Older generations criticisms of millennials are increasingly unfounded
It can be argued that millennials are the most criticized generation. More often than not, this criticism stems from the generation’s use, or overuse rather, of social media and the internet. Millennials are defined as those ages 18 to 34 in 2015, according to Pew Research Center, but that information varies to represent ages 20 to 35 in certain cases. They are the generation that grew up during the growth of the Internet and had to figure out how to navigate their daily lives with access to information so readily available. The memories of playing outside after school with their neighbors until it got dark are just as fond as the memories of thinking through what profile picture to upload.
This childhood experience is why Social Media Today writer Ronnie Charrier refers to millennials as “digital natives” in his May 2016 article “Millennials And Social Media: It’s More Complicated Than You Think”.
The study Charrier dissects— done by Ispos, a market research company — found that 27 percent of millennials use Facebook less than once a week and 11 percent don’t even have an account. It also found that 54 percent don’t have a Snapchat account and 39 percent aren’t on Twitter. Though these numbers may seem low, it was found that some forms of social media have lost their appeal either because users are uninterested or are worried about privacy within these platforms. However, even though interest is decreasing and privacy concerns are increasing, social media has already made a big impact on this generation.
MySpace was founded in 2003, when millennials ranged from ages six to 22, leaving a good chunk of the generation in the ages of adolescence or approaching puberty — an integral time for personal development. According to Livestrong.com, insecurity in teens is prominent at this time because of “hormonal changes, social pressures and the environment in which a child is growing up.” The website goes on to state that one of the largest causes of insecurity is an individual’s status within their peer groups. It’s important to consider the way that social media during this time of development can affect the way an individual is perceived by their peers.
That’s the thing with social media. People pick and choose what aspects of their life they want to share with their friends and followers. Therefore, their profiles can present a life much different than reality. Although it is widely believed that social media can be a cause of insecurities, according to a 2015 Huffington Post piece, it’s possible the causation is reversed. Meaning social media is more often used by those who are already insecure. An April 2015 Union College study presented in the article found that Facebook users were either individuals with very extroverted personalities or those with attachment anxiety. Those with attachment anxiety were reported to use social media as more of a “feedback seeking” technique since they sought out positive reinforcement from their peers — just like adolescents do.
A 2013 article by The Week titled “Millennials: the insecure generation” presented a different standpoint: that the insecurity of millennials has nothing to do with social media but has everything to do with the changing society in which they grew up. More specifically, it the article focused on the decreasing opportunities available for millennials to surpass the success of their parents.
“Millennials are trapped in ‘almost a perfect storm,’ with globalization, high unemployment, and stagnant wages making it very hard for them to establish successful, stable careers,” wrote The Week staff in 2013. All of which is much scarier than not reaching 100 likes on an Instagram post. This reasoning is too often overlooked, as the behaviors of millennials seem more likely to be blamed on their mobile device obsessions than the characteristics of society that are out of their control.
It’s necessary to note that this piece, written in 2013, does not still hold completely true for millennials. But it brings up a good point: insecurities of this generation are likely backed by more than just what happens on their pixelated screens. Take, for example, the rising costs of a college education and the amount of debt many millennials find themselves with post graduation. A November 2015 TIME article titled, “College Board Says Tuition Rose Faster Than Inflation Again This Year” discussed how it is getting harder for students to get financial aid and scholarships and how because of that, tuition has spiked for many college-aged Americans. According to the article, the cost of in state tuition at public universities increased 2.9 percent from 2014 to 2015.
These numbers for private schools (like Ithaca College), have also changed significantly. According to the Ithaca College website, including room and board and without any scholarships or aid, tuition is estimated at $56,766: a number much more intimidating than one’s follower to following ratio. Millennials have bigger things to worry about besides social media related woes and it’s about time older generations consider that before jumping to conclusions.
As easy as it is to blame social media for the negative behaviors of the millennial generation, there should be more recognition of its positive impact. From MySpace to Facebook to more niche social media platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest, the atmosphere surrounding social media is constantly evolving and millennials (as lazy as our parents think we are) have been able to keep up, something that companies struggle with when trying to target their demographics. So next time a Baby Boomer or Gen X-er is blaming social media for millennial’s insecurity, be sure to post a status or tweet about why they’re wrong. Chances are, though, they won’t be able to figure out how to log on and read it themselves.
Alexis Morillo is a second-year journalism who loves Snapchat and could not care less what you have to say about that. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.