by Richard Ramos as originally posted Who or what is the Pinoy Millennial? at the Philippine Online Chronicles.
One should suppose that it is inevitable that each generation will have unique characteristics, all of which have been shaped by what has been happening in their times. If Generation X is known for its open-minded and philosophical bent (perhaps as a result of higher living standards and a reaction to the last decades of the Cold War), then what is Generation Y – The Millennials – all about?
Getting it right
The first thing that we should qualify is: what generation exactly are we talking about? Some people think of Millennials as those who were born in the 1980’s all the way to the early 2000s. However, still others think that Millennials should only be classified as those who have not experienced a life without the Internet, or were at least in on the rise of the online community. Whatever the case may be, it seems that if you’re in your early thirties or younger, then you’re probably a Millennial, if we’re going to go by age.
So, what are the big attributes of Millennials – and more importantly, Millennial Filipinos?
Is it all about “me”?
One glaring aspect – be it positive or negative – is the Millennial trait of being concentrated on the self. In the most negative of cases, you’re talking about a certain sense of entitlement, of how everything they do is designed to turn out in their favor. Even their shallowest habit – that of taking selfies at inopportune times – can be traced to these factors. With Filipinos, this can be a cultural one-two punch, as the younger generations are no doubt less community-minded, in the sense of formal institutions like the Church, Family, or Government.
On the other hand, even if they do have a narcissistic complex, they can also be very caring when it comes to their friends. Millennials definitely exhibit extreme loyalty at times to their friends – provided their friends are the same way. While parts of these closely-knit personal networks are based on a certain amount of selfishness and a need for a “custom-built” social structure, it can’t be denied that when it comes to Millennials, friends are family.
Millennials are not very patient. All you have to do is look at your younger cousins, brothers, and other family or clan members to realize that more and more, patience is becoming a scarce virtue. And it’s no surprise – after all, everything can be found online. Information is literally on-hand, and communication is a press of a touchscreen button away.
If you think that this is an exaggeration, think of it this way: Before the advent of the Internet or even SMS messaging, people had to call each other up to make plans to go out. This actually made people prepare well, dress up well, and basically treat being with each other as valuable time. Now that the younger ones can keep track of everybody from their mobile devices, keeping in touch isn’t a matter of being face to face: seeing them onscreen is good enough. Welcome to the instantaneous world of Millennials!
Wealth and materialism
This may be a good or bad thing, but Millennials are very much aware of the need to have the means to keep their lifestyles at a level they find comfortable. On the good side, this means that many young Millennials are preparing better for their careers, and are willing to work harder and at stranger hours then the generation before them. You need look no further than the rise of the call center industry to see how much they are willing to sacrifice many things, simply to make sure they have the resources for the lives they want to lead.
On the other end of the spectrum, Millennials can also be more susceptible to falling into questionable practices because of their needs. It’s not unheard of across the generations to see young people get into drug-dealing and prostitution, but Millennials may have a higher percentage of people who go into it willingly, and without much trauma – after all, for them, it’s just another way to earn money.
If the Gen-Xers were able to detach themselves intellectually and emotionally from older institutional and cultural patterns (hence the philosophy and need to change things), Millennials have taken this to an extreme, with many of them feeling detached or alienated from major social and institutional structures. They don’t feel like religion is addressing their concerns, and the government is just bureaucracy that gets in the way. Family is at best sympathetic, at worst another social layer they simply have to withstand.
How do you deal with Millennials?
The very first thing you have to understand if you’re not a Millennial is that they have a very different way of processing information. Millennials can process a very large amount of information, but at the same time, they don’t necessarily understand the deeper meanings or connections in the information that they have. For them, they prevent information overload by not thinking too deeply about all the information that they know. Millennials definitely know more than Non-Millennials (that must be accepted if you’re going to get anywhere with them), but when it comes down to thinking things through, Millennials may not exactly be the best generation for that.
Illumination, then, is one way to connect with them. Accept that they know more stuff than you do, and that they can access information far faster than you ever can (after all, they are the first generation to master living in a world with an online component). Make them understand, however, that your experiences and your method of thinking can give you a different insight that they may have missed. If there is anything a Millennial will like to hear, it’s a properly-given point of view.
Dealing with their emotions is probably much more complicated than normal, since by nature many Millennials (Filipino ones in particular) are suspicious of the older generation. Do you remember that thing about having intense relationships with their friends? Well, if you aren’t a friend yet, then the best you can do is be a friend to them first, until you become a person that they think of as a friend – there’s a very important distinction there. However, don’t be surprised that once the door has been opened, that it can still slam shut at the slightest provocation. For many Filipino Millennials, though they hope you won’t be like the others, they will still be jaded enough to logically think that you will revert to type as one of the “oldies.”
A final understanding
In the end, understanding the Filipino Millennial is accepting that they can be very intelligent, very profound, yet at the same time very shallow, and probably yearning for something much more than they can grasp or understand immediately. And if you really want to connect with them, you will just have to know that they really are more complicated than just being the “selfie generation.”