''I don’t see the centennials have insatiable thirst for happiness and aspiration for victories''
Russian journalist Ekaterina Vinokurova’s column about the Centennials, the generation of people who were born in Russia after 2000
A new generation that was born in the era of the Internet – Centennials – are already at the heels of the Millennials that have grown up. What is their major difference from their predecessors? Are the young people who grew up with tablets and smartphones in their hands really so stupid and not ready for life? How can they influence economic and political processes in the world? How is their craving for comfort and stability explained? In an op-ed column of Realnoe Vremya, Russian journalist, special reporter of Znak.com Ekaterina Vinokurova tried to find answers to these questions.
''They are very sensitive and very susceptible to internal traumas''
It's been written a lot that the Centennials get information in a different way, they are more critical, less dependent on consumption, live with shorter time intervals, prefer a skill in analysing to remembering and so on. Another thing surprised me in my Z acquaintances. They are very sensitive and very susceptible to internal traumas.
How it was in Russia 10 years ago: if there is a tragedy, you call your close friend, you go to a bar, everything is bad in the morning but better inside. And you move further with such advances because you know at the bottom of your soul that life is long and you can't give up now because you still need to move heaven and earth and win everybody. As a rule, the rest of life is more or less dependent on the basic strategy on how to win everybody.
For instance, a diploma is needed to find a good job, it means that you need to clench your teeth and get the diploma. Or the man of your dreams has gone and the presentation of an important tender is tomorrow. It means you can cry only after presentation, otherwise, you will never become a top manager. Moreover, we were entering a curious new world then, which gave a pile of reasons for everyday happiness.
''It's been written a lot that the Centennials get information in a different way, they are more critical, less dependent on consumption, live with shorter time intervals, prefer a skill to analysing to remembering and so on. Another thing surprised me in my Z acquaintances.They are very sensitive and very susceptible to internal traumas.'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
Sometimes it was pure consumption happiness: oh, yes, my first mascara is not from an underground shop but it also Chanel! First branded things, the first bill in a restaurant, not in a snack bar, that was paid with calmness. There was joy that isn't of consumption genre – to first see Botticelli in the Uffizi Gallery, first trip to Vatican, first time seeing the ocean…
We already dealt with self-analysis and reflection then. Moreover, the realisation that a visit to a psychotherapist isn't the same thing as a visit to a psychiatrist probably started with our generation. However, it was not self-analysis for self-analysis and sensitivity for sensitivity.
''Our adulthood is 'there are few things but everything is allowed''
We had a terrible, almost insatiable thirst for happiness. Nothing was enough and we wanted more – including we managed to do more until we became adults. I don't see the Centennials have this insatiable, requiring a thirst for happiness and aspiration for victories, not comfort. They think 10 times more, they read books about psychology and endlessly wander trying to find some comfortable space.
There is an opinion that their aspiration for comfort and stability is linked with becoming adults in the era of terrorist attacks and economic crises. However, I don't agree with it. The era of terrorist attacks (Budyonnovsk, Pushkinskaya, Kashira Highway, Beslan, Nord-Ost siege and 9/11) was in our adulthood. The default in 1998 is incomparable with the crisis in 2008 or ''Black December'' in 2014 in terms of its traumatic effect. Our adulthood is ''there are few things but everything is allowed'', their adulthood is ''there are many things but nothing is allowed''. Probably this is why they like the safe virtual world so much where there are fewer bans.
In addition, they have a completely different concept of comfort. For instance, a millennial will do his best and try to make money to finally have enough money for a good hotel while going on holiday, while the basic comfort of a hostel will be enough for a Centennial. It is such a comfort format ''be grateful for small favours''.
''The Centennials are the first generation that was born in the era of the Internet, and it can make some people think that they're a bit more stupid than their predecessors or less adjusted for real life. As for being stupid, no, they read and, by the way, they study more and longer.'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
''I don't see their idealism glowing: right idealists often go to war''
The Centennials are the first generation that was born in the era of the Internet, and it can make some people think that they're a bit more stupid than their predecessors or less adjusted for real life. As for being stupid, no, they read and, by the way, they study more and longer – it was important for us to get a diploma and start working. But now they make an impression of more infantile people.
As for their readiness, I'd say we are more ready for life in suddenly changing extreme circumstances. By the way, in this case, infantilism is not a swear world. They have fewer chances to be deceived by their employer, less necessity to fight to survive and actually more possibilities because there have been fewer barriers to the development of the Internet. It is a luxury to afford not to be an adult.
How can this generation influence the economy and politics in the short run? We need to consider that the millennials are still ahead of them, the 60-70-year-old elite is in power now. Today's 30-40-year-old millennials will join power in 10-15 years. I think it will be a period of pragmatism that, by the way, can be potentially peaceful: a war is expensive and destroys possibilities, not creates them.
Meanwhile, the Centennials will face an ordinary life and gain practical experience and probably transform. I don't see their idealism glowing: right idealists often go to war. By the way, I will note that politicisation is a characteristic of not only this generation – a big flow of the young to politics took place after the first Ukrainian Maidan in 2005-2006.