Vv Magazine’s Neelam Champaneri considers shifting traditions over time, and takes a closer look at how millennials are increasingly moving away from traditions.
Oh, millennials. It’s hardly news that they’re considered drastically different from the X and X/Y generation. TIME Magazine declared these 15-34 year olds the “Me Me Me” Generation, as an ode to how narcissistic they’ve become.
Older generations seem to possess a completely different mentality, marked by placing others before themselves, working hard to succeed, and following in their parents’ footsteps.
There’s a huge factor that has changed this mentality entirely: technology. The millennials have grown up alongside various technologies, and have (perhaps) fallen victim to them. Millennials are rewriting traditions, and this may be due to the sense of independence they get through the use of technologies.
Unlike previous generations, millennials don’t have to do a lot of things on their own; they have the computer for it. Everything is moving online now. The freedom they have to surf the web for help is reflected in their offline life, lending them a sense of independence from previous generations. According to TIME, “Each country’s millennials are different, but because of globalization, social media, the exporting of Western culture and the speed of change, millennials worldwide are more similar to one another than to older generations within their nations. Even in China, where family history is more important than any individual, the Internet, urbanization, and the one-child policy have created a generation as overconfident and self-involved as the Western one.”
Social influences are key to understanding why millennials are shying away from traditions. Take marriage for example. Older generations tended to marry at a much younger age. This was often due to economic standings. In many traditional cases, poor families would marry their daughter off at a very young age in exchange for money or because they couldn’t afford to take care of her. According to the Pew Research Centre, only 26% of millennials are getting married today. “When they were the age that millennials are now, 36% of Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the members of the Silent Generation were married…Most unmarried millennials (69%) say they would like to marry, but many, especially with lower levels of income and education, lack…a solid economic foundation.”
Unlike in previous generations, having children out of wedlock is a non-traditional thing that is fairly common today. “In 2012, 47% of births to women in the Millennial generation were non-marital, compared with 21% among older women. Some of this gap reflects a lifecycle effect—older women have always been less likely to give birth outside of marriage. But the gap is also driven by a shift in behaviours in recent decades. In 1996, when Gen Xers were about the same age that Millennials were in 2012, just 35% of births to that generation’s mothers were outside of marriage (compared with 15% among older women in 1996),” according to the Pew Research Centre.
Millennials are also embracing same sex and interracial relationships. Say bye-bye to nuclear, because family structures are changing, especially in diverse, western societies. 1 in 7 marriages are interracial, and 65% more children are living with same-sex parents—a significant increase over the past 15 years.
Social media has brought people together. Millennials have always been tech savvy, having grown up alongside technology rather than needing to adapt to it—they’re “digital natives.” With everyone online, people from all over the world are able to connect and get a view of other lives, and have them influence their own.
In terms of marriage and dating, there are so many websites and apps dedicated to finding that special someone that arranged marriages are slowly disappearing. I mean, arranged marriages are still common in super-traditional societies. But today, people are shifting to online platforms to find true love. There are so many new platforms to help you find a match that the input of parents is no longer needed.
However, there’s a potential pitfall to leading an online life, and it’s an argument commonly made by older generations: millennials are just becoming more narcissistic and creating this “all about me” culture.
It’s true though; when millennials were growing up, they were often rewarded with trophies and certificates in school. I still have a box full of awards, even ones for simply participating in a sport. My parents, on the other hand, believe that one should only be rewarded if they actually do something good.
Growing up like this makes it easy for millennials to put themselves in the spotlight, and that’s what social media helps them do. Millennials are branding themselves on social media platforms, with each like and follow they receive signalling approval. “55% have posted a “selfie” on a social media site; no other generation is nearly as inclined to do this. Indeed, in the new Pew Research survey, only about six-in-ten Boomers and about a third of Silents say they know what a “selfie” (a photo taken of oneself) is—though the term had acquired enough cachet to be declared the Oxford Dictionaries “word of the year” in 2013.”
Technology has officially distanced millennials from the previous generation. They’re on their phones ALL the time. It seems that it’s acceptable to use a phone in any setting at this point. According to the Washington Post, “More than three in 10 Millennials say it’s okay to use a cellphone at a family dinner, while 22 percent said it was acceptable to use a phone during a class or lecture.” Older people barely use phones (and usually not at the dinner table), or they probably still use an LG flip phone because they have no idea how a touchscreen works (Okay, that’s probably an unfair generalization).
As to exactly why this is happening, there is no exact answer. Maybe it’s as simple as: times are always changing, and we adapt to these changes, technology-driven and otherwise. Technology’s evolution parallels that of society, and it’s creating a new sense of independence (and interconnectedness) that will inevitably shape our generation, and those to come.
What do you think about the shift in traditions in the millennial generation? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.