The effects of instant gratification on millennials…


The millennial generation consists of persons born in between 1980 and 2000. The term ‘Millennial’ was coined up by Strauss and Howe in 1987.

But what makes an individual a millennial? Is it being lazy? The love for travel? The ‘I want to do everything my own way’ attitude? Do we really don’t know how to handle money?

Who knows?

I was born in 1987 and therefore I’m officially placed in the millennial generation (born between 1984-2000), although on the outer end. The strange thing is that I never felt connected with ‘being a millennial’ at all. For a lot of people, it’s the lost generation that is so hard to influence and is doing everything different than what is expected of ‘normal’ people. Are Millennials that much different?

At the beginning of this year, there was a video circulating at my office shared by co-workers. In this video, Simon Sinek shares his thoughts on Millennials, especially in correlation with the working environment. This video was quite informative, but it kept me thinking. It was clear that his explanation of the gratification on Millennials was more a showcase of how misunderstood this generation truly is.

The video takes about 15 minutes and is called: Simon Sinek on millennials in the work floor. For anybody that wants to go a bit deeper on this topic, I recommend watching it.

TLTW: So what he is basically talking about is this:

Millennials, are of all the things, mostly being entitled. And simply not satisfied with the status quo in the working environment, even if all their criteria are being met. This is due to four different factors:

  1. Parenting
    He says: ‘most Millennials grew up under failed parenting strategies.’ This resulted in kids being rewarded although they didn’t really deserve. And simultaneously devaluing the rewards for people that actually did deserve them. There is no difference anymore in participating and standing out from the crowd. The blame lays with the parents. And this ‘bad’ parenting is resulting in a generation with lower self-esteem than previous generations.
  2. Technology
    The use of social media has gotten us the idea that life is amazing. Everything is being Instagrammed and only shows the good side of life. Setting up high standards to everyone addicted to social media. Which basically could never be met.Millennials are over exposed to dopamine through the use of social media. And is therefore highly addictive, while the most people using it are enough stressed out by going through adolescence. In short, when kids grow older, they don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships. And instead turn to a device (or social media) for help when feeling stressed out.
  3. Impatience
    Here comes in the instant gratification. If you want something, you just get it. We can buy everything online sitting on the couch? We binge watch new series and stream it into our homes directly. And if you want a date? You just swipe right on Tinder.
    We can get everything we want. Except.. job satisfaction and deep, meaningful relationships. Both costs time and dedication to developing.
  4. Environment
    When starting to work, the companies they work for (and their managers) are to blame for caring more about numbers than people and specifically caring about the millennial new kid on the block. Lacking the skill-set of finding meaning and joy, the corporate environment they work in is not helping them to get there. Again, the fault is not with the millennial person, but with their environment.

So you have a generation who have been raised in such a way they had to develop low self-esteem and are constantly being told that life is always amazing (which is not). There is no room for failure. Then add it that you can get everything instantly, but we forget how to develop deep relations with others. And therefore also forget that the things that really, really matters take time to master.

Sinek uses the example here of a new graduate that is in his entry level job and wants to quit because he can’t make an impact. His answer? Why? You just have to take the time to make it happen, it will come eventually.

He mentioned that Millennials are disregarded, but that they can’t help it. It’s not because of them, but because of their parents, telephones, the internet of things and their working environment. There is a lack of leadership and that’s what makes them feel like they do. And this is partially true.

The millennials are not all about superficial relationships and addicted to social media… They are willing to work hard and want to develop themselves. They want to be challenged and derogate from existing paths in order to achieve their goals.

The most interesting thing about this video, however, is its comments. I selected a few that I thought wrapped it up better than I could:

Comment 1:
“This societal disconnect makes total sense. Millennials are not okay with old paradigms. But, honestly, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Corporations and governments don’t have the control, manipulation, and persuasion over the populace like they used to. I don’t think old cultural paradigms are superior. It’s the Millennial generation that is demanding equality and justice across all classes. I think we are headed in the right direction and I think it’s the Millennial who will be blazing the way.”

Comment 2:
“I read a book called ‘Capitalist Realism’ by Mark Fisher, and that book reflects the points made here, the idea that we, young people, are nurtured on nothing but the perpetual pursuit of pleasure, so it leaves us disenfranchised and confused with the truth that you can’t escape suffering. It’s a part of life that we’ve been taught to almost repress. He explains that our very consciousnesses are being constricted by education systems that run at the behest of bureaucratic governments, who neglect spiritual, human fulfillment in favor of hitting the numbers; mechanical, computer-like thinking, shaped by the world they’re not prepared for – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, skills-wise etc.”

Comment 3:
“Agree with the addiction to social media… but totally disagree with it being the fault of Corporations failing us. It’s up to the individual OF ANY AGE to find meaning and worth in their lives. Blaming parents or organizations is the weak and pathetic way out. The solution is and has always been within us. Young people should look to direct solutions, not in-direct solutions that involve input from others.”


Keep in mind that what Sinek is saying is just a reflection of what he learned is happening around him. And therefore perfectly portraying what is wrong at how we, as people, look to millennials. And what we think they need from their environment.

He used this to bring up the discussion about Millennials. And looking at all the comments and how the video went viral, this pretty much worked 🙂

What do you think?

13 thoughts on “The effects of instant gratification on millennials…

  1. I agree that technology plays a huge role on how millennials see the world. The globalization, internet, mobile phones etc. are all important factors. But why narrow down the phenomenon to millennials? These are even more common things for the ones born after 2000. Of course they are still young, but I believe all things that are said for the millennials will be even more true for the next generation.


    • True, there are probably more people (a.k.a generations) facing the same influences.

      Funny thing is that even the generation before the millennials happened to be misunderstood, so it might be an effect of all ages.


  2. Great topic. I find some of Sinek’s points to be very accurate (and funny as well).

    The one I see all the time is impatience. I think maybe its why so many millennials aren’t getting married or maybe haven’t advanced too far in their careers.

    Personally, I really don’t identify too well with the whole generation even though I was born in the category.


  3. Hi Divnomics,
    Great post and great video. Personally, I think it is way too generalizing to say one generation is behaving in the same way. Not all baby boomers are rich and not all millenials are impatient. Hey, I even know some 50+ year old colleagues who seem to be more addicted to their cell phones than the 20 something’s.
    I also don’t agree at all on what he is saying about instant gratification. If I can wait for an entire season of a show having been on TV to watch it afterwards in one go at the end, is that not delayed gratification? I have to resist the urge to watch the show all the while it is already available to me.
    Anyways, thank you for writing and sharing this post.
    – DIB


    • Hi DIB,

      I agree, there is far more to it than just 1 kind of behavior that equals 1 generation.
      Good example of the binge watching, although there a lot of shows that come online in once (Netflix does this), so there is no need to wait at all.

      The video of Sinek caused lots of discussion online. I find it most interesting that he is sketching an image of how we currently look at Millennials. Although it might not hold the ultimate truth.


  4. While I believe instant gratification plays some small piece in the equation, I’m not sure I buy millennials being so much different. I’m usually grouped near the end of gen-x. The thing I remember as a kid is baby boomers saying my generation were lazy latch key kids with rap and conspicuous consumption. Dig back through history and it was the baby boomers as free love hippies with their rock and roll. With every generation the elders think the newly adulted generation are slackers with guaranteed failure. Ultimately it’s just the difference of experience. In 20 years the millennials will say the same thing about their kids.


    • I do think Millennials might think differently than a lot of people are used to. It is, as you say, a difference in experience and not only an effect with this, but many more generations.

      Very curious though how we will look at the new generations 20 years from now 😉

      Interesting thoughts and thanks for sharing!


  5. I think it’s a dangerous (for whatever reason) generalisation to say all millennials have the same traits – there’s a huge age difference in this one generation, all being different people. I think the impatience comes through even more with spending and debt, than career moves. This is the generation that first came into the world with the 2008 crash, and saw what seemed to be western civilisation falling apart. That’s not going to leave a great lasting impression of the institutions that created and allowed that to happen.



    • I agree. But I also find it really interesting that the Millennial generation is like the new best thing, of whom so much is misunderstood apparently. The circumstances of the 2008 crash has had it’s effect on the current generation, but still there are a lot of millennials who handle their money better then their elders..


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  8. Great to read this article! I’ve seen the video before a couple of months ago and was really impressed (and sort of in an identity crisis myself… Do you know the feeling when you’re parents somehow do not understand what you’re trying to tell them about life?! A real generation difference I guess..). The problem is also the unlimited amount of options I think, the stress that comes with making choices also makes your decisionmaking less long-term because you want to see a difference and if this doesn’t happen you can always switch to another option and see if that works out… I also agree with the fact that our generation (1990 here) will make a lot of changes in the world (and I hope for the better) but wasnt this also the case with our parents? The whole hippie movement was during their teenage years and they must also have felt misunderstood by their parents from time to time I think.. 🙂


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