Egypt Lately & what we can learn from it...

Friday, July 9, 2010

What it means to be "Millennial" and why it even matters...

 If it is us as Millennials who are worst hit by lack of work, which I know from personal experience at least to be somewhat true, then should we not be using what means we have to get jobs? And if we are the "technically capable society" then surely we should be utilising some of these tools available to us, which many of us may well be. Majority of population, particularly contrasting between the inclusion of baby boomers and generation Y's and the reported figures. The Millennials whilst avid users, are much less likely to integrate ICTs more broadly with other aspects of life, while baby boomers actually seem to be leading the pursuit to this end. Increasingly as the younger generations are now well and truly embedded in technology that they have not, nor will ever know a world without the internet.

Millennial Statistics

 Yet what is also increasingly disconcerting in the times of economic downturn as such is a higher level of unemployment within any particular demographic but why it is the educated and confident group who actively report to be seeking change that we are not making serious efforts to consider alternative more profitable ways of conceptualising it. Without the ability to really explore this within this review, the reference and insight which has been uncovered beyond this review (and ongoing) through Pew Research centre indicate the importance as such. While the baby boomers get ongoing and highly involved training and up skilling and the generation below are born with ability, then we really are lost?

 I know at least the members of the general public whom I have spoken to within my own personal networks, even those whom consider themselves ‘up to date with current affairs’, are completely unaware of just how close we are to the reality of an e-government. In fact a number of them seem overwhelmed and “scared” of the overall concept. Demonstration of critical importance of building the confidence of the general public, especially those whom like me fall into the “millennial” generation. As we have grown up as the “always connected” generation, maturing and coming into a world saturated with digital technology and social media (1). But rather than our intuitive perception that this has ensured our place as the “privileged generation”, these influences and trends may have just hindered our progression in the digital environment more than we widely acknowledge.

As our parents struggled with the increasingly open nature of the world we were born into and the processes and structures established and modelled by generations before us, cracked under the pressure of the information age, we learned to ‘cast a wary eye on human nature’ (1). We consider ourselves to have a distinctive identity and claim our uniqueness, however, we are not unusual in that sense, more than half of those from generations before ours felt the same way[i]. The technologies we have experienced emerging through our youths and the influence and effect of these on our societies and economies are however distinctive from our elders. The quality of the models of use we have been provided throughout have not been directed with highest concern for efficiency and development. The models of how we understand and utilise these technologies and protect & limit our connectivity in our digital realities as “millennial’s” causes a interesting dichotomy in our values.  We are less tied to religion (despite reportedly still praying about as often as our elders did in their youth [ii]) or war than generations before us, remembering that those of us whom were born in Australasia have no living experience of “world war”, for most of us, the September 11th attacks we watched on the TV was the closest we have come.

Assumed to be at least in part  a result of our saturation with multimedia continuing throughout our lives, we ‘embrace multiple modes of self expression’  (1).  Labelled with “look at me tendencies” we are significantly more tattooed and pierced than generations before us and despite seemingly sharing the same family focus[iii], we don’t seem to be in a hurry to fulfil these priorities[iv] and a significant number of us have increasingly returned to our parents homes through recent economic struggles[v].  Which mean it’s a good thing that we get on with our elders, few of us see the gap source of conflict[vi]. Pew Research Center (2010) reports claim this poor economy, which many of us graduated into, will see us suffering long term consequences with Millennials already receiving the claim to the highest rate of unemployment amongst their age group for more than three decades. These same struggles have been to blame for the increasingly significant amount of us whom are out of work. 

Despite this difficulty we seem upbeat and most of us aren’t all that stressed about money, which in combination with our self confident claims of moral superiority, which we seem to display little appetite for in practise, which lend us to being the recipient of the typical older generation gripe of “kids today” (1).We actively engage with social media, ‘one in five of us have hosted a video online’, we still represent a significantly higher proportion of the time spent using these ICTs and SNSs than our elders (1). Unlike the generation X or baby boomers, we are disconnected from a world without ICTs, “the old model” is lost on us and our experiences of life in the “old days” are memories of our childhoods in the 80’s and 90’s.

What our parent’s experienced firsthand, while we understand conceptually, it is unclear if we quite fully grasp the importance and potential of our personal networks. While we are familiar with the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, it has not been the same life lesson for us in many cases as it was experienced by our parents. We consider social technologies & media as largely limited to the social arena. We felt insulted and crossed when our bosses or potential employers went looking for our Facebook profiles, but then when our parents started to add us, well a whole new barrage of concern over privacy settings arose. But can you blame us? Most businesses solved the rise of increased use on SNSs by banning their use in offices (2), then only a few years later, we are being told to build our careers through these same technologies.  it is still largely ‘fused into our social lives’ (1). Unlike the generation under ours, which will never know a reality which didn’t feature digital technology, it seems we are somewhere stuck in between the technically limited and technically enabled; somewhere is an overwhelming swamp of information. In a reality where eight in ten of us sleep with our cell phones next to the bed[vii], it is little wonder we struggle with the “hyper-connectivity” of our realities. 

Jones & Fox (2009) made further considerations into the varied use on online technologies between the generations and their findings supported the concept that it may counter intuitively be in fact the Millennial generation whom who is really limiting the potential for us to experience significant benefits from full integration and acceptance of our digital realities. The found that ‘contrary to the image of Generation Y as the "Net Generation," internet users in their 20s do not dominate every aspect of online life: Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email’ (3). “The largest percentage increase in Internet use since 2005 has been in the 70-to-75 age group, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The survey found that 45 percent of that age bracket is online, compared with 26 percent in 2005” (4).

By Jess Maher


*To view graphs, figures I have referenced and my personal notes on this report, please find them as a live document

(1) Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010
(2) NZ herald ref
(3) Jones & Fox, 2009
(4) Moos, 2009

[i] “Most Millennials (61%) in our January 2010 survey say their generation has a unique and distinctive identity. That doesn't make them unusual, however. Roughly two-thirds of Silents, nearly six-in-ten Boomers and about half of Xers feel the same way about their generation.  But Millennials have a distinctive reason for feeling distinctive. In response to an open-ended follow-up question, 24% say it's because of their use of technology (Pew Research Center, 2010)

[ii]  “Yet not belonging does not necessarily mean not believing. Millennials pray about as often as their elders did in their own youth.” (Pew Research Centre, 2010)
[iii]  In weighing their own life priorities, Millennials (like older adults) place parenthood and marriage far above career and financial success. But they aren't rushing to the altar. Just one-in-five Millennials (21%) are married now” (Pew Research Center, 2010).
[iv]  “in 2006, more than a third of 18 to 29 year old women who gave birth were unmarried. This is a far higher share than was the case in earlier generations” (Pew Research Center, 2010).
[v]  ”About one-in-eight older Millennials (ages 22 and older) say they've "boomeranged" back to a parent's home because of the recession.” (Pew Research Center, 2010).
[vi]“  this modern generation gap is a much more benign affair than the one that cast a shadow over the 1960s. The public says this one is mostly about the different ways that old and young use technology -- and relatively few people see that gap as a source of conflict” (Pew Research Center, 2010, Retrieved from

[vii] Based on reports out of NZ completed by Pew Research Center  (2010) “More than eight in ten say they sleep with a sell phone glowing by the bed”

Why we should all be Tall Poppies; 5 tips to getting read for Kiwis producing content

We need to overcome the long standing disadvantages resulting from the ingrained issues of tall poppy syndrome and aspirations of mediocrity found in the Kiwi culture (1). After all, getting people reading social media content you produce is dependant on grabbing their attention (2). Research has inspired five top tips for Kiwis producing social media content which gets read.

Us Kiwis apparently have a tendency to work harder, not smarter. Recent reports (3) have found that the entrepreneurial nature common among Kiwi's while innovative, limits our potential, and even negatively impact our work life balance. Not recognising the value of our own uniqueness, it is common place for small businesses to fail to capture the value of their innovations. Despite the rare exceptions, the profits from many Kiwi innovations are rapidly shipped off shore.

Now, as digital environments become increasingly integrated within mainstream society (4) the rules of the game have changed. Being at the bottom of the world is no longer of significance and now we have access to markets & opportunities never before seen.  Despite strong development in some industries which we have seen in recent years, social media is continuing to influence markets. And small businesses in particular, appear to be behind the eight ball (5).

Those whom have recognised the inevitable impacts of these trends have started to talk about Social Media strategies (6). At the essence of these concepts realistically, is the need for dynamic and customized approaches to managing media and interacting with your audience. Considering our culture orientations,  we each need to make concious efforts to evaluate and consider our use of such media's. While the first tip, stand out from the crowd, might go against the Kiwi grain, the others are perfectly suited to our culture. If utilised correctly, social media has the potential to start social movements and valuable resources.

1.  Stand out from the Crowd 
Provide something no one else is. The essence of Social Networking Sites particularly is to connect, share and explore connections within the community. Its critical you appeal to your audience and provide something new .

2.  Entertain Me
Regardless of what you want to say or sell, people today want to be entertained. If I can't get something out of it, why would I keep reading? If you want peoples attention, you can be a resource or you can entertain them, but doing both is even better.

3.  Be your Unique Self 
Readers want to experience your personality through your writing so don't be too stuffy or professional. The reader expects to get an sense of your personality through your writing. 

4.  Keep it Simple Stupid
Leave out any jargon and avoid using overly complicated language. The nature should remain conversational, imagine you are talking to the reader.

5.  Be Short and Sharp
Quickly get to the point and leave out the bulk. Write to an inverted pyramid- start with the conclusions first to keep people reading. Keep it relevant and relate-able to your audience.

There is more that can be gained as insight from my research. The research itself can be viewed at
(1) - Kiwi Culture - Tall Poppies, Mediocrity (NZTE article & Belich, 2003- see Maher, J (2010, Jun) Retrieved from
(2) - See the Notes page on my blog for more details on the three primary resources referenced for in terms of the Content aspects of this blog(1) - New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (2009) Playing to our strengths
(3) - Digtial Environment
(4) - SMEs not taking advantage of SNSs
(5) - Social Media Policies & Strategies latest talk 
(6) - Talking about social media policies