As Millennials, we’ve become notoriously identified as a generation of flakes, with a complete and utter lack of respect towards the idea of commitment in all its forms. We’ve got an insatiable desire for life’s great candy instead of the doldrums of broccoli and our attention span is exponentially diminishing (so we’re told).
We’re an Uber-riding, Tinder-using, Instagram-addicted generation, high as hell on likes, comments, followers. My friends and I graduated college two years ago and have already ploughed our way through several jobs back-to-back; never staying at any one place for more than six months before seeking out our next dopamine fix.
Simon Sinek—a British-American author and marketing consultant—appeared on an episode of Inside Quest around a year ago and ‘broke the internet’ by gaining over 8 million views on YouTube The for his eloquent breakdown of the brutal reality of what being a millennial entails.
He said that millennials are viewed as “tough to manage, entitled, narcissistic, self interested, unfocused, [and] lazy …” and to justify these characteristics; he acknowledged four reasons as to why this appears to be an accurate depiction of our generation.
Firstly, he spoke about parenting. To be specific – he meant bad parenting. He went on to say that the truth is, millennials have grown up being told that we are special, and that we can have whatever we want, whenever we want. This effectively obliterates the concept of commitment, or the need to stick with something long enough to actually earn the rewards.
Technology was Sinek’s second and main point. Let’s face it, we’re a heavily addicted generation, thriving on the dopamine rushes we get from social media platforms that have been scientifically proven to be detrimental to our mental health. A study by The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology in 2014 entitled ‘Seeing everyone else’s highlight reels: How Facebook usage is linked to depressive symptoms’ explained, in detail, the side effects of seeing exclusively curated, filtered and perfected images of what life should be like all day long.
Impatience was his third point. Personally, I get frustrated if I have to wait more than two minutes for my phone to switch on when it’s charging. If the Uber takes more that 5 minutes, I consider this a catastrophe and a universal disservice, and don’t even get me started on internet speed and the importance of fast loading servers. Sinek’s point was that meaningful relationships, job satisfaction, and a genuine feeling of joy in life are all things that need a level of patience we as a generation were neither taught nor forced to acquire. We are impatient. With people in our lives, places we commit to, things we have to get done. It’s not only that we don’t want to wait for anything, it’s worse, it’s that we can’t.
Finally, Sinek pointed out that our environment plays a huge role in encouraging this lack of commitment and short attention span. If we’re all seated at the dinner table staring at our phones, how are we meant to form deep meaningful relationships in work or love or both, which may or may not lead to long-term serious commitments. Specifically on the topic of love, we have all become part of one long running endless meme about how our generation is unable to cultivate lasting love and prefer to operate sans ‘labels’.
So whether it’s that guy you met on a dating app and have been seeing for 8 months with no particular purpose, or that job you wish you could find fulfilment in but never really manage to give your all, or that Crossfit class you go to once every two months even though you paid for a yearly subscription. Stop adhering to the stereotype we’ve somehow created for ourselves as being a generation incapable of consistency. Put your phone down, look up and allow your mind to wonder. According to Sinek, these are the moments when real innovation and true enlightenment occur. When you allow yourself to detach from the clutter and finally find a little stability.