Lately, a common and recurring theme that seems to be debilitating young adults are their views on permanency and commitment, in any form. We, (Millennials/Generation Y/Entitled Dreamers or whatever you want to call us) were the first to grow up in parallel culture with the rapid evolution of technology. As the World Wide Web became easily accessible and embedded as an extended family member within the average household, we very quickly adapted to the infinite possibilities this platform could offer. To put it very lightly, the concept of instantaneous information, immediate contacts, engagement, and communication is deeply rooted in our daily lives. It actually takes more effort to ‘unplug’ for a day, avoid checking your email, sign on to Facebook, or send a text message because these habits have become almost instinctive in our daily routine.
The outcome of this progression is that we often don’t realize how it’s altered our way of thinking when it comes to contentment and how we determine our decisions. We have to be careful to not constantly be on the search for something better based off what we see on the digital media surface. It’s accelerated the very real and pervasive issue with commitment and fulfillment I witness among this generation. This, unfortunately, has been a downside that stems from being immersed in this tech-obsessed, extremely exposed, and over stimulated society.
It actually takes more effort to ‘unplug’ for a day…
The use of technology is the single most distinct characteristic among this generation. Adults between the ages of 18-35 have a reputation of stereotyped qualities that aren’t necessarily positive. My interpretation is a mere attempt to make sense of why and how our lifestyles and expectations have so drastically changed compared to our predecessors. First, it’s important to emphasize having access and exposure.
Prior to life with social media, we were confined to the physical environment we occupied within our schools, our homes, our immediate and extended families, our friends, neighbors, and so on. Given that this was the selection we were generally limited to with the people we encountered, there was no space to experience, expect, or desire anything beyond what we knew or what was within our reach. Even what we consumed on television, read in fashion and celebrity magazines, and watched in theaters didn’t really give us the ability to bridge our real world and the glamorous, idealistic representation of another reality.
Now, let us fast forward to the existing status of our universally connected lives. We can acquire information about any random topic, person, place, culture, or event within seconds. We can directly communicate with public figures of interest and keep up with beloved brands, artists, community leaders, and sports teams. More notably, we can easily express our thoughts and beliefs to wide ranges of people in large quantities. We have formed relationships with those we may have never crossed paths with, learned about places we never knew existed, reunited with old friends, discovered new hobbies, and became advocates and pioneers for causes we believe in on a much larger scale. Most of us hear of breaking news through one of our multiple personal social media accounts before traditional news outlets, and likely trust those sources more. Thus, we have the accessibility to engage with almost every corner of the universe – literally. This gives us the opportunity to tailor our lives and daily activity to fit exactly our interests. We have the resources to be self-starters and self-promoters outside of institutionalized forums. Therefore, if anything from a job, activity, friendship, or relationship doesn’t fulfill or meet our very specific interests, we convince ourselves there will always be “better” and more suitable options that do.
Whether it is a career, relationship, or personal goals, dealing with setbacks is a challenge. We’re continuously absorbing massive amounts of information on other people’s lives on a daily basis. From independent journalists reporting from remote locations across the globe, to a former high school classmate who unexpectedly became an ‘insta-famous’ animal rights activist, to the random friend of a friend you met once that is happily married with two sets of twins. Because of the diversity of what we’re exposed to regularly, along with discoveries regarding our own customized expectations, hitting a roadblock insinuates we need to move on to the next possibly better alternative.
We’re living in a society that is always ready for the next “best” thing…
Let’s suppose someone doesn’t feel they are developing in their career and is dissatisfied in their job role. Viewing the daily posts of those whose careers are flourishing, according to what they publish online, or who have used digital platforms to develop their own self-employed narrative, is an active factor in questioning your own decisions. This leads to the idea of exploring other countless avenues instead of attempting to evaluate why the current circumstances are not rewarding. Is it because the role is actually not adding value to your professional growth? Or, does observing the whereabouts and activities of others generate the belief that there are far more appealing options available?
The fear of investing time into anything that may not produce the results you want is an essential component to understanding the roots of this new phenomenon. We’re living in a society that is always ready for the next “best” thing when there is no instant gratification.
This is not to be confused with having high standards. Everyone should set high standards for themselves and for those around them. This displays self-respect and exerts the notion that what you give is what you receive. It is a positive attribute if applied with the right intentions so long as we’re reciprocating towards others what we expect for ourselves.
We need to be able to decipher feeling genuinely unsatisfied with validity versus being bored or too focused on the external digital world of other options that appear to be more interesting. This could essentially push us to be more confident with our choices and clearly determine that we’ve met the expectations we’ve set for ourselves minus outside influences.