“Our generation has had no Great War, no Great Depression. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives.”
After a long day of work, we finally got to throw ourselves on fluffy pillows. As usual, we check our phones to eventually fall asleep. Alongside scrolling our social media, we got notifications of new messages and e-mails.
The sender only asks us whether I could attend the meeting tomorrow, simple answer. They only ask us to recommend the best noodle shop in town, simple answer. So, why not switch apps for a second and type some replies?
Often, these tech-savvy millennials do not realize that they are lengthening their work hours, let alone get credited for it. In fact, a popular critic to millennials is how lazy and entitled they are.
The critic ignored the fact that this generation is balancing a meal and a phone at the same time, trying to find the best ways to multitask and not waste time, and automatically be available all the time --both offline and (especially) online.
Yes, today’s generation has been helped so much by technology for access and mobility. But it’s not without side effects.
They are exposed to so much information to the point of overwhelming, while also being stimulated to expose themselves--but only the best parts. Millennials are pressed between unrealistic living standards, having to keep up with the rapid pace of global economy and politics, and being constantly reminded of the threatening global warming. Thus, they work relentlessly, caught up in debt, while striving for perfection of today’s “standards” and meet their parents’ living standards.
Overexposed, overworked and overstimulated, this generation is simply exhausted. In 1974, the term “burnout” came up from psychologist Freudenberger, explaining a constant state of chronic stress resulting in physical and emotional fatigue.
It’s different from exhaustion, where you reach the point of unable to go any further. Burnout means reaching that point and then pushing yourself to keep going. The term rose to popularity as it best described the millennial’s phenomenon.
They see life not as a state, but as a series of action. As a teenager, you need to have a once-in-a-lifetime birthday bash. As a college student, you need to receive some honours, do as many internships as possible while experiencing some romance. As an adult, you need to land a job at an impressive company with a certain amount of salary and travel the world.
While these actions, or ‘to-do list’, are being accomplished, they keep expanding the list. The feeling of accomplishment after finishing an exhausting task, unfortunately never comes. Even when it comes, it won’t last long until they realize that there are still so many tasks to do.
Despite having this burnout being criticized as “romanticizing exhaustion” to cover up the millennial lethargy by the older generations, the phenomenon should not be ignored or simplified. Instead, as it rings true, the “burnout” phenomenon should be reflected so it wouldn’t cause even more harm to the millennials and generations to come.