During the month of October, we’re exploring content focused on youth, specifically millennials and the Class of 2016. For our second post, we asked one of our interns, aka a millennial, to provide perspective on how she views her generation. Read Angelina’s thoughts below.
My millennial generation is the collaborative generation. We are LinkedIn, groupon-ed, and ready to engage our friends, family, and heck, even strangers in meaningful collective experiences. Our generation pioneered the transition from Disney’s Little Golden Books to LeapFrog learning tablets. We mastered typing on keyboards before our stubby little fingers could manage cursive, and thank goodness for that because some of us even went on to transform Internet realities across the globe. Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook at the ripe old age of 19; David Karp began working on Tumblr at 20. My fellow millennials redefined the traditional model of community, brought our lives online, and in doing so created a whole new notion of collaboration. Shared experience—we live it every day.
For me, it all started with—I kid you not—Neopets, the virtual pet community. I adopted my first Neopet in the second grade and that was my ticket into the newest frontier: the World Wide Web. I quickly learned that navigating Neopia (the Neopets utopian online universe) solo was not quite satisfying. Soon enough, I was playing caretaker to a legion of little creatures. I bartered and traded within the community for goods and Neopoints (the currency in Neopia), and was involved in several online groups and guilds. The site called for mass participation from the physical world; real-life friends and siblings forged alliances for the greater good of our pets, our homes, our guilds, and our communities. And so through virtual reality games—Neopets for me, perhaps World of Warcraft for others—my millennial generation witnessed communication and collaboration transcend spatial, temporal, and cultural boundaries. The world somehow seemed smaller and more manageable, and with infinite possibility.
As I entered my teenage years, I traded Neopia for Myspace and then very quickly switched over to Facebook. The once-prized magic Neopian paintbrushes and faeries were swapped for Lolcats and other crowd-sourced Internet memes. Eventually, I discovered musical
mash-ups and believe me, the jump from Spice Girls to Girl Talk was a profound one. Mash-ups in music are essentially assemblages of two or more tracks cut up, overlaid, and mixed into one song. The end result is a composition born of many creative iterations, sprung from the talents of many. Remix culture—engaging and immersive as it was—drew from various facets of pop culture and caught my interest at an early age.
Through high school, my peers and I mastered the art of the Google search and referenced Wikipedia for almost everything. Collective knowledge became my knowledge. Then in 2006, WikiLeaks launched and altered the landscape once more.
Social (Media) Activism
Five years later, the Egyptian Revolution successfully forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak out of office, partly due to the use of social media platforms to coordinate protests and broadcast news to a global audience. A few months after Mubarak stepped down, controversial contemporary artist Ai Weiwei was arrested by the tight-lipped Chinese government. Once again protestors, human rights activists, and art enthusiasts flooded social media—particularly Twitter, where Ai had been most active—and mobilized the masses, including even the highest order of museums: the London Tate Modern and the Guggenheim New York. In a short span of a few years, I felt the power and potential of the Internet seeping into our offline world, the energy pulsing through contemporary culture.
The millennials created this culture. We joined, we linked, and we shared. We blogged about political turmoil halfway around the world. We retweeted to give an artist-activist a voice when he was silenced by his government. We raised an entire global community on the creative juices of tech nerds and entrepreneurs, and somewhere along the way, we discovered a new definition of collaboration. No borders, no time zones, no barriers that could not be overcome—just people and their big ideas and aspirations. We are, collectively and collaboratively, the millennials.
Interested in learning more about millennials? Make sure to register for our MITX Future M session on ‘How the Class of 2016 Will Change the World of Marketing?