It has been quite a while since the dawn of the millennium, 16 years to be precise. Much has occurred in that period – phones don’t have buttons any more, there was a new Star Wars movie, our favorite comic book heroes have come alive and you can actually go out and catch Pokemon now. But perhaps what is more significant than all of the above is emergence of a new generation of people – the millennials.
Before you go up in arms – Yes, we are using the term millennial for a mindset, not for an age. This mindset has gone ahead and defined some of the biggest trends of the present day and have set a completely new (and sometimes incomprehensible) way of living. Sometimes, it is even difficult to tell whether the person you’re interacting with is a millennial or not. On that note, it is really important to be able to identify a millennial when you see one, and who knows, you might be one in your heart as well! Here’s how you can identify a millennial.
You literally cannot live without your smartphone
You sleep with it, you wake up to check it in the middle of the night, you take it into the shower, and you’ve been caught multiple times in the classroom with it. Congratulations, one of the most evident identifiers of being a millennial is strong within you. There is probably an app for everything on your phone and your version of apocalypse involves a dead battery or no Wi-Fi.
The emergence of smartphones was bang in the middle of an average millennial’s lifetime, with most of them gradually replacing toys and action figures with buttons they could mash and screens they could tap. It is no surprise that an average kid today can handle the latest smartphones with much greater ease than an average adult.
Your vocabulary includes rekt, fam, lol, rofl, ttyl and fml
Shakespeare has probably been rolling in his grave for quite a while now. When texting arrived on the scene, it didn’t have too many restrictions and SMS plans were quite generous. Sending a text that just says “hi” wasn’t a creepy thing to do.
When the restrictions hit, people turned to millennials for a solution. Lo and behold! Therein emerged the lols, the rofls, the ttyls and the rekts. The apparent ease and the microseconds saved with this practice spread like wildfire and even got widely adopted in online interactions. The English language has never really recovered from the damage and these words have been included in the Oxford dictionary, worthy of etymological chronicling.
If you have all of them engraved into your vocabulary and use them quite naturally, hey there, millennial!
You have more virtual ‘friends’ than real ones
Frankly, most millennials are too young to remember the emergence of Orkut, but some of them might remember using it. Facebook, although, is a completely different story with wide adoption in millennials as well as non-millennials. But there is one thing that probably differentiates the two groups on social media, and that is the importance of having online friends.
If an unfriending on Facebook really makes you lose a friend, if you’re actually bothered about a friend not hitting the “Like” button on your latest profile picture, and you actually consider yourself a social person because you have 5000 friends online, it doesn’t really matter how old you are – you are a millennial at heart.
While we are not against this, we would advise you to have friends offline as well. Last time we checked, they are quite fun to have around as well!
No trip/outing/restaurant visit is complete without a check-in
Gone are the days when a perfect trip involved actually enjoying the experience of travelling. If you haven’t checked in to at least the airport, the hotel as well as all the significant tourist spots that you have seen, it’s almost like the trip never happened.
Although check-in’s are a thing primarily rampant on Facebook, there are dedicated apps that also share your trips, be it a vacation in another country or a visit to your favorite restaurant, for the world to see. In fact, this has even led to some criminals taking advantage of this readily available information due to ignored security settings on social networks.
Check-in’s are cool. But do you really want to tell the world that you just went to the supermarket? Trust me, nobody really wants to know. Unless you’re a millennial.
You have more selfies than the number of photos in your entire family album
Although millennials are quite prolific in their achievements and innovations, to say that they invented the selfie wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Small cameras and cameras with timers were occasionally used to take self portraits, albeit with a high degree of uncertainty and sometimes at the cost of expensive photographic film.
But with the advent of high resolution front cameras on smartphones, selfies soon became a craze and before we knew it, teenagers were snapping self-shots for a new haircut, a new pimple or even nothing in particular! Gone were the days when you had to be social for your photograph to be taken. The popularity of apps like Snapchat and Instagram are no less significant for the immense number of selfies being taken, or perhaps it is the other way round?
But first, lemme take a selfie!
If you adhere to the Order of the Selfie and it’s sub-divisions of duck-face, bathroom selfie, gym selfie, no-makeup no filter ...phew!.. You guessed it, you’re a millennial!
You think EDM is the personification of musical greatness
No hard feelings here! Before I say anything else, let me make it clear that not all EDM is bad and we actually follow some good artists in this genre. That being said, if you really think that the current popularity of EDM music and the kind of music that is being randomly made out their is actually the best thing that has happened to music – newsflash! You’re most likely a millennial. Today, practically anyone can pick up a digital audio workstation and free samples off the internet, and then bang those two together as hard as they can until it’s a full length track. Hence, it is no surprise that the quality of electronic music has degraded to a point where some tracks can actually be used in third-degree torture. If you are one of the few who actually put in effort to salvage good music from the pile out there, hats off to you!
The only serious bugs and viruses you know are health related
The closest thing to apocalypse that we non-millennials have known in our lifetime was probably the Y2K bug. Short for Year 2000, this was widely acclaimed to be the end of computer operated systems as we know it due to the MMDDYY date format reading 2000 as 1900. Although that changed once the new millennium hit, most of us remember the excitement and drama of it all. Not to forget the surge of viruses in email attachments that sent themselves to everybody on your mailing list.
The strength of anti-viruses as well as server level security has increased a lot during the recent years. Hence it is not a surprise that there is a large group of gadget savvy people who only know viruses and bugs of the ebola type. That is definitely not a bad thing, but they did miss out on a lot of adventure in terms of infected computers. Now that we think of it, it is probably a good thing.
Limited number of shots on a camera is incomprehensible
Photographs have been a cultural phenomenon ever since the first camera was invented. There was a time when film photography was the only kind available, and photography was a novelty due to the limited number of shots available and high cost of the film. Only special occasions and perfectly prepared scenes warranted a shot.
All that changed with the advent of digital cameras. Photos were now so easy to take, review and delete within minutes, that even kids began to use cameras everywhere. In fact, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the actual skill needed to work professionally is lesser as compared to the same for a film-dependent camera.
As a whole, we have come from one group photo on a birthday to ten-twenty clicks on each trip to the mall. If you find it difficult to digest that there was a time when you “could” actually take just a few pictures – hey there millennial!
Your attention span is as short as Bhai’s time in jail
It is no secret that the average human attention span has decreased since the dawn of the millennium. Studies conducted in 2000 resulted in the conclusion that the attention span of an average person is 12 seconds, quite close to that of a goldfish at 9 seconds. Guess what has been the result of a similar study conducted last year? 8 seconds. Yes, on an average, we now pay lesser attention to things than a domesticated freshwater fish the size of your thumb. This is perhaps one of the traits that has spread much further beyond millennials. It might not be as bad as it sounds, because studies have also revealed that millennials with shorter attention spans are actually better at multitasking, thanks to their constant urge to switch between apps, screens and preferences. This phenomenon has also influenced content creation in a big way, with more focus being laid upon catchy openings and clickbait type titles online.
You don’t feel nostalgic when you play Mario, Dave, Contra or pretty much any 8 bit game
Millennial or not, if you don’t know what Mario is, you’re probably on the wrong webpage. That aside, there are two types of Mario players - the ones who have played it on an arcade machine and the others. If firing up an 8-bit game doesn’t fill you with pride and nostalgia, then you were probably born on this side of the millennium. For others, if you see someone cringing at an 8-bit game, or vehemently arguing that the Xbox’s and Playstations were actually the first consoles ever, do not let them partake in anything that requires them to be an actual adult. On the other hand, if someone knows that shortcut to the negative level on Mario, you’ve met a co non-millennial.
You know you want to fire-up that old arcade machine!
You don’t remember using Windows 98
There was a time when looking at screensavers on a computer used to be a legit way to pass the time. If you agree, you’ve probably been around for a while and have experienced Windows 98 first hand. From the screensavers (the maze, haunted house, pipes etc) to the joy of playing the original Doom, Half-Life and more such classics, Windows 98 was the best we could have asked for when we had it.If you do remember Windows 98, then probably the errors and bugs make you feel nostalgic too. On the other hand, you’re from beyond the 2000s if the first Windows you experienced was XP. The closest you can come right now to experiencing Windows 98, without much hassle, is here.
All hail pipes! Don’t ask what they contain though. That’s a secret!
You’ve never rented movies
When the new blockbuster hits the cinemas, if you have only hit the download button for as long as you can remember, you’re definitely a millennial. Renting movies from local libraries, or more a shady rental place more likely, used to be a big deal back in the 90s and even the early 2000s. Affordable high speed internet is quite recent and in its absence, these rental places used to be the mecca of entertainment where you could browse through the catalog for hours and choose one specific DVD. That is, if you were lucky enough to have a DVD Drive on your computer or a DVD player at your home.
You’ve never heard the dial tone
Always used to the calling beep being the first thing you hear when you make a call? Let me tell you about what used to happen before cell phones arrived. There used to be phones fixed to a place due to wires (Yes! The horror!), which, when you picked up the receiver, filled your ears with a dull tone that indicated that your phone was waiting for you to dial a number with the physical buttons. Landline phones have become a rarity now and almost nothing apart from commercial establishments and offices have them. In fact, when internet was of the dial-up kind, it used to rely on this very dial tone being available (as in, the phone being connected to the network) to be able to gratify you with the blinding glory of 64Kbps. Ah! Those were the golden days.
Yes, phones that looked like this were common in every home!
This article was first published in August 2016 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit's articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit's previous issues here.