By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
A whole slew of social commentary has emerged about what it’s like to be 20-something today, with sites gaining momentum like F*ck I’m in my 20s, Thought Catalog and Adulting. On these blogs, Millennials try to dissect the dos/don’t of this somewhat ambiguous life stage in the confusing and chaotic world today…. as Adulting puts it “figure out how to be a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps.” Our panelists often express similar feelings. Mike, 24 says, “We’re not really sure when we’re supposed to become ‘adults’ and I’m not sure if I’ll ever really feel like one.”
As we study this generation, we are seeing this constant need to know the “why” behind the “what.” As “natural researchers”, Millennials are always trying to decode issue and figure out a lifehack for it. It’s not surprising that they are collaborating and working out the rules of modern adulthood together in a funny and even self- deprecating way in these kind of forums. “This content is self-deprecating and honest, giving young people a platform to bitch, learn and figure it all out together.” Explains one of our panelists
All the self-reflection is perhaps not so surprising. There is so much conversation & media commentary out there about what it means to “grow up Millennial” and run headlong into an adulthood laced with unemployment and mounds of student debt. “20-something-milestones” and “before-30 bucket lists” abound. It’s so much a work in process these days, that adult has morphed from a noun to a verb!
By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
After spending countless hours on social media and talking to Millennials themselves, it’s impossible not to notice the rapid evolution of youth slang and how closely it is tied to the heartbeat of the generation. Here are a few emerging trends that speak to how they define what popular is today, living in the moment and their fratty sense of humor.
The Chill Hustle: We noticed two sets of words emerging simultaneously that describe the perfect combination of cool. One set comprised of words like, “chilla”, “chillax,” “straight chilla” and at the same time words like “hustle”, “on my grind”, “Boss” were popping. Put those two together and you get “the chill hustle”. These words describe someone who is motivated, successful, has their hands in a million things but can still have a good time. They make success look easy. For Millennials who thrive on being self-made, these words pop up in tweets and everyday speak to show how hard they are working and their jack-of-all-trades ambition. At the same time, they want to show they are cool, calm and collected and look damn good while their making moves. As one intern Jaclyn told us, “I have so much going on, but you always want to look chill. The worst thing in the world is to be called stressed!”
YOLO (you only live once) popularized by Drake’s song “The Motto” was a huge hit among Millennials. At first we saw people declaring this as their generational anthem, some tattooing it on their wrists or hashtagging it on every tweet; YOLO felt like it encapsulated Milennials’ care-free attitude and drive to live it up. But with anything, the oversaturation of YOLO has spurred an equally popular backlash. People have used YOLO to call out insignificant events or poke fun at people who are acting ridiculous. Either way, YOLO’s moment in time shows this generation’s desire to experience everything before age 30 and waste no time or opportunity.
Cool Story, Bro: We’ve seen a new kind of Frat Bro humor emerging, used to call out anyone that is acting dumb or foolish; mocking college frat culture. If past generation’s humor was more cynical or snarky, this generation is ruled by an undercutting wit, like a smart slap. Cool story, bro is a quick response to call out a friend and get the upper hand on the joke. “Cool story, bro. The best part was when you stopped talking”
Other variations of this lingo are:
o Soft : “Yo bro, You’re eating a pinkberry? Stop being so soft.”
o That’s so Frat: “Yo, is that dip spit on my sperries? #thatsofrat”
o She can get it: Guys have this faux-cockiness, so instead of saying “I’m into this chick”, it’s “Yo bro, Jenn can get it.” It’s like I’m so awesome, she can get with me!
In addition to some trends, here’s a quick list of random and awesomely funny youth speak. Who knows, some of these could show up in the next installment of Webster’s Dictionary.
- N.A.R.P (Not a Real Person): “Snooki is such a NARP”
- #Boom: Used after a good comment or joke, an extra exclamation. “ Making things happen today. #BOOM
- Wifed- Up: You’re guy friend hangs out with his lady too much. “ Kevin can’t hang out tonight, he’s wifed’ up”
- Getting Swole: For those who spend too much time in the gym. Short for swollen. “Yo Bro, you’re so swole!
- White Girl Wasted: For those who have a little too much to drink. “ Damn, I got so white girl wasted last night.”
- Selfie: Turn your camera around and take a pic, you got yourself a selfie. Some of our panelists have told us they will send selfies to their friends if they have nothing else to talk about.
- Mupload: Mobile Upload
Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
Silent Dance parties are taking off on college campuses and at festivals all around the country. Let me break it down…From the outside, it’s just a bunch of weirdos dancing in pure silence. But from the inside, it’s the best dance party you’ll ever go to. It was amazing to see the skeptical crowds make their way into the party, initiated with headphones into a experience that was both individual and collective at the same time.
Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
On Monday nights, young people flock to Union Pool, a local Brooklyn bar - not to listen to a new indie band or DJ, but to this man, The Rev and his Love Choir. Reverend Vince Anderson started the Church of the Holy Unruly Spirit of God in Christ in 2007, preaching what he calls “Dirty Gospel,” a mix of music, life lessons and an amazing way to spend a night out. Could this how Millennials will get their dose of spirituality?
By Jillian Curran and Chris Tracy, MTV Insights
“As long as I can remember, I’ve loved decorating myself in unique ways…tattoos seemed like the next level. I really love the idea of having a permanent reminder of a moment of something that I really loved that I can always carry with me” — Stephanie, 22
As MTV Insights continues to track cultural trends in the Millennial generation, we’ve noticed their affinity and creativity for body art. Self-expression today extends far beyond tattoos, piercings and the occasional hair dye. We see young people modifying themselves to match their moods. In a world where information moves at the speed of light and fast fashion rules, it’s no surprise that Millennials are not afraid to try anything.
Aside from tattoos and piercings we are seeing some temporary trends that give young people a chance to participate in the culture without the commitment. Sharpie Art (drawing designs on their hands or wrists), Stephanie describes, “Makes me feel like I’m still expressing myself without the commitment, and I can change it up whenever I want!” Some other notable trends Millennials are trying out are stacking bracelets (one for every side of your personality) nail art, and hair chalking.
When it comes to tattoos, we see a draw towards pieces that reflect who they are and what they hope to become. We had one panelist Darrah said she didn’t feel like her skin was “hers” until she was covered in tattoos. How better to document a feeling, accomplishment, or a crazy night out with a mark of permanence?
Some trends we are seeing Millennials gravitating towards are:
The Mantra: words and phrases like “confidence”, “happiness” and “love” or famous quotes, poems or passages
Nerd Tats: scientific equations, formulas, diagrams
Sign of Unity: a group of friends will all get a tattoo to signify an event, a time in their lives or an inside joke
Meme tats: a moustache on the inside on the inside of your finger, YOLO on your inner lip, very random.
In light of these body art observations, we decided to share the stories of our own tattoos because, hey, we’re Millennials too!
Chris: For my part, I always knew I wanted a tattoo, If I found something that’s been cool to me for almost 25 years, it will stay cool. I’ve always been fascinated by the mythology of the Celts – in which the raven, a bit of a trickster, can be both an omen of war/ strength in battle as well as a giver of language and vision - traits I find attractive as a writer. Sold on this idea, I contacted a friend I had made in an East Village shop and worked on incorporating my raven vision with his traditional tattoo style. The rest of the story is proudly on my arm now.
Jillian: Three years ago I moved to New York with my twin sister. It was a spontaneous decision that changed my life and has brought us closer than ever and we always knew that we wanted to remember this time in our 20’s with something permanent (sorry mom!). “Me for you, you for me” was something we always used to say to each other and felt like the perfect thing for my first tattoo, now onto planning the next one!
- By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
From the moment Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino stepped on the Summer Stage at Central Park last Monday, he refused to be categorized. One minute hard-hitting rap, the next an old school R&B croon. “This is not a rap show, this is a black rock show!” he announced mid-show (over an accapella re-mix of Adele), only to reverse his verdict in the encore.
Actor/comedian/rapper, he exudes what we at MTV Research call slashitude…as in “I’m a DJ/executive assistant/food truck CEO.” Even his name seems like an oxymoron wrapped inside an enigma.
One creative Millennial we interviewed in our study that coined “slashitude,” Marat Shaya describes it, “When I’m asked what I do, I say exactly what I’m good at… I say that I’m a video editor, an event planner, a photographer…but the older generation always wants to know my title.”
Another panelists Micah Spears says, “Now you can be anything…you don’t have to go to college and get a diploma that says you did ‘this thing’ you can now create your own identity, and be ‘these things’.”
Childish Gambino personifies the generation in a fascinating way. He is at once consciously playing with who and what he is, and letting us in on the game…polymathing with the rules in a way that almost invents the genre in real time.
By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
Valentine’s Day: couples at dinner, single dudes playing xbox….and some single ladies are playing what might just be the ultimate video game - online dating.
As of recent, dating in the digital world has become this generation’s biggest & best-kept secret. When asked, 1 in 4 of our viewers at MTV have online dated, while 1 in 2 has “had a friend” who’s done it! There’s something fishy about that math….
We wanted to get a deeper understanding of the secret life of online dating, so we enlisted a crew of fearless female crusaders to sign up on a dating site of their choice, and then document every ;-), photo flirt, and key stroke for 30 days and bring @mtvinsights along for the ride.
We quickly came to the undeniable conclusion that these young women weren’t just dating – they were gaming…and online dating had all the markers of the ultimate female video game.
Perhaps this comes as no surprise. MTV’s previous research into the “game-like” mentality of the Millennial generation revealed that the majority feel that “people my age view everything in life as a game”.
Before they knew it, our crew had been plugged in for hours. Armed with a smart phone as their controller and dinner dates as their leader board, the layers and levels of this process played out like a World of Date-Craft.
Level One: Player Select. For a generation allergic to categorizations, trying to sum up their personality in the “Personal Profile” box resulted in a virtual existential crisis. Each girl explained that the attribute balance was a high wire act between authentic and crafted persona. One participant even admitted having to redo her profile a number of times, admitting that after reading it aloud, it sounded nothing like her.
Picking Player 2 often made them, in fact, quite picky. With a database of a million faces, poses and profiles to choose from, little more than one weird picture or a cocky blurb caused our girls to click on by. One panelist referred to it as “like shopping for dudes.”
Level Two: One on One Combat. With the messages flooding their inboxes, they had to be quick on their feet to decide who to message back, avoid completely or ping. The girls soon formed their list of deal breakers as a “cheat code” to narrow down contenders. The most common dealbreakers:
- shirtless pictures (“omg”)
- the smolder stare (“lmfao”)
- pictures taken with other women (“wtf”).
“I couldn’t help but LMAO at some of the shocking and surprising content our girls shared with us. Guys taking pictures with animals to seem more sensitive, excessive use of emoticons…I mean come on! ”
Flirting in a digital world was a delicate dance of reading the signals in a very thin medium. As most girls expressed, nothing substitutes physical chemistry, so at a certain point, they felt the need to ditch the emails back and forth and make a reservation.
Level Three. Live Action Role Play. When going on a “live actual date”, our girls all expressed a flood of doubt as they met their potential suitors. “I’m in Awkward Land!” said one panelist. While most girls fear he’ll be a serial killer, most guys fear she’ll be fat.
The confidence behind the computer screen seemed to disappear at the door of the restaurant. Some dates went well, but most amounted to nothing but a comment-worthy Facebook post the next day. On screen chemistry, it seemed for our crew, was not necessarily a great indication of off screen romance.
Level Four: Game Over or Play Again. Online dating provided, it seemed, a digital shield to protect against rejection and press restart if Level I doesn’t progress to Level II. One panelist said, “If I don’t receive a message back it’s not that big of a blow to my ego since it’s only a date from the internet, it’s not real life. There’s always another game to start, another player to choose….”