Millennials. Commonly describing a group of people reaching adulthood by the turn of the 21st century. I am a prime example of a millennial, currently in my 20s, jumping from one job to another to another in the span of five years. Your typical millennial, as some would say.
Who are the millennials?
It’s easy enough to define a bunch of millennials by clumping people together according to the range of years they were born in, and derive a conclusion from what they all have in common.
Millennials are the most diverse generation to date. We are the most racially and ethnically diverse, which perhaps make us the most open-minded generation. We are highly educated, easily accepting changes and are really optimistic about our future.
On the other hand, millennials aren’t really big on labels. In fact, we often shrug the term off — it’s no big deal, it’s just a label. We’re usually associated with negative terms such as being too self-absorbed, greedy and wasteful. Instead of rebutting the claim, millennials have somewhat embraced the terms — but still charging ahead towards the world to do what we want to do rather than waste our time defending ourselves from such claims.
Millennials are digital natives
Millennials are known to grow up in a world full of electronics, knowing how to “speak” the digital language of computers, video games and social media. Despite the fact that people who were born before the digital age were actually the inventors and developers of the digital technology — it’s the millennials who are able to utilise and quickly adapt to new technology while “digital immigrants” are believed to be less quick to accommodate to.
Because of this ever-growing transition from paper to digitisation, there are certain shifts and mind-set changes that millennials have brought into the world in terms of education, work and lifestyle.
Shaping the education for millennials was a tremendous change as technology was evolving so quickly. School consisted of lessons being taught with the assistance of overhead projectors transitioning fairly quickly to digital video projectors. Interactive whiteboards were introduced, sometimes being used, sometimes not. Educators had to let go of traditional methods of teaching and grasp the notion that digital native millennials were intuitive learners who would benefit from interactive learning.
Syllabuses are reshaped and refined to suit for a blended learning environment where it’s not highly focused on the teacher, but an equilibrium of student and teacher interaction with the integration of technology.
The working life of a digital native is now vastly charged with technology. Much like the area of education, the working environment will be steeped in digital technology that it will become a hybrid. In the next ten years, the working place will have a change in environment. Baby boomers will retire and the bulk of the workforce will be made up of millennials. There will definitely be a structural shift in hierarchy, and possibly, the workplace will evolve into an ecosystem rather than a centralised company. That is to say, authority and decision-making won’t travel from top to bottom, but from tiny self-organising teams that make up one whole company.
Being digital native millennials, whether we realised it or not, have shaped our lifestyle that’s comprised of communication and connections. We’ve spent hours being connected to one another through the Internet, texting and even through video games. American writer, Marc Prensky, who popularised the term “digital native” and “digital immigrants”, theorises that the way we process information is different from our older peers, able to digest information quickly in a networked setting. Prensky concludes that our brain is being rewired fundamentally and whether we’re aware of it or not, these changes will disrupt tradition and transform into something wholly fast-paced and efficient.
In the end, digital millennials often get bad rep for being spoiled narcissists or reckless delinquents — but surely you can’t ignore the change and progress that’s being brought forth because of us. We’re the new normal. And we all know there’s no stopping change.