All Articles, Millennials, Philosophy, Strategy

Millennial Morality Is A Brand Issue

If you or your team are operating under the generalization that millennials and young people are all hyper-connected and social media obsessed, you may be missing out on the big picture and positioning yourself to fail.

The growing urgency we’re feeling day-to-day from our interactions and the media we’re exposed to for a reset on life’s privacy controls, are a symptom of bigger cultural issues. So while you’ve undoubtedly heard the growing rumblings, or already engaged in the vocal concerns about who controls our personal information, and heard acronyms like SOPA or PIPA, you probably haven’t not have had enough time to formulate informed opinions or realize the immensity of the implications on the world.

Privacy alone is a highly complex topic with a deep set of contentious considerations that I won’t be attempting to unpack here, but if we expand on the sentiments around privacy I think there’s a bigger point to be made.

Ask yourself, have you felt or experienced the excesses of human willfulness to disassociate with the physical world? Do you think our society is pushing ever onward with the dangerous belief we can do whatever we want to do? Have you ever felt that maybe tech, science, consumerism and the Internet (in all its glory) have pushed a tad too far?

recapturing your humanity and dignity in a digital world

Maybe it’s because I work where I do, doing what I do, but I have felt these things–at times very strongly. I’ve personally undergone a purge recently. Deleting my Instagram, original Twitter account (you can follow my new account majesticbman) and even my beloved Snapchat which I found some really rewarding engagement through.

This may seem a little extreme or reactionary, but it definitely doesn’t make me a special case. What myself and many of my acquaintances are beginning to experience is a personal, slow-moving whiplash effect. It’s like we’ve been energetically throwing ourselves down over the cliffs of emerging social platforms, bungeeing ourselves down into rabbit hole after rabbit hole of what we think is fun self-discovery and expression.

We’ve experienced the rush of connecting, more and more, discovering new people and things, finding innumerable ways to stimulate our heads, eyes and hearts. What happens when the high of that rush wears off, or transforms into addictive behaviors? What happens when as a society we begin to wise up and see these new behaviors as repugnant and unhealthy?

I predict a millennial conservative backlash is coming, a new wave of social conservatism that smart brands will get ahead of. It will be about regaining control over our time, attention and dignity. There will be a reclaiming of traditional values of integrity.

If the desperate attention-whoring of your friends on social media, the bad manners of people at meetings and dinners, or the disengagement of fellow citizens on the sidewalks or roads has ever made you feel uncomfortable, irritated or unsafe. Or if the insensitive public comments on a YouTube video have ever made you cringe, Leon Kass would say you’re wise to be repugnant.

Repugnance may be the only voice left that speaks up to defend the central core of our humanity. Shallow are the souls that have forgotten how to shudder.Leon Kass

I love this quote, and it contextualizes what I think is one of the greatest, unsung challenges of the millennial generation. While global warming, overpopulation, clean water and cyber-terrorism are just some of the major issues our benevolent forefathers have planned for us, our development and morality in and of itself has become completely disjointed. (completely retarded)?

Add to the list of quandaries millennials will be faced with; finding the central core of our humanity in today’s distracted, narcissistic, overstimulated meta-society. Add; navigating and designing a healthy symbiosis with rampant AI/tech/science. Things that the general population is probably woefully unprepared to contend with effectively, and at a structural level will need to reckon with.

Add to to list rethinking every moral question in history within the context of unstoppable amounts of data. Who will be responsible to answer these important questions? The answer seems clear. We are. So how?

How do we ensure technology is really here to serve us and not itself? How do we regain and maintain control of our minds and bodies? It’s no secret we are becoming less religious as a society, but is humanity evolving away from a need for meaning, morality, sanctity and order.

reclaiming integrity and humanity in internet culture

My personal belief is, no, or at least not yet. These needs are too fundamental to our nature to disappear. It’s hard to imagine humans being human without those things, or without needing them somehow represented in our lives.

It’s also no secret that millennials prefer cause-driven brands and supporting companies that are socially or morally aware and stand for more than a great product. Brands that partner with communities of impact, and focus their stories around actively creating positive social and environmental change have an advantage.

As Marty Neumeier explained on a recent Six Pixels podcast, brands today aren’t just symbolic of status (as the saying “status symbol” reflected), but are taking on more and more responsibility for constructing our complex identities.

Here are the important questions to ask as millennial consumers (participants), and branded businesses in today’s marketplace.

For participants: How do you rethink your lifestyle choices in a way that incentivizes the kind of behavior in businesses that you believe are important to strengthen society?

For brands: How do you rethink your strategy knowing that brands and entertainment media are filling a void of moralism and self-definition in today’s youth, and our culture more broadly?

Of course, if you’re a brand or business chasing the bottomline, your may feel like this isn’t sound advice without real evidence to prove there’s a market in this form of anti-mainstream, traditional thinking.

It’s innovating around traditional values that never die, rather than innovation for the sake of it. It’s about relationships and word-of-mouth, social proof, and the real trendsetters. It’s about not getting caught up in being trendy AF.

It’s all about how we find out how to live, how to be, how to.

The reality is despite common acceptance that as digital natives we are sohphisticated media consumers, most companies haven’t fully realized that means in terms of their business. And we’re getting smarter all the time.

symptoms – candidates like this

Brands and entertainment media

Repugnance – are we going to far?

The Internet in all of its glory

unspeakably profound, may be the only voice left.


The correction is happening, though, and it may happen more quickly than many brands or businesses expect.

There are some who are ahead of the curve – Alternatives

“Alter-Natives” — 23% of millennials

$137.8B U.S. ad spend for top 200 advertisers

Skewing younger, this group represents the “non-conformist digital native” who tends to be more privacy-aware online, according to Carat. “They only want to share with select people… And only let us know what they wanted us to know. They feel comfortable online on their own terms,” Ms. Lynn said. She added that the group’s privacy concerns may be a reaction to witnessing over-sharing online. The group tends to live at home with parents, use older gadgets and prefer transparent brands.

Snapchat – This is a much more personal experience.

While it’s too simplistic to say that internet culture has contempt for everything sacred,

last year, Google alone received about 4 million search queries every minute of every day, according to ACI

Selfies at Baseball Game

This is greatness.

Posted by KiddNation on Thursday, October 1, 2015