Melia Watkins was a student at Goshen (Indiana) College when she gave this speech at the 2016 conference, Leading into the common good: An Anabaptist Perspective. She graduated in 2016. We will be publishing additional speeches from college students reflecting on Anabaptist identity and leadership later this month.
A few days ago, I went on my Facebook feed and I saw this article from Buzzfeed titled “48 reasons ‘90s Kids Had the Best Childhood” and I immediately clicked it. This article literally made me giggle from all of the memories it brought back up.
So, when I think of what it means to be a Millennial, I don’t usually think of all the technological advances the world made within our timeframe. I think of how I used to love watching the cartoon Rugrats faithfully, how I played Sonic on my PlayStation, or how I went to the Scholastic book fair just to look at the Guinness Book of World Records.
And for many millennials, this is what community is all about: being able to share all of those fond memories with someone.
As a generation, we went through constant change, from the invention of the internet to the creation of social media. Because of this we needed a community that understood our situation.
When I was looking up statistics about Millennials, I found something really cool, weird and extremely true. 65% of millennials say losing their phone or computer would have a greater impact on their daily routine than losing their car.
I would have to say I have freaked out looking for my phone. I don’t typically think rationally when trying to find I, so I just start pulling covers off of my bed, dumping out my purse and crawling under the bed. Our phones are so important, because they link us to all of the people within our communities in an instant. Technology has enabled us to have several communities to communicate with every day, and allows us to organize each one by a certain niche or interest.
Thinking back through my life, my definition of community has changed many times. I started out in community with those who were in my neighborhood, but then all of those kids moved away. Then I began connecting with other people on Neopets, a popular website back then that let you raise virtual pets. Myspace popped up into my life after that, and that was when I started taking selfies by turning my flip phone around and hoping I got a photo of my entire head. Now my community is defined by the people at Goshen College, in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, and my friends and family on Facebook.
As we’ve grown older, we’ve started to believe that we can change the world. According to the Huffington Post, 61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible.
Because we believe so strongly in community and doing what is right, we recently were able to help change the hiring policy at Goshen College and EMU to make it more accepting of LGBTQ people, which was a large deal to these Mennonite institutions.
Along with our need for social change, we have grown up with different expectations for ourselves and others. Now it is a common thing to be college educated, so that you can go on to do amazing things. But for many of us now, we can’t just move on to any job; our ethics have to align with those of the company and it must be socially responsible. We take on thousands of dollars in debt to meet the requirements needed to get a job and then go into fields that don’t offer the higher-level salaries. We do this all for our communities and to feel that we have done our civic duties.
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