Are Millennials actually 21st century hippies?
Millennials are receiving a lot of, sometimes unwanted, attention in the media. The privileged, digital dream seekers that are shaking up the modern business age.
Millennials though are much more than social media inventors or hipster café owners. They are part of the new technological revolution and are helping to forge a new way of not just running businesses but how society thinks and views itself.
The historic change we are seeing in collective mentality is actually directly linked to how the hippies influenced the 1960s and still have huge relevance to this day.
Power to the flower
The 1960s hippies and the baby boomers in general, were living in a time of social disquiet and heightened war. Hippies were a generation born into a world they didn’t agree with and felt disconnected from, they were misunderstood by the previous generation and felt both voiceless and helpless in the face of injustice.
If we raise a mirror to our own time we see a very similar thing happening now but with a 21st century twist.
The hippy solution was to campaign for the humanitarian ideals of love, justice, and equality. Hippies passionately believed if enough people united on these three common beliefs the government would have to act and the world would change for good.
We all hopefully agree that love, justice, and equality can only do good in the world. But I am sure we also all agree that the hippy dream fell flat on its well-meaning face circa the 1980’s power suit wearing, capitalist mega-boom.
The hippy dream, was in the end just that, a dream; and it lay bubbling below the surface for decades. Something happened though to slowly re-awaken us, and that something was the world wide web.
The children of the internet and specifically social media were of course the Millennials. This generation grew up with idea that global networks and open, mass communication were not only a norm but a birth right.
Millennials subconsciously wired their brains around accessibility for all and formed their identity around global social connection. Millennials could talk to someone from any country and any background instantly from their dial-up home computer for the first time in human history.
What this openness and accessibility created was the idea that we are not just individuals, forced to be part of an economic dog-eat-dog chain, but that we are in fact a plateaued communication network, which can and does work outside of the current status quo.
This by nature had the hippy fingerprints of equality, love and justice built into the framework. The hippy ideals were effectively uploaded onto our digital world and its main ambassadors were and still are the children of the technological revolution, the millennials.
I am you and you are the internet
Millennials, as a generation, also share that same hippy hunger – to do something good and to make a difference in the world. This innate nature and a digital world at their fingertips, meant that Millennials unintentionally managed to do what the children of the revolution failed to do – they found a practical way to disseminate humanitarian ideals.
Instead of trying to create a shared, ethereal belief to shake up the government, they side-lined the powers-that-be and went straight for tools of the people. What they helped to create is a living and social hub of connectivity which is so powerful it is now holding authorities, businesses, and social norms to account. It has turned society on its head without the majority of people even realising.
You can see proof of this everywhere. Here are 3 hippy concepts that have been adapted for the modern age, have become mainstream through technology and are widely propagated by millennials:
Something that sets modern day apart from the 1960s is that we have come to the pragmatic conclusion that necessary evils can’t be avoided. Conscious capitalism was born out of a need to stop the rampant injustices of money over people but also being fully aware of the complexities of overthrowing such a deep-rooted system. Conscious capitalism tries to find a balance between the two, some examples include:
- Fair Trade
- Social Enterprise
- Corporate Responsibility
- Collectives and cooperatives
- Ethical marketing
Reinvention of Currency
The idea of currency is changing. The internet has given rise to the question “if we can exchange information freely, shouldn’t we be able to exchange everything else without using money?”
Huge movements have sprung up from this very idea, including bitcoin, streaming, free apps and online courses, skype and even WhatsApp. The very fact that we are trying to find a way of helping each other and running a business at the same time without necessarily paying each other is the modern version of a hippy colony.
Social Media changing Political Landscapes
Social media has inadvertently created a worldwide platform for the common man to be heard. Inadvertently because the main goal of social media in its infancy was to solely connect people. It is now a digital megaphone to shout, debate, laugh about or cry into our opinions, hopes and wishes.
Because major social platforms are free and accessible to all, they subsequently have huge audiences, followings and create immense public awareness. This means that if a social issue creates a buzz or goes viral on the internet it now puts pressure on governments, who need to act because they are voted in by the people angrily typing on their twitter account.
Social media has created the seemingly impossible, it has given a voice to the individual and the government has to listen.
There are of course negatives to the story – fake news being one of the biggest issues of our time and arguably one of the main causes for Trump and Brexit as well as heightened violence and racism in many parts of the world.
However, the overriding point remains that we are now more in charge of our future than we have been before and we are actively using technology to finally push for what society should be – more just, more loving and more equal.
Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.