How Millennials are Changing the World
Change of the Guard
For years, the baby boomers used the mainstream media to badmouth the Millennial generation before they were even out of the starting gate. Which is pretty stunning when you realize that we are inheriting the world from them with serious problems that we didn’t create such as melting ice caps, the loss of animal species, energy constraints and we were saddled with over a trillion dollars in student loan debt. If you spend time with younger people, many of them think differently than the baby boomers. The old ways of materialism are being shed for more mindful ways of living. Meditation practice is on the rise. The amount of yoga practitioners has doubled in the last 20 years. Social activism and sustainability is of utmost importance to nearly all of us. Yoga is the gateway into a more mindful life.
More and more people are abandoning the corporate lifestyle and who can blame them. I see many young people living more minimalist lives and making less money. It is becoming more prevalent and it’s confounding the older generations: Millennials are lazy. Millennials don’t want to work. Millennials are to blame for the death of Bennigans or some other soulless company. How is Applebees still surviving? We are the most educated, most tolerant and most technologically proficient and connected generation in the history of mankind. We are just getting started and as long as we are judged by old metrics, then those judgments will be useless. Millennials legalized gay marriage and marijuana, so we have already seen major changes to the world out of a very young group of people. Regardless of how you feel on the subjects, more freedom leads to a brighter future. A more connected future.
The amount of amazing content being shared online is truly stunning. Napster was a canary in the coal mine for a coming shift. Without Napster, we’d never have Spotify. At the turn of the millennium, CD's were a dying medium. There was a growing need for a better platform for listening to music than CD's. The music industry was archaic and arrogant. So many record labels were releasing great singles coupled with shallow filler content to get their $12.99. Napster provided the opportunity to rip the single and ignore the lesser songs on the album. As a result, I feel the quality of albums has improved since then. The record labels assumed that everyone else was wrong and the success of Napster was because their customers were thieves, when in reality, the technology had left behind the industry. As Spotify and other streaming services became more prevalent, music piracy dropped. Millennials had changed the industry. But it’s even greater than that. Many people freely share their own original music through social media thanks to the lower barrier to entry. Allowing greater opportunity to share creative content is beautiful. Modern music is about exposure and sharing their creativity; something that is often valued over economic incentives. Medium has offered writers an opportunity to even make money without leaving their house. By writing popular content, membership fees get distributed to those who create content for the site. It’s a bizarre marriage of capitalism and liberation that offers many a creative outlet.
There are so many ways to build a life of more freedom today, whatever that may mean to you. There’s a growing movement of van lifers. Now unfortunately some of these people are doing this out of necessity, but the lifestyle does have its benefits. Being free from a typical 9-5 job would be liberating. It also allows you to travel more often, even if it brings with it the stress of finding a safe place to stop. Another reason for the rise of van lifers, is because it is environmentally more sustainable than buying another McMansion. A lot of shade gets cast at the youth of every generation, but the largest age grouping in human history are unrivaled in their concern for sustainability. There are also people who live in tiny houses, which are sometimes mobile which offers better flexibility. The smaller abode allows more money to be spent on travel or the land. Instead of living on top of our neighbors in suburgatory, these people are out in nature where it is serene and beautiful.
Minimalism has been growing in popularity, with a lot of the credit going to The Minimalists. There podcast has shown many people a simpler way. Millennials are spending their hard-earned money on experiences over stuff. Sound impossible for what appears to be a narcissistic generations obsessed with phones? Look around your city, or nearby cities and notice what has changed. Toys’r’Us just disappeared. Most of the big box retailers are struggling and they don’t even know how to advertise to our generation, much less sell products we are interested in. That’s because they are using the old techniques that worked on the baby boomers. They don’t see the world changing. Renting, streaming, traveling has replaced owning, mortgages and shopping malls. Uber and AirBnb are the modern-day equivalents for a generations who grew up on peer to peer media sharing. I see a very different world today than the one I grew up in. I see moped rentals to travel around destination towns. I see yoga centers popping up all over towns with younger populations. I see micro brews in every decent sized city producing a significantly better product than the giant breweries that dominate the industry. Even when InBev buys up a microbrew, the loyal customers search for another microbrew that wasn’t bought out. Craft beer sales now account for about 20% of the entire industry and this trend seems to be growing.
It has caused a lot of strife and heartbreak, but the financial collapse of 2008 is largely responsible for the more mindful lifestyle. Even those who weren’t directly affected were forced to reevaluate their own lives. Many are reconsidering their lifestyle and the environmental impacts of a typical life. From using a stainless-steel water bottle all the way to selling all our possessions to live the van life, many people are making real changes in their lives to do their part to preserve the planet. To live a more harmonious life. To reconnect with nature. And our planet is reaching a critical point in the delicate balance between humanity and nature. Just today, the last male Northern White Rhino died. There are two females, but its future is looking grim.
According to Becoming Minimalist, vegetable seed sales are up 30% from 2008. Gardening has become the response to the corporate takeover of fruits and vegetables. When you can’t trust the food at the grocery store, then the consumer will have to take back control of the food they consume. Eating local is also a more sustainable system; your backyard is the ultimate local venue. Without preservatives, gardening provides a fresher alternative to the rise of GMO foods. I have gardened before and yeah, it didn’t always go smoothly, but it’s gratifying to eat something made from your own labor. Even if the rabbits did eat my broccoli and lettuce. Learning something new always comes with a few growing pains, or learning lessons.
If you are feeling lost or stuck in a rut, that’s OK. All of our journeys have bumps in the road, and in hindsight, these bumps in the road often end up being life changing events. If you aren’t where you want to be in life, change up your routine. Try meditation or yoga. Take up gardening or sell everything and go live in a van for a summer. Take your time pondering that last one, but if you do take the plunge, please let me know how it goes. I would be genuinely interested to hear some van life experiences. Let me know how you are changing the world. And if you have some great stories to share, post them on the Helm of Awesome Facebook page.