Millennials, the generation born between 1982-2004, represent a large group of young people poised to play an important role in the near future of our world. They are either in, or nearing, the prime of their lives and are getting ready to be the newest mothers, fathers, teachers, politicians, leaders, or executives. But what are our expectations of a world dominated by the millennials?
Needless to say, their contributions will be shaped and decided by their characters, opinions and preferences. While it is impossible to make generalizations and fit every member of a group in the same mold, we can say that most millennials share similar traits. And the one that stands out the most is a dangerous one that threatens not only them, but the world they are about to have a great effect on: A growing culture of hate.
The generation of millennials grew up with the Internet and with the infinite possibilities it offers. Despite its extensive benefits and the good it does for the world, the Internet does have some negative side effects. Described by psychologists as the ‘disinhibition effect,’ it also offers the anonymity and invisibility in addition to a general lack of authority. This gives these young people a false sense of security as they unleash the worst in human nature; namely, a detrimental inclination towards anger, hatred, cynicism and negativity.
As Internet usage grew, this sinister threat of hostility and anger reflected in comments and chats over the social media became a reality and stepped outside the boundaries of the virtual world. Becoming visible in daily life and inflicting real damage on the millennials, this aggressive Internet culture drew in millions and gave droves of young people similar personalities. They turned into the same people, with the same views and reactions, even the same sentences in some instances. Most of the millennials no longer feel like they have to expend any energy to be their own unique person and rather take refuge in the safety of the paths commonly available in Internet culture.
However, we humans are created to love and be loved. When spellbound by the size of masses displaying the same behavior of loathsome remarks, most don’t even question the rationality of their actions. As a result, some choose to shy away from positive traits like love, kindness, compassion that are usually frowned upon by their peers as the qualities of the meek. Over time, they become unable to love, or form true friendships. A sense of self-hatred and self-doubt begin to build and especially for those without any particular religious conviction that holds back negative traits such as jealousy and anger, a downward spiral begins. This is probably why they are called the ‘snowflake generation.’ Most of these young people are easily offended and can easily have nervous breakdowns.
We humans become valuable as we constantly improve our souls to be better persons in terms of good morality that necessitates good conduct, gentleness, compassion, forgiveness and love. That’s why we cannot let this downward spiral break apart the millennials and allow these young people to be swayed in waves of hatred. All efforts should be made by every conscientious person to end this hatred trend. Otherwise, the spread of hatefulness amongst millennials will cause unimaginable damage. After all, these people will one day raise their own children, teach children in schools, be the leaders of their countries and make decisions that concern millions; in other words, unless the hatred crippling them is curbed, the devastating aftermath will be felt for generations to come.
The millennials did not fall into this peril without reason. The ongoing wars, continuous bloodshed and incitement of conflicts, social degeneration and most importantly people’s distancing from true religion prepared the grounds for such a hostile environment. Without the path of guidance that teaches patience, perseverance, self-giving and mercy, they were led into a world of aggression. Now, before it is too late, it is the responsibility of educators, state officials, academics, intellectuals, opinion leaders, and families to repair the harm.
The problem might seem daunting, but the solution is easy: Love.
The Internet, which is a means to spread enmity or conflict, could easily be turned into a medium of good words, good advice and sharing messages of friendship and brotherhood. Social media may be an appealing and exemplary atmosphere to bring nations, ethnicities, religions, and races together in loving relations. We are created for love. We need to love and be loved; that’s the only way we can live in contentment and happiness. The current disastrous state of our world is a result of the denial of human nature that is healthy only through morals of love. In order to treat the disease of hatred that has contaminated the Internet and infected the millennials, all kinds of intellectual means should be resorted to for spreading good morality as a cure. By sharing articles, documentaries, programs, messages and divine words of love, the young generations will be guided to their true nature.
So, what we expect from the millennials is a world full of peace, understanding and harmony. Yet, in order to achieve that beauty we all have to strive with meticulous effort by choosing every word we speak and write. Every individual effort to remove aggression and hatred will be fruitful and grow ten fold with its positive influence. Stronger than the quick spread of hate culture, a culture of love will begin to take over, and erase all remaining traces of negativity. We need to do this for ourselves and for the future of our world.
—The author is a prominent Turkish writer and commentator. He blogs at: www.harunyahya.com