We've heard it many times before. What distinguishes the millennial generation from those before it? An over-emphasis on "me." I attended a generational diversity training recently at UC Berkeley that aimed in many ways to explain this group that is commonly understood to have been born between 1981 and 2000. This population grew up during 9/11, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Obama administration, DVDs, DVRs, Facebook, and iEverything. Having had the great honor of writing articles pertaining to the millennial generation for the last year in my Millennial Media blog, here are the top 10 articles that struck a chord with the highest reads. Click on the headlines below to read more.
1) Exotic Beauty Part I
As one of the values commonly associated with millennials is diversity, it is not surprising that this article would hit high marks. In it, I discuss the idea the intersection of beauty and discrimination.
2) Hookups and Friends With Benefits
Socialibity is another common value associated with millennials. As such, partying behaviors, fluid cross-sex relationships, and substance abuse often collide to create potentially problematic interactions.
3) Do Nice Guys (and Girls) Finish Last?
As Generation Y is entering the job market at the time of a major economic downturn, it is understandable that factors related to income would be of interest to this group. Do nice people always finish last? In terms of income, possibly. Though that is not necessarily the end-all, for this generation income is still a necessity. That said, morality and collaboration are other values associated with millennials, potentially making this argument more relevant and interesting.
4) Exotic Beauty Part II
Once again cross-cultural and beauty issues collide, as we explore the phenomena of the "Asian Fetish." Though this article was posted a little while back, comments are still coming in from readers debating the issues that are explored.
5) Can Deleting Facebook Friends Make You Happier?
Apparently, the answer is a resounding yes. Multi-tasking is another trait commonly associated with millennials. Yet, it's clear that too many connections and activities can start to become overwhelming and wear away at individuals, including our millennials.
6) Texting Etiquette
Texting emerged during the lifespan of this generation. Its "do's" and "don'ts" were never really explored as this was not a technology millennials were socialized around. Our parents may have taught us to not put our elbows on tables, say "please" and "thank you," but never did they say, "honey, you might want to end that text with an LOL so they know you were joking."
7) Those Kardashians
Reality television is also a hallmark of the viewing habits of this generation. "Real" reality, staged reality and everything in between has been on the tube for this group. As glitz and glamour has been of special appeal to Generation Y (think bedazzler), the Kardashians are essentially reality royalty. Despite Barbara Walters (from a generation with a whole different set of values) telling them they possessed no real talent, they still seem to reign supreme.
One of the greatest tragedies in U.S. history was experienced directly by millennials who grew up with the images of the twin towers collapsing. A millennial myself, I distinctly recall watching television in classes all day long, searching to make meaning of this horrible event. While the nation mourned, a new "enemy" group emerged, and often young Muslim Americans were caught in the crossfire.
9) The Bachelor as Anti-Evolutionary
One man, twenty-five roses. Who will get the final rose? Enough said.
10) I'm Sexy and I Know It
The title borrowed from an LMFAO song pokes fun at infomercials and many style faux paus. Then again, maybe Pajama Jeans will become a thing. Until then, at least we know the fashion industry has our back in the event that one day pants become knee-cap optional again, or if turtlenecks suddenly have a gaping hole in the front in the name of "fashion."
It's been said that Generation Y is one that was raised on too much self-esteem, and not enough of a reality check. Who knows, maybe that's why reality television has had such a draw. That said, the particular concerns of this group have often been over-simplified. Millennials have grown up during a time of too many options and too much technology. How is it possible to be content with your life as anything less than a rockstar or a six-digit income when you are bombarded by images that suggest happiness comes from these external material goods? This generation is entering the job market at a time when attending an elite college was more important than knowing how to afford it. Depression and anxiety abound for a number of reasons. Not only do so many options and comparisons lead to confusion, but we are constantly given more information to process.
I believe that in actuality, millennials were raised with a superficial understanding of self-esteem, rather than a genuine one. Good job on that coloring project, but your classmate at the other table might be doing a better job, so next time try to stay in the lines a little bit better. If millennials had such high self-esteem, then wouldn't they be taking huge risks and coloring outside of the lines? Would they be swayed by the messages of previous generations that factors such as marriage, children, and stability are what matter most? Millennials have been exposed to a lot. What will they chose to do with it? In time, we'll find out.
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