INSIGHT INTO MILLENNIALS | As a marketer, I’m fascinated by human behavior. What makes us act the way we do? How can we engage with people on their terms? Part of that study involves segmenting by generation. It can be over-generalization at times, but nonetheless discerning.
Many of us find Millennials especially intriguing. They seem such a departure for sure, from Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers. Many of them were raised by people like me, with the best of intentions in a strict environment of “Don’t talk to strangers!” And now we’re surprised that they don’t much want to talk to anyone. They appear happier focused on their phone and that seemingly isolated environment. A direct connection? Maybe.
Regardless, I’m currently reading the novel Version Control by Dexter Palmer, for a fun read over the holidays, and came upon this paragraph that gives a really insightful look into that environment:
“To call them ghosts was to miss the point: face-to-face conversation, what her mother naively thought of as “being here,” was for people who still needed constant confirmation by glances and nods that they were being understood. But one of the benefits of the Internet, for people like Rebecca who had been born after it, was the merciful elimination of that need. Just as you could log on to the site of your choice and listen to everyone you wanted to at once, the neverending streams of tweets and status updates blending into a mélange that portrayed all your friendships and acquaintances and hates and curiosities as a whole greater than the sum of its parts, so could you speak at those same places and at least be certain that, no matter what you said, you were always being heard.
“Even if you looked lonely, you felt free.”
I have certainly felt this at times when browsing through my feeds. What was startling to me was the point about needing “constant confirmation by glances and nods.” It shows less need for each other in person. And there’s the rub. How do we market to those with less need for conversational confirmation, and who feel freer in the online environment?