Instant gratification. The longing to experience pleasure and satisfaction without delay. Two words that millennials have grown accustomed to being accused of wanting. But without the desire for instant gratification, would our world even be close to being as advanced as it is today?
On July 26th, I attended the We the Future Summit in Philadelphia to hear SAP CEO Bill McDermott and a panel of young Congressional representatives speak about the next generation of global leaders, and the common theme of how technology has greatly impacted the way businesses and the government run. These two groups have acknowledged that the key to future success is to integrate millennials and technology into their overall plans. As a result, this is where we begin to see the effects of the need for instant gratification.
Recently after receiving a check from a friend, I instantly whipped out my phone, opened an online banking app, and took a picture. Within seconds, the check was deposited into my account. “Hmm, if only my friend had Venmo,” I thought to myself, “this process could have been a lot faster.” As if receiving a check, taking a quick picture, and virtually depositing it was not fast enough, I wanted that money to be in my account from the moment it was owed to me. I suppose that’s why Venmo, the virtual wallet that allows people to immediately make and send payments, is an extremely popular form of payment among millennials: Instant gratification. Technology has given Gen Y a taste of what immediate results are like, and now this younger workforce is hungry for more. I’ve found myself left wondering if this is helpful or harmful for our future.
One of the Summit’s young panelists would argue that in the political realm, instant gratification may not be a good thing. As the 2016 election draws near, young people are expressing their opinions at a larger number than ever before. Millennials are coming out en masse to rallies, protests, and voting booths.
The problem is, what is happening during the other three years when there isn’t a major election? Where are the young people then? Forget about midterms and primaries, millennials won’t show up. They want to see the immediate change and direct impact that their voices are having. They can’t do that at these smaller elections and unless it is a unique case, Twitter and Facebook are not going to be posting about the results with nationwide trending hashtags. The need for instant gratification is proving to be a major problem when it comes to getting millennials involved in politics.
Although the lack of quick and tangible results is creating an issue when it comes to politics, in our world of business, instant gratification is a driving force in motivating young people. Social media, a source of this instant gratification, has grown exponentially over the past decade.
Businesses are using it to showcase their brand, to develop customer loyalty, to reach new audiences, and so much more. The social media outlets are almost always staffed by millennials. Why, you ask? It’s because a). millennials know how to work these channels to drive engagement and b). they feed off of the quick turnaround of results that comes with linking social media and business.
During the Summit, the panelists emphasized the importance of the device. They encouraged the government to follow the lead of businesses and give the customers what they are longing for. People, despite age differences, want results and although the government has the baby boomer generation locked in, the only way that they are going to see an increased interest in the number of millennials is to improve technology.
Millennials want results, rewards, and feedback immediately. As Bill McDermott said, “You must listen to the customer. We need collaboration, sharing, and civic engagement in order to make a difference.” So government, what’re you waiting for? Let’s do this together!