Why Today's Youth Are Depressed

According to YouTube's analytics roughly 80% of people watching this video are under 35 years old. Marketers have invented a name for this demographic of impressionable young people, they're called "Millennials", others have labelled them "Generation Y". A millennial is anyone born after 1980. That includes myself and most of my viewers. In fact Millennials now outnumber every other generation. But according to multiple studies we are the most depressed generation, ever. Psychology Today reports that the suicide rate amongst young adults has tripled since the 1950s and terrifyingly suicide is now the second most common cause of death amongst college students. Between 2005 and 2014 the number of clinically depressed teenagers increased by more than half a million, three quarter's of whom were women. Every year more and more millennials are taking time off work and are seeking help for mental health issues. An even greater number report extremely low job satisfaction and say they experience difficulty maintaining relationships. Young people get a lot of stick, the older generation have always experienced "juvenoia", a fear or hostility directed at the younger generation. This is nothing new. Baby boomers, born just after the war, had a strong work ethic and believed that the amount of hours worked should be directly relational to their income. Baby boomers heavily begrudged the generation that came after them, generation X. They were more independent, they changed their careers more often and believed in a fair work/life balance. And now it has come full circle once again, Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers alike are resenting Generation Y, the millennials. Who have brand new values, such as collaboration, work that's actually meaningful and impactful, having fun in the workplace and of course free food. Do previous generations look down upon us just because we're different or is it more than that? Even TIME magazine has poked the millennial beast, calling them "Lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents." Ouch! But unfortunately, they could have a point. Unlike the generational divides of last century, there is a lot of research and statistics that suggest every bad label millennials have been tarred with, may be well-deserved, even if it isn't through our own fault. The cold hard facts don't lie. The volume of incidents of narcissistic personality disorder is three times higher for people currently in their 20s, than the average. Are we really all in love with ourselves because we received 50 likes on our latest selfie? Experts believe there are very real, observable causes of this heightened narcissism. Millennials are the first generation that were brought up on reality television, and every year more and more superficial faux-reality programming is shoved down our throats. They advertise narcissism above all else, portraying looks and popularity as the source of fame and happiness. In such shows, real human relationships are often shown as being cheap and disposable. And then of course there's the social-media swamp that drowns us in a sea of likes, shares, pins and follows. Countless studies have shown that dopamine, the pleasure chemical is released in the brain when we receive likes on our photos and videos. This system breeds narcissism at its very core. It appears the more narcissistic we are and the more selfies we upload, the more likes we will inevitably receive and sadly, this actually makes up happier. Experts also accuse us of being entitled. A recent study revealed that 40% of millennials believe they should be promoted every two years, even if they haven't earnt it. Research shows that this entitlement to be given handouts, regardless of one's performance, stems from an unusual place. Remember school sports day? Even if you came in last place, you still got a trophy, just for participating. But even if you didn't as children we were always rewarded for taking part somehow, "It's the taking part that counts", remember. Countless studies have proven that this attitude creates a disingenuous and diluted sense of achievement and can be deeply damaging to our future expectations of what it really takes to achieve something. This philosophy is unique to our generation, Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers and those before them were all brought up in a deeply competitive environment. It was instilled within them from a young age that rewards have to be earned through hard work and graft. They were not told that they were entitled to anything. The so-called silent generation that lived through both World wars certainly didn't feel entitled. They lived through the hardest period of modern history and everything they had earned they had to cling onto with their lives. This meant that when they brought up their children, the Baby Boomers, they instilled them with a strict mentality of saving every penny and an extremely hard work ethic. They were told that nothing in life was free or even expected. It was all up to them. The baby boomers grew up and had children of their own, Generation X and thus they passed on the same hard work ethic. But then a huge shift happened in the global economy that changed everything. Generation X lived through a time of great prosperity, industry was on the rise and the world was finally dragging itself out of the pit it dug for itself during the war. This gave gen-Xers a "can do" attitude. And so they taught their children, us millennials, that if you put your mind to it you can do anything, become anyone and live a very successful, happy life. You are special. This has created a generation of people who all believe they are special, why wouldn't they? Their parents have drilled it into their heads that they are special and unique. Millennials are completely fame-obsessed too, four times as many teenagers would choose to be the assistant of a famous person rather than the CEO of a major corporation. In a recent poll, when asked what they would like to do for a career 54% of 16-year-olds answered "Become a celebrity". Far gone are the days when becoming a celebrity was just a side-effect of demonstrating a unique talent to the masses. Millennials are also lazier, we have grown up with technology that can think for us. And therein lies the biggest problem that's ruining the lives of young people today. Mobile phones. I know, you've heard it a hundred times, mobiles are bad for you. But do you really know why, and just how damaging they are for our mental health? Because the research is terrifying. So you're out enjoying a meal at a restaurant with family or friends. How many times do you check your phone over the course of that meal? The average millennial checks their phone over 100 times per day and they touch, tap or swipe on their phone over 3,000 times per day. Why? Because we're all addicts. I mentioned earlier that receiving likes releases dopamine, well so does hundreds of other things we do with our phones. Taking a picture of your food, taking a selfie, writing a status update that you just cooked the most amazing omelette of your life. All of these acts release dopamine, even before we upload them to the internet. Dopamine is released in advance because our brains anticipate the multitude of likes and shares it should hopefully receive. Within seconds we start receiving feedback, this is instant gratification, instant approval from our peers. And it goes on and on, round the clock, we receive instant gratification when we wake up, peer approval before we go to bed and through the middle of the night. The dopamine swirls and swirls in our brain in an ever-lasting continuum of self-fulfilment and reward. This only serves to perpetuate our narcissism. Until it stops. When we upload a photo of our chia seed and avocado toast and it doesn't receive as much attention as we'd hoped. In our minds our peers have rejected us. We are now lost, without purpose, we are now depressed. Does all this sound familiar? This cycle of massive releases of dopamine followed by periods of intense sadness? Sounds very much like an alcohol or gambling addiction doesn't it? Wether we like it or not have become a generation of addicts. We check our phone at dinner because we're addicted, it's the reason we put in on the table next to our food. Putting the people we should be spending quality face-to-face time with, in second priority to our little dopamine device. It's the reason we don't talk to people on the bus, on the train, at school or work, we instead indulge wholly in our addiction whenever we can. Because we are truly addicted, and most of us don't even realise it. A survey of more than 2,000 millennials found that 93% use their phones in bed and 80% use their phones on the toilet. But it's not your fault. Millennials are simply a product of the environment. This is the hand we were dealt. We grew up in a time of rapid technological advancement. As long as mobile devices continue to generate enormous profits, then companies will continue to develop new digital mechanisms and social networks that provide instant gratification. And it keeps coming quicker and quicker, we no longer have to wait for our next fix. It's instantaneous. We have Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, WhatsApp any one of which can provide our next fix whenever we desire it. And if not we can simply connect some digital candies to make us feel better. Our parents didn't have these distractions, they had to put time and effort into receiving the approval of their peers. They had to have meaningful conversations and form strong, deep, and long-lasting relationships with both their friends and partners to get their dopamine fix. At work they had to graft day after day and when that promotion came along, my god had they earned it. In contrast millennials have become immensely impatient, we are so use to instant gratification that if we don't get a promotion ten minutes after we start a new job, we get bored of it, because it isn't the sort of timeline we are use to. We say we want to make an impact yet we expect to do so within our first 6 months at a new job. And when 6 months or a year has gone by and we're still the tea and coffee guy for the office it makes us feel disenfranchised, worthless and depressed. But it's not your fault, you have grown up in a maelstrom of dopamine on tap whenever you desire it. So naturally you expect the same instant fulfilment from your career and relationships. But we can't tap a button to help us achieve that, there is no virtual replacement for hard work and genuine conversations. We can't swipe right to get promoted and I'm sorry folks but it's going to take more than commenting on your partner's latest selfie to make them feel genuinely valued and loved. Take them on a date for goodness sake and don't look at your phone the entire time, because the moment you do, they are now second priority. So should we be worried about the future, of a World run by these oh-so-terrible millennials? Are millennials really so ill-prepared to fill the boots of the previous generation in 10-20 year's time? These narcissistic, self-obsessed, lazy, entitled young adults who want success given to them on a plate, who can't tie down a relationship or achieve satisfaction in the workplace because they're too addicted to social media. Well, I wouldn't be so worried. Yes, we young people have our issues but we're actually no different to the last generation, Generation X were also labelled as entitled and lazy when they were young. As a society we need to recognise that the World has completely changed, both technologically and culturally over the past twenty years. And millennials are the first adopters of this strange new lifestyle, where you can build a billion-dollar business from your bedroom, if you put your mind to it. All our apparent faults are merely symptoms of trying to adapt to a completely strange, new way of life that our parents didn't have to deal with. We face new and unique pressures, stresses and challenges and we need to find better ways to cope with them rather indulging in social media. And for all our faults there are actually a lot of good things to say about millennials, that are rarely brought up. Millennials are the most tolerant generation ever. Research shows that prejudice has fallen with each new generation. Millennials are far less racist, homophobic and sexist than their parents. Pew research asked adults aged between 18-29 what their most important priority was during their lifetime. 52% answered "Being a good parent". 30% said "Have a successful marriage". 21% replied "Helping others in need". Now that doesn't sound like a generation that is completely self-absorbed now, does it? And our inability to settle into a normal 9-5 job may not be entirely due to our reliance on social media. Maybe it's because we all want more than the monotonous normality of working for some heartless corporate giant. Research shows that millennials are the most entrepreneurial generation ever. Spurred on by young do-it-yourself success stories like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. As a generation we have an unstoppable appetite to achieve something big and make an impact. Right after we've finished sending this hilarious Snapchat. This mentality might be proving difficult for large corporations who need to employ cheap young labor that can sit in an office and push buttons for eight hours a day. But it's changing the world in ways our parents could have never imagined. There's no doubt we need to spend more time interacting with one another and less time on social media, all the research has shown that it does bad things for our mental health. But we need to accept that the world is rapidly changing. Millennials have their faults but they are also contributing to the world in so many incredible ways. Just like the generation before us, and the generation before them. Change has always come and always will, Its inevitable, so we need to find a way to work with it for the better instead of spending our time pointing out the faults in others.

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