This hashtag loving, emoji-using generation may seem narcissistic and obsessed with instant gratification, but the millennials and Gen Z are heralding a new world order—and a cooler, kinder one at that.
For starters, we have an entirely new vocabulary to describe them and what they do. They are digital natives who work in the gig economy, never having known a world without smartphones and viral connectivity. In the US alone, they are the largest generation, swiftly dethroning the Baby Boomers. And world over, each country’s social currency and pop-cultural soft power is defined by this brat-pack generation, powerful in its digital universe of common ideals and egalitarianism. This generation’s world view has been defined by global events experienced in real time, opinions synchronised by Instagram hashtags and Twitter handles, making their parents’ generation wonder if they are indeed not millennials but Martians.
Technology is embedded in their lives and has become the guiding force in the way they toggle between the digital and real worlds. Jobs? That’s “so like, yesterday,” they will tell you. They do gigs, floating from one job to another, as they cross-pollinate ideas and mash up creative and professional disciplines. They live the ultimate hybrid and hyphenated lives.
Constant connectivity and sharing of information and opinions on social media have allowed for a level of cultural integration never seen before. No matter which country you go to, millennials and Gen Z seem to look the same. They are tech-savvy, liberal, educated and opinionated. They are also politically progressive and deeply engaged in social issues of our times. Yet they are particularly individualistic, defining their personality in clothes and styles that make them stand out and stand up for a world of diversity and acceptance, whether you are gender-proud or gender-fluid, fashion victim or fashion activist.
One of the most impactful consequences of this global connectivity is that they have a deep sense of individual worth and a singular voice, allowing them to meander through life with a strong sense of social empathy and a desire to change the world.
To throw a little light into their complex world, we invited eight young peeps to ask them what sets them apart, and if their online chatter translates to offline impact.