Monday, February 18, 2013


We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

–Lyrics by pop-rock trio “Fun,” Winner of the 2013 Song of the Year Grammy
While watching the 2013 Grammys  with my husband and my two Millennial-aged children, an amusing moment occurred.  When the pop-rock trio “Fun” performed a song entitled “We Are Young,” my husband exclaimed, “Folk music is back!”  My 25-year-old daughter retorted, “No, no it’s not, that’s Indie,” and a debate ensued.  There were only 22 award categories in 1987 when she was born, including “Folk.”  This year, there were 30 — excluding “Folk” but including Music Video,  Music for Visual MediaAlternative, and more.  Fun went on to win the Grammy for Song of the Year for “Carry on.” Ironically, in today’s day and age, it seems when it comes to social action, Folk is to Indie what Hippies are to Millennials. Sort of.
As the first generation to grow up in a newly-connected, digital world enters full-fledged adulthood, this tribe of so-called “Millennials” (young people between the ages of 18-32) have become an indicator species of sorts. After all, where better to look in order to assess the effects of a hyper mediated world?
Currently numbered at 79 million, Millennials are expected to outnumber the Baby Boomer population 78 million to 56 million by 2030 (Paul, 2012).  Their hyper-connectivity and new digital technologies make their influence and mass genuinely formidable.  They know how to collaborate and use the strength of their numbers in ways unlike any previous generation.
Unlike the noisy demonstrations of their Hippie parents, Millennial protests generally lack hail, sleet and heat.  Instead, these twenty-something’s quietly participate in positive social causes without leaving the comfort of their own dorm, home, or parent’s couch, and they reach out to others who share similar concerns via Google hangouts and chat rooms.
In addition, a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group (Paul 2012) reveals that Millennials are active “consumer engagement influencers”; they are more likely to purchase products that support a cause rather than make direct donations (which 34% of them do anyway) — especially from mobile devices.
Because “their lives feel richer when they are connected to people online” (Paul, 2012), 60% of the Millennial population use crowdsourcing to explore brands and share peer-related products and services, videos, images, and blogs to influence or be influenced.
This is a far cry from the 1960′s “sit-ins” and peace marches, and ultimately more powerful.  The ability to collect, connect, and collaborate via social networks allows people to “touch” favorite social causes and contextualize how their efforts are making a difference. One third of those polled also tended to favor brands and programs with Facebook pages and mobile websites that let them share their experiences and thoughts with one another.
Any new technology can be used for good or bad, especially communication technologies.  Sure there’s porn, but there’s also the Discovery Channel.  Sure there are “hacktivist” movements such as the internet collective “Anonymous” hacking into the CIA, the Church of Scientology, and large corporations. But at the same time, according to social entrepreneur Ahrif Sarumi, “Millennials are pioneering ways to give back to their communities, sharing actionable solutions to social issues, and galvanizing others who believe real impact is sometimes only a send button away.”
Unlike the short-lived rebellious youth of their parents (after all didn’t all those so-called Hippies later become Yuppies??), the power and influence exerted by Millennials is turning out to be more long-lasting and durable. As William Deresiewicz writes in “The Entrepreneurial Generation” (2011):
 “…Unlike those of previous youth cultures, the hipster (aka, Millennial) ethos contains no element of rebellion, rejection or dissent — remarkably so, given that countercultural opposition would seem to be essential to the very idea of youth culture. That may in turn be why the hipster has proved to be so durable. The heyday of the hippies lasted for all of about two years. The punks and slackers held the stage for little more than half a decade each. That’s the nature of rebellion: it needs to keep on happening. … But hipsters, who’ve been around for 15 years or so, appear to have become a durable part of our cultural configuration.”
So what if we don’t see them standing on a picket line?  Instead, the Millennial generation understands how to leverage digital resources to support causes in ways we never could have dreamed of.  Why not put your Millennial assumptions aside and read the recent  2012 Millennial Impact Report that explores their relationships with nonprofits.  They may be more proactive and empathetic and charitable than you think!
~ ~ ~
REFERENCES:  Want to point your own Millennial in the right direction?  Check out opportunities such Ignite Good’s Millennial Impact Challenge and’s article  Millennials Using Social Media for Social Good for inspiration.
Cadwalladr, C. (2013, February 10). Anonymous: behind the masks of the cyber insurgents | Technology | The Observer . Latest US news, world news, sport and comment from the Guardian | | The Guardian . Retrieved February 13, 2013, from
IGNITEgood. (2013, February 11). IGNITEgood. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from
Kingkade, T. (n.d.). Millennials Are More Stressed Out Than Older Generations: Stress In America Survey . The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2013,
The Millennial Impact Report. (n.d.). The MillennialI Impact Report. Retrieved February 11, 2013, from
Sarumi, A. (2012, November 2).  Millennials Using Social Media for Social Good.  Retrieved February 8, 2013, from