A little over ten years ago when I was very active writing online I discovered something rather remarkable. Young men were reaching out to successful businessmen and other influential writers online. They were looking for guidance. It did not matter what we were writing about. We were seen as leaders, and that is what they were looking for. Possibly due to the fact that their fathers and other males had their balls in a jar on top of the sports acquisition device (SAD) in the man cave. Many men like myself fielded email questions personally and produced articles for this audience. We became the father figures, therapists and mentors to a large population. I started blogging anonymously separate and distinct from this forum so that I could be even more blunt, politically incorrect, forceful and obnoxious than I am here. Yes, it is possible.
I have always appreciated the next generation as they are so pleasant to be around regardless of any perceived foibles. This is almost preordained due to generational cycles, and my generation's desire to protect them. They are civic minded from an early age due to the good treatment that we gave to them. An lady friend used to caution, "Always be nice to children; they grow up." The concept of generational mentality is an interest of mine and integral to much of my forecasting work. One thing astonished me early on. Many of the youngest in the audience, young teenagers to be exact, were the most well read and insightful. There is a benefit to the online world in which the young grow up and spend a tremendous amount of time and take for granted. They read voraciously and not inane garbage to a destructive degree. These young men are rediscovering the classics, reading academic research and papers, political discourse and cultural commentary. This is not a minority of them, but a healthy majority that is promoting this endeavor. Remember the concerns of early parents, teachers and useless pundits that children do not read. Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.
The tail end of my generation, known for being nobody's fools, and this generation are years ahead in terms of practical knowledge and common sense. Some of them have become writers in their own right as insightful and disciplined as Aldous Huxley. There is a literary genius hidden from many but like a giant living below you that is amused by your ignorance of its existence.
I used to think that I had some great insights when I was younger. Not the opinionated ignorance of a young man with more moxie than experience, but the reverse. They have it intuitively at a much younger age without the pain. Why, they observe. The great psychological researchers and clinicians will tell you how much is learned by children by observation. You only need to see the researcher being disciplined for hitting the clown dummy to internalize the lesson. There is also the other factor described above, visualize it well. When I had an insight I was like an island. There was a limited population to discuss, test and experience. Usually these ideas were shared with my own limited social group or tested in my own pond. Not being stupid, I was judicious with my knowledge. Remember the concept of political correctness; it cuts both ways. Subversive ideas were driven below the surface. Ok, enter the internet where your social group can be anywhere, ideas can be tested in a safe way, you can debate, refine and test with immense feedback. The millennial generation is often called the next civic generation who will build and rebuild institutions. They just did as a modern day Gutenberg.
Every time that I think that I have some new insight, technique or advice, I can read about it previously written in one of their blogs. It is hilarious, flattering, justifying and for you should be scary.
If you think that you are going to baloney them, understand that everything you propose will be tested in real time against their reference group, immediately. Unless of course they already prepared themselves based upon the experience of others or through hypothetical debates. My generation tends to function similarly but without the level of certainty and worse, internalization.
The millennial generation is salivated over by previous generations, not just by the baby boomers who get too much of a bad rating, as the one who will save and sacrifice for the greater good. Numerous pundits, analysts, business and economic leaders, etc. as well as the population at large who follow this discussion loosely are betting on them. They will do many great things, however cyclical generational trends do not mean a direct retracement to earlier values. Morals yes, values no.
This new civic generation does have a moral compass whereas mine tends to be amoral, hyper practicality. If this new generation sees that an institution does not embrace those old fashioned morals, it will let it wither and die and replace it with something new.
My generation had a problem in that it would be vocal, insolent, tell it like it is and say screw you. I never found this personally to be a good technique, but it does define us. Part of this is due to two factors. One described above is the issue of not being validated. The other is due to observing a time of plenty materially, but limited morally. Generation X'ers are not prophets but rather deliver a warning when the current generation in power does not want to hear it further feeding the cycle of resentment. The millennials are born in uncertain but protected and validated personal worlds. They are self assuredly certain of their morals. They are the social group manifestation of Bartleby the Scrivener, "I would prefer not to." Only they do not even say it or give you the impression. You just realize that they obstinately go their own way picking and choosing what is scattered in the field of other generations' past that is worthy of utility.
What about the sense of entitlement, everyone getting a trophy, technology everywhere, easy life, protected, blah, blah, blah. They are their own harshest critics and of each other within their own cohort. Did not know this, did you? These so-called negative experiences let them know that they are loved and that sometimes leaders make mistakes while meaning well. They are the most loyal, caring, respectful, mannerly people that you will meet. Huh? Yes, I will share personal experience.
Very often I used to get requests for advice and guidance from them within my field and through my online and other forums. Something amazing happens without fail. When they need services in my field or their cohorts do, guess who always gets the business without question in every case? It does not matter what elders tell them about being hardnosed in business; they consider it a sense of honor. As long as I live up to what I am supposed to do or promise, I have a customer for life. Many times I give away advice for free, too often I will admit. In this example these are young men needing guidance before they would ever need my services and I am fatherly towards them by nature. With my generational cohorts and the previous generations, the mentality of it is just business applies in spades. They will take and then do whatever they feel serves their purposes, honorable or not. The millennials are different. I have learned the difference and so have they. If you lead a moral, dignified and frugal life, they admire you. Their definition of moral may confound you but there is a higher logic. If you get married and have a family, but it is a sham or dysfunctional, they will not respect you because they see your lie as affecting the children who have no choice and the society at large. They believe that personal decisions that affect others have weight and are to be taken seriously. This is why they can seem to be so libertine and nonjudgmental while confounding others with their personal decorum. It is not do as you will, but do in private as adults and affect no one. Loud activists preaching for alternative lifestyles and performing offensive activities in public as well as obnoxious conservative pundits will offend them not because of the message but for breaking the peace and polluting the common space. They believe in mutually respectful presentation of ideas in an appropriate venue. The era of violent protest is over with them. They may occupy a space but will cleanup after themselves and not disrespect mannerly authorities. Simultaneously they will seek to cleanup the television and online world that children see while being at times the most libertine perverts imaginable in their personal lives. It is not hypocrisy, but the preservation of the public good and the rights of others to not have others interfere with their values. They way that they punish institutions that fail like marriage is not by actively destroying them like earlier generations but by abandoning them quietly and constructing something new. Their generational cohort is closely paralleled by the founders of this country who also thought this way and created a similar system of renewal.
They will also allow other members of their generation to fail, not in the active sense that boomers and genX'ers tear each other to shreds and false manipulate each other. They will never do something inconsistent with teamwork and good manners. They will allow members to make their own decisions and own those decisions. They will excoriate members of their own group in their private discussions and blogs who allow themselves to be taken in by a false god or who do the wrong thing publicly. Elders who attempt to lead them astray will never know online peace. If you disagree with them, have your arguments in order and do not act self-servingly. They will respect that and debate you as long as you do it with manners. Read that last word over and over again until you get it through your thick skull. Newscasters and other television and radio personalities need to learn this very quickly as this is your future audience. If you are a genX smartass and being obnoxious is automatic, you have the worst problem imaginable as they will dedicate an unbelievable amount of effort towards ripping you apart, and you will compound the problem with your natural tendencies to fight back in your normal fashion. They have a worse punishment too which is banishment from their consciousness, not good for ratings or website statistics. It is a modern day form of shunning. They are not against a good zing or playful teasing as long as they know it is such. They will not stand for the concept of people being ripped apart and destroyed let alone themselves. Comedians catering to the generation X demographic will probably turn them off. Think of earlier generation late night television personalities for what types will appeal to them. Overall they do not like staying up late at night or encouraging it; the time slots of shows will have to be adjusted. It is interesting to note that Jay Leno has a strong potential to appeal to the millennials because of his innate niceness. The millennials also like nice people of older generations, see above. It was probably a mistake to end his tenure, but he can always reinvent himself in this new group. He has no baggage, and the millennials will appreciate his clean image. Bullying is going to come to an end, notice the movement already. You should remember how your grandparents and their cohorts conducted themselves or find out. They could disagree and have fun with respect; these millennials are like them. They will also listen to and read things in depth; huh, you said what? Yes, my generation is known as the one minute managers, shallow, whatever BS you want to make up. The new one is anything but this. They respect my generational ability to make quick assessments if they already respect me based on actual accomplishments, however they will sit through hours of discussion and explanation and read detailed content. Newsbyte television and shallow reporting is in serious jeopardy. Remember how your grandparents watched long presidential debates or spent hours reading the full transcripts of them before the shallow circus that they became? You had better learn how to do it again. In fact any reporter or politician that goes the depth angle early will lead in their support regardless of the positions taken or the party or the fact that these young people might intellectually disagree with them. They want the process to be thorough and they respect the hard work of doing so. They will vote for people that they respect who honor the process of mannerly debate. Manners and hard work are valued by them. Just so that you know, my generation X cohorts secretly desired this and tolerated the current state of affairs. We could not aspire to it as it would be like Diogenes with his lamp. We will have no problem participating this new order as long as the bitterness is not insidious and we break any bad habits.
If you think that the millennials are going to be some sort of marching in unison to their own destruction soldiers of the great second coming power cycle of whatever be it business, war, progress, academia, trade work; you are sorely mistaken. They will sacrifice and do extraordinary things. They will be happy and satisfied with much less than earlier generations in terms of lifestyle and wealth. They will be loyal and diligent. Here are the terms of their contract with you; you have already accepted the terms. The things that they do must make societal moral sense and be logical. This justifies reasoning by analogy.
Boomers and generation X were notorious for burning the candle at both ends sometimes for no good reason than utter stubbornness. Millennials believe in the example of proper lifestyle for health and the wellbeing of the family. They understand that sickness follows a misspent youth and young adulthood from watching their elders. When I was in school there was a movement to make days start earlier and earlier and go longer. Now in the media there is a movement to start later to be more in tune with the biological clock of young people. My generation was told that conforming was a form of character building when we really knew that faculty just wanted to get out earlier. They told us this directly in many institutions. In addition faculty had other jobs or obligations that they wanted to squeeze into a day. Millennial educators view their fulltime teaching job as their only profession and will want to act in the best interests of the students' development before serving their other interests. See the distinction?
Another example will be in the work world, and like the above it is already being observed. Millennials want normal work schedules. They have no problem arriving early or at nine, but will trade money for being home in time for dinner or having weekends for family and social time. They also directly observed multiple generations have ungodly hours and dedication rewarded with midlife layoffs and no ability to recover. When looking at your company or profession they will logically assess the risk reward equation. You might see it as a lack of desire to start at the bottom or put the time in early that you did. This is a type of camouflage that is consistent with their personality as contrasted with earlier generations rebellion. Regarding that lack of desire or unwillingness to start at the bottom or put the time in early on, they reply silently, "How did that work out for you?"
You cannot have a fight with someone who will not throw a punch, at least not legally. When you say to them that they should be buying starter houses and starting families they will be thinking about the stupidity of the starter house model. According to their logic you should buy one house and pay it off like your grandparents did, not burn up the interest payments by constantly purchasing up. They also have a detailed understanding of personal finance and that certain investment bubbles occur. Once again, they will not have a conversation with you when you challenge them. They will assume that you are forcing them into what is a bad economic decision for them. If you wish to have an honest discussion in a mannerly way, be prepared with facts or to lose, and you will lose with the house example. Funny, you think that they are shallow and have a lack of knowledge. They do not want to fight with you. This is how they win. They already discussed amongst themselves various topics in a scholarly debate worthy of university which they do not have much use for in its present form. The more astute amongst them assume something that I was told. Let me explain something to you the reader. The executives running the companies that you work for, and/or directly hired you, the people who teach business principles and wisdom, very wealthy and influential people, I work for some of them and know some personally for over two decades. They validate what I am about to say. The American system is based on slavery in some form. The middle class slavery that was very profitable for a time and useful to the corporate world to maintain people's need for their jobs was sold as a lifestyle of consumption, social contracts, debt and expectations. The continuation of this is an illogical assumption according to the millennials. They even know how to game the system and call you out as a liar if you try to lead them astray. You will get instantly shunned if you wrap the argument for living this lifestyle in some sort of moral or maturational goal because instantly they will reference their huge knowledge base of how this did not work for many that they observed and how it will not work for them and their higher morality. Idealists if you find yourself using the word ought or its analogs you are entering serious territory. Worse for you if you wrap it in moral arguments as your life is now up for quiet dissection.
The millennials will not go out of their way to hurt you; that is my generation's job. Actually that will be the worst decision that generation X could ever make as the millennials will not respect us for doing it. The millennials will go their own way not in a nomadic individual sense but as a group. Communities that will attract them will be those that have a sense of moral and functional order as opposed to structural order. They do not have as much use for hierarchy unless it fulfills a functional role. You are in charge because of what you do for the organization not because of who you say that you are. Idealists may have problems with them because they are so functionally practical that their inner morality is hidden. Idealists will end up liking them due to the embrace of discipline that this generation embodies which the idealists have been preaching for years. Idealists will frustrate the millennials who will love them anyway, and it is up to generation X to mediate. However millennials cannot observe generation X act cruelly no matter how justified. They may love us individually but are turned off by this key destructive factor. If a generation X'er wants to hire millennials, he can let his edge and obnoxiousness out to the extent that it seems amusing to them, but if it comes to define him they will bolt for the door. You want to seem like that old guy from a different time with wisdom and a little edge, without bitterness or anger, but never lose your cool.
They millennials will be attracted to laws and political movements that represent social justice and order not necessarily adhesion to some constitutional principal. If you want to appeal to them, you must show to them that order in terms of personal morality, societal morality, finances, safety, etc. are being enhanced. It is easier to say by the negative. They do not like disorder in terms of the physical or societal. Appeal to their logical minds that want things that make sense and work. If they perceive hidden agendas, unanswered factors, loose ends, unanticipated consequences, you have lost them. They will not necessarily create but will debate. They will refine what you come up with if it is functional. The methods by which legislation is sold to the community will have to change. It can no longer be about justice if it does not make sense functionally. You have to let them see a system being built, and that your new idea functions within an already working system as if it plugged in like a hardware module. They are keenly aware of the shortcomings of the current method of legislation. Their response is to be disinterested. Show them a system that takes control of something away from them, and they will desire it. They like decisions being made for them as long as they work well. Self-driving cars, sold if they work safely. Managed mandatory retirement saving system for everyone in the country, sold if they know it will work. Education systems, health, diet, housing, they do not mind being told what to do if they know that it will work. The two problems are that they are smart enough to know if something is not logically designed, and they need the creative input of others to start the process. Then they will develop and refine it perfectly. Ignore this at your peril.