How S’porean Millennials are different from their Baby Boomer parents

It's different different but the same. Whatever that means.

Goh Wei Hao | January 23, 2016 @ 02:21 pm


The apple may not fall far from the tree but the environment is always changing. That is why we will never be the same as our parents.

Compared to our parents, we Millennials have it much better: the Singapore we live in has a better education system, more advanced healthcare, a stable economy, WiFi and shopping malls everywhere amongst many other improvements.

So naturally, we turned out to be a different breed of apples, with a different set of characteristics that defines and differentiates us from them.

1. We crave individualism

Source: Giphy

It’s no longer okay just to be successful; we need to be different. For example, if we were to become an engineer, material science is the way to go because mechanical engineering has become too mainstream. And, nobody wants to write for a newspaper anymore because you can amplify your opinions and personality to our generation online.

Back in our parents’ times, a stable and well-paying job was more than enough.

This need for individualism of ours has manifested in many other ways. The most obvious is through consumerism: just look at the number of iPhone cases we have to choose from today or the number of plain white t-shirts in our wardrobe because “they fit differently”.

Millennial entrepreneurs, who are always looking for new and unique ways to penetrate the market, have added many new products and services across all industries.

A good example is mobile apps. There’s an app for everything: Carousell, where you can buy and sell everything; Foodpanda allows you to order take-out from places that never used to deliver; and Popcorn lets you check the show timings and book tickets from any cinema in Singapore.

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

Sadly, it has also led to everyone needing to have a say on everything. The best example? Your Facebook newsfeed. Scroll through your newsfeed and count the number of friends that share an article which they interject with their opinion. The answer? Everyone – even if they have absolutely no background knowledge on the news or if the topic is completely out of their depth.

It’s all about “me, me, me”.

2. We are more hedonistic

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

Here’s our inner monologue when planning what to do on a Saturday (read quickly for added effect): Hmm, where should I go for lunch later. There’s a cafe that just opened in Jalan Besar that Nigel says is a must-try but I’m really craving for some 4Fingers now. I wonder if Clara will go with me. Maybe after that, we could watch this new movie but the other new movie looks good too. I’ll let her decide. Or we could just go to the National Gallery and take some pictures for my Instagram. Daryl says the gang is going to Zouk tonight. I feel like going but then again, I’m a little broke this month; I think I’ll just stay at home and play Dota or watch 2 Broke Girls.

Source: Zouk Facebook page
Source: Zouk Facebook page

Today, there are just too many ways for us to enjoy ourselves.

Hence, we have developed a need to be constantly stimulated because with so many activities to choose from, being idle feels like we are wasting our youth.

I think Millennial conscripts, like myself, understand this the best because our days in civilisation (a.k.a. bookout) are numbered – two to be exact – so we want to enjoy it as best as we can.

Loud music, eye candies and alcohol to compensate the mundane and overload the rest of the senses. Nothing makes you feel better than clubbing till you collapse on your bed in a drunken stupor, with a throbbing headache and strange bruises/aches all over. In fact, many NSFs are termed “furniture” because you will always see them at the clubs, heads hung low in a neck-breaking position, just like the other permanent fixtures/ inanimate objects in the club.

3. Instant gratification

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

Everything is instantaneous: today, there’s Internet banking, WhatsApp, iTunes Store, YouTube, Netflix, etc. Literally, we can do everything from the comfort of our home and with a click of a button.

Granted it has made our lives more convenient but this also means we can no longer wait for anything: we expect our friends to reply us almost immediately; if we get cancelled on, we can make new plans in less than an hour; we cannot stand buffering videos; making new friends now is as easy as a swipe of the finger; and if we want to find out the answer to anything, we Google.

All this has changed the way we live, we work, we interact but most importantly, the way we love. A good example? Tinder. It has made meeting and talking to new people so easy that we have become scared to settle with one person because we just have so many possible “matches” to talk to. So courtship, which is normally reserved for only one person, is now spread across a few so that we will not miss “the one” and end up “settling”.

That is why today, we have become the hook-up generation, one that refers DTF as coital pleasure and not a Chinese restaurant.  So vastly different we are from our parents’ because to them, every hand holding was a well-thought plan, every kiss, sacred and the number of people they’ve dated still countable.

4. We are allowed to dream

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

Today, our parents are richer than their parents so they can afford to let their children dream (literally). For one, I’d guess a majority of us are lucky enough to not have to worry about providing for the family while studying.

Also, most of our parents are earning enough to not have to depend on us to provide for them. That is why we are allowed to pursue jobs beyond that of a doctor, lawyer, accountant or engineer – all the conventionally well-paying ones.

Heck, some are so blessed that if they cannot make it into local universities, their parents can afford to send them overseas.

During our parents’ time, Singapore was poorer and so was its people. Stories like my father’s – being raised by a widowed mother and having to go out to work at an early age like his siblings to help supplement the household income – was all too common. Back then, everyone worked hard so that they never had to ever worry about money again.

In the end, our parents achieved what they set out to; so, many of us were lucky enough to never have to worry about money because they could comfortably provide for us. This allowed a more enriching and conducive environment, compared to theirs, to grow up in where we are allowed to be whatever we want.

Thanks to this, our apples are fleshier, juicier and every single one has a different texture to its taste.


Top photo from Zouk Facebook page.

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About Goh Wei Hao

When he was young, Wei Hao’s mother said he could be anything. So he told her, he wanted to be Batman. Then he got slapped, so he decided to be a writer instead.

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