In a society of contradictions, millennials are out there looking for validation while gambling with the issue of addiction— the addiction of being socially relevant. In the millennials’ dictionary, it is the obsession with being ‘woke.’ Wrinkling after reading this? My dear readers, worry not, for I will simplify it for you before setting the tone.
Who Are Millennials?
The commonsensical understanding of the word ‘millennial’ is anyone who’ll reach adolescence or adulthood in the 21st century, the era of awakening. The issue with being a millennial is there is an invisible cloud raining on you, reminding you of your responsibility towards society.
I am a millennial. I am a part of this awakening that demands my social relevance 365 days. I am no different than kids adulting in the 90s. However, I roam around with the badge of difference because I am a millennial. Apparently, I am supposed to know everything, every vocabulary, every issue, every debate, etc. etc etc. What kind of a millennial am I if I don’t know what YOLO, LMAO, LOL, WOKE means?
Be Woke. Be Relevant.
I forgot to add one part of the definition to the word ‘millennial’ – PRESSURE. The life of a millennial starts and ends with pressure. The pressure is multifaceted and diverse. It ranges from the pressure to be competitive in studies to being active on social media. But the pressure that I would like to talk about is the pressure of being socially relevant.
Being socially relevant means being very responsive and participative towards the basic trends/issues/debates echoing the walls of the society. One part of being relevant is to show your support on social media. These days, you can find everyone actively responding to every issue that possibly haunts society.
Why The Pressure?
Social relevance is the necessary evil that dictates our life these days. However, in a world that screams CHOICE every day, how are millennials deprived of the choice? Do we not have a say in choosing whether we want to be socially relevant? These are valid questions with no right answers.
There is a choice, but it is manufactured to cater to the likes of the mainstream. The choice is hard to make when all around you there is nothing but peer pressure. You have to choose to be relevant. If you don’t, there is otherisation. You are othered and cornered by your own very woke age group.
So much for choice, dare I say. A manufactured consent leads to an unnecessary agreement for things you might not want to participate in. This is not to say no benefits are exudating from this pressure. What I tend to highlight is that these benefits are in contrast to the reality that millennials embrace.
The Bright Side
The pressure of being socially relevant bears sweet fruits too. When you are under the pressure of knowing everything, you automatically tend to read more about the developments that are taking place. You become more well-informed instead of just relying on others to feed you narratives. You create your own narratives. You are then informed of the narratives that exist in society and have the choice to choose one. Whatever choice you make, you are voicing your opinion.
Moreover, when you voice out your opinion instead of choosing to be apolitical, no matter the gravity of the opinion, it has weightage. Every word said against the wrongs and ills that pervade society is a word for a better world. Even if you support the oppressor’s narrative in a distorted way, it benefits society because then the light of oppression is brought to the surface.
So, the pressure is not all bad. When you are pressured to be woke, you awake to societal concerns. Just like the sunlight waking you from your sleep, this pressure awakes you and brings the concern in daylight.
The Dark Side
Just like the sun sets and dusk embraces us after the dawn, the bright side also sets to let the dark side rise. The pressure of being socially relevant may come with rosy benefits, but in the end, it’s a pressured, manufactured consent to choose to be relevant. Whenever there is pressure, mental health takes a backseat and is pushed to the farthest corner.
The same goes for the millennials. In order to prove their wokeness, their mental health is often compromised. They feel isolated and alienated from the crowd if they don’t keep up with the trends and check the boxes. The choice to be different is taken away from them. So much for celebrating difference and diversity that underscores the millennial narrative. They feel embarrassed or are made to feel so because they don’t know things.
In this already troubled world, not knowing is like walking on troubled water. They are made subjects of mockery and are demonized, othered. This takes a heavy toll on the mental health of kids. At an age when they should be taught acceptance and self-love, they are pushed to accept non-acceptance. This plays with their confidence which is not the kind of life we envision.
Moreover, in this race of being relevant, people, instead of understanding the gravity of the issue, they rush. They rush in, accepting the viewpoint fed to them instead of creating one’s own. It does no good; rather, it defeats the whole movement.
Like a coin, this conversation also has two sides. But you don’t have to necessarily choose heads or tails; you can choose not to choose. The pressure is inevitable. You can’t escape the quandary of relevance, but you can escape the mental torture. It’s in your hands. You have to stand as hard as a rock. Let them throw labels on you. Being relevant is essential and helps in carving a better world. But you don’t have to be if you don’t want to be. You don’t have to rush because, as the old saying goes, “haste makes waste.”
Be what you want to be. Speak when you want to speak. Choose what you want to choose.