Trends and Insights for Millennials

shutterstock_273357098_PRESSWhen Grandma can’t figure out how to work that Smart Phone, what can she do? She simply asks her 5-year-old grandson or grand-daughter to help. They can do it. No problem. And when Grandpa was a boy, the comic book creators newly introduced the hero detective Dick Tracy…who actually had a telephone on his wrist. Ooooo! That was fantastic science fiction to Grandpa. Today, calling on the phone from the car is so the norm. We don’t even think about it. Technology on the wrist is our reality, now available at the local phone store. Grandpa thought Dick Tracy was an impossible future. In today’s world, detective Tracy wouldn’t have a chance against the tech of today’s bad guys.
The transformation of technology and everyday reality in the last 70 years has been breathtaking, with an increasing effect on each generation. Let’s take a look at the definition of the generations. The Baby Boomers (Grandpa’s generation) are usually considered those born within the years 1946-1964. The next group called Generation X is considered those born from 1965-1980. The Millennial generation is normally considered those born between the years 1981 to 1996. The Millennials are sometimes called Generation Y (or ‘Why?’). The generation after (today’s children) is known as Generation Z.
Today’s adults with young children (the Millennials) have been facing a very different world than their parents. Very different! The amazing advances of technology and culture have radically affected everyday living in the past 70 years. We have much more technology than television. Everyone seems to have an updated ‘smart’ phone functioning as a camera, a phone, a message center and a window to the Internet. We have a myriad of different apps to assist with an endless number of games and activities to either help or distract our focus.

Emerging Trends
According to the Pew Research Center and the Federal US Government studies there are several important trends clearly emerging.
1. Millennial families of today are struggling with social values. Controlling the demanding distraction of TV, phones, computers and iPads is challenging. One answer has been social media sites, which has reaped both positive and negative results. It adds to connecting with extended family, but provides no help with the immediate family in the home.
2. People are increasingly less likely to identify with a religious group. Surveys show those rejecting religious labels and affiliations doubled from 17 percent among Baby Boomers to 35 percent of Millennials.
3. The institution of traditional marriage is eroding with Millennials waiting to marry later, supporting same-sex marriage and/or living together without marriage.
4. Time Magazine nicknamed the Millennials as ‘The Me Me Me Generation: … lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” Today’s parents and children live in a very different world, not clearly understood by the older Baby Boomers. The less mature Millennials are characterized as the lazy narcissists unwilling to accept life responsibly.
5. Today’s families are more burdened with debt. This often stems from college loans and the impatient demand for overnight success, typically not willing to work and save like their parents did.
6. Millennials are distrustful of people in general, demanding quality and authenticity. But, in the same breath, they want entertainment, something fun! Before they buy, verification comes from blogs and posted ratings from others who have used a product or experienced something they are considering.
7. Politically, Millennials are more liberal but are mainly independent; 50 percent are not affiliated with any political party.
8. Millennials in general are more dependent on ‘reasoning’ than ‘faith.’ Some comments we read include (paraphrased), “God gave us a brain and reasoning, not religion!” and, “Religion cannot be explained in a tweet, so it’s irrelevant!”

Reason and religion
As with every generation, Millennials include the more mature and the struggling, I work with them continually. They are wonderful! I see the more mature as fighters, and the less mature, as fighters. They have hope but are often questioning, skeptical and extra anxious about the future, wanting help walking their path. Millennials (Christian and non-Christian) often think a personal encounter with God is a spooky ethereal spiritual experience, an epiphany. The purpose of that experience somehow insures entrance into heaven. But, they think, it’s disconnected from everyday reality.
Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” The wisdom of Proverbs reveals…we are what we are thinking. Many are stunned to discover Jesus is misquoted, saying ‘love’ is the first and great commandment. What did He actually say? Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is the great commandment. Note that loving God includes using our mind. In fact, Romans 12:2 tells us we are transformed, matured, developed by the renewing of our mind for the purpose of proving what is truly good.
Yes, it’s true. God gave us a mind and reasoning, not religion. And religious religion is irrelevant, but God is not irrelevant. He wants us to use our mind and reasoning He gave to love Him, love others and walk our path. This is THE answer.
If you’re curious and want more on this subject, try reading, “A Mind for God” by James White, and “Anti-Intellectual Intellectualism in American Life” by Richard Hofstadter. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Christianity is not an organized religion. Christianity is to love God, love others and include our whole heart, soul, mind and strength in the endeavor. Loving God with our mind is wonderful in the doing! Try it!
Tweet: Religious religion is not relevant. God is!

Steve Davis, Ed.S is an adjunct professor (adult development, research & writing) at Trinity International University. Now retired, he has also served as the registrar, advisor to the Master of Arts in Theological Studies and International Student Representative at Trinity International University, Davie. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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