It’s remarkable to think that future centuries will look back at this time in history, our time, as the great shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. This is the era that birthed the knowledge economy as well as GIF’s, memes and the Mannequin Challenge.
The ability to access a world of knowledge from a device in our pocket has created a litany of unintended consequences and societal shifts we are just beginning to shed light on. Much of this is due to the fact that Millennials, the first generation to be fully born into the Information Era, act and behave in ways that don’t quite make sense to the rest of us. (I’m a borderline Millennial based on birth data, and I’m often confused by people 3-5 years younger than me.)
One of the best skills Millennials possess, better than any generation prior, is the ability to take in and filter information at a preposterous rate. No generation has been bombarded more by media. In the 1970’s, people living in cities were exposed to 500-2,000 ads per day. By the mid 2000’s that number jumped somewhere to 3,000-5,000. Today, estimates range from 4,000-10,000 ads per day. (http://www.redcrowmarketing.com)
From an early age, Millennials have been forced to train their subconscious to take in info at lightning speed and filter if it’s valuable or not. And what’s one, if not the, most important filters a Millennial uses?
Millennials don’t read newspapers, they get their news from Twitter. Millennials don’t listen to salespeople, they ask their social community about products and reviews.
They listen to those they trust and ignore those they don’t in a nanosecond.
Basically, to a Millennial, talk is cheap and action is worth a million words (or Tweets). They will rally for social justice and rail against those who preach against them (even often times foolishly and to their detriment).
If we want to truly engage the largest population in the US, we can’t think words will be enough. We must show them that we care, that we’re involved, that we’re a part of making our city and neighborhood a better place to live. We must build the trust through small actions, over time, to ever get to the point of having the right to speak into a life. Information will never be enough, we must show action before we are granted the invitation to speak.
There is hope. In reading through the Gospels, we see Jesus follow a similar pattern. Heal, feed, preach, save. Rarely did Jesus speak to the crowds without healing the sick or caring for the poor. He met physical needs before addressing the Spiritual.
Millennials are watching, waiting to see if we practice what we preach, or if our words are just another sound bite of white noise they can quickly filter in a flash.