By Alison Hillhouse
Many have fallen prey to the narrative that Millennials choose to disengage with “real-world” experiences and spend 24/7 on technology. While we knew this wasn’t the case, we were surprised to find out just how much Young Millennials are actually seeking out hands-on, tech-free maker experiences, in our recent meta-study on the younger half of this demo. Whether it’s baking, crafting, woodworking or jewelry making, they tell us of the immense satisfaction they get from these immersive, self-soothing experiences.
But tech isn’t entirely removed from these maker experiences, as Millennials engage in what we call “Digital Bookending” – research & documenting the before & after. The making of a duct tape wallet (a hot craft right now among girls and guys) involves first watching a how-to YouTube video for instructions, then immersing yourself in the craft, and finally capping it off with an Instagrammed photo to express yourself/get credit for your work/connect with peers on a deeper level. (motivations of course vary…)
Three of our panelists tell us about their “Digital Bookending” experiences:
1) Alondra, 17, tells of her pop-art project, in which she first “looked at cool pop art pictures online… role models and important cultural figures.” She then chose to feature her role model Jenni Rivera, a famous Mexican-American singer whose life ended on Alondra’s birthday and recently wrote a #1 NY Times best-seller. Afterwards, she posted her creation to Instagram, where 68 friends were a fan of her work:
2) Gabrielle, 17, tells us about her duct tape prom dress, which took a whopping 100 hours of work! She says “I’ve always loved reptiles, and couldn’t think of a more awesome theme than dragons!” To prep her for the work, she went online and watched a Project Runway episode featuring duct tape dresses. Her process was very elaborate, including hand-cut flames and a wire-framed tail. Obviously, this was not only a sensation at the prom but also afterwards on Facebook.
3) Deven, 17, made a “plant cell cake.” He first went on YouTube to see how other people made cell models, and “observed how they structured and positioned various parts of the cell.” Deven also Instagrammed his final “Eukaryoptic Plant Cell.”
Brands can take advantage of “Digital bookending” by facilitating the before or after experience… whether that’s sponsoring DIY content or launching contests for Millennials to share creations.
"This is a street mural I saw on the side of a building in Brooklyn and a great example of Maker Culture. Create is what Millennials do best. Millennials are inspiring others to do, act, and create."
- Sarah McDowell, MTV Insights
By Sarah McDowell
I saw this outside The Counting Room, a popular bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The bar encouraged its patrons to step away from their social feeds and connect with each other on a more personal level instead.
By Alison Hillhouse
Millennials are the most talked about generation in history – the web is overflowing with articles and studies on Millennial underemployment, Millennial tech addiction and the intricacies of dealing with Millennials in the workplace. There’s so much conversation that we now see listicles and infographs about how everyone can’t stop talking about Millennials, like CNN’s “Can we stop worrying about Millennials yet?”
That’s why we’ve dedicated this post to letting Millennials speak for themselves, about themselves. MTV Insights partnered with Survey.com to get 250 18-24 year olds across the country to text us a picture + description that reflects the hashtag: #weliveinagenerationthat.
And here are some of our favorites…
By Matt Cohen, MTV Insights
When it comes to their love lives, we have found that Millennials often “run the bases backwards” — meaning that sex comes first, and relationships come second (if at all.) (See our previous post, “Love Stuck: The Meandering Path from Hook-Up to FBO”) This same pattern seems to apply among Gay Millennials – but with one important twist: For Gay Millennials, it appears that hook-ups very often lead to new friendships.
While straight Millennials tell us stories of casual hook-ups who tend to go their separate ways after failing to make the transition from hook-up to relationship, we hear from Gay Millennials that hooking up often serves as a casual opener to starting a new friendship.
Jacob, 22, explains “Almost every single gay guy that I know goes through the exact same pattern: You meet someone you think is cute, you hook up with him, and if it doesn’t turn into romance, you become friends.”
“All of my friends and I hooked up with each other and then became best friends,” says Domenic, 19, who told us that hooking up with gay classmates served as a social ice-breaker of sorts during his freshman orientation week at college. “When I got accepted to college, I joined the LGBT club for my school on Facebook…The first week of school we all slept with each other, and then we all became friends.”
Many of our panelists talk about how they have ended up with particularly “incestuous” social circles as a result of this behavior — meaning that many of their friends have dated or hooked up with each other in various combinations. Because gay communities are typically small (particularly within the college bubble) it’s often difficult to avoid an ex or former hook-up buddy. As a result, Gay Millennials seem to be making the best of a potentially awkward situation by viewing former hook-ups as potential new friends.
Jacob, 22, recalls “I was at a birthday party with a friend recently. We were looking around the room, and we realized that either one of us had hooked up with almost everyone who was there and had become friends with them… It’s almost universal among everyone I know.”
Although their social circles may be fraught with complicated overlapping connections, Gay Millennials fortunately have a large pool to draw from when it comes to looking for new potential friends or romantic partners. Whereas previous generations of gay youth congregated around local gay clubs or bars in order meet new people, many Gay Millennials now carry the proverbial gay bar with them in their pockets. Thanks to the advent of digital tools like Grindr – the massively popular gay geo-location app which helps you find potential hook-ups in your vicinity – Gay Millennials can easily tap into a fresh network of romantic or platonic possibilities.
For those who aren’t using hook-up apps like Grindr, however, even a tool as simple as Facebook can help expand the gay social circle. Many of the Gay Millennials we spoke to mentioned searching their Facebook networks when they first arrived at college in order to identify other gay classmates on-campus. (With the recent introduction of Facebook’s Graph Search, this type of search is now easier than ever before.) And even if you’re not looking for new gay friends, chances are they’ll find you as Steven, 22, explains “If you’re friends with any gay person on Facebook and you write on their wall, like 80 people will friend-request you.”
This is the third in a series of posts on Gay Millennials, in which we share our findings on the unique characteristics and experiences of this generation’s gay youth. Check out our previous posts in this series:
Gay Millennials, Part 1: Beyond “Coming Out”
Gay Millennials, Part 2: “I’m Not Your GBF!”
By Alison Hillhouse
Over the past few years, there’s been much speculation as to which social media platform will net out as the “be all, end all’ space for teens. But as it turns out, we’ve seen the opposite – there’s been a continued fracturing as teens turn to diverse platforms for different needs and to engage with different groups of people. In MTV’s recent meta-study on Young Millennials, we asked 1,800 teens to rank how strongly a range of attributes correlated to each of 5 top social media platforms, so that we could “map” where these platforms live in their mental universe.
While certainly much of each platform’s utility has to do with the functionality of the site itself, we found some interesting nuances in how each of these play a role in Millennials’ lives:
Instagram: “My gallery and journal”- Instagram seems to be the spot associated with the most personal self expression, in terms of uploading original “selfie” photos and “things that I made.” Although “hearts” (for non-users, the feedback mechanism of Instagram) are extremely important, self-expression ultimately trumps feedback in this space. To our Millennials, Instagram is more than just slapping a filter on, as many non-users assume. It’s about downloading apps to get the right lighting, composition and effect. As one Millennial put it, “Instagram is more pure, more artistic. On Facebook, people just post things they think will get them likes.”
Tumblr: “Brand Me Making” - Tumblr pulled slightly more to “sharing with strangers” over friends, and was equally useful in terms of achieving popularity and well as creatively expressing oneself. We see thoughtful diary-like entries and carefully curated pages around themes like “all things neon” or “anglophile’s obsession.” So not surprisingly, the attribute “lets me curate a look or theme” ranked high, and at the same time, “lets me gain followers” was strong – alluding to many teens’ dream of achieving “Tumblr Famous” status (whether through creative self expression or simply being a teen hearththrob who garners fame from shirtless, bathroom-mirror-selfies, e.g Austin Stegman)
Facebook: “The Local Newsroom” – Across the board, Facebook does well across nearly everything we measured, but skews particularly high in allowing people to keep in touch with family and friends. “Likes” were also a big factor here, as Young Millennials saw it as a place to get a lot of feedback. As one Millennial put it, “I never post on Facebook unless I know it’s really funny and I’m going to get a lot of likes. Once I noticed I didn’t get over 17 likes in 5 minutes… and I regretted posting it.”
Twitter: “The Popularity Contest” – For most teens, the Twitter world is more-so a place to share with friends over strangers. While they may derive content from strangers, they are ultimately sharing with friends (and important to note, teens often consider celebrities to be more “friends” than strangers!) The drive for popularity was clear as “lets me gain followers” was the top attribute associated with Twitter.
Unlike on Facebook where teens keep in touch with friends & family about equally, Twitter is a place that lets you keep in touch with friends (49% agree) much more than family (26%)
YouTube: “Voyeuristic outlet” – While almost 60% of Millennials have made a video and posted it on YouTube, most of their YouTube experience is spent peering into the lives of others. The platform offers a space to interact with strangers, but also indirectly gain “likes” by sharing funny videos with friends in other social channels.
And about “drama”….
One other area we explored was the level of “drama” that each platform involved… and naturally, the platforms most associated with popularity (Facebook and Twitter) involved the most. High-schoolers throughout time have thrived off voyeuristic drama and gossip… as long as they aren’t at the center of it (Note: we’re talking “garden variety drama” and not digital bullying.) Alise, 17, says “I think everyone loves watching people argue on Facebook. Even people who say they hate drama.” Hunter says “I like seeing FB drama … seeing people’s secrets unfold.”
BY: Jillian Curran
What is the boobypack, you ask? The boobypack is an ‘upscale fannypack” created by Christina Conrad to revolutionize the festival-going experience and solve the problem…” Where to put my keys and wallet while fist pumping?!” MTV Insights often highlights Millennial businesses and we couldn’t pass up on this opportunity. After talking to Conrad, we realized just how much her business speaks to common traits of entrepreneurs of this generation.
When Life Gives You Skrillex, Make a Boobypack
Start with a passion. Many Millennial entrepreneurs tell us that their business evolved out of a passion or interest that they hoped would one day be their job. We found that 3 in 4 Millennials agree that even if they have a job, it’s important to have a side project, that could eventually become a career. Conrad is no exception, seeing the opportunity to optimize on a common problem she saw at her favorite festivals…the lost cell phone. She says, “ the Boobypack offers a fun, slightly silly solution that keeps your things safe. I wear a Boobypack whenever I go to the gym or a concert and it makes me feel completely free. It’s weird to think an item of clothing could change your psyche but it does.”
After her “AHA” moment, Conrad wasted no time. “One night when I was talking about this with my girlfriends, I thought of the name and the tagline– Boobypack, a top-shelf fannypack– and decided to run with the idea in the morning.” In today’s world, why let a good idea sit when starting a blog or creating a video is just a click away. Conrad admits it’s been a lot of responsibility so far, but is excited about the new opportunity. “Of course there’s something to be said for paying your dues and slowly climbing up the ladder, but I’m part of a generation that likes to move a lot faster.”
Crowdfund with a Twist
Make it creative and make it count. Sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have been bombarded with young business owners who are innovating the elevator pitch. Making fun and creative content alongside a powerful business plan is how they are catching the eyeballs of their peers. They are also giving back. Knowing this relationship with their consumer is give and take, they are offering co-creative opportunities like being a part of the decision-making process, attending the launch party or even some out of the box incentives like “coming to your town and throwing a grilled cheese party”
Sites like Kickstarter offer a close connection with the customer which Millennials are striving for. They want to feel like they are impacting their audience and a real and authentic way, as 72% say they have a real desire to create things that other people love.
Millennials know the power the consumer has to virally bring ideas to the surface. Kickstarter can also act like a social media platform to bring attention to their pitch. Conrad says, “People who fund Kickstarter projects really believe in innovation and small startups and helping the little guy succeed….I pitched the Boobypack story to a bunch of different websites and magazines to no avail and then when we more than doubled our fundraising goal on Kickstarter, Jezebel picked up the story, then Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Perez Hilton, Barstool Sports and others followed suit.”
The Boobypack In Beta.
Put the product out there, and see what happens. A common mentality we see among young entrepreneurs is put it out there, get feedback and then iterate, iterate, iterate. In an ever-evolving world, they have a deep understanding of permanent beta, testing it with the audience as a partner and creating a product that is versatile. Keith Systrom, founder of Instagram echoes this sentiment saying, “Plan A is never the product that entrepreneurs end up with.”
The boobypack, although originally aimed at athletes and concert goers is actually serving customers Conrad never expected. “Diabetics have messaged me saying it’s a fantastic vessel for their insulin pumps. Backpackers and world travelers have told me it’s a great way to avoid pickpockets. How about a version where the pocket is completely water-proof? Or one where the pocket is made out of an e-textile and it would actually charge your phone? I love the idea of a company starting small and then growing organically into something truly noteworthy. So I hope that in 5-10 years Boobypack will be at a place where we are really surprising people.”
Check out Christina’s Booby Pack and her new Ambassador Program where those who sign up and refer customers, get a 10% revenue share in Boobypack.com. Boobypack has sold nearly 1,200 Boobypacks and after the Kickstarter and Fab.com sales they’ve completely sold out of inventory!
You can learn more about the Boobypack at:
And follow Christina Conrad and the Boobypack on TwitterL
By Stephanie Monohan
It is no secret that geek culture has gone mainstream. Millennials, especially those on the younger end of the generation, have grown up learning that not only is it acceptable to have obscure, niche, or “nerdy” interests; those things can actually make you really cool.
We’ve also been seeing a lot of creativity surrounding geek culture and fandom, with young fans expressing their love for beloved shows, movies, comics, etc. and getting lots of feedback. One can find Millennials sharing this blend of fandom and maker culture on sites like Tumblr, but some fans have taken their fandom creations to the next level by creating businesses around their fandom self-branding.
Ant Roman of Nerdache Cakes (photo from Seventeen Magazine)
Ant Roman, 20-year-old cake decorator and owner of Nerdache Cakes, is one such fan. In a recent piece from Seventeen Magazine, we read about this self-proclaimed fan of “Superheroes, British Detectives, Doctors who travel in the depths of Space and Elementary School Cartoons.” She tells MTV Insights that she was a super-fan before she started baking: “I was born with nerd passion. Comic books were a huge love of mine. Star Wars was big when I was a kid, along with Sailor Moon. Fighting evil in cute outfits was all I have ever wanted to do.”
As a Millennial with a natural bent towards crowd-sourcing, she accepts a weekly baking challenge from one of her online followers and attempts to recreate her favorite characters in sweet form. She says, “Every week it’s Star Wars cupcakes, TARDIS cookies, and classic comic cupcakes. I won’t look twice at a purse cake – not nerdy enough for me! It that purse has a Batarang and a lipstick gun, however, that’s a different story.”
Teen Wolf cake
Fans contribute to and interact with their favorite fandoms in a variety of creative ways, most frequently through artwork, fan fiction, videos, music, etc. Nerdache Cakes is such an interesting project because it is not simply a baking business with a twist, but also a creative fandom outlet for Roman: “We all have a way that we contribute to fandom. I guess cake is mine! It really does make you feel like you are a part of something larger, with people who really appreciate your work.”
Check out Ant Roman’s work at www.nerdachecakes.com and follow her on Twitter at @nerdachecakes
By Berj Kazanjian, MTV
Costumed Hunger Games fans at midnight premiere
Photo via Associated Press/Wire Images
With the Millennial generation, we’re seeing a dramatic shift in the consumption of movie entertainment to a more self-expressive, communal experience. It’s no longer unusual for friends to plan themed outfits for a midnight showing of the Hunger Games or reenact scenes on YouTube the following day. MTV Insights took a deep dive into the Millennial movie-going experience to understand where movies fit into the Millennial lifestyle.
We found that, for a generation that defines itself by content consumed, “liked”, or shared, movies offer Millennials a common language through which they can express their identities and their own experiences. The overarching theme was the communal and completely absorbed experience:
•A place where they can UNPLUG TO RECONNECT : Movies have become one of the final frontiers in which Millennials can disconnect and be focused, but still be entertained. Movies offer the opportunity to be totally absorbed in one thing while also feeling a connection to fellow moviegoers. 79% of Millennials agree that, “going to the movies is a great way to escape from my busy life” and 64% attend movies as a chance to “break away” from regular life.
•45% of Millennials agree that midnight screenings are “THE NEW ROCK CONCERT”: 47% of Millennials have gone to a midnight screening. Midnight screenings offer the Millennial movie-goer a firsthand connection to a communal environment – an experience of a common thread among strangers both online but more importantly, offline.
Photo courtesy of Business Insider
• RISE OF FANDOMS is another example of the creation of a community around a movie. We are seeing huge increases in movie clubs on Meetup and Facebook (over 1 million people on Meetup alone). These clubs have further enhanced the movie going experience by assisting in the creation of fan communities who share a common interest in movie type, genre, and series. These groups thrive off of the experience of opening weekend and midnight screenings. 58% of Millennials don’t mind being seen as a fanatic for their favorite star or movie.
Photo via The Examiner
The flip side of being included is being excluded. It’s time to talk about SPOILERS and MOVIE FOMO. Social media and other factors in the online world can be extremely helpful for Millennials who are trying to decide which movies to see in the theater. But the internet is also a source of anxiety – filled with potential spoilers.
Almost 7 out of 10 moviegoers planning to post to social media after seeing a really good or really bad movie. While this is good for generating buzz, it further enhances the Millennial’s fear of missing out and anxiety about an accidentally encountered spoiler. It also increases the desire to be the first to see a movie and the first post among friends. 53% of Millennials feel that, “it is important to see a movie if everyone is talking about it” and 64% agree that it’s “important to be able to say I saw it first (premiere showing moviegoers)”. It’s just as important for Millennials to not feel left out of a shared experience as it is for them to be a part of the shared experience.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Millennials & Movie Going” …
By Alison Hillhouse
MTV recently conducted a meta-study on the younger end of the Millennial demographic to understand how teens today are different than their 20-something counterparts. Among many of the findings in ” The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On ,” MTV uncovered how teens across the US are adopting “maker” culture (once attributed to niche corners of Brooklyn and Silver Lake) … in spite of the stereotype that all they do is plug into laptops and iPhones.
A bit of background: Young Millennials (aged 13-17 in 2013) have always been conscious of the chaotic, hyper-competitive world that has slowly become a reality for the rest of us over time.
They know nothing other than an economic downturn, and are aware from a young age that the world is a hyper-competitive place – from college admissions to a tight job market. Bombarded in social media by images of Boston Bombings, Sandy Hook School, tornados and hurricanes, they’ve been raised in an “always-on” world where they are tapped into multiple feeds 24/7 and perpetually responsible for maintaining their online personal presence. To a Boomer or even Xer, this kind of “coming-of-age” sounds downright exhausting.
But this generation of youth is surprisingly adapting just fine. They’ve developed their own coping mechanisms to self-soothe, de-stress and de-stimulate. In MTV’s research, one of the coping mechanisms we observed is that teens today are unexpectedly choosing to take a break from “multi-tasking” and instead “mono-task,” meaning focus on immersive hands-on activities, like baking, sewing or crafting.
In fact, 57% like to take a break from technology to make things with their hands… and 82% agree “when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I like to stop and just do one thing at a time.” As Julia, 17 puts it “When I craft I’m in the zone, it really soothes me.”
But this doesn’t mean they completely abandon technology in the before and after moments that bookend their making experiences.
They study up in an endless library of DIY YouTube videos, learning how to hand craft books or sew custom iPad cases. They delve deep into Reddit forums to find the perfect way to brown butter with sea salt for chocolate chip cookies, as explained to us by 17-year-old baker Angela, author of Nagel’s Bagels. They watch hours of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on Netflix to understand the intricate dynamics of vampire stake making, as told to us by 13-year old Alice who whittles various types of stakes in her spare time.
And the important finishing touch? An Instagram photo of their creation to show the world the 7-layer cake that took 2 hours to bake and 5 minutes to eat. With social media, crafts & baked goods are granted a “second life” and serve an important function in helping hone one’s personal self-brand. We see teens today even more adept at developing their unique persona from a young age, realizing both the need to stand out to get social media likes and, moreover, showcase a unique side to get noticed in a highly competitive college admission process.
What we’re beginning to see is an emergence of “tech homesteaders,” who are nearly perpetually plugged in but carving out spaces to detach and return to the roots of humanity and do things by hand. The pickling, cheese-making and crafting movement we’ve seen in niche urban pockets seems to be finding appeal with these young teens across the country, with 8 in 10 agreeing “sometimes I just need to unplug and enjoy the simple things.”
This piece was originally published on Media Biz Bloggers