real life

This guy's viral video breaks down exactly what's wrong with millennials.

In a video titled “Working with Millennials can be a challenge. Here’s why…” author, speaker and consultant Simon Sinek addresses the ultimate millennial question: Why are they so unhappy?

The 15 minute clip, which has been viewed on Facebook almost 53 million times and has more than three million views on YouTube, explores the four reasons the generation classified as “entitled, narcissistic, self interested, unfocused and lazy” are so overwhelmingly unsatisfied.

Sinek’s theory is as follows:

1. Parenting

Millennials, the generation that reached young adulthood in the early 2000s, grew up subjected to what research has classified “failed parenting strategies”.

“They were told they were special,” Sinek says. “That they could have anything they wanted in life.”

Millennials grew up with participation medals, which devalues the achievements of those who worked hard and won.

Millennials grew up with participation medals. Image via HBO.

When they finish school they discover; "they're not special, their mums can't get them a promotion, you get nothing for coming in last and you can't get it just because you want it."

Simply, their entire self image is shattered.

As a result, we have "an entire generation that is growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations".

2. Technology

Compounding the failed parenting strategies is, of course, technology.

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Millennials have grown up alongside Facebook and Instagram. We've learned to put "filters" on things and are particularly good at "showing people that life is amazing even though I'm depressed".

The nature of social media is such that we all sound tough and as though we've got it all figured out.

It gives us a hit of dopamine. Image via iStock.

But that's not all. Our engagement with social media and mobile phones releases dopamine, the chemical responsible for making us feel good. When we receive a text, or see a 'like' or are alerted to a friend request, we get that hit of dopamine.

"It's highly, highly addictive," Sinek says. We now have "...an entire generation that has access to an addictive, numbing chemical called dopamine and cell phones during the high stress of adolescence."

There are age restrictions on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, but none at all on phones or social media. And almost every alcoholic discovered alcohol as a coping mechanism during their teens.

So during what is potentially the most "highly stressful and anxious" period of our lives, we're not turning to our friends. We're turning to our devices. We're unable to form deep and meaningful relationships in an overwhelmingly superficial context where our friends will cancel on us if something better comes along.

"It's an imbalance that's destined to destroy relationships." Image via iStock.
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"We know that people who spend more time on Facebook experience higher rates of depression than people who spend less time on Facebook," Sinek explains.

"If you're sitting at dinner with your friends, and you're texting somebody who's not there, that's a problem. That's an addiction."

It's an imbalance that's destined to destroy relationships.

3. Impatience

A symptom of being the first generation to grow up with this level of technology at our fingertips is a new kind of impatience.

We're accustomed to a world of instant gratification - you don't look up movie times, you just find one online. You can have something delivered almost instantaneously. We don't even have to wait week to week to watch our favourite television shows, we can just binge them all right now.

The generation war. Post continues below. 

Tinder, says Sinek, means we don't have to "experience discomfort...you don't even have to learn the social coping mechanisms."

There are, however, things in life that cannot be achieved immediately like job satisfaction, strong relationships, a skill set, self confidence and a love of life. They require a "slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy process... the overall journey is arduous and long and difficult."

When we privilege the short term over the long term, and want everything immediately, the worst case scenario is the perceivable increase in suicide rates. More and more kids and young adults are dropping out of school and university due to depression.

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The best case scenario, Sinek says, is "you'll have an entire population growing up and going through life and just never really finding joy."

"They'll never really find deep deep fulfillment in work or in life. They'll just waft through life and it will be just 'fine'."

4. Environment

So what we have is a generation who were, in Sinek's words, "dealt a bad hand". So, what do we do with them?

Now that they're adults, they've entered corporate environments that care more about numbers and results than they do about them. They care far more about "short term gains than the life of this young human being".

Video by Mamamia

The work environment isn't helping millennials to learn about cooperation, and it certainly isn't building up their lack of confidence. "We have no choice," Sinek says. "It's the company's responsibility". They may not have created the problem, but the corporate world has now inherited it.

"There should be no cell phones in conference rooms," Sinek says. It sends a message to everyone in that room that there are people more important than them. He adds that employees shouldn't be on their phones before they walk into the meeting, either. With this level of constant interaction, it is near impossible to have innovation and ideas.

Sinek's argument is reminiscent of an article published in 2013 by Wait But Why titled "Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy", which went viral with more than 1.2 million shares.

It seems the millennial question is one we are still desperately trying to answer.

You can watch Simon Sinek answering the 'Millennial Question', here. 

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