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World, stop trying to make “Millennial” happen.

By , on January 20, 2015 at 9:30 am

Okay, this one has been bothering me for a while. Recently, but honestly it seems like forever, there has been an influx of “Millennial”-related content being produced. They’re stupid, they’re smart, they’re different! They hate authority! They value free time! They just want to find themselves! They’re screwed! We’ve read it all.

millennials not a thing

Any ounce of critical reasoning will tell you that if you are trying to evaluate a “generation” of people that spans over 25 years… (early 1980s to 2000s), you’re not going to get very accurate insights. People younger than me (25) are very different than people exactly my age. Adults five years older than me are equally different. Technology has exploded and “Millennials” orbit different moments in that chronology—some spin much closer to giants like Twitter and Facebook, and others are more fluent with newer platforms like WhatsApp or Keek (I hear tweens use this a lot? It scares me).

The reality is…it’s a much more complex landscape than ever portrayed in the media. Tech development and trends move at such a rapid pace…one year makes an enormous difference. These evolutions are only starting to be documented. I’d argue that—when it comes to social media—this diverse landscape has pulled people closer to the behavioral habits of their immediate peers.

My friends and I marvel at apps we’ve never heard of / think are stupid / are jealous we don’t understand. Similarly, people slightly older than me (one reference point I always use is Year Of Facebook Adoption [YOFA]) exhibit what I find to be hilarious social media habits. You really can only write about these behavioral nuances and micro-trends if you are actually experiencing them firsthand. Luckily (or unluckily), we’re all aging and new, young writers are starting to make their natural courses into media. They bring an important, more accurate, more intimate perspective on social media—one that’s grounded in experience. But this is more than just a stupid label, it’s about user experience, design aesthetics, habit-forming behaviors and the future of technology.

If we want to design and think better about the future of social media, we need to more rigorously acknowledge and articulate the nuances of its primary audience.

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Categories: Features, Industry News, Research