranking out content, it something has to sacrifice, and that’s quality.

Having to train someone to be patient and take their time to think things over instead of just posting the first thing that pops into their brain comes at a cost to the company.

Companies have to find someone to train the young-blood to take their time, have patience and observe what reactions are generated.

The digital world, which focuses on the right now, while patience and careful thought can focus on the future.

 

Monetary cost:

Add opportunity loss with time loss and what do you get? Monetary loss.

While advertising on Facebook or Twitter might pull in a couple hundred bucks, talking to people in person and growing those relationships lead to trust which leads to money.

People want to invest their money in things they trust. So how can they trust someone who speaks on instinct, doesn’t value time or doesn’t think about the future as much as the right now?

Investing in people has the greatest return. So for people to invest in companies, companies need to invest in their people.

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In a perfect world, we’d be able to find the happy medium of using the digital world and physical world to gain success.

While it’ll take a long time, the only way we can get close to this ideal world is for two things to happen:

  1. The corporate world needs to stop expecting Millennials know everything. We don’t have superpowers, I promise. You don’t have to grow up with an iPhone in your hand to know how it works.
  2. Millennials need to take a chill pill. We need to put our phones down, experience the real, physical world, learn how to be patient and create strong, personal relationships.

Sinek said, “Ideas happen when our minds wander.”

So when that company asked what I want in the workplace, here’s my answer:

I want to use my knowledge of the digital world wherever I work, in whatever I end up doing… but I don’t want to be addicted to it. I want the space to wander.

That means I want to leave my phone on my desk when I leave for lunch with co-workers.

I want to close my laptop when it’s time to watch a movie with my future significant other (…or dog, let’s be real).

I want to experience that perfect balance of living in the digital and physical world.

That’s the life[style].