Having studied millennials for years and been in the millennial industry for as long as we have, we thought it our duty to develop this guide. We have worked tirelessly for 3 months doing the relevant research and putting this information together. This information is meant to teach non-millennials about the actions of millennials, to assist those who want to become millennials in offering knowledge on how to do so and, most importantly, to offer existing millennials a platform for introspection and personal as well as generational development. Do enjoy and share to anybody who may find this guide more helpful than #problematic.
Lesson 1…The Insult
Lesson 2…The Condescension
Lesson 3…The Network
Lesson 4…Appropriating Fame
Lesson 5…Like Yourself
Lesson 7…Nothing is Worth Doing Unless You’re Seen to be Doing It
Lesson 8…The Demise of Content
Lesson 9…Being #Blessed
Lesson 10…Conform to Diversity
Lesson 1…The Insult
The millennial adores validation. A good insult should take that away from them. Moreover, the typical millennial justifies existence by superficial aspects granted by their peers. These generally come in the form of likes. Unfortunately, this has become such second nature to the millennial that in their conscious mind, likes are not linked to the aforementioned validation. This allows the millennial to cheat the system with such ideas as #likeforlikeand #follow4follow effectively purchasing validation by granting it to others, all the while convincing themselves that such validation is genuine.
The system has caught on to this and afforded the millennial an even more effective way of gathering attention, the hashtag…a method of being seen even by those who do not follow you.
To the millennial this has developed an expectation whereby the number of hashtags should be directly proportional to number of likes acquired on a post. When this proportionality is disturbed, it mentally harms the millennial and subjects them to severe emotional strain, often leading to deletion of the post or a, more risky, addition of multiple hashtags in the comments in a desperate attempt to gain likes (read validation). Sometimes this works but often fails leaving the millennial too ashamed to post another selfie with a pseudo-inspirational unrelated caption (often along the lines of “be your best self today”) for at least another 30 minutes.
Reducing aspects to writing is also powerful as reading is less rewarding to the millennial than most other generations. As a result, if the millennial takes the time to read something and is not gratified instantly by it, they will be upset and likely remember the upsetting words significantly longer (primarily in an attempt to rewrite them when telling the world how upset they are).
When insulting the millennial, one should strive to crescendo all of these considerations by removing the validation and associating what gives the millennial validation with the entirety of their existence.
Informing a millennial that their life has more hashtags than likes promptly indicates to the millennial that everything they have set out to achieve has been an insurmountable failure and by extension, they have failed at their life’s purpose.
We are yet to meet the millennial who has recovered from such harsh criticism.
Lesson 2…The Condescension
Millennials will never tell you but they’re all very insecure people. In an age of social media, it’s strangely easy to be envious of your peers’ achievements even if such achievements don’t relate to your goals in any way.
There have been many junior Springboks who see their former school mates making it to the second round of master chef and, even though they couldn’t care about the difference between cheddar and mozzarella, they still let the green overshadow the gold.
It doesn’t matter what the achievement is, when the millennial sees their peers achieving, it activates an awkward feeling of inconsequential existence. Indeed, the millennial could counter these feelings by means of pursuing achievement but unless they’re really good at Counter-Strike or DOTA2, their achievements will be made to seem pale in comparison.
The millennial has evolved to develop a defense mechanism which is seemingly an extension of Gen-Y’s “fake it until you make it” phenomenon.
The gist is that, because it had become well established in the millennial mind that existential value is a comparative value, there are two ways, in real terms to increase one’s value.
The first way is to simply increase one’s value nominally by working hard, reading books and seeking meaningful experiences. This method, however, involves significant effort and tends not to appeal to the millennial.
The second, and more attractive way, is to drop the value of their peers thereby increasing their own value in comparative real terms despite not making any difference to it in nominal terms.
This is done by the millennial insinuating that they harbour more knowledge and, by extension, a legitimate claim to draw breath over their peers. This insinuation comes in various forms but none is more powerful than the condescension.
The millennial has yet to fully grasp the entire methodology of condescension but has a firm grasp of the most surreptitious, underhanded factor…prefixing sentences.
By beginning sentences with phrases such as, “Of course…”, “Obviously…” and “You’ll note that…” etc, the millennial implies to their peers that not only do they harbour more knowledge but that what is to follow will be a gracious and gratuitous share of this knowledge. While sharing of knowledge is indeed important, the effect of this tone informs the receiver of the knowledge that they are less than the imparter thereof and despite being granted the knowledge, they only have it because it was given to them by another.
The millennial uses this to their advantage in order to overcome their own insecurities and impress upon themselves and their peers that they have value.
Of course, it also doesn’t hurt the millennial to appropriate the authority of an institution by donning the institution’s regalia while imparting knowledge regardless whether said millennial attended the respective institution. Standing in front of books helps too.
Lesson 3…The Network
While grandparents lament millennials’ phones out around the Sunday lunch table, they fail to understand the importance of being connected in today’s world. Unfortunately, before Milled, lesser millennial analysis indoctrinated the senior generations with the simplistic idea that being constantly connected is merely a result of the FOMO (or “fear of missing out”). In reality, the issue is more intricate than that.
As in our previous lesson, the millennial has borrowed from GenY in formulating it’s philosophy of networking. In this case, they have taken the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and appended “…and who knows you know them!” to the end of it.
To the millennial, it is easy to network in the old sense of the word. A simple Facebook add and you’re connected to the person. Similarly, because number of friends matter, the millennial on the other side has the incentive to accept as many friends as possible. The value of knowing people therefore holds less weight than it did a decade ago and the typical networking as you’ve come to know it is now defunct.
Everybody is connected and as the 7 degrees of separation becomes ever smaller, the millennial has had to review their strategy in networking and has done so quite remarkably.
Networking is now no longer a matter of who you know but also how you know them and who knows you know them. The millennial has become only as valuable as who they’re able to bring to a party/company/job. To gain recognition the millennial has to be seen to know a valuable person intimately even when the extent of their friendship is based entirely on the internet.
To this end the millennial needs to remain connected at all times. When Skwatta Camp drops a new single, the millennial must be of the first to share it. When Eusebius posts a status, the millennial must be the first to comment substantially. This phenomenon is evidenced by a celebrity posting a 20 paragraph status and receiving 100 likes, 30 comments and 20 shares within 40 seconds. The millennial must be seen to be the most well connected in substance and in form and their peers must want to invite them to the bar in the hope that they’d bring their friends.
The millennial is fickle though and realizes that peoples’ popularity and use of association holds a lifespan. This is why a post from the likes of somebody like a vice-chancellor would fetch hundreds more likes once they are inaugurated than the same post would fetch a month before resignation.
Though it doesn’t stop there. The millennial has realized that self-sustainability is vital and out of this realization has developed the hipster culture. The hipster culture is the entrepreneurial arm of the millennial movement. The constant search for the next cool thing, and once found, the battle to make that thing cool has become the lifeblood of many millennials. Most fail. You can generally tell them apart by their deliberate and desperate attempt to bring the manbun into the fashion it never was in.
To those who do succeed though, society rewards them as the pioneers. These hipsters will always be known as the ones who started the great ideas of saxophones on skateboards, DJ’ing barefoot and drinking gin from a protein shaker.
The millennial thus cannot afford to miss any breaking news and/or event as that would involve missing an opportunity to punt their name and brand ever so closer to the value of having the ultimate network. To this end, it’s expected that the millennial will rarely be able to put down a device and disconnect. Indeed many hipsters have tried to make leaving your device the next cool thing but the mainstream millennials simply flooded the internet with lots of “lol at these hipsters”.
To take away the millennials phone, tablet and/or laptop is to take away their conduit to one of their life’s primary missions. Granny and grandpa will need to come up with a method of being happy to have the kids at the lunch table while on their phones. You’re welcome hipsters. We just gave you the next cool thing.
Lesson 4…Appropriating Fame
As discussed in previous lessons, the millennial craves fame to justify their existence. A manner in which they acquire said fame is to sponge it off others. Typically this this involves locating a person in a similar discipline and posting a photo online with that person who is more accomplished than they are in that same discipline.
To the millennial mind, this has the effect of indicating that one day they will be in the position of the more famous person in the photo. Alternatively, it is seen to indicate that the more famous person is giving “mad props” to the millennial and thus justifying their existence. What the millennial does not realise in this situation is that in turn, they are merely making the famous person disproportionally more famous and thus decreasing their odds of making it to the top as well as their own real value. Millennials are however very short term thinkers and the long terms effects of their actions are hardly a consideration.
Some millennials have a high intellect and have since caught on to this notion of celebrities needing to punt their own brand so they’ll take photos with anyone. The way to overcome this is to give the impression that you have an intimate relationship with said celebrity even if it is not true. This is done by striking any pose other than the traditional side by side photograph. Gang signs and throwing the bird are all accepted alternatives.
This is why you observe countless pictures of law clerks with judges, entry level corporate bankers with CEOs and honours students with accomplished professors at conferences. The message being sent out is one of future accomplishment similar to the American model of “haves and soon to haves”.
(We’re tempted to cite the example of Enron and its mark to market accounting system but we are here to inform, not depress#JeffSkillingIsNotAMillennialAnyway )
Because of their strength in numbers, millennials often reinforce the notion of fame when seeing such posts by making statements and comments along the following lines, “OMG you’re going to go so far!!! #success“. This is known as secondary affirmation. Similar to secondary fermentation in the beer brewing process, it leaves the product with a lower shelf life and lingering bacteria deep within.
We call upon millennials to stop this self destructive behaviour and call one another out when such photos are posted by saying something along the lines of “Lekker! Call me when you’re the important one.” If we do not unite against this scourge, all that we shall be left with is unfamous people in a futile search of the no longer existing famous people in an attempt to make themselves famous. The exercise is self-defeating.
To prove this, here is a photo of our rocking thought leader Richard Anthony Chemaly with seasoned comedian John Vlismas at the launch of Poison City Brewing in Johannesburg at The Bannister Hotel. If Richard ever makes it big in comedy it’s because he’s been blessed with the mad flava of Vlis. From this photo you’d think they’re great buddies but really they met on the night this photo was taken and Richard spent 90 seconds complimenting him on his role in the Wonderboy for President film. See? It’s just that easy to appropriate fame from those who have worked hard to get it.
Lesson 5…Like Yourself
The age of the millennial may well be considered the age of the brand. Each millennial carries with them their own brand and when the inevitable entrepreneurial spirit takes them, it makes sense that they should attempt to extend their brand onto their product.
To this end, the millennial mind has shifted to compartmentalize personality away from brand. This results in the millennial believing that they are more than a single agent.
It is these separate entities located in a single body which cause the millennial to like their own posts. To the elder generations, this is clearly confusing. The old mentality of, “obviously if they put it up there, it’s implied that they like it” requires evolution to reach the millennial standard.
When the millennial likes their own post, they are, in fact, not liking their own post. What is really occurring is that the personality of the millennial (and brand value that their personality has accrued) is lending social credit to the brand of the product. In turn, the product’s success will lead to an increased brand value of the millennial’s personality which may then be used to promote the brand of the millennial’s next venture.
This method of brand recognition has also developed the tag system for maximum reach.
No millennial will therefore ever respect a peer who does not like their own post. To the millennial, should a person not like their own post, it’s an indication that their personality does not like the brand. While to the aged, this is difficult to comprehend, to the millennial this makes perfect sense as we are all various brands inconveniently occupying single bodies.
If you want to millennial and be taken seriously as one, be certain to like your own posts with everything you have…as evidenced in the excellent millennialling in the graphic below.
As learned in all previous lessons, the millennial typically adores adoration. Unfortunately, adoration does not grow on FIFA disks, Starbucks, cellphones, whatever those things that create sound production are and other things millennials are attracted to. The millennial does however crave power and control of their own life. In turn, they self-require to control their adoration intake and must therefore control its production.
Adoration, by definition, is pointless when coming from the self so the millennial has evolved to control the adoration granted by others.
In bygone generations, individuals would strive for achievement in order to gain the adoration of their peers and others. Striving for efficiency (read minimal work for maximum gain), the millennial refuses to put in the effort required for achievement but still craves the adoration it would have derived.
To overcome this conundrum, the millennial has discovered that they are able to manipulate others into granting them the necessary adoration through social homeostasis.
Essentially what they do is deprive themselves artificially of any adoration by claiming that they do not deserve adoration. This causes a gross loss in adoration. Seeing this and sensing the #problematic situation of the said millennial, others, from varying generations, come to the aide of the millennial saying things like, “No! Don’t say that”, “We value you” and “Let’s go for a drink! I miss you!”.
In turn this causes a point of neutrality as the self-deprecation is cancelled out through the process of homeostasis by means of the response thereto.
However, and this is where it gets clever, when the millennial self-deprecates, they lose only the worth of one person’s value. When the adoration comes in, it comes in from varying and multiple sources. In turn, responses from two or more people result in a net gain of adoration.
The millennial has therefore learned to adapt accordingly and by means of self-deprecation has found a method of artificially creating adoration without the effort of pursuing achievement.
Lesson 7…Nothing is Worth Doing Unless You’re Seen to be Doing It
This may come as an obvious observation to many though the extent of its application is often under-considered. The oneupsmanship of the millennial generation knows no bounds and is deeply rooted in the desire to show as many people how relevant one is even in instances where communication can (and historically should) be bilateral.
Companies such as WhatsApp have identified this and catered for these millennial needs by allowing for the creation of digital groups. While groups are not a new thing and have been around in various forms from the days of IRC (a concept foreign to the millennials), the WhatsApp group is ergonomically conducive to disseminating unnecessary information to those who do not need it.
In the 90s, rave parties accommodated the GenX desires to take dancing “like a freak” out of the bedroom and into the public domain. The 2000s saw Idols accommodating GenY obsessions with taking singing out of the shower and placing it in the public domain. Today, WhatsApp exploits millennial compulsion to say “Happy Birthday” to one friend/acquaintance while having between 1 and 256 others notice that the relevant millennial wished a mutual friend/acquaintance before them.
The theory behind this phenomena is quite riveting. Initially the show of care acts to inform the others in the group that the relevant millennial cares more about their friends/acquaintances than the others but expanded further, it also serves as a reminder to the others in the group to wish the birthday person. Insodoing, the millennial artificially creates relevance for themselves by acting as a reminder which could potentially be fueled by a private message along the lines of “Hey!!! Thanks for reminding that it was [X]’s birthday. I had forgotten”
The millennial loves relevance in any form as discussed in previous lessons and any platform which accommodates this pursuit of relevance will immediately find value in the life of the millennial. At the dawn of the millennial awakening, it was enough to simply publish news about ones life to as broad an audience as possible but today, as the millennial has evolved, so too has their strategic implementation of dissemination of information.
This is why, in many instances, one would find that a millennial belonging to a number of groups would post information about an impressive activity that they are undertaking in a group wholly irrelevant to that activity yet containing a (usually attractive) person whom the millennial is attempting to surreptitiously gain the positive attention of. While most millennials see through this, this attempt at gaining attention is generally welcomed as an appropriate manner of attracting a person and in many instances makes said person feel special despite the desperate concealment using the phrase, “soz, wrng group”.
It is uncertain how this evolution in being seen to be relevant will transpire in future but it remains to be noted that in order to understand the actions of the millennial, one must understand that they are performing actions to be seen and, as will be discussed in the following lesson, the content of those actions is becoming increasingly less relevant.
Lesson 8…The Demise of Content
There are two primary factors driving how we receive information in 2016; platforms and the content that fills them. The more platforms that there are, the higher the demand for content to fill them. However, the more people who produce content, the more there will be demand for platforms to place such content.
The millennial has discovered that everybody is a content producer. To this end, the millennial has (through the maximum outcome form minimal work analysed previously) discovered that with all the platforms available to place content, there is no need to dedicate effort to creating such content.
This has the effect of producing content for its own sake. For example, the stock 5 questions bloggers send to interviewing bands can be universally applied and allow for more interviews, allowing for more clicks:
“1: Who are your influences?
2: What’s your favourite venue?
3: When are you releasing your next album?
4: Did you ever think you’d make it this far? How does it feel?
5: What’s next for you?”
Of course, this has since evolved and the millennial now values the ability to create content (it does, after all, drive relevance) regardless of what is included in that content.
This is why the internet is full of posts of honeymooners sitting in an American franchise restaurant in Bali and people who cannot swim checking in to the Great Barrier Reef. Content is driven by the ability of media to show that the content producer is better at the game of life than the content reader.
In turn, the content producer need only show that they have had opportunities that the reader has not…and whatever they do with such opportunity is irrelevant.
The opportunity to interview a fantastic musical artist is far more valuable to the millennial than the actual substance of the interview. The opportunity to travel abroad is more boast-worthy than doing anything substantially local at the destination. The opportunity to get selfies with CEOs might not be more valuable than networking with them but it is certainly easier and probably the most value one will get out of them.
Content is a strange beast and millennials are slow to criticize, evaluate and consider content. Instead, they take a surface level approach and only elicit the opportunities of the content creator from the content and not the substance of the content itself.
With an infinite amount of space to hold content and a value system that encourages disagreement with no discernible concern for an end or the factual truth, it’s easy to see why the millennial does not waste time with creating thought-out content but rather simply puts out as much as possible. This maximal putting out strategy of the millennial has not only become a social survival technique but also a means of generating wealth from something as simple as a click, view and/or share.
This photo of our Richard Anthony Chemaly being labelled as a legal strategist on national television and commenting on a subject he probably has no knowledge of, taken by a friend and posted to social media receiving over 100 likes is an excellent example of the depths to which content has fallen.
Lesson 9…Being #Blessed
Humility is not the forté of the millennial as much as the millennial would like you to believe that they are humble. There is a clear desire to come across as humble yet a desperate need to publish every achievement to maximize social relevance.
Millennials are adverse to bragging as value gained from self acclaim is less than when afforded by others. To circumvent this, the millennial must create a platform attracting praise for achievement without seeming to request it.
The millennial has cleverly developed a solution to what would otherwise be an impossible reconciliation of self-absorption and humility; the millennial is able to boast without directly boasting. In fact, the millennial has developed the uncanny ability to boast all over social media vicariously. They do it in one of the following three ways
The millennial indicates that they are grateful to another person for being there for them as they have achieved a particular achievement. In this manner, the millennial disguises their boast as a sign of endearment although the ultimate aim is not to indicate gratitude but rather disseminate information regarding the achievement to the rest of the world. These posts generally manifest in the form of: “I’m so grateful to my loving partner/parent/s/family/friend/s. Without you I would have never have …”
The check-in is a very powerful tool to the millennial. Instead of boasting of their success, the millennial make use of the connotations of particular locations to indicate their achievement. This manifests in consistent posts coming from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Pinocchio Pizza, Boston and Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. It is expected that the receiver of the boast realises the connotations inferred therefore this is probably the most subtle manner of boasting and it takes a seriously skilled millennial to use this method to full effect.
The most common method is simply blurting out the achievement followed by a hashtag indicating that the achievement is not your own but that of a higher power. The favoured hastags in these instances include, but are not limited to, #Blessed, #LookAtGod, #FavouredByGod. We are still researching this phenomenon and therefore do not yet understand why fellow millennials do not respond by taking offence at their peers effectively claiming that God finds them more relevant than themselves but a significant amount of funding has been dedicated to this study.
The most skilled millennials are able to do the subtle combination to maximise humility in boasting but these skills are reserved for the most serious of millennial academics.
Some millennials are however incompetent at this skill and mismatch the placings of the various strategies, often posting photos of cars claiming to be grateful to a loved one for being there with them allowing them to get the car. Perhaps they may even throw in a #Blessed to thank a higher power for gracing them with a Toyota Tazz. Indeed, this adopts the strategy but even a millennial 2.0 could dismantle that and realise that it lacks the requisite congruency.
Lesson 10…Conform to Diversity
To remain relevant, the millennial must distinguish themselves from their peers. I pause here to claim that they need not necessarily distinguish themselves but chose to as the only alternative to gaining a similar effect is to work and exist in the realm of the #privileged. For a long while, the pursuit of distinction was noble as years of entrenched prejudice on the grounds of, inter alia, race, sexuality, gender, economic circumstances and history could only be fought upon identifying the divisive factors.
Owing to the success of such a pursuit, a new type of millennial was born; the social justice warrior! It is these social justice warriors, or SJWs as they have been called, who continue to punt their relevance by developing, panelbeating and abusing adjectives to maintain their semblance of relevance to the outside world.
They will argue that nobody is in a position to tell them which adjectives to use least of all a cis white hetero-normative [alpha?] male which allows them to continue their pursuit for definitive adjectives.
Unfortunately, definitive adjectives are often ambiguous [we see what we did there], especially in instances where the adjectives are created at the grassroots level after foregoing to the colonial Oxford English Dictionary. This had led to confusion amongst the SJW ranks and the broader millennial population and sparked something of a generational civil war. They fight on interpretation of these adjectives as each millennial holds an interest on whether they fit in a particular category or not. Instead of the gory wars of old, this one is fought on terrain familiar to the millennial; social media. Because the terrain is so familiar to all sides, the battles have been enlightening to observe.
One need only join a Facebook group related to some cause or follow a hashtag to witness the millennial civil war in action. Often the battles manifest themselves in the form of who is the most victimized group, can we further distinguish people within a group to identify various victimization, the method of taking down the system, which systems need to be taken down etc. Many millennials (and those of other generations who have succumbed the the millennial desires of relevance) spend countless hours battling among themselves to a point where those who they are ultimately plotting to go to battle with are, more often than not, unaffected.
The millennial desire to identify diversity and pursue it as a means gain specificity in thought has not only led to questions like “but what do you mean by transformation?”, “What is decolonization and how does it happen?”, “Is Mr Bean #problematic?” being vigorously debated internally but also externally.
To curb these battles, the SJW has come up with an ingenious manner to expedite their process by developing the term “problematic” which effectively has no meaning but can be applied generally to great effect. In pandering to the generation, even giants such as John Oliver have succumbed to using the term. Once a situation has been declared problematic, it is a call for others to join the conversation and either lend their keystrokes to supporting the classification or defend the situation as being non-problematic. Alas, because “problematic” has no definitive meaning, the decision on whether to support or not is often based on whether one likes the person who called to arms and/or whether having them in your camp will be of use to you in future. Many previously privileged (although usually still far more privileged than they may be willing to admit) often take up the offer to gain favour from their less privileged peers in the millennials’ take on previous generations’ “I’m just doing this in case the Bible is right because if it’s right I go to heaven but if it’s wrong I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Ultimately, the millennial loves to be distinguished but insodoing create new classes of uniformity, be it going to the gym to document their gains or working hard post an instagram of their new Rolex, to having “squad goals” for their very unique squad taken from a BuzzFeed post shared 20000 times.
The millennial likes to think that they are a generation of individuals but really, they’re a generation of could be individuals who simply opt not to be. Sticking together as a generation extends only as far as the squad and sometimes not even that far. It’s unfortunate because the millennial is a powerful mind yet lacks certain introspection. We find this #problematic and odd since the millennial is obsessed with the self(ie). We suspect that the prospect of introspection terrifies the millennial. We therefore compel all millennials to take a moment and reflect on the above ten lessons and think how they could come together as a generation. We all need to do better and fortunately for the millennials, Milled is here to help