Millennials were born from 1980ish-2000. We are still watching their every move. But in a word, you could sum up their communication method: Screens. These babies grew up with not just a television screen, but a with a plethora of screens in their face. Their world is digital. They have known entertainment from birth: on screens, in the park, and on ‘playdates,’ a term coined by their parents that up to now had never been needed. Raised by hovering, well-meaning late Boomers and early GenXers, they have been showered with things and they are the first generation to be scheduled to get all the play, the lessons, the sports, the tutoring and the birthday parties squeezed into their tiny calendars. They are the first to experience FOMO, or fear of missing out, as children.
But another word comes up with Millennials almost as often as screens: Anxiety. This generation was the first to see AIDS, school shootings, terrorist attacks and cyber-bullying. Their parents did not hover because they wanted to, they hovered to protect their children from random acts that might harm their family. Parents were always with their children because the world was no longer safe for kids to play together with minimal supervision. Parents often performed the role of activity planner, coach, problem-solver, conflict resolver and leader. Though this worked in the day-to-day life of a millennial child, these roles played by parents prevented them from learning to plan, problem solve, resolve conflict and develop leadership skills.
Millennial children missed out on independent play which develops inductive reasoning, and independent problem-solving. They have always been in groups (think “circle the wagons” mentality), so a new term was created for them: “group-think.” Which means, “the shared-ideology of this group of individuals.” When the individuals in the group change, the thinking gets altered. Values become flexible. This makes this generation very tolerant of individual choices, but also very susceptible to long term consequences that they do not have the inductive reasoning to envision. They perform best in groups, not alone.
So how do they find love?
With a screen! Apps for communicating their interest and finding love are plentiful. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Christian Mingle, J-Date,e-Harmony, Match, Meetup, OkCupid,Tinder–just to name a few! They all have iPhones in their hands, so these apps are just a click away. It seems safe–and safety is of primary importance to a millennial. Some ‘couples’ can carry on an entire dating relationship for weeks, develop attachments, and break up via text before they have ever met face-to-face! As their phones present a plethora of portals for communicating love, these portals also have the ability to deliver rejection and humiliation. Social media in the hands of spurned lover has the potential of a crashing hard drive! The struggle than ensues from a break-up, private or public, is one that most millennials have no learned skills to assimilate. They crash hard, some experience depression. Some carry that pain and delay further dating for long periods of time.
The Bible says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) Of all the people on the planet, this generation needs to remember that God’s got this. When we pray, He understands and works things out with a much bigger vision than we have. I think every generation has a common response to this truth, relief. Because of the troubled times in which this generation has been raised, I think they are even more relieved. As they ‘adult,’ or perform mundane acts of maturity, they are both more reckless (think Xtreme games) and more cautious (checking exits inside a theater–or even church–before they sit down.). The generation they are currently raising will be an interesting study.
If you want to communicate to your Millennial
For all the older generations, if you want to communicate well with a Millennial, remember that a screen is your best bet. In Millennials Rising, The Next Great Generation, by Neil Howe and William Strauss, they say you have an eleven-second window to reach a millennial. Not because they have a short attention span, but because there is so much information available to them via their screens that their have innately cultivated the skill of screening information within eleven seconds. If you grab their attention, they have the ability to stick with your e-conversation for hours. If you don’t grab them, they move on.
- Use text, Facebook Messenger or Twitter. Instagram is a lot of fun too.
- If you don’t know how to use the preferred app of your millennial, learn.
- Use a quick photo–you have an iPhone too. Learn to use it! An old photo that evokes a shared memory is always good!
- No long diatribes. They are a turn-off to Millennials. Stick to 140 characters.
- If you get no response, stop trying for 24-48 hours and try again on another app.
- Reduce your expectations for meaningful discussions. This is laying only laying the groundwork for what might develop later.
- A Millennial who has been scheduled all his/her life wants to know one thing: “What’s next?” Answer that!
- Safety is important too. Let them know you are praying, thinking good thoughts and pulling for them in every way.
Try out a couple of these techniques and see if you can win the attention of your millennial. If you have a tried and true method that I missed, please share. My readers want to know, and so do I!