Adventure – A Millennial’s View
By Charlotte Johnston
It’s really not looking good for millennials.
We are the media’s scapegoat du jour, relentlessly bashed for being self-absorbed socialist slackers that spend too much on bucket list brunches and artisanal alcohol.
Worst of all, our parents (and possibly our peers) believe we are pathologically obsessed with the internet and social media.
I’m honestly not sure I’d disagree.
We’re quick to pick up new apps and software, because technology is our thing.
However, we lack practical life skills – how many young people can change a tyre, fix their engine or mend broken clothing?
In fact, we’re pretty useless in a lot of respects.
We’re quickly waving goodbye to opportunities for adventure and experiences.
People joke that we’ve accepted our fate of never being able to afford a housing deposit, so we’re diverting funds towards fancy brunches, thereby fuelling a global shortage of avocados and prosecco.
We have our little fingers up and our eyes down, glued to screens, fixated on social media.
Silicon Valley has designed social media platforms to mimic slot machines, keeping us addicted and repeatedly hitting refresh.
The want for comments and likes keeps us hooked in a social validation loop like crack addicts constantly chasing a high.
Whether or not we’d like to admit it, those notification bubbles give us a rush and a cursory scroll of Instagram is as much a part of our morning routine as coffee or showering.
We’re so obsessed with whether it looks like we’re having a good time that we have stopped getting out there and actually having a good time.
I’m a millennial too, so I’ve spent as much time in the social media black hole as anyone else.
But being a 1991 baby means that I’m one of the last batches that can actually remember a time when the internet was a useful supplement to our lives rather than an inescapable feature of it.
God knows I wouldn’t have suffered those infernal dial-up tones just to update a Facebook status or share a picture of my Starbucks.
Social media was born out of a need for light relief from the doom and gloom of everyday life.
But now our newsfeeds are filled with angry rants, political propaganda and photos of people that definitely aren’t that good-looking in real life.
It’s just one mega-sized, digital version of Keeping up with the Joneses, where it feels like the grass is always greener on the other side.
Not only are we constantly comparing ourselves to social influencers, but we get adverts for the products and holidays we want but don’t need (and ultimately can’t afford).
Have you noticed that when you have a conversation about something, you suddenly get sponsored posts for it on Instagram?
Yes – Zuckerberg and his pals are listening and targeting, and yes – it’s actually legal.
If that’s not a reason to log off and head to a technology-free island somewhere then I’m not sure what is.
But what if we used our time, money and mental energy to do something?
Going on an adventure doesn’t mean quitting your job and travelling the world – few of us have the funds or footloose freedom to do so.
An activity here and a weekend trip there, a two-month sabbatical, or even going the whole hog and sacking off the draining job you hate to do something different will all change your outlook and give you a plethora of new experiences.
Right here, right now, these are the ‘good old days’.
In 40 years’ time, your grandkids won’t care about your social following, your gym selfies or a gig that you watched through your iPhone lens.
They’ll want to know about the time you slept in the desert, hitchhiked Europe, drove a rickshaw through India, or went for a drunken swim in the sh*t-infested Thames and had to get your stomach pumped.
Go as big or small as you like.
Here are some starting pointers for the addicts out there:
- When you’re on a journey, instead of mindlessly scrolling Instagram, try actually looking out the window, reading the paper or mentally planning your next adventure. If you’re out for lunch and your friend momentarily leaves the table, don’t reach for your phone. Look around, make an origami animal, do what you’ve got to do and accept the transience of life’s moments.
- Do you really need to know that Jenny from Junior School has gone vegan? Purge your Facebook of all those tenuous links and people you crossed paths with once upon a time.
- Our ‘always-on’ culture has fostered an entitlement to other people’s time. Sleep with your phone out of reach or in airplane mode – realistically, no-one needs you at 2am and missed drunken calls can only be a good thing. Refuse to monitor your emails on weekends and holidays.
- Just remember, a high follower count is a simple illusion of acceptance and achievement. A smile from a passer-by should give you as much self-worth as those social likes.
- When you’re sitting at work, or walking down the road to get a coffee, fight the urge to deliver a monologue story to your Snapchat followers. Because quite frankly you’re not a Kardashian, and even then, no-one would give a shit.
I’m not saying you need to buy yourself a horse and go all Amish, but why not attempt a digital detox and see how you feel.
If Kanye and Bieber can do it, so can you.
Delete the apps, push through the withdrawal and sleep easy knowing that you might wake up with a hangover but at least you won’t have sent any irretrievable Snapchats.
Forget all the sniping and criticism about our generation. It’s time to prove the Baby Boomers wrong.
You can’t hashtag your way to a fulfilled life Millenials – so switch off, shut down and get out there.
Less memes, more unforgettable mems.