Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Living in Their Own World

Want to know why it’s hard to break through to Millennials? Research suggests they spend 18 hours a day consuming “media,” much of it generated by their peers.

Millennials-3Millennials literally are living in their own world.

Many also are still living in their parent’s basements.

The hooked-up generation, by all estimates and test scores, is no less intelligent than preceding generations. But it is the first generation to be so fully immersed in digital technology. Mention life without a smartphone and watch horror grow across their faces. A faulty battery charger often is the greatest life crisis they have faced. Death is like, you know, just another curable disease.

If death is just a passing phase, then maybe the greatest danger they face is assuming all that peer-shared information is accurate – or real. Former Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o isn’t the only person to be duped online by a make-believe girlfriend.

Worming your way into the consciousness of this generation probably would involve Instagram, but it also may require jumping into a parallel universe where traded data is accorded the same value as corroborated information from trusted sources. It would be like giving the same weight to posters pasted on light poles as the NBC Nightly News. Or believing Frank Underwood is actually a Member of Congress.

No wonder the words of a rapper carry more punch than an elected official. Millennials have a social media relationship with the rapper. They’ve never heard of the elected official, except Congressman Underwood.

In fairness, Millennials tune in to traditional media, listen to the radio and watch TV – sometimes all at the same time. – for as much as three hours per day. However, they spend 15 hours on social media, looking at photos, sending text messages and consuming videos. They check out friends, monitor the latest movie trailers and chat, often in coded language that is something less than monosyllabic prose.

The Millennial world is strangely  interconnected and insular, outward-looking and self-absorbed.

Good luck to marketers trying to figure out how to talk with this audience. Good luck to parents trying to call down to their Millennial in the basement to come up for dinner.

UnknownAs frustrating or puzzling as Millennials appear to be, they are our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews and next-generation employees. Instead of joining them in their rabbit hole, we need to find a way to invite them into the sunshine of the world we inhabit.

Or we can just elect Frank Underwood, wait for next season’s episodes on Netflix and hope for the best.







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