Oh ‘Dem Kids! Decoding the Mystery of the Millennials
By AJ Marasigan
Armed with their selfie sticks, FitBits, and a full armory of smartphone applications, they tread the world with a never-before-seen sense of youthful chutzpah and clutter our Twitter feeds with their earth-shattering opinions. Such is their confidence that it becomes all too easy for us, the dinosaurs from the older generations, to dismiss them as self-entitled braggarts whose attitudes do not quite match their accomplishments, apples to apples.
Then the 2016 Presidential campaign happened, and the Millennials bared their fangs.
For the first time ever, we saw the real power of this new breed of thinkers. We saw not just a young, fledgling community, but an empowered voting bloc that had the clear and present capability to re-engineer the nation’s long standing political systems. They spoke. We listened. And then we started shaking our heads, for as well-versed as the millennials may be in current issues, they seemed to be completely out of touch with our country’s history.
Some of us ranted and rioted on social media. How could these 20-something’s be so disconnected with our nation’s past that they actually believe that the Philippines was a spring of wealth in the Martial times? It’s all too easy blame it on the fast paced technology. Living off Social Media must have distorted their perception and it clearly shows through their lack of empathy, social responsibility and utter sense of entitlement. Add to this the fact that the art of reading actual books seems to be on the decline. Perhaps this is what our society deserves for being such easy targets for click-bait articles and Buzzfeed-style news.
Funny how the way these noobs operate can be so different from the world as they know it. They Google their way out of everything. They Facebook and Tweet their every thought. They Instagram and Snap every single meal. They were raised believing that overpriced cups of coffee from international brands are acceptable in a country where there are more malls than hospitals, libraries and museums.
And to top it all off, they even had the gall to weigh in on Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, urging the nation to “Move on na bes,” as if one can actually dictate on another human’s misery. Cringe-worthy indeed, but also somewhat amusing – because despite all the harsh criticisms that we have thrown and continue to throw at them, Millennials are in fact the most involved group when it comes to socio-political issues. They may not be politically correct or factual most of the time, but because they were raised to speak their minds and have all the information and technology at their disposal, they can easily jump in on any discussion. They can form an opinion, regardless of its depth, and they can and will proudly flag it around.
According to William Straus and Neil Howe, back in 1987, Millennials were deemed to be the generation who will trail-blaze their way into the New Millennium. Like hybrids from the previous generations, they will be a better and wiser version. In the Philippines, we now know that Pinoy Millennial’s can be sub-categorized into two: the ones who were raised by the Baby Boomers and Generation X and the others who were brought up by the older Millennials.
And here’s where the line becomes muddled. You see, the older generation would say that Baby Boomers also had it easy. They may not have experienced the kind of war that the Silent Generation had to go through, but they were there when Plaza Miranda was bombed. They were adults when Marcos declared Martial Law. But then just when the whole dark era was about to come to an end, the Baby Boomers were already passing the torch to their yung’uns: Gen Xers.
Now at one point, Gen X’ers were also perceived by their predecessors to be lazy, incompetent and entitled. It’s just a vicious cycle, so it seems. Unlike their predecessors, they had the luxury of living in a more technologically advanced world. They brought mobile phones and computers into homes. They essentially took on the burden of repairing a country that came from a tumultuous era passed on to them by the Baby Boomers.
But the real problem began when the first batch of Millennials became adults. Because they were raised by a generation who went through conflicts, and probably because they have heard so much about how Martial Law was like from their parents and grandparents, they took things rather lightly. They were aware of the stories but because they were not exactly there when it happened, they somehow did not have the muscle memory nor the zeal to sustain such wisdom let alone the initiative to pass it on to the next generation.
Millennials are not lazy. Entitled and shortsighted, maybe – but certainly not lazy. In fact, this generation is very hardworking. They’re business oriented and can kick start social enterprises in the span of an afternoon. They create and innovate twice as fast. They feel entitled because they were raised that way. They lack substance and facts because, well, they were made to believe that the only way one can move is forward. The slightly older generation has neglected to equip them with enough stories, like their elders have done for them.
In a society that believes that the only way to fact-check is through Google, Older Millennials must step up to reiterate the importance of human to human connection. It’s time the world stops undermining the younger generation and starts listening and talking to them regardless of their social and political stance. It’s never too late to teach them that humanity depends on its past, present and the future.
Let us remind our youth that change is not something you vote for but something a nation does collectively. A generation must learn how to capitalize on each other’s strength and make sure everyone gets to pass on the wisdom and knowledge of this generation to the next. It’s time for the Older Millennials to step in and pave a better path for the younger ones. Forgo the negativity and rally each other on sans the labels and prejudice.
AJ Marasigan’s a social activist with political opinions that are so usually peppered with profanity that its often unprintable. She also writes about love, feminism and gender equality through poems and articles you can sometimes find at Thought Catalog, Berlin Art Parasite and Elephant Journal. She’s a social entrepreneur by profession and runs an Events Management company. She will have her own Death Star someday.