Designing the World of Digital Experience

Millennials: Intimately Networked & Largely Unattached

Photo Credit: Ozan Hatipoglu , Used under Creative Commons

Millennials are more connected than any previous generation — thanks to the triple storm of social media, the internet and mobile devices. Make no mistake though, this is not a technology revolution but a relational shift.

Pew Research reports that they have the highest level of political and religious disaffiliation of any generation. Our most racially diverse generation is “burdened by debt” and “distrustful” of traditional institutions.

Half of Millennials now describe themselves as political independents and 29% are not affiliated with any religion.

The economic instability brought on by the Great Recession (2007-2009), rising student loan debts, and the problem of unemployment has created an environment where marriage rates are in decline and traditional family structure is changing.  

Networked Individualism

NetworkedThe lines are blurring between personal and private, work and play,  public and private, producer and consumer.  In Networked: The New Social Operating System (MIT Press), Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman argue that we have moved — not from person to groups — but to networked individualism.

“The hallmark of networked individualism is that people function more as connected individuals and less as embedded group members.” – Rainie and Wellman

In the world of networked individuals, the person is the focus. More so than the family unit, the workplace, the neighborhood, church and other social groups.  These personalized networks are largely diverse and sparely knit together with the individual pulling information and contributing to networks where they find value.

The shift to highly segmented communications highlights the need for business to invest in a truly personalized, customer-centric approach to reaching their customers.

 

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