he came from nowhere

as if on cue, wings emerged

out this cocooned heart

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We the Millenials

Some thoughts on this confused and distressed, but still blessed generation.

***

My eyes followed the waitress’ every move as she placed our orders— cups of green tea latte, a slice of cheesecake, and a small plate of pudding— one by one on the table in front of us. It was a drizzly Saturday afternoon and I was in a quaint little matcha shop with two of my closest friends. The shop itself wasn’t much to look at, but the food was served in elaborately designed forms. Thank yous were said and the moment the server has turned her back, we each whipped out our phones, as if on autopilot. “We’re SO millennial,” one of my friends said with a giggle.

The urge to take photos came so naturally that it is hard to believe that up until a few years ago this was not the norm. Back then, having a Nokia 5110 or 3310 that could send out and receive messages was already enough. There weren’t that many people with mobile phones or Internet connections at home so conversations were either done in person or through a landline. Photos were taken via photo studios (colourful backgrounds, weird fashion choices, awkward poses, and all that!) or with personal cameras, some of which were even running on films. Needless to say, it was a costly activity so people didn’t take as many photos and such opportunities were saved for really important events like graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Fast forward to the present and not only has taking pictures been made easier by smartphones, it also became some sort of a necessary daily (for some, even hourly) ritual. Everything— from one’s breakfast to one’s dinner and the many other occurrences in between— can now be captured and uploaded for the world to see with only a few clicks. How convenient, right? It is on this backdrop that a new generation called millenials, me included, was born and continue to exist.

We have been called many names and most things written about us are negative and can be summarized as follows: lazy and vain. But how true are these? While I admit to enjoy taking photos of my meals especially the elaborately designed ones, I also feel bothered by others’ incessant need to post everything. And I am not alone. There are others like me who are also under the same categorical grouping, yet are as confused.

We are the generation who grew up in a not so distant time in the past when the moment the food comes, tongues salivate, cutleries dug right in within seconds, and each piece on one’s plate and the conversation that flowed throughout the meal were savoured. But we are also among those who think that a meal is not complete without the seemingly mandatory snaps; so the first few minutes of lunch or dinner are spent arranging table layout, finding the perfect angle, connecting to the Internet, complaining about slow LTEs, and uploading photos. Then, throughout the meal, phones are monitored for likes. We were the kids who knew what it was like to use dial-ups, patiently download files for hours, use MS Paint for artworks, save on diskettes— you know the good old days. Yet, we were the same kids who saw the transition from Betamax to cassettes to VCD to DVD to Blue-ray. We saw the green revolution finally kick into gear. We loved (and still do) fast foods, yet we also try to be healthier one 100% organic meal or one fun run at a time.  We were the generation raised on plastic toys and the same generation now leading the quest to reducing plastic use. We lack the wartime mentality of our parents, yet we wage battles today that even our forefathers’ worst nightmares didn’t conjure: cybercrimes and online bullying, nuclear threats, and some of history’s deadliest natural disasters.

We try to keep in pace with the hurried frenzy of rapidly progressing realities around us, yet parts of us still long for the peaceful, slow-moving, and calm memories of our youth. Ironically, at a time when technology has advanced to make things “insta” or quicker for us, it has also made things take longer—- like having a meal and choosing one’s OOTD or next vacation location. When we are supposed to be having fewer burdens because we can now make informed choices with some taps on a screen, we are instead confused and had to contend with matters like people’s impression of us online, public forum comments, or whether what we are sharing are really worth sharing.

The generations that came before us no longer have the patience to learn new technologies and those after us could hardly function without their gadgets; both locked into their respective times frames. But, we the millenials, have seen and lived through this transition. As a result, we are a painfully confused bunch allured by the past, present, and the future at once. But we are neither lazy nor vain. We made the jump and we landed safely in this time of countless opportunities, global exchanges, and interconnections. Millenials are now at the position to steer this planet’s future, let’s make it one that is worth all the trouble— one that all generations could look forward to. But first, excuse me, as I take another photo of my beautifully plated meal.