The Liquid World of Millennials
The world of us millennials is void of rigid structures.
- Fusion of cultures and ways of living are creating something new: It is powered by communication magic of internet and increasingly travel is becoming a staple part of life. Impermanence is the only permanent.
- After the postmodernism’s rejection of structured explanations of reality, now we live in a world of pluralism, that characterized by the intertwining flow of ideas and cultures. Old economic models are being uprooted by the new ones popping everyday due to this fusion. Digital Nomads is a new breed springing up. It’s bigger than just work. Much more fundamental than that, it is affecting how urban populations manifest themselves. The cities are liquid now. There is opposite migration happening at the same time: rural to urban and urban to semi-urban.
- The frameworks of convergence of new ideas: political, social or economic, are themselves melting down. In simpler words, the criteria with which we decide which new ideas and innovations will gain prominence, have become so malleable that we can’t ascribe their shape anymore with enough specifications. It’s almost as if, the reality of millennials has become liquid.
Populism, Socialism, Capitalism, Fascism, Liberalism: With each one of them, you can put out a explanation that is reasonably enough, reflective of our current political reality. But we aren’t in any one of them. We are in all of them and more. We are in the pluralism era. Parallel experimentation is happening all around us. We have Trump and we have Trudeau in similar, neighboring societies. We have Putin and Xi, perpetuating authoritarianism and pure socialists like Andrés Obrador (new socialist President of Mexico) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (socialist democrat of New York) popping up at the same time. Italy just got a new coalition-government with two populist parties coming together: far-left and far-right. Go Figure.
First round of globalization in 2000s left the lingering resentment in the older generation of western middle class but now we are seeing young Asian middle class wielding greater influence in all sorts of public debates and campaigns, not limited to just its increasing purchasing power. Extreme poverty is falling down sharply in most of the developing world but the balance of pie-sharing getting more skewed in favor of the 1%. All of this happening at the same time without any single major defining trend. Rather, relative small, often conflicting, trends taking shape in parallel.
Technology is keeping the millennial workers on their toes. Automation 2.0 is snatching the medium-skills job that stood as the cornerstone for previous generations, to build their lives around. Our notions of truth have long been shattered. Now Truth is only perception has become acceptable. Long-term planning is a thing of past, existing only in the plans of the mentally-conditioned ‘wards’. The Hydra that is the dream of equality, is being shattered and molded again and again. This is something not new as a phenomenon, but it has become remarkably visible for millennials due to the accelerating speed of change we are witnessing. A millennial have to be privileged to plan buying a house before entering forties. However, a millennial can afford to travel to far reaches of the world, in all the exotic places that middle-class of previous generations only could dream of.
Our lives are defined by being connected, incomplete without internet. We feel lost when we forget to carry our phones while we go out. The self-persona we have built has a part of it lodged in the virtuality of social media and it is increasingly intertwined in the whole of experience we are gathering each day, something we call life. Our memories are now in our minds as well as on the cloud. The internet is the great equalizer of our times, giving general public access to things which were barricaded not so long ago: learning, entertainment, instant communication, real-time news, virtual socializing, public campaigns for a cause, and countless business creation opportunities.
It has resulted in the decreased average intimacy of our conversations but the quantity of our conversations has exploded. The communities are so liquid now because of the internet (and travel). Each aspect of living and working are diverging into new experimental models in this sharing economy powered by the internet. It’s a new era where we can’t predict with confidence, the evolution of technology that surrounds us in our daily lives, for even next 5 years. Our reality is now liquid.
On the spectrum of Idealism to Realism
We are the unanchored generation, no coherent grand narrative of political thought hold a majority of us together. No economic model of business and employment is dominant anymore. Rather, we are emergent. We, millennials have short attention spans caused by exploding choices before us to consume. We get bored quickly. As a result, the quickly-bored generation is much more open to change: embracing and encouraging updates, innovations, experiments, even directly empowering them through crowd-sourcing and crowdfunding.
We are faced by stark realism of climate-change, international terrorism and income inequality. Nihilism is back into fashion. At the same time, we have stubborn idealists refusing to give up. The distinctness of millennials’ condition is how fluidly and rapidly, these schools of thought are exchanging their host minds. Nihilists and Realists are turning into Idealists and vice-versa in matter of weeks, not years. This rapidity of change is what is characteristically millennial.
After postmodernism of late 20th-century tore down the grand narratives of structure and ‘truth’, of both religion and science, we now look for choosing to believe. As the artificiality of politics, academia and media is exposed everyday with irony, we crave authenticity in our experience, we crave the meaning in the story of our lives that we chose to believe not based on what ‘one all-explaining grand truth’ is. We look forward to make conscious decisions with sincerity and faith in our behavior, realizing well that the current ‘reality’ is relevant only for the now and here. This earnestness is what is allowing us to stay sane and create from the conflicts of our paradoxical realities. Don’t you see the existential beauty in that?
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