Much has changed over the last 28 years. But on this, the anniversary of my reluctant birth, I can't help but dwell on the fact that my people (a.k.a. narcissistic, lazy, screen-obsessed Millennials) are no longer the new kids on the block. That's right! Soon we'll be as irrelevant and useless as Generation X or whatever they're called. (Honestly, when's the last time you heard researchers analyze anyone other than Baby Boomers and Millennials? I rest my case.) You see, Centennials have arrived and they are here to drive marketers crazy. Once again, those responsible for raising the latest wave of young people will indirectly shun their own parenting skills by judging these persons as one collective entity and relinquishing any accountability for their current state.
Frankly, I've been eagerly anticipating this day for quite some time. Marketers will finally stop telling me I'm terrible and awful and the harbinger of crises to come! Now the true digital natives will have their time in the sun--the scorching hot sun of shame and disgust. (You think I'm over exaggerating, but deep down, we all know I'm not.) For years, Millennials have had to dodge the term 'digital natives' because, while the assumption seems plausible, it couldn't be further from the truth. Countless people claim Millennials grew up in a world where information has always been at their fingertips, providing instant gratification at all times. But, when you remember that the first iPhone wasn't released until 2007, one must acknowledge that even the youngest within the Millennial bracket spent the first 12 years of their life without the vision of smartphones dancing in their heads.
Born in the middle of the Millennial pack, I personally came of age during an era of steady change. My early years were filled with rotary phones, typewriters, and physical encyclopedias my grandpa purchased in the 1970s. By fifth grade, our librarian taught us how to use the Internet. (As I recall, Netscape and 'Ask Jeeves' were really popular back then). However, it wasn't until high school that I acquired my first iPod and dial-up Internet connection. By senior year, I even had my own cell phone! (No, I couldn't text. But at least it wasn't as antiquated as my mom's beeper.) Heck, even our school newspaper's digital camera seems like an ancient relic now. It was so massive that it required floppy disks--floppy disks!--to store images because it's 12-photo internal memory just wouldn't suffice.
Yet, according to one recent article by The New York Times, I'm not who I think I am. Just look at the photo below and you'll see what I mean. My first gadget was Sega Game Gear, not an iPod, I haven't thought much about the Olsen twins since their greatest success, Brother for Sale, was released, and I'm not even sure I want to know what PewDiePie is.
Come now, people! When I was young we basically had to call the Internet. Now we wander around with the Internet in our pockets. Marketers, button up. Your age is showing. And I'm afraid that this disconnected mindset will only continue to hinder progress as leaders try to "understand" this supposedly more complex generation. Are marketers so out of touch now that they've forgotten that they, too, were once the bane of their elders' existence? Is this distaste for young people some sort of rite of passage? Will dozens of readers write angry comments and tweets because they can't stand my sarcastic, condescending tone even though this is what Millennials, and now Centennials, have to put up with every time another think piece goes viral?
If so, then please--do your worst. After all, this cycle can't go on much longer, anyway. Centennials are also known as Generation Z, which means we're all out of letters. Take this accusatory mindset any further, and it'll only spell trouble for future attempts to connect with all subsequent generations.