‘They’re human mash-ups’

Audrey N. Carpio (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2014 - 12:00am

Gen X was characterized by slackers; the Millennials are the job-hoppers.

MANILA, Philippines - I was fixing something in the kitchen when I heard the TV announce a segment about the “Millennials.” It was CNN, and it was probably Richard Quest’s strange diction that made it sound like he himself was ushering in this new generation that was boldly doing so-and-so. That was the little-death knell that made me realize that I was not part of the It-Generation anymore, and it made me feel old, discarded, and unmarketable. Irrelevant.

But I had already known this anyway — I’m a 30-something-year-old mother of one whose social life mainly revolves around other mommies and babies and 9 p.m. curfews. I preferred Pinterest, undersharing, and ‘90s grungitude to the selfie-serving modes of social media, which I do enjoy vicariously (a.k.a. lurking).

So when “Millennial” became a double-edged buzzword, I realized that I could relax now, because nobody cared anymore about what Generation X was doing, or as critics would have it, not doing. Yes, I identify myself with the similarly-maligned Gen X. I was birthed during the tail end of the decade, just narrowly missing out on being born in the 1980s and thus put into the other category. It’s a matter of distinction, for me. I was sentient during the first EDSA revolution and was participatory at the second. Most importantly I remember life pre-Internet, I felt the shifts and understood that things would never be the same. The world becoming increasingly wired coincided with my awakening (meaning, going off to college and learning about stuff, becoming unsheltered), so I appreciate the early years we were able to question all this new technology, instead of accepting it so readily.

As someone whose colleagues consist of equal numbers Millennials and non-Millennials, I can say, hopefully without reverting back to stereotypes, that the kids of today are entitled, yet they know how to give back. Being community-minded comes more naturally to them, even if they have to endlessly document it for the world to see. I’ve met many people in their early 20s who have blown me away with their fearless and entrepreneurial spirit. Whereas previously, individuals would wait until they were burned out at their soul-killing jobs before turning to what really interests them. Millennials don’t wait for that —they pursue their passions right away, probably because their sense of entitlement and self-esteem give them that boost of confidence others need years of ladder-climbing to develop. A lot of start-ups, social enterprises and unconventional businesses are being helmed by under-30s whose only experience is the experience they generate. (It also helps to have supportive parental backers.)

Gen X was characterized by slackers; the Millennials are the job-hoppers. They are multi-hyphenated because they can’t be constrained by traditional labels and don’t relate to traditional systems of learning and employment. Growing up with access to so many things has, it seems, given them a form of ADD where they want to be everything at the same time and believe they can. They’re human mash-ups, good at multi-tasking, compiling Buzzfeed lists and cataloguing their thoughts, and this can go either way, imploding into dilettantism, or becoming that person who is just effing everywhere.

One last thing about Millennials that I’ve noticed is that they’re innately image-conscious and PR-ready, understandably due to the proliferation and penetration of social media. This means they tend to do fewer bad things. In public, at least, unless you’re a complete wrecking ball (and that would make you a Mileynnial, harhar). As I recall from that CNN special, they’re pretty tight with their parents and less inclined towards rebellion. They are actually good kids. And they’re having their moment now, for better or for worse, but their time will end soon enough. One day they’ll hear on their PicoAirPads that they’ve been superseded by “Z” — the pure digital natives, the generation which my now-two-year-old (who knew how to work an iPhone before she could speak) will be a mover and shaker of, for better or for worse.

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