By Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
While Instagram feeds have been infiltrated by parents and grandparents, the world of Snapchat is still largely Millennial territory. Gen Xers and Boomers frequently ask us to decode Snapchat – why is it so popular? What does it entail beyond a constant barrage of selfies?
First, Snapchat is much more than “just another app.” It lives in a unique sweet-spot for Millennials, providing a new level of intimacy while at the same time preserving a certain distance. The easiest way to think about it is falling somewhere between “real life conversation” and everyday social media feeds, which has interesting implications as to how Millennials are changing the way they communicate today.
We’ll explain more, but first, a tutorial:
Snapchat 101 – the basic mechanics: You snap a photo or short video, send it to your friend(s) and once they’ve opened, it dissolves within a few seconds… never to be seen again. You can also easily subvert the system with your phone’s “screen grab” function, and hold onto friends’ images forever (or at least until you lose your phone).
The new “Stories” feature allows you to create a public, daily feed of your activities, with photos/videos lasting a full 24 hours for friends to peruse. Some users are in love with it, some are already annoyed. As Hayley, 19 notes, “‘My Stories’ has become kind of annoying, like Facebook, where people post everything like ‘I just went to the nail salon.’” Some also feel this function is more polished and planned than regular Snapchat, with people “trying too hard to show they are having fun at a party.”
So what do people Snapchat?
Snapchats tend to be selfies (usually awkward) or photos of “random” things accompanied by equally random captions. One teen drew a face on a photo of an orange, and sent it along with the caption, “You are a good person.” A few teens talked about photos of themselves collapsed over homework with pained captions. Caitlin, 22, snuck a photo of a guy with a puggle in his man-purse for her puggle-loving sister. And if you are in the heat of a Snapchat convo and can’t think of a good image to accompany what you need to say, you simply take a photo of your thigh or bedroom wall. Artistic, well-thought-out photos are left to Instagram, where content is more “official.”
- Snapchat your crush first, text later. A group Snapchat is often an ice-breaker to one-on-one Snapchats, which are icebreakers to texting (where more “real” conversation happens). “It’s kind-of weird to text someone random, but you can Snapchat someone random and it’s seen as friendly,” Ellen, 19, explained.
- Don’t overdo selfies to people who aren’t your best friends.
- Selfies are best if they are raw, funny and awkward … unless to your crush. Millennials tell us about adjusting lighting, hair and makeup. Kayla, 17, says she used to spend eight minutes getting ready for a Snapchat to her now-boyfriend.
- Don’t send too many Snaps in a day, especially to a crush. You’ll look stalkerish. One panelist capped it at “5 per day.”
- Be careful when you open videos in public. You have no idea what they contain.
- Don’t open a Snapchat immediately – again, this depends on the desired relationship you are looking to cultivate. N/A if it’s your best friend. Definitely important if it’s your crush.
- Snapchat can offer a great opp to get status updates on exes, crushes and exes’ crushes. One college student notes, “I see my exes watching ‘My Story,’ which creeps me out, but is also flattering.”
- If you are out with other friends and Snapchatting, make sure not to send to an uninvited friend.
Why is it working?
Many reasons — the most interesting is that it’s actually a very personal form of communication. Millennials are looking for more intimate, “face-to-face” interaction in a world that’s increasingly virtual. The intimate, impromptu selfies make you “feel like you are just talking to someone.” But, Millennials also tell us that it simultaneously provides a bit of welcomed distance.
Snapchat also offers authentic, unpolished glimpses into someone’s life (or at least the impression of this… as noted above, sometimes shots are staged).
It lets you be lazy. You don’t have to think of something substantive to say or consider how it’s going to be interpreted. Snapchat helps you understand tonality much quicker than texting. A teen said “A ‘hey’ over text can be really loaded, but if you see it over Snapchat with a photo you can tell that it’s a friendly ‘hey.’”
And, it can even be highly resourceful. Sonali, 19, says, “Two of my friends who live on opposite sides of the country planned an entire vacation to Canada together solely through Snapchat!”
With all of the above, it’s no wonder that Gen Xers and Boomers are trying to understand what SnapChat is and why it’s so popular. The easiest way to sum it up – it’s personal, but not too personal. Welcome to the future of communication.
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.
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 Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
Twitter is on trend with Millennials, particularly teenagers who are looking for a more coded, parent-free and conversational platform to chat & share pics.
Time spent on Twitter has climbed significantly in the past year amongst young Millennials aged 12-24: total minutes spent Tweeting on a PC/Mac are up +94% (Oct to Oct) and up 62% on mobile (ages 18-24; both app+mobile site).
Of course, Facebook is still the elephant in the room, or the mammoth we should say. Its 34.3M 12-24 year-old users dwarf Twitters’ 12.4M (on Mac/PC, Oct.) But the fact that Twitter is picking up steam is something to explore further. MTV Insights hears more & more teens across the country getting excited about Twitter, and here are a few of its advantages…
The age-old teen cry “get out of my room” has now translated to social media. While Millennials often have more peer-like relationships with parents, this doesn’t mean that they want parents involved in their online social life. A group of high school boys from Cincinnati revealed to us: “the good thing about Twitter is parents aren’t on it.”
The 144-character-limit to Tweets naturally gives rise to a more coded language amongst teens; one that not only parents have difficulty interpreting, but also friends who aren’t in on the joke/storyline. Teens frequently “subtweet,” or post coded/vague messages that only the right receiver will be able to interpret (messages that often give rise to intense speculation amongst classmates interested in that night’s drama…)
A subtweet might involve the phrase #oomf (one of my followers) which gives someone the opp to vaguely direct the tweet, e.g. “I like that #oomf said she was going to sleep but is still Tweeting.”
Teens love that Twitter gives them permission to share more “train-of-thought” commentary. Alise, a 17-year old from Chesapeake, VA says “I think Twitter is better because it’s updated in real time. I think Twitter is more of a “train of thought” site – people pretty much post anything they want from jokes to how they feel to what they did today.”
Alondra, a junior from Redford, MI explains “Twitter’s become very popular in my school. While on Twitter, they Tweet all day. You can mention things you’re doing every second of the day without posting it on Facebook and seeming annoying.”
Teens pretty much feel pressured to Facebook-friend their entire school… but Twitter is generally a more socially acceptable environment to be selective. Andy, a 16-year-old female from New Jersey explains: “Twitter is a good way to separate my acquaintances from my best friends. On Facebook, I have a bunch of people, most of which I don’t even talk to. On Twitter, I have people that I can’t go a day without talking to.”
While a lot of Twitter is all about interacting with friends, it’s equally as entertaining to follow celebs, news, sports and parody accounts. So to conclude, we’ll end with a few handles that our @MTVInsight teen panelists recommend:
· Bad Luck Brian: @UnluckyBrian
· Funny Facts: @FunnyFacts
· Aziz Ansari: @azizansari
· Bleacher Report: @BleacherReport
*Data source: ComScore
By Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
Drake wannabees, Japan-o-philes and Asian Gangsters certainly aren’t cliques you would’ve found in high school 20 years ago. And a “nerd” might have been more monolithically caricatured as Screech from Saved by the Bell… instead of today’s breed of nerds that run the gamut from anime players to orch dorks to even “popular nerds.”
While cliques are a timeless high school institution, MTV Insights has found that cliques have morphed to reflect the increasingly diverse, unique and fluid nature of the Millennial generation. We had high schoolers in our nationwide MTV Creative Lab (hosted by Ypulse) diagram their high school cliques. And here’s what we saw….
While some of the clique infrastructure of yesteryear continues to hold true—there are still groupings like “alternative” “nerds” and “popular”—these overarching classifications have splintered into micro-cliques that highlight the unique personas of today’s youth.
At one New Jersey high school, “alt kids” are fragmented into hipsters (“non-conformists”), emo-scene (“depressed hipsters”) and “alts-in-training” (“still deciding which sub clique to belong to”). Honors kids are known for their different academic inclinations, including “nouveau honors” who have just entered the honors scene and are figuring out how to sub-specialize.
Clique diagrammers were also adamant that there were many micro-cliques of nerds, and not surprisingly, 81% of Millennials agree “there are different types of nerds – weird nerds and cool nerds.”
A map of “50 shades of nerd”:
Another high-schooler segmented out her school by where groups sat at lunch hour. She pointed out the nuances in tech types including programmers, gamers and techies… and even fine-sliced “band nerds” and “orch dorks” as distinct cliques (both who lunch together in the Fine Arts Hallway.)
Although cliques have fragmented and specialized, there’s a new fluidity to cliques – 6 in 10 Millennials agree “At my school, it wouldn’t be uncommon for an athlete and a nerd to be friends.” Millennials told stories of cliques coming together for creative collaborations, like “techies” and “rockers” fixing a guitar pedal together.
It’s also desirable to be connected to multiple cliques for diversification and inspiration – 7 in 10 Millennials identify with being a “floater.” DJs are the ultimate “cross-cliquers,” according to many… particularly given that EDM is such a universally appealing music, bringing together jocks, hipsters and “scene” kids.
But it’s not to say high school is one big happy family – clique clashes occur, such as those between “plastic cheerleaders” and “scene girls who side shave their hair.” This elaborate diagram of guy cliques shows both inter-clique fluidity and clashes:
No longer are high schoolers left with just hallway gossip and school functions to get a glimpse into the lives of other cliques – social media offers a 24/7 voyeuristic view into the inner-workings of every clique.
Cliques have an unofficial code of FB posting… of which others are hyper-aware. The artsy kids share poetic thoughts and photos of themselves looking distant and aloof. Popular girls paint an image of a perpetual party, including “highly edited photos that poorly conceal how intoxicated they were” and “photos of themselves in yoga pants plastered to butt, super short shorts.”
And imagine what it’s like now that The Stoners have iPhone access?! Tech has given birth to #highdea and #stonerproblems… and helped spurn the virality of YouTube stoner sensation - Cows & Cows & Cows. Check it out… you’ll be mesmerized for what seems like hours.
And as for the sub-species of “Drake Wannabees” … “he tries to be sensitive and tough, fails at both and is completely self-involved, annoyingly uses ‘YOLO’ and ‘Swag’ any chance he gets.”
More clique maps:
By Alison Hillhouse
I have to confess… I was totally surprised by how this generation rallied around the Olympics. Research I’d done a few years ago indicated young people felt rather lackluster about the Olympics. But after a decade of waning interest in Athens and Beijing, we saw Millennial frenzy around London 2012.
What’s going on here? MTV did some research to dig in more. Of course Millennials were drawn to the Olympics for timeless reasons – emotional stories, the world uniting, the awe of human possibility (particularly with Usain Bolt, a modern day superhero with gold wings on his feet and a signature “lightening move.”) But peeling back the layers, we uncovered some driving forces that galvanized this generation around the Olympics like never before:
Antidote to Recession: The Olympics have always inspired us to persevere in the face of adversity, and this year, they particularly struck a chord with coming-of-age, job-challenged Millennials wading through tough economic times. Nicole, 21, noted, “I’ve been having a tough time and Olympics showed me with perseverance I can get through this time.”
Meme-ing for medals: This was the first Olympics with meme culture in full force – and “unimpressed McKayla Maroney and Ryan Lochte “Hey Girl” memes provided constant reminders to tune in. As Liz, 19 says, “I wouldn’t have watched half the games I did had I not hear about them through social media.” Laura, 17, described favorite Olympic moments as a combination of actual events and meme-able outtakes: “My favorites were Gabby Douglas’ gold, Phelps 20 medals, watching Aly Raisman’s parents and the Aly Raisman meme.” In fact, 6 in 10 Millennials agree: The best part of the Olympics was the funny things people passed around online.”
My own private Lochte: While backstories are nothing new to the Olympics, we’re closer to athletes than ever thanks to Twitter & Instagram. Millennials loved how they could tweet to athletes and see “athletes Tweeting to each other” (“it’s as if I was in London!” says Liz, 19.) Behind-the-scenes views like Jordyn Weiber’s TwitPic of the Fab5 riding the double decker bus and posts on the excessive condom usage at Olympic Village were Gen Y favorites.
The Gold for Abs – A generation who’s creating Fitspo Pinterest pages of toned bodies and views bikini-clad celebs in US Weekly as a reference for “body perfection” was obsessed with the hot bodies of Olympians… so naturally it became trendy to rave about swimmers abs on your Facebook page and post “I wanna have Ryan Lochte’s babies.” And it wasn’t just 15 year old girls - in our youth obsessed country, both moms and the media were in a frenzy over “cute boys in Speedos.” (just like they all rally around boy bands like One Direction)
London Calling: A country obsessed with celeb-royalty, Prince William & Kate and all things British was eager to see London as a backdrop - Nearly 7 in 10 Millennials said that London as a host city made them more excited for the Olympics.
As Millennials come of age, the spirit of the games fits perfect with their mentality of positivity, connectedness and perseverance… and the celebrification of Olympians fits in perfect with our ever increasing obsession with fame.
By Alison Hillhouse
At MTV, we’ve been fascinated by how the humble hashtag has become an icon of Millennial communication – not just on Twitter, but also in texts, Facebook posts and in regular conversation.
Its a kind of “Swiss Army Knife” of new age punctuation, and depending on context, can serve a whole functions… and helps packs more punch into your 144 characters.
We asked our interns Jaclyn Rosen (University of Florida) & Jessica Cohen (Washington University) to delve into the complex world of hashtagging and help us to decode and “categorize” their generations’ uses of this zeitgesit keystroke. Here’s their #RosettaStone:
> Instant punchline: To amplify an otherwise ordinary statement into a joke (and therefore into social currency)
Example: Pin stripes, top hat, gloves and a cane? Well shit… #prom #yolo #herdinghoeslikesheep
Example: A homeless man told me I was “pretty hot for a white girl” #IsThatACompliment?
> The pre-emptive excuse: To undercut our arrogance when we want to complain a little about our #firstworldproblems, or to be brutally honest.
Example: “I couldn’t even tell ya the price of gas right now. I just buy it. Don’t even look #sorryimnotsorry”
Example: Harry’s tattooed arm looks like a small child doodled on him #SorryNotSorry Why am I so in love with that loser?
> The veiled confession (or the bargain therapy session): To reveal our innermost thoughts to the world. “Tweet to me” is the new “talk to me”.
Example: #10WorstFeelings Going to bed with a broken heart.
> The digital dog whistle: To connect with friends (& strangers) who share similar interests and are on the same special wavelength .
Example: #WhatMostWomenWant To eat without getting fat
Example: Stiles from #TeenWolf is the best freakin character… ever.
When the archeologists of the future dig down to understand the lives of ancient civilizations, they will no doubt have a field day with this one. Turning those 2 sets of parrallel lines in their muddy fingers they’ll perhaps wonder “how did something that meant ‘number’ or was called ‘the pound sign’ become this….?”
- Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
A generation that’s grown up on a diet of Angry Birds and Call of Duty views life as a multi-level, multi-player game – and the workplace is no exception. No longer do young employees view the career ladder as a rigidly defined series of steps to get to the top. Millennials aren’t going to spend 40 years in the same job, waiting for someone else to tell them they’ve advanced to the next level. A 22-year-old who’s invested years of prep-work in school, extra-curriculars and internships (not to mention has amassed massive student loans) is ready to put his training to good use and is eager to plot out the next move in the complex game we call “work.”
Millennials are taking control of their own destiny, looking for trapdoors and ways to switch roles within a company or start something on their own to “level up” faster. In fact, MTV’s “No Collar Workers” study shows that 74% agree “if the workplace were like a game, I know how to “level-up” faster than others,” (versus 59% of Boomers). It’s not that Millennials don’t value the experience of elders, it’s just that they deeply desire to be successful and believe if they put in effort it’s possible to find a speedier way to progress.One pathway to success might be job switching – 1 in 2 believe “switching jobs helps you climb the corporate ladder faster” (versus 37% of Boomers.)
The start-up world also gives Millennials the opportunity to skip several levels – MTV recently met with Millennial-founded company “Uncharted Play,” (http://www.unchartedplay.com/) which has multiple VPs and a CEO under the age of 25. They explained that start-ups are inherently sailing unchartered waters… so why not “advance to go” and start out as a VP?
This game-like, warp-speed mentality also plays into how Millennials go about working, with44% “looking for loopholes to get the job done.” (versus 24% of Boomers). But before jumping to conclusions, take into account that the Millennial definition of “loophole” is very different from the Boomer definition! As highly resourceful digital natives, Millennials are looking to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible, and are allergic to any sort of processes or systems that slow them down. It’s not about skimping but rather about finding “smart-cuts” (http://ow.ly/cj4Zi) to increase efficiency (80% agree “it’s not about how hard you work, it’s about how smart you work.”).
While older generations might have put up with unnecessary processes & paperwork ala TPS Reports (http://ow.ly/cj55l) in Office Space, Millennials are finding ways to get rid of extraneous steps to increase efficiency. There’s simply no time to write 100-page Powerpoint presentations with “plop factor” and no punch, a 5 slide presentation might just make the point!
- Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
Tonight MTV presents “Demi Lovato: Stay Strong” – a one-hour special that documents Demi’s struggle with physical and emotional issues and her journey through recovery. Demi represents a new breed of Millennial celebrity – one who is loved not for her shiny veneer and untouchable image, but rather for presenting an extremely raw and authentic version of herself to her fans. Some call this new obsession with people and things that are imperfect: “flawsome.” Our panelists find Demi to be “inspirational” “real” and “not afraid to embrace her differences.” As Benjamin, 17 puts it “she’s a human kind of celebrity.”
Young people today are demanding transparency from celebs as well as a new level of intimacy with them… Millennials choose role models who are unique, true to themselves and not afraid to own up to their problems. With the advent of celeb gossip blogs & magazines in the past decade, it’s becoming harder and harder for celebs to maintain their pristine image… but while most remain mum or deny rumors, Demi has embraced her less-than-perfect image. Adalee, 19 explains “Unlike many celebs, she faced everybody and admitted that she isn’t perfect and was in rehab. Most celebs try to hide the fact that they are going through troublesome times.” Lindsay 21, says “I respect her for being so open about her mental health issues, which aren’t talked about enough and are heavily stigmatized.”
Body issues continue to be a growing issue for young women, and many MTV fans note that she’s become a great role model for young women who feel the pressure to be “super skinny.” She’s not “totally fake looking” and is able to “love who she is.” Even guys are getting in on the Demi-love… Jervone, 19 says “she is a good person for keeping it real and not acting like she isn’t a normal teenager…. Go her!”
As we hear more and more from Millennials… perfect = boring. This generation says it’s time to celebrate what’s real.
Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
1. They seem to like poking fun at themselves…in that self-referential-post-modern-we-are-in-on-the-joke-about-how-others-see-us way:
The now defunct yet wildly popular “Stuff White People” Like seemed to launch the “Stuff____people____” genre in 2008, and since then we’ve seen a whole host of sites and handles that reflect this satirical Millennial mainstay: @TotalFratMove and @TotalSororMove, @BetchesLuvThis (which pokes fun of many a young women’s obsession with having a gay BFF, claiming to have ADD and “Betch of the Week” Pippa Middleton), “15 Things White Girls Do on Facebook” (share pictures of undeserving food, post complaints like “Never eating at AppleBees AGAIN” or publically thank their hubby for being the best hubby in the world)….
… all of which has has inexorably led to the massive viral video series “Shit Girls Say”. The original video has over 14 million viewers and a cameo by Juliette Lewis to boot. In the comments section of this video are a massive pile of “I hate to admit it…but this is SO me!”
So we talked to our MTV Millennial advisory board to dig a little deeper into this phenomenon, to try to understand how they really feel about these kinds of sites and humor and what’s driving all the eyeballs.
First they told us about their generational trait to want to celebrate a more flawed, real side of themselves….something we’ve heard described as “flawsome.” As Amanda, 24, puts it “Who wants to hang out with someone who is really proud of themselves all the time? Flawless can be boring, and cocky, one-uppers are pretty exhausting and annoying.” In fact, 79% of our MTV Millennial panel claims “It’s cool to make fun of yourself.”
Second, we heard that when your whole life is on display on Facebook, the stakes are very high if you don’t have a sense of humor about it. All the posts where you reflected deeply on Kings of Leon lyrics…where on earth do you go with that if you can’t have a public laugh at yourself for it?
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we heard that Millennials don’t want to look the fool who is out of the loop. It’s important to be in on the joke….and the best way to do that it to create the joke. As we’ve noted before, smart ‘n’ funny is the new rock ‘n’ roll, with the emphasis on smart. Amanda, 24, correlates this desire to poke fun of ourselves with the popularity of Snooki “We’d rather be the first ones to poke fun at ourselves instead of waiting for someone to criticize us for it. I think Snooki is the perfect example of this. She’s totally laughing with us. She knows the hair, and the pickles and the tanning are over-the-top ridiculous, but she owns it and she’s the first one to laugh at herself. That’s why Snooki holds a special place in our hearts.”
This is, it seems, the age of hyper-consciousness of how you are portraying yourself to the public, as you “come of age, on stage.” And with this self-awareness also comes self-reflection, a constant analysis, synthesis, remixing and reposting of one’s attitudes and behaviors. As Jaclyn, 18, puts it “I think a defining feature of my generation is we often feel like we’re living in our own reality show…writer, director, cast, and editor…”
Full disclosure, as an Xer, I’m jealous of Millennials. We didn’t laugh for a single second at of our obsession with Saved by the Bell. And I was that suburban white girl driving my parents’ SUV around, blasting 90’s hip-hop like Gin & Juice… without a even a hint of absurdity.