Millennials and Social Distancing: How’s That Going?
By Maureen Mancini Amaturo
While us older folks are adjusting our relationship with toilet paper, having gone from spinning the roll like a roulette wheel to approaching it as if opening a safe, Millennials (born 1981-1996) are adjusting different behaviors.
Many who’d left the suburbs for the joy of paying New York City rents are, with the onset of this pandemic, paying those rents but have moved back to their family homes for the duration. While they’re not happy about that financial evolution, they’re not thrilled either, that their parents are their roomies and happy hour is “Jeopardy” followed by “Wheel of Fortune”. However, they are loving that they don’t have to do laundry, buy groceries, or cook. Fair trade, if you ask me. But I’m not a Millennial. So, I contacted a few to find out how they feel about the new normal. “It’s unfortunate, pretty terrible, to be paying rent but living with your parents,” one Millennial, Ashley, told me.
But Millennials want everyone to know that they are handling this just fine. They say Baby Boomers are having a problem. Gabrielle said, “It’s like role-reversal. Kids are telling their parents to stay home, and the parents aren’t listening. We’re worried about our parents going out.” She added, “So many people who were living and working in the city and commuting were afraid to come home and maybe carry germs to their parents.” They really do care!
This uber-social group has created endless digital interactions to ease their worries about mom and dad. As if they weren’t already growing blood vessels directly into their iPhone, digital socializing has graduated from obsession to necessity, and this group is making the most of it. There are zillions of Instagram challenges keeping them connected: drawing activities; push-up challenges; wine-toasting challenges, and new challenges every day. Athletes and non-athletes are setting up trick shots — soccer, golf, and other sports — at home and posting them. Pisces and Aries who’ve been cheated out of public birthday celebrations in their favorite bars are keeping the birthday “bottle service” tradition (something to do with a sparkler and a bottle of liquor or champagne) alive online by creating at-home versions and posting pics.
So, for Millennials, the socializing continues.
Jonah said, “It’s definitely been an adjustment. Wouldn’t call it a life-altering, world-is-over adjustment, though.” He added, “We are more tech-savvy. It hasn’t been that bad. I’ve been playing more video games with friends, and I have a Zoom birthday party coming up. I’m lucky to live in such a great community and have a nice home to quarantine in. There are others in more dire circumstances. Knowing no one is immune to this virus makes it easier to do what we have to do. It’s annoying that you can’t leave the house, but we have to work together. We’re all fighting the same enemy.”
Everyone has downloaded Zoom for work-at-home meetings, virtual events, and remote social gatherings. Millennials are doing virtual happy hours, too. They’re at home on group Facetime, each with a drink in hand. Also, they’re capitalizing on Netflix Party, “an app that lets you watch Netflix shows simultaneously with friends and connect everyone in a group chat to discuss what you just watched.”
Seems like they got this. Being connected remotely has been a regular part of their lives. This group has always been well-prepared for social distancing. Likely, Baby Boomers are the ones feeling the quarantine effects. They didn’t grow up with Facetime, Instagram, Snapchat, or Venmo. They socialize in-person and pay with cash or card. A totally virtual existence for anyone born before 1970 is much more of a challenge. However, there is one thing that Baby Boomers and Millennials share: a passion for ordering online and home delivery. With the money Millennials are saving on restaurants, sporting events, bars and concerts, they are ensuring Amazon Prime is here to stay.