Hi, I’m Jessie, and I’m part of the North American millennial generation. And as someone who identifies as part of this generation, I have no problem telling you that I believe complacency runs rampant among North American youth. This is not a particularly new idea; we’ve heard before that millennials are notorious for being narcissistic and lazy, and while studies on millennials in society report mixed results, there is no doubt that we, as a generation, are struggling to find our place in the world.
What is often overlooked here though, is how destructive complacency can be to the individual. To become complacent is to stop growing, and when there is stagnation, there is no progress, and thereby no success. Here are the top 5 things stopping millennials from engaging, and essentially keeping us from reaching our full potential.
Often, entitlement shapes our thinking in way that we don’t even realize. We have grown up as the most privileged youth in the world, and it’s very easy to get stuck thinking we have everything, this is all there is, and that we “deserve” this and that. (Indeed, one of the nicknames for the millennial generation is the “Most Coddled Generation”.)
As North Americans youth who have all been recipients to education, and so on, we all fall prey sometimes to the Western point of view—a worldview that has historically disregards all other cultural thought. This thinking dictates—and dare I say, can cripple—our reactions to other cultures, and limits us from cultural understanding.
Sometimes, youth can’t be bothered about active participation because they do not believe that they can make a difference. They don’t see the value of their individual active engagement. “I’m just one of many”, “Who really cares?” — these thoughts perpetuate a cycle of indifference and inaction.
What’s more, in today’s society, it’s almost cool not to care—or rather, it’s only ‘cool’ to care about certain things. Regardless, this feeling of disillusionment is reflected in the number of youth voters in elections in recent years, which are disappointingly low. Youth need to understand that their age cannot keep them down. They need to be shown, and not just told, their value to society, and be motivated to become worthy of it.
The lack of understanding — true understanding, which requires time and effort on the part of the individual — is perhaps the reason for many problems today. In an era of information, it is just as likely to receive false information as it is true. What’s more, with everyone’s biases, it’s very easy to let someone else make the judgement for you. In doing this, we relinquish the responsibility and thereby the consequences of potentially being wrong.
This ignorance extends itself to all the many ways we interact with society itself. It affects the way we view the world, our willingness to experience it, and also the way we view ourselves. We become less effective as contributors to society when we are unaware of society and our own role within.
The millennial generation grew up hearing about how each of are special and unique, and will go on one day to change the world and whatnot because no one is exactly like us. It’s not a far stretch to see this is not true—at least, not innately. We make ourselves special, and whatever impact we make on the world is a result of us actually consciously demonstrating effort and passion, and working hard at it.
Having been constantly told how unique we are has led us to become more self-centred. We play more value on our own careers than on society, failing to make the realization that both are interconnected. While individuality is by no means inconsequential, millennials need to realize that our individuality both enhances and is enhanced by the society and context we are placed. in.
Millennials have grown up with a society that has become increasingly saturated with technology in all its various forms. What we have not been prepared for, however, is the adverse effect that technology has had on the interactions between people in real life. When online communication takes precedent, it is at the expense of affecting people’s ability to truly connect with someone in person, offline. We lack intention by letting technology do all the talking for us.
Stop and think, who are we, outside of our social media profiles and what we share online? How would people view us, had we not Facebook, or Twitter, or the numerous other social platforms? It is the lack of questioning that leads to things like slacktivism, where we share things not only because we care, but because we want others to know it.
The world has a lot of say about the millennial generation. Our expectations in life are different are those of our parents. We are lazy, passionate, impatient, ambitious, open-minded, and disengaged all at once. Having been told to “follow your dream” has led us to become more lost than ever. Youth engagement in society has been steadily decreasing; North American youth are complacent.
What, then, is the solution?
There is a quote that states: “We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.” Never has that statement been more true than today. In exploring the world, one gains more knowledge of different cultures, and understanding of where they fit in the world. A wider perspective will also let one see the importance and value of things.
What’s more, this “world” doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on a plane and flying all around the globe. It can be a simple as stepping outside of your comfort zone to shake up your own worldview a little bit. It’s important to ask questions, but equally important to go and find out the answers yourself. Being aware is only the first step.