Courtney Ackerman, 19 June, 2018
Are Millennials the Instant Gratification Generation?
“Everyone wants instant gratification: you have to have everything your parents had right away.” – Jim Flaherty
With such findings on instant gratification and technology, it’s easy to see how millennials got their reputation as the “instant gratification generation.” Millennials—the generation generally agreed to be those born in the 1980s and early 1990s—grew up with much more advanced technology than any previous generation. They didn’t all have cell phones in their tweens, but they likely came of age with a connection to the internet that facilitated instant (or near instant, if you had dial-up) messaging.
Millennials get a lot of flak for their tendency towards instant gratification but ask a millennial about instant gratification and you might get an answer about how much longer this generation is waiting to get married, have children, buy a house, or dig out of student debt. To be sure, millennials don’t get everything they want on demand—and are actually more patient when it comes to certain things—but they are certainly accustomed to receiving entertainment and communication with minimal delay.
Perhaps the question of whether millennials are the generation of instant gratification is the wrong question to ask; the right question might be about how the notion of instant gratification changes over time. If you’re a member of the Baby Boomer generation, you probably agree that with the assertion about millennials and instant gratification, but take a moment to think back to your parents and grandparents’ generations: did they grow up with a telephone in the kitchen or fast, reliable, and (relatively) inexpensive automobile in the garage?
Traditionalists and earlier generations likely thought their children and grandchildren were spoiled by instant gratification as well; they could speak with anyone, nearly anywhere in the world, at the drop of a dime! The definition of the “instant gratification generation” is relative, such that whatever generation you were born into seems normal to you, while younger generations likely seem spoiled and entitled to immediate satisfaction.
Or perhaps millennials truly are spoiled and entitled to immediate satisfaction—you may want to take my millennial ideas with a grain of salt.