I'm a millennial. And damn proud of it. There, I said it.
I'm not ashamed. I don't deny it. And I don't mind being defined by it. It's a part of who I am.
Every generation is destined to look back and reflect upon their predecessors.
I'm pretty much the expert on this, as a member of "generation y" or fine, have it your way, "the millennials".
Because well, let's face it, we get a bad rep. We've had insults hurled our way since the very git-go. For starters, we were born in the wake of a technological revolution. In 1991, the year before I was born, an early version of the World Wide Web was released. In the first year of my infancy, CD's outsold cassette tapes. Just a few short years later in 1999, the Google search engine was launched. And in 2001, Apple launched the first iPod, offering "1,000 songs in your pocket".
Because of our pre-disposed technological inclinations, we are looked down upon by prior generations with both admiration and disdain. Like they are both thrilled and disgusted by the fact that we, their kids, grandkids and great grandkids of the 21st century, are no longer walking the hypothetical "five miles to the bus stop each day". But instead, hailing an uber, searching out answers on the internet, or building our own virtual realities to escape the ones we were given. "Those millennials," you'll hear older generations mutter "so addicted to their devices, so lazy, so entitled." But while technology may have played it's role in some of our shortcomings, there are many other factors that define our generation as well: (take into account that some of these are fact based and some are purely opinion based)
1.) We've officially outnumbered the baby boomers and a large portion of our generation is represented by immigrants. (Take that Donald Trump)
2.) We are waiting longer to settle down, get married and have a family. Instead, we are redefining our 20's as the decade of exploration and allowing ourselves the opportunity to figure out who we are and what we want.
3.) We have more student debt than any other generation, in fact, the average amount of student debt has nearly quadrupled in the last decade (No wonder many of us still live at home). Yet, our generation is the most educated generation to date.
4.) However, a large majority of us are still unemployed.
5.) We are more tolerant, we are pro LGBT, black, hispanic, yet simultaneously more aware of the overt racist, sexist and xenophobic nature of those around us.
6.) We are incredibly skilled in the art of multi tasking.
7.) We work HARD. Many of us work multiple jobs, over 50 hours a week just to make ends meet.
8.) We have seen mass homicides, more gun violence and total chaos in the mental health system in our short lifetime than most people see in their entirety.
8.) AND we are still optimistic. 41 percent of us are satisfied with how things are going in this country compared with 26 percent in those over the age of 30.
So yes, technology has helped shape us in many ways but so have many other factors of our upbringing.
And while many may judge the influence of technology on our character, I believe that may of us regard the evolution of technology with fondness as the milestones of our adolescence (or at least I do).
For example, in 6th grade, a friend of mine got her first cell phone. A bright pink Motorola razor. I drooled over it. And I distinctly remember the excitement of getting my own pink razor during the fall of my sophomore year of high school. I had just turned 15 and I was behind the curve, most of my friends already had cell phones.
Junior year of high school - I sent my very first text. My parents bought the very basic texting plan, something like 10 texts a month and .25$ for any text after that. I tried rationing them, it didn't work.
My senior year of high school, the freshman class was required to have laptops, a fixed cost that was included in their tuition. As upperclassman we suddenly felt inferior. Why them? Why not us?
But during that very summer leading into my freshman year of college when my parents gifted me a brand new macbook for graduation, all the envy washed away. I was beside myself. And as you read this, here I am, typing away on that very same macbook, seven years later.
And the technology timeline doesn't end there. In college, I was one of those anti-smartphone advocates. I championed my LG Chocolate, and then the LG Touch until the bitter end. Adamantly denying the convenience of a phone that could serve as a portal for my school email, online assignments and social life all wrapped into one.
It wasn't until my junior year in college, as a study abroad student in Florence, Italy, that my boyfriend at the time came to visit bearing the gift of an iPhone 5. I hate to admit that it became my lifeline. I could FaceTime and SnapChat with my family at home, use the camera to take pictures instead of toting my clunky DSLR around (the quality was almost equal) and quickly retrace my steps in the right direction with Google Maps which was a god sent given my navigational skills or lack thereof.
And these days, I couldn't live without my smartphone. Whether it be checking my work email, checking to see how many new blog subscribers I have ;) or uploading my latest snapshot to Instagram, my phone is like an extension of who I am. It knows which sites I visit most, what weird words or phrases I've googled recently, that I like videos of corgi puppies and miniature pigs in addition to knowing things like my peak hours of usage and my personal or work calendar. All in all, it knows me, sometimes better than I know me.
SO where does all of this bring us, you ask? Why back to Pokemon Go of course.
Over the weekend, my boyfriend (also a millennial, but in denial) and I, decided to take a walk. Totally oblivious to the resurgence of Nintendo and having outgrown any and all things Pokemon decades ago, we were in for a treat.
At first, we marveled at the sheer volume of people who had decided to walk that same path, at that same time. I mean its a nice path, don't get me wrong, but if we've walked it once, we've walked it a thousand times and never before had we seen so many people. However, at second glance, we noticed something else. Everyone was on their phone.
Odd? You might say. Not particularly. But while you may run into the occasional mobile user on a walk, almost every single person was in a group or a pair and without fail, every single, solitary person, was on their phone. Every. Single. One.
Were we missing something? Was there some sort of public service announcement we had conveniently overlooked? Were we getting too old? Were we out of the loop? Since when did we become UN-hip? We're still in our 20's for goodness sakes. It felt like that episode of Doctor Who when everyone suddenly... Well anyway, I digress. We began to panic.
Luckily a couple nearby noticed and clued us in "Pokemon Go," they said. "It's fun" they said. Direct quote. But actually, they did say that, and they were also kind enough to demonstrate how it worked.
Needless to say, I'm not a gamer. I don't get it, it doesn't make sense to me. I'm not interested. But I have a brother who has always been a little more social in the virtual world than in the real one and I appreciate some of the unique attributes of the game.
Like for example, :
1.) It gets people out of the house
2.) It brings people together
3.) It inspires cool pictures, like pikachu on the grand canyon and so on and so forth.
4.) It gets people excited and therefore they become happy and therefore they feel they've found a purpose and with more downloads than Twitter, something is working, right?
5.) It's sparked a movement. Literally, cue the video of people flocking to NYC in blind pursuit of rare pokemon.
So the more I think about Pokemon Go and the more I reflect on my generation and it's reputation, the more I feel like its all sort of symbolic.
Technology is advancing everyday and so are we. Maybe we can't see it right now, but it will help to improve our lives just as much as it may create skepticism and roadblocks. For those of you that cast it out, you might want to open your eyes because it's coming whether you want it or not, so maybe it's time decide where you want to stand.
And I think you should stand with us, stick up for us, be the change in us, in it, in the world.
And for goodness sakes, we have enough on our plates right now, so please, just leave us our games.