'How are you? How you feeling? Is everything okay?' These are questions we ask people on the daily, right? But tell me- how many times do you truly, wholly, from-the-bottom-of-your-heart mean them? The answer to that question is most likely going to shock you. Almost never. I know when I ask someone how things are going, I don’t expect them to actually tell me that they're upset, or going through something life-altering. In fact, I simply use these phrases as ice breakers, to prolong conversation or to avoid awkwardness. We've grown so reliant on social media as a barrier shielding us from overdue physical interactions and tiring conversations we'd be forced to pursue had we met in person, that we've lost so many fundamental social skills. We've forgotten how to talk to someone we haven't spoken to in over a year, or how to make conversation with our neighbors in the elevator. Now, these things may seem extremely insignificant in the larger picture, but the fact is, they have curbed our entire generation from experiencing life the way it has been done before. They have stopped us from gaining the basic skills required to move forth with our lives and boost our self esteems.
As Simon Sinek, a bestselling American author, said in his popularly watched speech 'The Millennial Question,' there are three basic factors that have deterred millennials from gaining the same self confidence and inherent joy that previous generations found easily. He says these kids are the products of failed parenting mechanisms. In other words, children today are told every single day that they are better than the rest, they can 'do anything they want, just because they want to' or that they're special. Ironically, these strategies actually debilitate self confidence in the long run. Once these kids are thrust out into the real world, they begin to realize that they aren't so special, they aren't the best at everything they try out, and they can't just get something 'because they want it.' They realize how much they have to actually work to achieve everything they want, and this, in turn, heavily lowers their self esteems.
The second factor that affects millennials is technology. Children with already lowered confidence levels now have access to, basically, dopamine producing factories. That rush you feel when you just receive a text message? That's you being hit by a dopamine. Mind you, this is the same chemical released by our bodies when we drink alcohol, gamble or do drugs. And as you can probably guess, it's highly, highly addictive. So, the question remains: if we put age restrictions on gambling and alcohol consumption, why don’t these restrictions exist on social media usage? This over-dependence on social media has led to teenagers forgetting how to converse, growing immensely socially awkward and some even developing social anxiety (all concepts practically foreign to us before the existence of cell phones).
To make things even worse, we've now added impatience to the mix. Teenagers today are so eager to gain instant gratification, that they forget to take into account their own long-term happiness. They don't have to wait for anything anymore; not a week for tv shows to be released, not to book tickets before going to a movie theatre, nothing. And this inbuilt impatience has adversely affected their work ethic too. As Simon Sinek said, 'I don’t care how steep the mountain is, but there is still a mountain.' You cant instantly expect to see change, you have to work hard and gain a lot of experience before you can even begin to make a real difference in this world. Millennials often seem to forget this, and the result is them never feeling deserving or good enough.
As you can possibly imagine when these teenagers with low self confidence and a strong feeling of entitlement enter the exceedingly competitive real world, they are often left feeling run down and even more upset. Our generation as a whole has been the first to be affected so negatively by advancements in technology. Therefore, As Sinek said, the rest of the world needs to work even harder to help improve the mental health of this generation as a whole.
The fact is, every single one of us IS good enough. We just need to stop comparing ourselves to others.