Hello, dearest target-market readers who probably got here via Facebook or Twitter, and welcome to our inaugural installment of a new, regular feature at KQED Pop: Millennials Monthly.
Millennials, for the uninitiated, are the generational cohort made up of those born immediately after Gen X, and before — well, no one’s really figured out where the cutoff is yet. We’ll get into this some down the road; one reason so many studies on Millennials vs. other generations are nearly meaningless is that they’re comparing a much larger group of people born during a much longer span of years to a smaller and more clearly defined group.
But for our purposes, we’re going to say Millennials are people who were born sometime between the early ’80s and the mid-’90s. And if you haven’t heard — here I’m speaking to my fellow Millennials; we tend to respond well to first-person writing and a casual, familiar tone! — we Millennials are changing the world. This means that the world (the media, entertainment, food and beverage industries, the housing market, technology, political institutions, etc. ) must, in turn, change with us — if they’re going to get any of our money.
Surely the most entertaining result of this need for change is a neverending stream of studies, all conducted with a goal of determining how best to appeal to us: What do Millennials think about organic food? How are we watching TV? Why are so many us still living in our parents’ basements? As a Millennial, I often find myself clicking on these clickbait headlines and reading said studies, often on my mobile device, usually while streaming music — you know, like a Millennial. Why do I bother reading them? Probably because I’m a self-involved member of the “Me” Generation (as more than a few Millennial studies have concluded!).
But more often than not, I’m also fascinated by the breathless, anthropological tone many of these articles adopt: as though American Millennials’ behavior around money and politics and relationships and technology is taking place in a vaccuum, instead of being the direct, understandable result of having come of age during or immediately following the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. With George W. Bush as president. While new forms of technology specifically aimed at changing the way we do business and form relationships emerge and become indispensable at a previously unimaginable rate.
So! In this space, near the end of each month, I’ll be sharing some recently published findings about what we Millennials are into. Some will be thought-provoking, some will be infuriating; almost all will be entertaining (to me, the only person who matters — classic Millennial) in some way or another. Please get in touch if you spot a particularly worthy candidate for the list. Now, without further ado:
In January 2016, we learned that Millennnials are…
Socialists. Because we watched crony capitalism create unprecedented levels of income inequality. Illustrated by a requisite photo of a Millennial taking a #selfie at a Bernie Sanders rally.
But also, ruining the wine industry. Typical!
Addicted to our phones, even when watching TV. How else are we supposed to live tweet the programming that’s been designed to reach us in our language, like those way-cool Millennial YouTube stars asking questions during the last #DemDebate — which of course featured the candidates discussing issues on which focus groups have shown we Millennials will base our votes?
Totally down with therapy. Okay, this one’s a good read. “Millennials tend to be more comfortable talking about mental health issues, according to a poll released Jan. 14 by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, along with two national suicide prevention foundations. When it came to seeing a mental health professional, for instance, 48 percent of survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said that it was a sign of strength. About 35 percent of all prior generations felt the same way.”
Into home ownership as an abstract concept, but mostly also see it as an unattainable dream — especially in the Bay Area. Shocking!
Financially illiterate. I’m no economist, but this seems related to the not-having-any-money-to-begin-with thing.
Not into driving. Unless it’s for Lyft or Uber.
Godless. Or, just not big fans of organized religion. My takeaway from this study was that we question religious institutions more than previous generations (possibly because we’ve seen some of their failings?); I’d also be interested to see how many Millennials who want to discuss issues of faith and spirituality turn to the Internet to connect with other like-minded young people as opposed to joining a physical congregation. Discuss!
So scared of rejection and apparently lacking in creativity that we’re using a dating app with terrible, pre-written pickup lines. Like, uh, “This app brought us together for a reason and that reason is babies.”
Demanding more from KFC. Previous studies have noted that what we actually want is for fast food to be healthier, tastier, and offer a wider range of options — but in the meantime, yes, let’s rebrand Colonel Sanders as a “celebrity chef” and scribble something about farms on chalkboards.
Frightened? Amused? What’d we miss? Be sure to tune in next month, when we’ll share more recent findings about things you and I as Millennials like to do — studies I’ll probably read while drinking a glass of very cheap wine and checking my phone while watching TV.