The legacy of ‘generation snowflake’

SunMedia's own 'Breakfast Club' - The Sunrise club. Ryan Wood, Sharnae Hope, Kendra Billington, Sam Gardner and Cayla-Fay Euinton. Photo: Nikki South.

Some may call me a special little snowflake, an echo boomer or even just a member of the generation that cares.

But there’s no denying millennials aren’t just a generation - they’re a mass movement determined to create change on a global scale. 

Regardless of your views on the younger generation, New Zealand's millennial population is now larger than baby boomers, with an estimation of more than 1 million millennials in New Zealand.

This means our opinions and views are drizzling more and more into every sphere: politics, religion, technology, education, and culture, breathing new life into the country.

According to Urban Dictionary (the most millennial site you can find), millennial is an identity given to a broadly and vaguely defined group of people.

There are three generations that make up the millennial movement: Generation Y (people born between the early 80s to the mid-90s), Generation Z (mid-90s-early 2000s) and Generation Alpha (early 2000s-until now).

Although these are three separate generations, each generation has similar qualities, such as being more conscious consumers, having an eye on the environment and healthy living, and often favouring experiences over material possessions.

Swiping away

Not to mention we are also extremely technology savvy, having all devices and platforms at our disposal, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Reddit.

As a millennial, I often feel conflicted by this - being smack bang in the middle of remembering a time before computers all the while feeling naked without a phone in my hand - but I know I should embrace these skills, because they have been far more beneficial than a hindrance. After all, it got me this job.

If you were to look into the mind of a millennial you would find an acceptance of all genders, nationalities, races, sexual orientations, and an intolerance of sacrificing who we are.

We are rebelling our ‘youthful ways’ by having no time for booze, sex and partying because we have better things to do. We are entrepreneurs of our own lives and we want to change the world.

NZ’s army

For me, the first sign of the millennial movement in New Zealand was when Helen Clark became prime minister. I was four-years-old and like many little Kiwi girls I was ‘too bossy’ and lacked ‘lady-like qualities’.

Despite this, I was told by teachers that I could be anything I wanted to be - even the prime minister! The only issue was that before I was born there were no female political figures to look up to.

Aunty Helen gave me courage. I used to watch her on our old boxed TV and stare in amazement at how she could walk around the Beehive and make rules in her straight-legged pants. Her famous pants were iconic and in little Sharnae’s eyes equalled business and respect. 

I’m sure many young girls also look at current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a similar light. After all, she is running our country with a small baby growing in her belly. I think it’s great. She’s showing that a prime minister can be gentle and nurturing without being weak and naive. She’s putting one finger up to “man’s world” opinions and showing the country what women and more importantly humans are capable of.

Staying out of the closet

Without this millennial army, the LGBTQI+ society would also not be able to walk around comfortably in their own skin.

I won’t bore you with the facts and figures, because you can look them up yourself, but New Zealand has always had this subculture lurking in the shadows since British colonies first camped up in the land of the long white cloud.

I remember exactly where I was when same-sex marriage was legalised. When the journalist on the 6pm news made the announcement I was sitting on my family’s couch in Hamilton surrounded by my vastly diverse family. It was bizarrely wonderful, and I could feel the millennial movement almost like a low hum.

Thanks to these laws we are now looking at the most diverse nation, where anyone can go under any name, race, or religion, such as a non-binary pansexual demiromantic who believes in Raëlism. A bit of a complex tongue twister, but so are humans.

And with the 2018 census soon to come out, it will be interesting to see how diverse New Zealand’s culture has become.

Turning the world upside down

Kiwi millennials have pushed issues which may have seemed unimportant to generations before, to the forefront. So why now? And how have millennial’s views completely flipped the world around?

In the simplest explanation, no one really knows. Usually people will put it down to technology or education, but I think it’s a mix of everything.

Unlike previous generations, millennials shudder at the thought of settling for anything, and are comprised of people constantly trying to better themselves and incessantly looking for the next best thing to improve.

With so much going on in the world, and given how easily we can access, learn and connect with each other, millennials are highly stimulated and have grown aware of the flaws in our culture.

I think awareness is key, and awareness is what creates change. So when you question why millennials are so serious for their age, just know that it’s because they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.