Those Awkward Millennials


Millennials. No one really knows who they are, but one thing is sure, you will know it when you see them. They will be the one staring at their phone in the grocery line because it is far too awkward to risk a conversation with those standing around them. They are the ones who, if interested in someone romantically, would rather text the aforementioned person. It would be far too awkward to directly communicate one’s interest verbally to a person of the opposite sex. They have high hopes of changing the world and making an impact on the people around them. Apparently, they are one of the few generations who have a secret plan for how to accomplish this without working too hard — after all sweating is kinda awkward. Basically, you can tell millennials apart from other people because it will be awkward, if not for you then certainly for them. No one has figured out what constitutes awkwardness in these situations but ask any millennial to tell you a story about something that happened a week ago and the story will inevitably be awkward.

I am a millennial, which given the aforementioned (that’s the second time I have used that word…hmm) description places me in a somewhat awkward situation. The good news is we are not face-to-face, and you are merely reading about the awkwardness. I have likely forgotten about it long ago and have since started working on the change-the-world-without-working-plan. [1]

Before you label me as an angsty millennial, who is mad at my “species” let me say, “I am relatively content with my birth year.” I grew up when Disney was in its prime, when parents weren’t afraid of sugar cereal, and when Scooby-Doo was still on T.V. My generation’s parents love 80s music which is personally a victory by itself. Believe me; I am glad to have been born in 1992. However, while there are many great things about being a millennial, there are also some concerning things as well.

No. I am not talking about an asteroid hitting the map in Fortnight.

What many people don’t understand is that we are in the middle of a massive experiment with an entire generation and no one knows what the results will be. I am talking about technology. In the last two decades alone there have been more significant advances in the world of technology than all of history combined. “It has been estimated that the world produced five exabytes of information in 2002. That’s the same amount of information produced from the beginning of time through the year 2000.” [2] This figure is likely hyperbole, but the point stands that we are constantly inundated with new information and technology. Unfortunately, few have stopped to consider the unintended consequences of this kind of experiment.

Those who have paused just long enough to evaluate are typically not excited about their findings — that’s awkward. Men like Neal Postman were decades before their time but accurately predicted that our society — continuing on the same trajectory — would likely amuse ourselves to death. He was right.

Cal Newport in his book titled “Deep Work,” argues that we are living in a knowledge-based society. That means successful people will be those who can produce valuable content and information — this takes concentration and intentional focus — something my generation and subsequent generations are becoming increasingly poor at. My goal in writing this is not to make you feel guilty about having a phone or to scold because you have a Facebook account. Instead, I merely want to encourage us to think discerningly about the way we interact with technology. It’s possible that the convenience promised by technology may not be worth it in every situation.

My desire is for you and me to be people who find deep satisfaction and joy from conversations with real people rather than living a life mediated through a device or social platform. If we don’t, it’s awkward to think what might happen.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank my friends Joey Freeland and Josh Smith for offering helpful feedback on this article. Seriously, they are great. It has been fun to grow as writers together. If you are a millennial and aren’t sure what you just read, feel free to share this post with a friend. Just tell them you read an awkward blog post that doesn’t really make sense, and you’d like to get their opinion. In all seriousness though, thank you for reading! 

[1] For the record, I don’t actually think we are going to pull it off.