Every generation, says the model and online influencer Nicole Marie, aka Niki, believes that they had it worse than the one that came after them. “Seriously, how many jokes about walking to school in six feet of snow every day have you heard from your parents?” she asks. “There is probably a lot of truth to the idea that things were harder in the past, and I think the millennial generation is proof of it.”
Millennials, she explains, grew up as social media was taking off. “It was new, it was big, and everyone and their dog was on it. What teens in particular didn’t realize, though, was that by trading real, face-to-face interactions with people for an online experience, they were setting themselves up for issues when they became adults.”
The problem, Niki believes, is that millennials got fulfillment from cyberspace and simply didn’t learn how to form real, meaningful relationships. “They found pleasure in getting likes on their Facebook page. Seeing other people out in cyberspace like them released the chemical dopamine in their brains. That gave them even more pleasure, and they returned to social media for more of it. The idea of actually making friends with real people kind of faded away for them.”
This matters because in the workforce, millennials have struggled. “The ones that succeed or who have managed to do okay will all say that what they’re looking for in their jobs is the ability to have a purpose and make a difference,” Niki says.
She believes that when someone articulates a purpose in their job, is paid well, and is treated well, yet they leave their job because they’re still feeling unfulfilled with their lives and their careers, it often turns back to their personal life.
“They admit that they have a bunch of acquaintances, work colleagues, and social media friends, but they have no deep meaningful relationships,” Niki says. “They know that if they have an event and their friends come, their friends will probably leave to go somewhere else where they got a better offer because there is no loyalty and no deep, meaningful relationship.”
Millennials, says Niki, don’t say anything bad about their friends. “They truly love their friends, but they know that it’s not deep, it’s not real, and their friends don’t really have their back. So, they get placed into a mid-range hierarchy of where they believe they fall in with their friends and the psyche of their importance, and they never create any long, deep, meaningful relationships with anyone.”
By not having those relationships, Niki shares, they never built coping mechanisms to deal with the stress. “Let’s admit it: real friends are stressful. I always say that you can’t really become friends with someone until you have a fight with them. You don’t know how someone’s going to act or how someone is going to be until you have a disagreement with them.”
She thinks that everyone can be nice to you when things are going well. “Conflict is different. In my generation, we know that friends are important. We know that they take time, and we know that making friends is sometimes painful. Forgiving people of their mistakes is important because you’re going to need people to forgive you of your mistakes.”
In Niki’s generation, she learned that you can’t really be friends with someone unless you share common pain and common experiences with them. “Those problem-solving skills transfer to all other aspects of life, from work, to finances, to personal relationships. Whereas in the millennial generation, they were never forced into a situation where they had to build those skills with other people because they could get their source of dopamine from a tablet, a cell phone, or an app.”
Niki remembers having to go on a date and having to learn how to flirt. “Now, you don’t even have to do that anymore,” she laughs. “If you like someone, you just swipe right, and a conversation starts almost immediately. There’s no build up, and there’s no need to have the dance that makes you get better than you currently are. There is no need for you to develop those skills. You just have to look good in a selfie and swipe right.”
She marvels that you can also hire a dating assistant. “You can just outsource your dating life to people who will write ‘swipe right’ on there for you, filter it, and deliver it to you. That did not exist, at least not very well, in my generation.”
What the millennial generation fails to understand, Niki thinks, is that it is not the end result that is the goal. “Instead, it’s often the journey. Without having to learn how to forgive someone after you have a fight with them, to strengthen a relationship after you have a disagreement with someone, and to have basic problem-solving skills so that you can develop long-term, valuable relationships with someone, how can millennials have the deep relationships they desire?”
She believes they will learn, however. “Millennials are resilient and intelligent. They are full of passion and drive, and I think, like most people, they are going to figure it out. They will ultimately do what they must to have the relationships they’re seeking. Social media will always be with us, of course, but over time, I think you’ll see more people here and there turning away from it to rediscover what we all want: real, face-to-face relationships with each other.”
For more information on Nicole Marie and the incredible journey she has taken to the top of the modeling industry, please visit www.nikifit40.com
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