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The New Greatest Generation: Part I

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When you hear the term ‘millennial’, depending on whether you are one yourself, you may go through the typical response or thought processes associated with the word. Perhaps you’ll be under the impression that the ‘millennial’ generation is lazy, disinterested in the world, too self-interested and/ or worse than the legend of Narcissus himself. It is likely that if you are of this outlook on this young generation, you, unlike them, were not born between the 1980s and the turn of the millennium. If your reaction to the word ‘millennial’ happens to be that of the belief that they are more driven than any other generation, more influential or even incredibly in touch with themselves and are self-caring, you may be one of those who fall under the millennial band. These two differing reputations of ‘new greatest generation’ stand at odds with each other in this day and age, but what is closest to the real truth? And what does it even matter anyway?

 
The term “greatest generation” can have many different meanings depending on the generation you were born in. From generation to generation, to achieve “greatness” can be defined in many different ways. For example, if you were born in the 1920s, and entered the definitive ‘twenty-something’ age at the time of war, you may define ‘greatness’ as being involved in service on the home front during battle. For those of this generation, they define themselves as the ‘greatest’ as they endured some of the most brutal combat on the world stage in all of history. To them, their lives and efforts were truly revolutionary – therefore it is no surprise that to consider the millennial generation ‘the greatest’ is almost insulting. However, to millennials today, there are a whole host of life pressures and challenges that those born in the former half of the 1900s cannot even fathom today. 
 
The term ‘digital natives’ is used often to describe the millennial generation. If you were a 90s born kid, it is likely that you can recall the sound of dial-up internet connection and knew the pain of having to avoid using the Internet when a family member needed to use the phone line too. The millennial generation is one that has grown up with innovations in Internet, web and technology which has undoubtedly made life a lot easier than their parents or grandparents. We can recognise that some of today’s heroes include the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma and more who have been able to embrace technological change to revolutionise the way we interact with each other in a global sense. 
 
The flipside of technological advancement, however, is that it causes the pace of change to speed up rapidly and that causes an onset of stresses and anxieties that no other generation have had to tackle before. Perhaps one way in which the millennial generation copes with these new life pressures is to post far more selfies onto social media, to sit with their eyes glued to their mobile phones as they WeChat their friends from across the room. It is time to realise that these reactions to the pressures of modern day life are not as negative as they may superficially appear but indeed, shows the millennial generation to be more intelligent and savvy than many give them credit for.
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There is no getting away from the fact that the millennial generation are some of the world’s biggest consumers; biggest consumers of commodities and material goods, consumers of experiences, consumers of media and social media and otherwise. The fact that they are so connected socially to each other and issues which make up a great deal of the world agenda – no matter what the country – means that the millennial generation are also undoubtedly socially conscious. They care more for politics because social media gives them a platform to truly and honest voice their opinion and feel like someone is also listening. They can rally together around a social movement more quickly because word and news has the ability to travel far faster and much further than ever before. 
 
Even on a much smaller scale, it is hard to avoid the fact that the millennial generation, for most part, are more socially connected to each other than any other generation can claim. Why this all might matter as a topic for discussion will be covered in next month’s issue so stay tuned – but to surmise, perhaps now is the time for us to stop subjecting those of the millennial generation to such negative connotations and bad press and start realising that they are a part of the new ‘greatest generation’ now.
 
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