September 22, 2020 | 11 min read
First and foremost millennials like to poke fun at formality. To them it is one of the funniest topics and they find certain social customs to be almost a bizarre ritual of yesteryear. They have championed ironic t-shirts with snarky phrases as everyday fashion to the point where it partially defines their spirit. And within this dislike of formality, their #1 distaste may be with traditional office culture littered with cubicles and strange office politics. The ultimate movie parody about this laughable phenomenon is of course “Office Space” which came out before their time and still relevant and a cult classic for them.
Other items on their humor list include:
The ugly Christmas sweater party. There was even a business featured on the TV show Shark Tank that made millions of dollars catering to that craze.
They think old technology is hilarious too like typewriters, payphones, and beepers.
They poke fun at awkwardness in general.
Lastly, they think mullets and denim tuxedos are hilarious (but that may transcend generation and bring us all closer together).
Although just about every generation uses the new ridesharing platforms to get around, for gen xers and baby boomers it is more of a supplemental service. Many millennials are actually foregoing the ownership or leasing of a vehicle entirely and rely on a combination of Lyft, Uber, public transportation and bike sharing. In a sense it is not the worst economical decision if you don’t commute too far to your job. More and more urban centers are offering bike sharing and parking options that are tailored for such a lifestyle. And options like UberPool can actually make the ride sharing platform even more economically feasible, especially for weekends and social functions.
When someone older thinks of a roommate it usually evokes a vision of the TV show Laverne and Shirley or the scrappy college days flipping burgers, splitting rent with someone just to get by. However, until recently, there was somewhat of a taboo connotation if you were over a certain age and still lived with a roommate. That is not the case with millennials. With the increased cost of living in major metro areas as well as tuition costs, it is partially a cultural choice and partially survival for many of them. And with the advent of the smartphone and social media, the technological efficiencies of sharing resources and finding deals make this a more beneficial endeavor at least economically than just saving money on rent.
Millennials are definitely more adventurous than previous generations and love themselves some food trucks. OMG They’re so #instagrammable (vocal fry accent). Ok vocal fry is one of the more annoying facets that a segment of this generation embraces. Each generation has a few versions of slang and voice inflections unique to them. For those that may remember the early 80s, the “Valley Girl” talk definitely was an as equally if not more annoying precursor to vocal fry. Ok back to food. They really appreciate street food from all over the world and are definitely embracing of different cultures and are open minded when it comes to cuisine. Lately it seems as if Asian street foods might be the most popular amongst hipsters and millennials alike. Derivatives of Korean barbecue, popularized by chef Roy Choi has been at the center of this movement. He was the first to post the locations of the famous Korean taco “Kogi truck” on twitter which became a millennial phenomenon in Los Angeles and spread throughout the world.
This is a big one. Obviously all generations use social media but email and Facebook are favorites of gen xers and the boomers. With millennial centric real-time chat platforms like Snapchat and WeChat in China for example, they perceive the other communication methods to be almost like snail mail. Also social media and text etiquette is subtly different compared to other generations. For example, a period after a sentence in text could be taken as “don’t bother me” or “this conversation is over”. They find a period to be redundant. For gen xers and baby boomers it seems like proper grammar. In a broader theme this embodies the information right now vantage point that millennials have mostly grown up with. There is a clever book by author and philosopher Douglas Rushkoff called “Present Shock” that addresses the speed of information revolution. Millennials also like removing syllables, not just periods. Artists such as The weeknd and any basically any artisan store plus mrkt (short for market) with the vowels removed is likely to be a hipster hit. And they also like cool font used in the logos of musical artists Zedd and Skrillex a lot.
6. Experiences vs. Material Things
It is not uncommon to see a millennial save up and drop $500 bucks on a Coachella ticket or a new type of experience.
Often they value the thrill and #Instagrammableness of the event much higher than an expensive clothing item or the equivalent in a physical purchase. That is of course not to say all millennials aren’t saving for retirement or aren’t engaging in sound financial decisions. However, a $500 business suit for example might seem laughable to a millennial as an alternative purchase option, whereas a previous generation may look at the concert as a waste of money and the suit as a business investment.
7. Educational and Career Choices
The most obvious difference here is that a larger percentage of millennials are going into computer engineering and IT. This is obviously a sign of the economic times more than anything, and had technology been this ubiquitous in prior decades you may have seen the same with baby boomers. The biggest difference though in terms of culture, and one I can majorly respect is the disdain for office politics and the cubicle life. Dilbert is the most famous running comic portraying the mundaneness and humor in the inefficient modern office.
Many gen-xers and baby boomers have accepted this career lifestyle while a disproportionate number of millennials have rejected it. Co-working, distributed workforces and in person company outings are more the style of this generation. Digital nomads with backpacks and laptops are becoming more and more common.
8. Postal Mail and Receiving Packages
For just about every generation, with the exception of the last couple of years, sending and receiving letters either involved the postman coming to your home or driving to the USPS to access your physical P.O. box. And if you were busy or out of town, and your box received too many letters or offers, you could still be liable for the extra expenses incurred by your mailbox operator and risk the good standing of your box. Now, with the advent of digital mail, Anytime Mailbox has pioneered this revolutionary, time saving platform. For millennials, they are adopting this platform quickly, as the convenience of checking and managing your mail from a browser or smartphone app is second nature to them. With many of them traveling the world and earning money with side gigs, access to physical mail digitally and 24 hours a day is a no brainer.
Above is a cool screenshot of the state of California mailbox options on the Anytime Mailbox platform. You can rent a mailbox in all 50 states as well as other countries now such as the United Kingdom and Singapore.
This particular service is only growing in popularity for all generations, and is quickly becoming the norm for parcel and letter management.
9. Urban Living
Millennials seem to appreciate urban living and loft architecture. Starving artists and the eccentric used to make up the majority of people living in old warehouses that were converted into livable units, with pipes, exposed bricks and remnants of a manufacturing capacity. However, there is a romanticism with this style of living. With the proximity to good eats and entertainment, downtown living in major metro areas have become a favorite of many under 30.
Just about everyone shops online but man millennials do almost EVERYTHING online. With the price of Amazon.com’s stock at an all time high, and the closing of many physical retail locations in 2017, this trend is taking place in all segments of the population. Since we are talking about mainly those in the 18-29 range, something that they also really dig are pop up stores and events. The experience and potential scarcity of the goods that may be for sale at any given time at one of these traveling retail events makes for a culturally attractive shopping experience.
Basically the “hipster generation” is rooted in counter culture against materialism, chain restaurants, strip malls and the soullessness of corporatism. Overall, in the abstract it seems like a worthy mission. Unfortunately, many (not all by any means) hipsters who fancy themselves nonconformists, dress similarly to one another and still spend a large percentage of their disposable income on products and services run by the same corporations that they are rebelling against. Aside from the political commentary, here is a list of popular styles:
Unlike in the 90s and even 2000s where baggy or bell bottomish jeans were popular, that is a huge millennial faux pas. Skinny jeans and acid wash sweatpants are white hot right now.
- Pony tails worn up for men
- Larger hats and retro glasses
- Millennials and tattoos
12. Musical Taste
They appreciate a large variety of musical genres. From old school hip hop to classic rock and 80s music and heavy metal, millennials seem to enjoy many styles. They do have the advantage of having all genres displayed on digital platforms like YouTube, Spotify and Pandora with an equal footing. Other generations were exposed to fewer styles as radio or MTV were the main distribution platforms. So whatever was hot in your formative years may have influenced you more than other musics which may have done the same if they had the digital chance. But, it must be said that the most “hipsterish” bands definitely trend with an 80s and 90s look and synth sounds, mixed with some notes of yesteryear and some snarkiness of today. Oh, and they like EDM A LOT. Basically this generation’s disco.
13. Movies Taste
Quirky romantic comedies or “trippy” conceptual movies like Inception seem to be popular as well as regular comedies. And documentaries are wildly popular with the 18-29 group. Movies featuring serious and drawn out romantic encounters like those portrayed in Robert Redford and Meryl Streep’s Out of Africa or Gone With the Wind do not translate at all to this generation.
14. Working Out and Fitness
There is definitely a trend away from pumping iron for bulk and more towards definition, aerobic, outdoor, and stretching activities. Previous generations were exposed to heroes like Charlton Heston, The Incredible Hulk, Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, and Hulk Hogan. Those were the cool guys. Now, in many movies and TV shows the action heroes are a bit leaner and can do rock climbing, yoga and unicycle riding (a hipster favorite). Laughs aside, this is probably a healthy trend that many ages seem to be embracing.
The digitization of everything and high-speed internet connections are disrupting how every generation conducts meetings, whether business or personal. Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts are some of the most popular platforms. Although “flash mobs” have been adopted by millennials and is mostly all their own. A flash mob is when a group of people organize online, swarm physically at the same time on a pre chosen physical destination and then disperse quickly. These are not always political in nature. There are many ironic, humor-centric flash mobs where people all dress up in a similar themed costume and descend upon a retail establishment or other venue for example. Some of these bizarre formations are viewable on YouTube.
Once reserved only for the quirky or eccentric few, millennials are more likely to visit obscure places and unusually cool natural formations in lieu of an extravagant trip to Rome or Paris. It is also easier for them to network and couch surf culturally so finding a place to stay around the world is easier for them.
Also “timely” travel is a thing. For example, seen below is a picture of the super bloom of 2017 in the greater Palm Springs desert area. It is a rare occurrence and took place this spring of 2017. Thousands of millennials communicated on Instagram and WhatsApp and descended past the Inland Empire of California in hopes of getting the most instagrammable pic. Here is a beautiful picture of wildflowers covering one of the hottest deserts in the world.
More and more adventure sports and individual athletic activities are replacing team sports like baseball and football to some degree with the newer generation. It began slightly before the millennials with the X-games and the resurgence of skateboarding. Now, urban centric activities like parkour and MMA are gaining in popularity. Part of it has to do with time and expense, the other may have to do with the everything happens right now vantage point which the newly popular sports embrace more than a lengthy team game.
18. Sayings and Lingo
“Doing it for the gram”. Apparently that means partaking in an activity or even a purchase just so you could produce a popular Instagram pic or pics. Also “My name is Jeff” which is pretty funny has gone viral as a goofy line from the 22 Jump Street movie when actor Channing Tatum awkwardly tries to sound tough in an undercover bust. And of course, no one can forget “vocal fry” once you hear it.
Also on the list:
“omg that’s amazing”
PWNED - A typo from a certain video game means owned, as in dominated in an activity. (you will notice the vowel missing)
And one grammar mishap that they are not totally responsible for but definitely proliferating is your in place of you’re. You + are means “you are” contracted, a state of being. Your, without the “ ‘re “ is simple possession like “that shirt is yours”. Or “that is your prerogative”. (ok enough grammar police).
All generations would be wise to pay attention to the now, remember the past and plan for the future. Some attention should be given to all three of these states, although most philosophers and successful people would say to live in the now and be present-minded. That does not mean to imply engaging in escapism is a worthy path and immediate need gratification is smart, but present mind awareness is generally accepted as wise. Millennials are very good at this.
Tinder has taken the millennial world by storm. The power of now has a new meaning with the advent of that app. From love letters, to newspaper classifieds to online dating, it was thousands of years before connecting over a server and html took place. Within less than two decades it has turned into a rapid fire mobile swipe and a quick glance of text. This is very much aligned with the “Present Shock” speed of information paradigm discussed earlier in this post and the millennials are in the center of it.
Despite all the styles and phrases and things that other generations may poke fun at, one of the best traits defining much of the millennial generation is the rebellion against being fake and disingenuous. From brand slogans and perception to style of dress, if someone is perceived as disingenuous, pretentious or cheesy, they will be lambasted. Sure, there are fakers in every generation, but at least this core value is likely a net positive for society. For as much flack as they get in the media, there are indeed some righteousness and improvements within much of this generation.