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Millennials Need Instant Gratification

Why is it that Millennials demand instant gratification?? If you put yourself in our shoes, though, can you blame us? We grew up on technology. I used a computer for the first time in the fourth grade, primarily for computer games, and grew up as the Internet evolved. We are extremely technologically savvy and love exploring the web.

We desire instant gratification in other ways as well:

When we turned 16, we expected to get our license and a car.
When we hear a song we like, we want to download it instantly.
When we took a test or wrote a paper, we wanted results quickly.
When we send an e-mail, we expect a message immediately saying it was sent.
When we call someone, we expect them to pick up.

Now what is it about technology that everyone loves?

Instant access.
Confirmation that an action was received.
Quick responses.
The ability to compute things fast.

Since us Millennials grew up on computers and the Internet, and the above four components are major benefits of fast computers, that explains our need for a quick reward from every action. It is almost an innate instinct of ours to receive instant feedback from something we do, not because we are greedy, careless, or selfish, but because we great up that way. Many people criticize our age cohort because we are this way, but consider how you would respond to things if you grew up experiencing feedback or rewards after everything you did.

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  • Jun 2 Posted 4 years ago frharry

    The headline for this entry is misleading at best. The verbs in the body of the entry are defensible - demand, desire, expect. But those verbs all express a variation of want. Need is a whole other subject. And there is absolutely nothing in the column to support a need for instant gratification. Indeed, most psychological developmental theory would suggest the actual need is just the opposite - to develop the capacity for deferred gratification that marks adulthood. In light of the failure to do so, is criticism so difficult to understand? And is it somehow unreasonable?

    The explanation offered for how a sense of entitlement to instant gratification developed is worth considering. Attitudes and behavioral patterns never develop in a vacuum. A culture's youth always reflects its values back to it. But there is a major aspect missing from the explanation - the role of consumer advertising. A perceived need for instant gratification is the gold standard for selling consumer goods and services. And the Millenials are without a doubt the best trained consumerists that Madison Avenue money could buy.

    The question then seems to be this: Now that you've identified the causes of this attitudinal and behavioral pattern that no doubt present major problems in any life and invoke deserved criticism, what will you do about it? Are you prisoners of your training, like Pavlov's dog, or are you critically conscious human beings capable of charting your own course?


  • Mar 12 Posted 7 years ago michaeljpastor Of course it's been increasing with each generation; I doubt many people would dispute that.  And just like when we were kids (I'm a member of GenX), it turns out our parents were right all along.  (Turns out they were cool too).  So you're not helping the case much ;-)


    And no, Eric, my post wasn't censored.  It turns out you have a major bug in your web page.  If I click "Alert me via email when new comments are added to this post" before I hit submit, it refreshes the whole page and wipes out my entry.

  • AnneBB's picture
    Mar 11 Posted 7 years ago AnneBB I'm wondering if all this generational discussion is based on short (or perhaps long) term memory loss?
    I can exhibit all the behaviours described by Kristin - and I'm a BabyBoomer!!
    As a young graduate I was ambitious, impatient and wanted instant action - ok, we didn't have the same technology, but as an early adopter I was right out there pushing the boundaries (and I'd like to think I still am).

    Perhaps we're just being distracted by the issues here?
    Imagine being a parent of teenagers or 20 somethings during the flower power, hippy times ('60s) - makes our current Gen Y / Millenials look like cute kittens!

    Like some of the other commenters - I've also spent the last decade lecturing undergraduate Gen Ys - and have not blamed technology on the issues they're reporting - rather the education/schooling system that has encouraged and rewarded these behaviours!

    Maybe we're just all looking at someone or something else to blame - and maybe we're just all forgetting what we were like when we were younger!

    How about trying to embrace their enthusiasm and energy and finding ways to combine our experiences into some really powerful changes to the way we work?



  • MattMooreWrites's picture
    Mar 8 Posted 7 years ago MattMoore

    This post is an explanation, which is fine, but what about proposing next steps? Is Kristin saying corporate culture needs to change as young people enter the work force and boomers retire? Or that her cohorts need to change their expectations in the business world?

    Every generation brings its own challenges to the workforce -- my fellow Gen Xers brought a sense of distrust for authority, but we've integrated and worked out OK. Millennials will, too. But, I would argue, just like Gen Xers did, they will change and adapt more to the workplace than the workplace will change to adapt to them.

  • Mar 6 Posted 7 years ago RickReno (not verified) Hi Michael. Your post was not censored. Social Media Today does not censor posts. Social Media Today is a moderated community and all posts are reviewed by content managers and only some are approved for publication on the site. If you want to obtain some general guidelines as to what themes work best for publication, please reach out to  and he will provide that information to you.
  • Mar 6 Posted 7 years ago michaeljpastor Well it looks like my original post was censored, so here we go again.

     Rewarding spoiled brats just to shut them up isn't a good thing.  You don't reward addiction to avoid withdrawl symptoms!  Unplug!

  • Mar 6 Posted 7 years ago DodgeHoover (not verified) Barb, they lack decision making skills. Millennials are needy because they are too social. Using fast technology don't mean nothing if you don't value time like you should. Come to think of it, social media itself is kind of needy, eh. Three Nextel calls and two Tweets to figure out whether to go to the Pei Wei on Camelback or to Domino's.
  • Mar 6 Posted 7 years ago BarbShiflette You really mean internet addiction, right? Use parental controls now!

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