Why are millennials killing everything?
Every other day it seems that millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are accused of “killing” something. But are they really changing the culture more than any other generation before them? “Every generation engages in a process of looking at the world around them, seeing what’s there that they want to continue and where they want to refocus,” says culinary historian and Root Kitchens founder Julia Skinner. Millennials may simply be getting blamed for the natural order of how things change and because they are soon to be the largest generation, their effects are readily apparent. Yet, “millennials aren’t killing industries; industries have failed to adapt,” says Rachel Flehinger, principal of the US ‘Adulting School’ in Maine, which teaches twenty-somethings life skills like meal planning, home repair and personal finance.
Hating on millennials has become so popular that headlines pointing out trends in their choices have also become irresistible click-bait. “Because we all live in a much more connected world than before, I wonder if we’re having these conversations around ‘killing’ stuff just because we’re more aware of the shifts in our collective environment and are aware of them in real-time,” Skinner says. “For me, having the conversation of people ‘killing’ certain products focuses on the wrong things – instead of looking at what is happening, I’m interested in why people make the choices they do. What cultural contexts are informing their choices?” Let’s take a look.
Oh, those lazy millennials, so lacking in table manners everyone should know by now. For example, they believe there’s no point in buying napkins when you can just use paper towels – don’t they work just as well? Fair point, but many criticised millennials for killing the napkin industry when one study, as reported by the Washington Post, found that only 56 percent of those surveyed bought napkins in the past six months, but 86 percent bought paper towels. Sure, paper towels are less formal, but millennials just don’t go in for formality: Instead, for them, convenience is key.
Formal dress codes
Speaking of formality, we’re not living in Downton Abbey – no one of any generation gets formally dressed for dinner anymore. Even at work, formal attire has been in flux since women entered the workforce in the 1920s. Although today some industries still require a suit, most others are decidedly less formal, throwing off the controlling dress codes of the past to allow for more personality and creativity to show through. According to one survey, 40 percent of millennials look to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, famous for wearing hoodies, jeans and T-shirts, as their business role model. Millennials are changing the workplace and everyone’s better off for it. Ironically, though, new expectations might mean you’ll still be judged on your work attire – just now, it’s based on your clothes’ “cool” factor.