Something seemed to happen after the 2017 General Election, it appeared that while Theresa May just managed to scramble back into Number 10, there was a mighty rumbling coming up from the streets, and, more specifically, from the millennials. The amount of support for Jeremy Corbyn from people who have never even bothered voting before turned out in their droves to support a man who has been, to quote the Labour campaign slogan, “for the many, not the few.” The post-Brexit Britain that we look at now is a country divided, and, it can be argued, devolved. But the one generation that appears to have evolved more than any other is the millennial. So why is it taking so long for the millennial generation to come out of their shell, as it were?
The sense of apathy that comes from the millennial generation can be witnessed in the US Presidential Election in 2016, was it a case of the perception of voting for the lesser of two evils? And if this was the case, then surely, doesn’t this belie a more tactical approach to voting than older generations are giving them credit for? However, by not using their vote, it is still a useless one. But the two approaches to both elections on each side of the Atlantic are highlighting something very important, the evolution of the millennial in the modern world.
The Millennial: More Than Just Tech-Savvy?
Millennials have been unfairly maligned as the social media using, selfie-taking generation that spends more time on their phones than they do speaking to the person next to them. Instead, it’s fairer to describe millennials as more diverse individuals then the generations that came before. This is the generation raised on a diet of same-sex marriages, equality in the workplace, and gender roles being interchangeable. Looking at generations previously, there is the major generational divide that appears like a gaping hole, more so than with previous generations. Yet the millennial is less material, more likely to develop a wide range of friends, but also is willing to run the risk in their career choices. The idea of going self-employed for generations previously may have felt, on the large, like a massive leap into the unknown. Now there are more people who have seen the fallout of the 2008 market crash and have realised the importance of making a name for themselves because nobody else will do it for them. This is the polar opposite of the supposed “entitled” millennial, the one who expects something for nothing.
The Go-Getting Millennial
The immediate impact technology has on millennials has been written about in countless articles, but the one thing that can be taken away from this is that millennials are feeling more lonely than previous generations. The other side of this coin is the entrepreneurial go-getter. The one that is harnessing the Internet for good is making the most of the online connections, utilising HR consulting services, accountants, contacts and are networking in order to make a life for themselves that is rich, varied, and fulfilling. It can be argued that these people are material in nature, but these are the people that have seen the impact of their parents going to food banks after working 50 hours a week at the age of 50, and they have said to themselves that they can’t go through the same thing. It’s these people who are aware of the power of the Internet, not just the drawbacks. Many people argue that the Internet is making society dumb, and there are many items of evidence to support this. But the millennial with the right attitude is using the Internet and the inspirational words of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Nikola Tesla to use the modern technological world to shape their very existence as a force for good, rather than evil.
Are Millennials Sensible?
In short, yes they are. This is the generation that is saddled with student loans, not grants, and has had to fight for their education every step of the way. The ever-changing exam scenarios from GCSE education, all the way up to degree level, has shown that the standard education system is an ordeal from the ages of 13 to 21 when they graduate university. And even after that, if they choose to get themselves into further debt by embarking on a master’s degree they do this with complete knowledge of how much debt they are going to amass. As a result, many millennials chose to eschew the formal education system after school and went to work for a living. These are people that, surprisingly in spite of their mounting debt, are economical optimists. The Pew study “Millennials in Adulthood” in 2014 stated that over 8 in 10 said that they currently have enough money to live the life they want to, or expect to in the future. So this shows that not only are they sensible, but they are financially savvy. And now, in Britain post-Brexit, this optimism will definitely serve them well. And with the ever rising inflation, millennials have no choice but to find ways to live within their means but still lead a fulfilling life. Every generation has their specific struggles, and with millennials, it’s the lack of affordable housing. And with a lack of affordable housing, this means a lack of security in many ways, and it’s hardly surprising that millennials are less frivolous with their money.
So why has it taken so long for the millennial generation to come out of their shell? Were they ever really in their shell in the first place? And they are incredibly active on social media, campaigning for transgender rights, and are using the Internet as a force for good, to bring about change. We see more and more politically nubile youths on rallies, and it appears that the middle-aged man with the beard they call Corbyn said the right things to so many people to stoke their fires, it just transcended to a bigger level this time.