Advertising
Advertising

Dear Millennials: It’s Not Your Fault

Dear Millennials: It’s Not Your Fault

If, like me, you are of the generation born after 1984 dubbed “Millennials” or “Gen Y”, I owe you my sincerest apologies.

You belong to an imposed demographic accused of being tough to manage, narcissistic, entitled, self-interested, unfocused, and lazy – aka, every young person ever in the history of mankind. So it’ll pass. Your bad rap won’t follow you into retirement – if you make it there.

You confound leadership. When asked what you want, you reply, “Make an impact, work in a place with purpose, free food, and bean bags.” Yet for some reason you’re still not happy.

There’s a missing piece.

“Entitled is the big one,” motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek says in his recent Inside Quest interview on Millennials in the workplace.[1] A speaker for modern leadership, he goes on to explain why new Millennials confound old methods and what can be done about it.

Sinek breaks the blame down into four categories:

  1. Parenting,
  2. Technology
  3. Impatience
  4. Environment

1. Parenting

Helicopter moms, participation awards – the generation that could do no wrong and were told they could grow up to be absolutely anything are then confronted with a whole lot of real world nothing. Enter apathy.

Millennials grew up subject to failed parenting strategies and are a generation of kids told that they were special, and given the constant messaging that they can have anything they want in life – just because they want it.

It was a strange time to grow up in where higher grades were often awarded because parents complained, and everyone received all-inclusive participation medals just for being there. Medals that scientific studies have since proven to devalue the reward itself and makes the person who comes in last embarrassed and feel worse. So, that backfired.

Consider the upbringing mentioned above and then being thrust into the working world, a harsh place where surprisingly, despite what the past formative years would have you believe, you get nothing for coming in last, and can’t have something just because you want it.

In his illuminating discussion on this topic, Simon Sinek dubs Millennials as “an entire generation that is growing up with lower self-esteem than previous generations. Through no fault of their own. They were just dealt a bad hand.”

Advertising

2. Tech Addicts

You don’t have to shoulder all the blame for your perceived narcissism. Mark Zuckerberg can share some.

Your parents didn’t grow up on Facebook. Imagine a time before social media where dinosaurs roamed and couldn’t troll on one another to learn intimate, albeit mostly false, details about each other online.

Back in the day, people couldn’t slide into your DM’s and had to develop and learn how to pick up on actual real-time social cues – something babies miss out on now while staring at tablets in restaurants, deaf and dumb to the conversations around them. But we’ll get to how this affects our interactions later… *cue avoidance expert deflection*

The generation growing up with these social media tools are well-versed experts in putting filters on things, giving others a very limited and inaccurate scope of how their life is really going.

We create a Stepford Wives version of our lives to make ourselves feel better about it, and when we get praise for these constructed identities, the validation falls flat because it isn’t for anything we really did.

This is a generalization – there is a gold mine of comedy and art and design to follow out there – but I’m guessing your feed features more than that. It’s easier to look at the success of others and portray your own contrived image of being great than actually working at being great. And that falls into the next damaging factor to Millennials: the patience shortage.

So with the filtering for likes and creating false summaries of our lives without the balanced honesty of the bad, depression spikes. Everyone appears to be living their best #blessed life ever while being #depressed behind the scenes. Despite the majority of messaging on social media, most people don’t have it figured out.

Double Tap to Get High

Science has proven that engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. In a validating game of pitch and catch, it feels good when you send and receive a text. Nothing gives you more of a sense of accomplishment than topping 11 likes. You’ve done it. We obsess over our social online identities and deal with the trauma of being suddenly unfriended.

Dopamine makes us feel good when we smoke, drink, and gamble – in short, it’s highly addictive. There are age restrictions on the aforementioned bad habits, but not on social media and cell phones, which Sinek argues in his talk is the equivalent of opening up the liquor cabinet. It allows access to addictive numbing, as young people are going through the high stress of adolescence.

Simon goes on to explain that almost every alcoholic discovers drinking in their adolescence. When we are very young, the only approval we need is from our parents and as we go through adolescence, we make a transition to now needing the approval of our peers.

Advertising

Some discover the numbing effects of dopamine to help them cope with the stresses and anxieties of this difficult phase. Unfortunately, that becomes hardwired into their brains and for the rest of their lives when they suffer social, financial, career, and general stress.

As they grow older, too many kids don’t know how to form deep meaningful relationships. Young people admit many of their friendships are superficial. They admit that they don’t count or rely on their friends. They have fun, but know they will cancel on them if something better comes along.

Deep meaningful relationships aren’t there because they never practiced the skillset to obtain them and, worse, they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when stress shows up, they are not turning to a person they are turning to a device to social media, which offers a temporary relief.

Studies show that people who spend more time on Facebook suffer higher amounts of depression. These things are not the enemies, in a balanced life, they are fine – just like moderate alcohol consumption is okay. Too much of anything – gambling, etc. – is dangerous. While there is nothing wrong with social media and cell phones, it’s the imbalance that’s the problem.

How do you know it’s a problem? You’re sending subconscious messages that the people in the room with you aren’t important by picking up and looking at your phone at dinner, looking at your phone first thing upon waking up before saying “good morning” to your spouse or housemates, treating your devices or social media like a reflex behavior when bored – those are all red flags.

Like all addictions, these things destroy relationships and cost time and money, and generally despite the immediate reprieve, make your life worse.

All of this results in a new generation growing up with lower self-esteem that doesn’t have the coping mechanisms to appropriately deal with stress or the skills to establish and maintain deep, fulfilling relationships in real life.

3. Immediacy

Enter impatience.

Oh attention span. How long is this article? I don’t have time for this.

How many times do you tap the screen on your device to see how many minutes are left in the Netflix series you’re binging on, or the YouTube video you’re watching with another eye on another device. Seven minutes?! Ugh.

Advertising

Anything long gets a bit lost in the immediacy of the movement happening now. As explained in the last point, we want those hits of dopamine fast and back to back to back, times infinity.

It would appear now that our time is hyper-valuable and if we can’t glean the value of something within a few minutes – seconds preferably – then we’re out to find a faster source. In all this jumping from one thing to the next, do we really retain anything aside from a quickly fizzling high?

Strung out, we search for the next thing endlessly and again in times of stress, instead of reaching out to others, we turn to the escapism of Netflix. Netflix won’t let you down, bud. I get it. Binge away. I’m just as guilty.

So Simon Sinek points that we live in a time now where we can buy something on Amazon and it arrives the next day (hopefully soon by Drone, which is exciting/dooms day-ish?), watch a movie, watch a TV show – binge don’t wait week to week. Instant gratification.

Dating in an online world without all the uncomfortable fumbles and learning curves – just swipe right and you’re a stud. No learning of social coping mechanisms. Everything you want, you can have instantaneously. All you really know is instant gratification.

So it becomes a world where everything is available to you immediately.

Except for two things – job satisfaction and the strength of relationship.

Simon explains the sad news that there is (or not yet at least) no app for that. That both things require slow, meandering, uncomfortable processes.

Instant Impact Issue

Simon Sinek goes on to praise the Millennials he’s had the opportunity to work with and discuss things with as “wonderful, fantastic idealists who are hardworking and smart, but get disillusioned because they aren’t making an impact.”

It’s not that they aren’t, it’s just that the results aren’t in yet because we look for immediate results and give up if we don’t get them.

Sinek says the young people who were bemoaning the lack of impact had been at their jobs for an average of eight months and that this generation has a very abstract concept called impact and needs to learn patience.

Advertising

He goes on to say that some of the things that really really matter like love, or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self-confidence, a skill set – all of these things take time. There are of course some shortcuts but – spoiler alert – the overall journey is arduous, long, and difficult. So patience, young grasshopper.

4. Environment

Sinek wraps up his talk urging leaders to innovate the workplace environment to better suit this new generation.

He describes young fantastic kids dealt a bad hand are put in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than the kids, a system that cares more about short-term gains than long-term life. They are corporate environments that aren’t helping them build confidence or develop skills of cooperation, and fall short in helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world and finding more balance.

It isn’t offering any guidance in overcoming the need to have instant gratification and teach them the joys and impact and fulfillment you get from working hard on something for a long time, that cannot be done in a month or even a year.

We are thrusting them into these ill-suited corporate environments and the worst part is they think it’s their fault. They blame themselves. They think it’s them who can’t deal and it makes it all worse.

Simon defends Millennials, saying it’s not them, it’s the corporations, and corporate environments and total lack of leadership in our world today making them feel the way they do.

It falls to leaders in the corporate world to discover new ways to engage and encourage this generation of workers, to find innovative ways to build up confidence and teach social skills they are missing out on, and to help form trust in working relationships.

T-Swift Summation: Haters Gonna Hate x3

Don’t let the shade thrown on the time you happened to be born in get you down and don’t adopt or internalize the discrimination geared toward this generation.

In a few decades, you’ll be flinging the same cow patties at Gen Z or the iGeneration. You’ll be waxing philosophical know-how on how you lived in a simpler time when the Internet was only available externally – before the singularity.

The point is, Millennials aren’t a particular breed of impossible new species – they are simply a product of the factors listed above, growing up in an ever-evolving technological world.

#thereshopeforusyet

Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/bearded_earthling-2972455/ via pixabay.com

Reference

More by this author

Rebecca Smith

Copywriter, Freelancer, Short Fiction

The Benefits of Benevolence 4 Free Ways to Give Generously Dear Millennials: It’s Not Your Fault

Trending in Brain

1 Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think 2 How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways 3 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It) 4 How to Improve Your Brain Memory Naturally: Foods to Eat And Skip 5 15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

c021f7eaf726bd5dbe1d0771e21e9a8e

     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

    Advertising

    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

    066f12d4b43c32a9a66c692b52826153

      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

      Advertising

      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

      Advertising

      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

      da47b0582836795829a5b6b716a314f1

        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

        049da49ea55fb677185adba10795f01f

          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

          Advertising

          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

          Read Next