People are now chasing experiences. Maslow’s Hierarchy defines physiological needs as the top priority when it comes to the different needs a human has or develops. Physiological needs in layman’s terms are food, water, shelter, and clothing. Knowing what we know now, this isn’t any groundbreaking research. The stage right after that is the safety and security needs. This is more a stage of physical wellbeing along with a sense of security in the economic sense.
These primary needs were extremely applicable before 1980. After all, the two world wars and the cold war had really left people worrying about jobs as civilians and building a home-grown economy instead of just conquering another. (Britain, I’m looking at you). This also meant that with such a vast majority of people that had been relying on the government for food, water, shelter, clothing, and security, they had virtually no commercial skills to sustain themselves in a world that become increasingly capitalist.
This comfort of the home and distance from the war also led to something quite unexpected – babies. The security in the political stance of the country was enough for people to think about growing roots and start picturing a better future for their lineage. This mass effect is now popularized by naming an entire generation immediately after the war (between 1945 to 1964) as baby boomers.
The Calm After the Storm
This brings us to the timeline that I began with. The generational change after 1995 to now. With genuine security in people’s minds and the world population boosting at rates never seen before with the sprinkle of commercial skills on top, the capitalist world had formed its roots. The fear of not having the basic needs suddenly alleviated and people started to look for a thrill in their lives. Remember rock music?
Of course with so many children in the picture, there was also the gap of building schools that was attempted to be filled. So – education rates went up, mortality rates went down, GDPs were booming and the world seemed to rest for a minute. All of this collectively led to people feeling more secure in the basic physiological and security needs, but, this meant by 1995 people worried less and less about finding a roof over their house and moved onto the next stages in Maslow’s hierarchy. Love and belonging, and esteem.
Essentially these needs started to become the main concern of the populous as access to resources and jobs increased. People wanted to find their identities, create a name in the world and find love.
The fear of not having the basic needs suddenly alleviated and people started to look for a thrill in their lives. Remember rock music?Tweet
When Experiences Start
Let’s take a moment to really ponder on what forming an identity, creating a name and finding love have in common. In my opinion, these are all the different ways people describe exploring themselves. If you take a step further into what this means for the individual, you’ll soon realize that to explore themselves, they create experiences. It’s these experiences that start defining you. They give you that sense of self and purpose in this big world but at the same time manage to pull you away from the problems your parents, guardians or family had to face.
Although I recognize the fact that there are more than plenty of examples out there where people are trying to fight for their basic needs, with social media, on-screen media and representation, I think we can agree that more people are now looking for self-esteem and love than trying to find a roof over their head. From workplace recognition to having a tight-knit friend circle, people’s lives have started to revolve around their presence and identities instead of sustaining oneself by hook or by crook.
Naming the Next Generation
Even though I would like to claim that the idea of giving a new name to the next generation (millennials and generation Z) is mine, I cannot. Someone who was like a guide to me had given me this philosophy. The generation after baby boomers is the generation of experiences. They define themselves through experiences and function for an emotional appeal rather than a physical one.
Experiences in the Modern Era
So in this search for connectivity and forming bonds, social media was the newest hero that planned to save it all. Facebook with connecting people in seconds, Yahoo messenger to talk to people halfway across the globe with ease and Twitter to… ramble to the world hoping some hears you I think?
Anyway, these platforms and many more have given people the ability to boast about life so publicly that the harmful effects of social media is a trending topic. (Ironic, I know.) So what does this have to do with experiences? Well, that’s where social media as a marketing platform comes in. Everyone does some form of marketing, whether it is embellishing your CV or flirting with someone else to make your partner jealous. Social media has become a tool to market happy lives. From Stella Young’s description of Inspiration Porn in her Ted Talk to influencers trying to sell you that same black (because of charcoal I think?) face mask.
It’s easy to get hooked into selling aspirations, it is quite the trendy trade right now and this has pushed people to reach for experiences that are just not right for them.
Let’s take the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge. This one took it to the level of self-harm without even raising a single eyebrow until the real effects started to pop-up all over social media. In hindsight, it definitely highlighted an important issue that many people are constantly aiming for unrealistic beauty goals, but, the harm it did is not easy to undo.
Some experiences have been outright pointless. The Kiki Challenge went viral across the globe and what did it aim to show? In my opinion, it was just another way of showing that I can do what you can do, but, better.
Finding THE Experience
So what is all this discussing leading to? It’s all leading to finding your THE experience. After seeing people do these challenges and trying to define their own place in the world, you can only conclude that this is the quickest way that people tend to find their place.
You have a lot of followers? Becoming an Influencer in whatever field you are in a great job opportunity.
Worked Hard on your body and it looks SHAMAZING? Become an online fitness guru.
Know technology and AI? Talk about it and there is an entire community waiting to hear you.
I think that’s okay though. There is no harm in finding your niche quicker than how long it took the previous generations to figure out. Just don’t validate yourself on your popularity in the niche. That will get you nowhere. Aim to become good at what you do, who knows, YOU might be a niche topic someday.