The views expressed in this article are representative of the author's views and do not represent the views of Innovation Enterprise
There is a fundamental misunderstanding about what Millennials find important compared to Baby Boomers. They are closer in experience and interest to Gen X, which had already been failed by the Baby Boomer generation. These two generations see each other as reluctant allies because the world as they know it looks nothing like the bloated capitalism that defined the lives of the Baby Boomer generation.
Low Pay, High Expectations
This is going to come to a head because Millennials and those in the Gen X generation not only lack interest in commercial goods and services, they don’t have the money to pay for them in the first place. If the Baby Boomers had wanted the perfect super-consumer generation to buy their overpriced housing and unnecessary products, they’d have to pay a living wage first.
Creative Control and the Gig Economy
This general reality for Millennials and Gen X means that they have found value in things other than possessions. In order to survive, they have turned to social media to sell their own artwork and other products based on the fandoms they admire. The Magisto Report claims that 60% of Millenials depend on social media ads to drive revenue versus 27% of Baby Boomers, showing a vast disparity between the two groups. They also share money with each other and support each other via Patreon, Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms. Jobs are scarce and those that pay a decent wage are even harder to find, so Millennials have created a gig economy instead. Digital agencies and other startups are part and parcel of this new online reality.
Things of the Past
Sometimes they post about wanting an apartment with a balcony as a pipe dream, because that’s how far away this reality is for most of them. The idea that any of them could buy a house is laughable given the extreme disparity of income versus property prices. This will only lead to more problems in the future for the Baby Boomers who assumed they would be able to sell their properties onwards. Millennials don’t have money for the most part, and even though many of them attended university there are no jobs available even for those with degrees.
The Social Network
The digital world and social media are precious commodities for Millennials because this is where their marketplace exists. They have very little trust in the older ways of doing things because they remember the housing crash even though they were children at the time. Many of them are brought together by a shared fandom or interest and have created a found family of sorts on the Internet. This democratization of the creative arts also means that they have the possibility of rising to fame on their own merits rather than waiting for someone to give them permission.
There is a complete lack of understanding on the part of Baby Boomers when it comes to the commercial activities and interests of Millennials. The Magisto Report states that 88% of Millennials are interested in digital video as compared to 40% of Baby Boomers. There are hundreds of think pieces online written by Millennials themselves, and the thrust of their argument is this: we don’t trust you and you don’t pay us enough to buy your goods, so we are going to create our own economy. It’s not that Millennials dislike whatever item the news is complaining about, it’s that they have ultimately rejected being treated like a commodity.