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:
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” …
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
By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
We always pay attention when Millennials push a boundary, so most recently we’ve been looking at the generation’s relationship to diet and exercise regimes. Veganism, Juice Cleanses, and Gluten Free diets (used specifically for weight loss) are gaining momentum on college campuses; many girls are even starting their own blogs/Tumblrs to promote and show off their healthy lifestyle.
We’ve also seen a trend in bodybuilding and lifting among girls, as one panelist told us, “There are actually some girls on my Facebook who have taken up bodybuilding and post picture updates of their bulging muscles regularly. And one is kind of a girly girl, so I didn’t expect that. They’re not just wanting toned muscles, but muscles bigger than most guys have. The app “Watch Me Change My Weight (a time-lapse video of your fitness progress) is also popular. “ Many blogs and tumblrs are dedicated to this trend under the tag #fitspo, #fitspiration, and #Fitblr, curating workouts, diets and inspirational messages for motivation.
Running a half marathon or participating in a triathlon is “NBD”, “everyone does them” (and “humblebrags” about their workouts on Facebook). People are even entering out of-the-box competitions like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and Spartan Race that showcase crawling under barbed wire, jumping in freezing cold pools of water and running through fire.
We cant tell yet if it’s perfectionism, one-up-manship, sensation-seeking or some new dynamic driving this trend, but we’ll keep watching it closely and making mental notes while taking our Soul Cycle classes!
To paraphrase Warhol, everyone seems to be getting their 15 minutes of “Tumblr Fame.” The “Tumblr Famous,” those who gather a serious following and through this highly platform-specific notoriety, are multiplying.
TF is an interesting new development in the story of social media’s ability to create ‘distributed fame.’ What’s quite intriguing here is how hard it is to put your finger on what exactly is driving the popularity of any individual TF. It’s not “famous for nothing,” as some media commentators have claimed. Their followers clearly find something captivating about them. But what exactly is that elusive ‘x factor’ that’s so hooky with the follower fans?
It seems that the TFs are operating as “brand-lettes”…micro-brands broadcasting in a very specific, distinctive, authentic “micro voice,” and on a very particular “dog whistle” frequency: inaudible to many, a clarion call to some. This micro-branding is often playing with one or more quite sophisticated principles of good mass communication. For example…
Visual voice: Many popular bloggers can be identified by the visual vibe of their page or personal style. Molly Soda, for example, has fans who emulate her very particular look.
Editorial voice: Some popular Tumblr users include info and photos from their actual lives, but many don’t. “Deep” use of the reblogging function of Tumblr Tumblr to curate with a very particular viewpoint. This curatorial, filtered view appears to creating a kind of intimacy with the follower that that is especially compelling.
Relatable voice: Marketers have struggled for decades to create the illusion of relatable. So-called “Slice of life” advertising was coined for just this reason. “Hey, recognize this scene? Yes, it’s your life. Well here’s how this product makes it better…” By screen grabbing the stuff of their everyday lives and making a channel of it, TFs are creating complete authentic slices of life that invite the follower in to say “I know you, I recognize myself (or see my aspirational self) there, we are ‘friends’….”
Some of the “Tumblr Famous” are drawing in as many fans as mainstream celebrities. Clearly we are witnessing another chapter in the flattening of the field between the famous and the fan. One the one hand the distance between the famous and the fan is collapsing as we have discussed before (link to zero distance), and on the other the tools and techniques of fame are now in the hands of everyone, fueled by powerful platforms to bring that to full expression.
Stephanie Monohan, MTV Insights
Photo courtesy of Virginia Newton (@va_newton)
Social media has been playing a crucial role in the way Millennials talk about politics for quite some time, and that has never been more apparent than during the current election season. Following the presidential debate in Denver on October 3, Twitter announced that there were more than 10 million Tweets that evening, making it the most tweeted-about event in U.S. politics.
I myself attended a small debate party, in which we played “debate bingo” as a way to keep track of what topics the candidates covered and to make listening carefully to minute details on economic policy more fun. However, Twitter dominated the attention and conversations of everyone in attendance, for multiple reasons.
Twitter provided an outlet for users to share their reactions to the debate instantly, while also checking out the reactions of their friends, comedians, political analysts and experts, and even major celebrities, all of whom live-tweeted the event. People could either publish their own thoughts or instead re-tweet statements that they find humorous or intelligent as a way to convey their opinions without getting too personally involved in the conversation. Twitter (along with other social media sites) was also utilized as a live fact-checker for those closely following the stats and policies that the candidates mentioned. Even @MTV teamed up with the non-partisan FlackCheck.org to help their followers fact-check the information put forth in the debate in real time.
(courtesy of https://twitter.com/MTV)
Ultimately, the activity of Twitter users during the Presidential debates further demonstrates the complex ways in which Millennials utilize social media in their personal and politically active lives. There were plenty of jokes thrown around (Various Big Bird accounts appeared almost immediately upon the controversial Muppet mention), but even those reveal how Millennials’ political awareness is shaped by technology and what people share with one another online. However, while humor appears to be primary lens through which Millennials understand and talk about politics (and the fewer characters the better), it is still evidence of strong investment in the national/international issues and political discourse.
Matt Cohen, MTV Insights
Millennials are a hyper-charged generation that has been primed for success and raised to believe they can conquer the world with their special talents. Growing up, they were coached and encouraged by “peer-rents” and teachers to take the right classes, participate in the right extracurriculars, and do the right internships – all with the promise that if they were responsible and worked hard, they would be rewarded with a fulfilling job and a happy life.
However, post financial crisis, this typically optimistic and high-powered generation has crashed head-on into a very rude awakening — an economy where opportunities are limited and where they have to compete against equally supercharged and overqualified peers. And for the ones who are fortunate enough to land a job, many are discovering that workplaces aren’t as receptive and nurturing as the schools and homes they left behind.
Time and again, we hear from Millennials that they feel duped – that the rules of the game changed while they weren’t looking. Matt, 23, from Nashville tells us “It’s like you have to start fresh these days – the system is different. We started college, the economy tanked. We grew up with the idea: high school, college, get job, get married. I see guys with masters degrees working at sporting good stores.”
It’s not surprising then that nearly 7 in 10 Millennials in the workforce feel “underemployed,” meaning they aren’t in a job that truly leverages their capabilities. An equal number (72%) say they’re afraid of not living up to their potential.
However, despite this rude awakening brought on by the economic crash, Millennials maintain their characteristic optimism in the face of adversity. Millennials still believe that their dream job is out there - 6 in 10 Millennials say “I believe there is such a thing as a perfect job for me.” But they might just have to work a bit harder to find it – or create it themselves, with 6 in 10 agreeing “if I can’t find a job I like, I will try and figure out a way to create my own job.” In MTV’s recent “Generation Innovation” study, we met with Millennial creators, entrepreneurs and makers all across the country who are forging their own paths in this economy, starting anything from food trucks to bike sharing services to party planning apps. And their optimism shone through with their spirited motto “fail faster” – 1 in 2 Millennials (56%) agree their generation embraces failure as an essential part of success. If it doesn’t work, pick up the pieces and start again.
In a way, graduating into a bad economy has been rather liberating for Millennials. As a result of the crash, Millennials have realized that there are more important things than making money. Rather than chasing the biggest paycheck, this generation is looking for fulfillment in their work as we recently discovered in MTV’s “No Collar Workers” study. http://bit.ly/AaWs6W
It’s this spirit of Millennial resilience that has inspired MTV’s newest series “Underemployed”. “Underemployed” follows a group of friends who dream of “complete world domination” as they navigate a post-college world that is very different from the one they had imagined. The show picks up one year after the group has graduated from college. None of the characters are living the life they planned, but that doesn’t mean they are giving up. As Sofia (played by Michelle Ang) explains in the first episode, “You grow up wanting a certain kind of life – a dream of a life. But by the time you get there, that life is gone. You have to make your own life, and you have to make it your way.”
With “Underemployed”, MTV pays tribute to a generation that continues to persevere — and will undoubtedly succeed in changing the working world for the better. “Underemployed” premieres Tuesday October 16, 2012 at 10pm on MTV.