Showing 18 posts tagged geny

Bonding, De-Stressing, and BBQ: The Current State of Cooking in the Lives of Young Millennials

By Stephanie Monohan

Millennials don’t just see cooking as a means to a necessary end – it’s a creative pursuit, a de-stressing tool and a social bonding experience.  Aimed at a generation who grew up idolizing celebrity chefs, MTV’s new reality series House of Food (who’s second episode airs tonight) sends a group of aspiring young chefs to culinary school, where they compete to win an apprenticeship opportunity at a Los Angeles restaurant. MTV Insights has covered a bit on baking and maker culture before , but continue to hear more interesting things from our community of food-loving Millennials.

1.  It’s Not Your Parents’ Home-Ec Class

Our high school panelists say they’re no strangers to cooking and baking, and that after-school cooking clubs are becoming more and more popular as students desire to learn such skills without the pressure of a final grade. Some examples include the Kebab Club at Glendale High School in CA and the Washoku Club (Japaense cuisine) at the Iolani School in Hawaii. Haley, a high school student from Texas told us about her school’s baking club (http://wildcattales.com/student-life/2013/12/18/baking-club-whats-in-the-oven/), where students hang out and learn new recipes in a fun, yet organized environment. The ND Grillers (https://www.facebook.com/groups/224610761024896/), a barbeque club at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA, claims that club members will “learn skills that should serve them throughout their adult lives” in addition to socially serving the school community in the present. Not to mention, the club’s logo makes grilling look really, really cool.

2. Cooking Parties Are the New Slumber Parties

In the past few years, we’ve seen Millennials organizing large chunks of their social lives around going out to eat and becoming knowledgeable about food culture. The younger Millennials we talk to still love to bond with their friends over food, but they’re more interested in cooking together, often to save money instead of finding the hottest new restaurant. A 20-year-old college student, Caroline, told us, “Over the past few months, some friends and I have had “lady pre-games” on Friday nights where we cook dinner together and try out new recipes and teach ourselves what ‘simmering’ means.” While they’re certainly excited to learn new recipes and eat healthy on a budget, cooking together serves mainly as another way for kids to hang out.

3. Just Turn On the Oven and Chill Out

Lastly, we keep hearing about how younger Millennials use cooking and baking as a soothing tool to unwind when the pressures of work and school get too stressful. One 20-year-old pre-med student, Chloe, told us that during finals week she would bake “crazy things, like when you put an Oreo inside another cookie inside of a brownie. Because when I really didn’t want to study, I thought that if I bake for five hours then I can’t read my biology textbook.” And, occasionally, they may use it to cheer up a friend. Ryan from Missouri, who loves to bake, says, “If someone is having a bad day, some cookies or cake might magically show up on their doorstep.”

Decoding Millennials & Fandom: When teens say “shipping,” it has nothing to do with boats

By Alison Hillhouse 

Generations of teens have been “obsessed” with pop culture – from fainting at the sight of The Beatles, to memorizing epic lines from The Godfather and Dirty Dancing, and stampeding malls to see 90210 heart-throb Luke Perry. But today’s tech-fueled Millennials possess new tools to take the content they are most passionate about and unapologetically look for ways to throw themselves into it.

Welcome to the world of “fandoms” – online subcultures that orbit around cult TV shows, movies, celebrities, books, comics and more. Fandoms can involve people of all ages, but tend to be dominated by teens and 20-somethings. So on the howls of last night’s Teen Wolf finale on MTV – a franchise with a huge following of its own – below is a primer on what you need to know.

What does fandom culture say about Millennials?

First, geeking out is cool! Clever GIF sets, crafting alternate endings to a plot and knowing obscure lines are social status to the Millennial generation, which prides itself on smarts and creativity. Millennials are earnestly enthused about things teens from yesteryear might have dismissed (or kept well-hidden). 

Second, fandoms are a vehicle for Millennials to exert power over “people in charge” from the ground up. For example, Dr. Who fans were able to get a crying Statue of Liberty written into an episode after fantasizing about it online.

What are popular fandoms? 
If you dig deep enough on the internet you’ll probably find a fandom for anything and anyone, but some of the biggest among MTV’s Millennial audience include:

  • TV shows: Dr. Who, Sherlock, Supernatural and Teen Wolf;
  • Books to Movies: Divergent, The Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars;
  • Musicians: Austin Mahone (“Mahonies”) and early ’00s bands like Linkin Park.

Where do fandoms live? 
Fandoms mostly live in social media, particularly Tumblr, and feel like a teenage girl screaming, crying and laughing hysterically all at once. Fans post animated gif sets of favorite scenes, poignant moments, funny quotes or hot characters with tags like #MyOvaries!!! (meaning: he is so hot my ovaries are exploding!).

Why is it important fans watch TV LIVE? 
Watching a TV show live is imperative so that fandom communities can participate in cultural conversations in real time – an extremely valuable source of social currency. They sit armed with “reaction GIFs” to tweet the second something reaction-worthy happens in the show, often from movies. For example, a GIF of Doc Brown looking like he stuck his finger in the flux capacitor was posted by the fandom during the mass murder scene on Game of Thrones.

What about IRL (In Real Life)? 
Fandoms also live IRL (in real life), particularly when fans engage in cosplay (dressing as characters) and attend Cons to meet other fandom members. Comic-Con has achieved a SXSW “cool” status, and other Cons are growing, e.g. LeakyCon.

How do I speak Fandom?

Fandom is a foreign language. Here are a few words to get you started:

  • Shipping: Stemming from the word relationSHIP - when fans champion the idea of two characters becoming romantically involved, often creating a morphed couple name for them like “Sterek” (Styles and Derek from Teen Wolf). Teens explain to us that some fandoms, such as the Glee fandom, put nearly 100% of their energy into shipping couples. In fact, Glee fans were actually able to convince writers to make “Britanna” (Brittany and Santana) a reality on the show (IRL…sort of).
  • The Feels: Kind of what fandom is all about. It is uncontrollable, unrestrained emotion that is so intense and multifaceted that fans cannot articulate it, so they just call it the feels. It can be caused by anything from a death or cliffhanger ending to a shared, meaningful glance between characters.
  • Keyboard Mashing: How fans articulate “the feels” online by mashing keys randomly, e.g. “adsfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdf.”
  • Canon: What actually happens in the story: the real plot line as written and produced.
  • Headcanon: Plot lines imagined by fans (canon, in their heads!). For example, when Carey Mulligan was written off Dr. Who, fans pitched the idea that she “time-travelled to the 1920s and became Daisy on The Great Gatsby.” Even though it didn’t happen in the actual story, they still accepted it as fact because it helped them continue to enjoy the show. This has now become official “headcanon” of the Dr. Who fandom.

The bottom line: for many teens, fandom = life. As Lea, 17, explains, “I have friends and family who aren’t even into anything, like a show…I’m like how do you live? I don’t know how to not be obsessed with something.” A sentiment worth paying attention to.

This piece was originally published at Myers Business Network

5 Ways Millennials Stayed Psyched for Sochi

By Stephanie Monohan

Gen Y has a lot of love for the Olympics, something we’ve examined before, but Sochi offered its own unique fun. Here are five ways in which Millennials engaged with the 2014 Winter Olympics:

1. Shipping Skaters

The fervor over figure skating is an Olympics fandom on its own level. Millennials seemed particularly excited about watching couples skating this year, and with this level of emotional intensity it’s easy to see why. Fans had fun shipping the skating partners and creating romantic narratives to match the physicality they saw on screen.

2. Documenting Viewership

People kept up on the games in their spare time and….in their not-so-spare time too. And they made sure others knew too.

3. Parties

Parties were popular, for the opening ceremony in particular, and it was common to see Millennials Instagramming social gatherings, as well as their patriotic (and not just for the U.S.A.!) outfits. 

4. Hashtags

Staying on top of trending hashtags was crucial if you wanted to be in on the conversation, especially with #SochiProblems. Americans really kept their eyes peeled for Russia to drop the ball as hosts, focusing on mistakes in the opening ceremony and cultural differences in the facilities.

5. Memes

Lest we forget! Even if you didn’t tune into the Sochi Games, it was hard to escape some of these. 

(the modern classic: Doge)

(figure skaters in action)

(Sochi’s breakout face: Ashley Wagner)

Listicle Living: Why Millennials Engage with How-To Lists

By Steffi Yutan


Many of the articles Millennials post online lately are in listicle-format. Real titles range from: “10 Of The Most Unhealthy Relationship Practices,” “6 Things I Regret Doing When I was 22” and “6 Indignities Every Cat Lover Must Face.” These lists are essentially guides on how to deal with life. From maximizing closet space to significant other best practices, topics for how-to lists are as endless as the struggles of life. So why are Millennials so engaged with these lists?  

 1.      Discover new life hacks

Lots of these online lists are simple tips and tricks to do things faster, easier, and smarter. Posting how-to lists on a public article site such as Thought Catalog, or a private Tumblr, is an opportunity for young people to spread their learning to the masses, or a select few friends. Want to figure out how to paint your room without making a big mess? There’s a list for that.

 2.      Group therapy

Dealing with life’s struggles is serious business. Sharing these experiences online is a powerful bonding and coping exercise. By spelling out this newfound clarity in the form of a list it is much easier to get a point across—and to get feedback. This is one reader’s response to The 20-Something’s Guide to Self-Acceptance:

In 7 points and less than 500 words, this reader was able to connect with the author and feel less alone. Whether the lessons are positive or negative, there is positivity in sharing the experience with others and growing together.

 3.      Game Planning

They are always on the hunt for a game plan. Growing up in such a complex world can create frustration and moments of feeling stuck. On the contrary, lists are simple and concrete manuals, if you will, on how to succeed in life’s challenging moments.  Millennials have the (mis)fortune of coming of age in a time that isn’t completely black and white. How-to lists are a fun approach to making sense of complicated life matters. For example, 13 Tips For Moving Out Of Your Parents’ House Directly After College, is a list targeted for readers who may be stuck in a transitional period. While comedic, the list does help young adults feel more confident about the concept of living alone without the support of Mom or Dad.

 4.      Ain’t nobody got time for that

They are busy. Juggling work, classes, a social life, family and friends are more than enough to keep someone from reading pages and pages of narrative articles. Unlike stories, people can jump around lists and stop and go without missing a beat. Lists are straight to the point and easily digestible for these always on the go individuals.



by alison hillhouse

As entrepreneurship is such a key part of the Millennial generation’s DNA, you can see how this generation’s values are manifesting in the businesses they give birth to. In this series of posts, we’ll look at GenY businesses and how they reflect generational intent.


On a recent trip to Chicago, I bought a pair of sneakers from mostly-Millennial start-up Bucketfeet. Their mission is to give “talented artists a platform to showcase their art” and to get their fans “awesome, original shoes so they can stand out from the crowd.” It’s a very Millennial sentiment – sneakers with a purpose, that also provide a vehicle for self-expression.

As Bobby Stephens, COO of Bucketfeet said, “Wearing something that is different, colorful and unique is for someone who wants to get noticed… the shoes are a vehicle for people to start a conversation and tell a story. You aren’t just wearing Nike.” He showed us one pair of shoes created by a Columbian fine arts professor named “Fat Sugar”… and another by Sophie Roach, a young sketch artist from Austin, Texas.

To give you material for “the story of your shoes,” a personal note from the artist accompanies every pair:


Bucketfeet has rooted itself (for now) at Catapult, a largely Millennial co-working space in downtown Chicago. It’s chock-full of businesses espousing Millennial innovation mantras (crowdsourcing, customization, DIY, etc.) A few were:

·        StyleSeek - analyzes your “fashion DNA” to provide shopping recommendations

·        MentorMob – a how-to-DIY-anything social network, “changing the way you learn by leveraging the wisdom of the crowd”

·        shiftgig- a career networking site for the service industry

Bobby of Bucketfeet described the atmosphere:“Catapult is an exciting environment, with good collaboration and idea sharing. There’s no competition- it’s all about cooperation, how can we grow as a community?” And general manager April Lane noted, “Five years ago, you could fit the entire Chicago entrepreneurship scene in a space like Catapult… but now it’s just exploded.”

What’s the Future of…. Celeb/Fan interaction in Social Media?

By Alison Hillhouse,  MTV Insights

Thanks to Twitter, Diplo can invite fans to graffiti his photos, Khloe Kardashian wishes followers good luck on midterms and fans truly believe “artists can be your best friends.” MTV has been talking with Millennials about this narrowing distance between fans & celebs … we call it “Zero Distancing.”

In a panel @MTVInsights hosted during Social Media Week, Millennial super-fans painted a picture of what today’s intimate interactions with celebs looks like. Here’s what we heard:

·         Rewards in Re-tweets: Kassie, 22, went backstage to show the famous DJ Diplo her “Diplo Kitty” nails. “He Instagrammed this shot… and it made my life,” she explains. She also talked about when he invited fans to creatively alter a photo of him, and “make it trippy.” Kassie’s photo-editing creativity earned her a re-tweet. She says, “A re-tweet seems small, but it’s so rewarding… it shows me he acknowledges what I did and makes me even more obsessed with him.”


·         Behind-the-Behind-the-Scenes:  Devi, 18, loves One Directions’ behind-the-behind-the-scenes Tweets, whether it’s Zane taking a photo of Harry sleeping or the guys posting a goofing-off video when fans thought they would’ve been rehearsing. “It gives you insight into what they do all day… and we get to see this side of them that not all artists share.” 


·         Punctuation Perfectionists: Emily, 17, notes that One Direction fans are OBSESSIVE about every character in every Tweet from their favorite band. “We notice all the little things, where they put periods; how they do smiley faces… we know right away when something is off.” Like when a manager takes over. “It irks us. We know that’s not Liam. That period wouldn’t be there. We know Liam can’t spell.”

Real Love: Nicole, 14, gets real love and friendship from Khloe on Twitter. Khloe’s sent her advice on studying and offered well wishes when she was sick with the flu. Nicole says“It’s honestly like I know her, even though we’ve never met… it’s like we just have a relationship. I love her.” She explains that every Friday Khloe has FanFriday and will post a picture someone made for her on Twitter… here’s Nicole’s, along with Khloe’s glowing feedback:


So…What’s the Future? Through hack sessions MTV orchestrated with Millennial super-fans, we learned they are eager for 3 things from their favorite celebs or artists:

1.       More “creative challenges” rewarded: True super-fans aren’t opposed to working for celeb-love… in fact it’s even preferred. They want to Photoshop images, go on scavenger hunts, write funny one-liners, and then be rewarded by their favorite celeb with something as simple as a re-tweet or as big as a special Meet & Greet for their city

2.       Co-creation opportunities: Super-fans want to be part of the creative process , whether that’s contributing song lyrics, designing album covers or voting on merchandise. Devi, 18, dreams of a world where fans design official merchandise in place of the “cheesy” OD-branded UGGs… and a contest where a fan gets to serve as photojournalist and take over OD’s Instagram feed for a day.

3.       Tapping the creative jugular: We’ve heard that celeb Instagram feeds are hot because they are like “mainlining” into the artist’s creative jugular. And our fans are looking for more vehicles to get this intimate revelation as to what inspires their favorite celeb… whether that’s through celeb-generated playlists on Spotify or inspirational photos. They want more than just in-the-moment status updates… they want to get inside celebs’ brains and unpack what inspires them to actually create.

To read more about celebs and “zero-distancing”, check out our initial post here. A recap on @MTVInsights at social media week can be found on the Social Times


By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights


A whole slew of social commentary has emerged about what it’s like to be 20-something today, with sites gaining momentum like F*ck I’m in my 20sThought Catalog and  Adulting.  On these blogs, Millennials try to dissect the dos/don’t of this somewhat ambiguous life stage in the confusing and chaotic world today…. as Adulting puts it “figure out how to be a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps.” Our panelists often express similar feelings.  Mike, 24 says, “We’re not really sure when we’re supposed to become ‘adults’ and I’m not sure if I’ll ever really feel like one.”

As we study this generation, we are seeing this constant need to know the “why” behind the “what.” As “natural researchers”, Millennials are always trying to decode issue and figure out a lifehack for it. It’s not surprising that they are collaborating and working out the rules of modern adulthood together in a funny and even self- deprecating way in these kind of forums. “This content is self-deprecating and honest, giving young people a platform to bitch, learn and figure it all out together.” Explains one of our panelists


All the self-reflection is perhaps not so surprising. There is so much conversation & media commentary out there about what it means to “grow up Millennial” and run headlong into an adulthood laced with unemployment and mounds of student debt.  “20-something-milestones” and “before-30 bucket lists” abound. It’s so much a work in process these days, that adult has morphed from a noun to a verb!

Zero-Distancing: The Collapsing Distance Between Fan & Celebrity

By Alison Hillhouse,  MTV Insights

* Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come in @MTVInsights presentation at Social Media Week NYC on Feb 20th *

 It’s no longer unusual for the biggest pop star in the world to wish you luck on your math test, or for a reality star to forgo therapy and solicit advice from 8 million teen fans.  The pedestal has been dismantled by social media tools in the hands of a generation that loves to flatten hierarchies. We indeed live in a flat world  where fans demand not just a VIP pass to celebs, artists and entertainment experiences, but an eye-to-eye view.

 This is the age of “Zero-distancing”

 As Julian, 21, says “Today, artists can be your best friends.” So conversations like this between Nicole (@trukardashfan) and Khole Kardashian about Nicole’s upcoming midterms aren’t unusual:


As Nicole says, “Khloé always makes time to talk to all of her fans. Whenever I get a tweet from her it makes me so happy because it feels  like we are close since we communicate often.”

Millennials also crave intimate glimpses into the mundane daily activities of their favorite celebrities, such as Taylor’s cat claw clipping:


We hear from Millennials that they click through various social media channels to get different perspectives into a celeb’s life, like different video camera angles at a live performance. Each social media channel serves a distinct & unique purpose:

·         Facebook is the most “formal and official outlet” for tour updates and information

·         Twitter offers a “blow-by-blow feed”, and highlights interactions with other celebrities

·         Instagram provides a direct line into their literal world-view, like “seeing the world through their eyes”

·         Tumblr is the most intimate glimpse into an artists’ psyche/spirit. Jessica, 25, explains that it allows fans to get a authentic glimpse into an artist’s creative inspiration and process… it “shows how artists express themselves, the aesthetic that makes them tick.”

@MTVInsights will be speaking more about “zero-distancing” on February 20th at New York’s Social Media Week. We’ll start with a teen panel who will speak about their virtually-intimate relationships with celebs in social media, and then be joined by Viacom stars who will speak about their experience interacting with fans:

·         Nev Schulman from MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show”

·         Drita D’Avanzo from VH1’s “Mob Wives”

·         Cody Alan from CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown” and nightly syndicated radio show, “CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan”

·         Ivy Winters from Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Sign up here! Event will take place at Viacom’s headquarters in Times Square, 1515 Broadway.

(This article was originally published as a guest-post at Social Media Week)

The End of the (Material) World

By Nick Shore,  MTV Insights

At the end of 2012, we were having an @mtvinsights dinner with a little crew of 13 to15-year-olds, asking about their world and lives as the year came to a close.

The thing that struck me as especially poignant from the conversation was a response by one 14-year-old girl when I asked about how she thought the world would change in the next few years. “Newspapers will probably become extinct in our lifetime,” she said, “and we may be the last kids to use actual books in school. They are already starting to get iPads for us.”

The sense she conveyed was that the material world is in some ways disappearing before her very eyes. There was a distinct note of ennui in her voice. Or maybe it was the way my ears were tuned, since our discussions were taking place right before the end of the Mayan calendar. The world didn’t end, I reflected on December 22nd when we all woke up in one piece, but maybe it is ending in a way; a more curious way than we could ever have imagined. 

Things have always disappeared and been replaced by the new: horse & buggy to motor car, Betamax to VHS, etc. But is there a difference, I wondered, when something disappears into a string of 1’s and zeros? And what will it feel like to a generation who grew up watching this dynamic speed up, where materialism sprints ever more quickly towards the non-material?

I had a glimpse into the answer to my own question last week when I saw my own 15-year-old daughter listening to one of my songs on her iPhone.

 "Where did you get that song?" I asked.

 ”From my Cloud….oh, no, actually from your Cloud” she said.

 "Hey, you, get off my cloud" I managed to restrain myself from saying/singing. But to her, it’s clear and unquestionable  that most everything’s just floating up there; sent up into the atmosphere like all the stuff needed to make a new home in space, should the one we currently inhabit ever crumble or start to disappear.

The Loopers

By Alison Hillhouse,  MTV Insights

Constant feedback looping is a way of life for Millennials, who grew up with “full on” parenting, as well as the omnipotent social media machine, powered by “likes”, lols, RTs and <3333333333. So it’s not surprising that Millennials are creating new apps, sites and forms of digiquette that fuel the loop. In chatting with MTV’s Inner Circle, our college trend panel, we’ve learned about two new feedback mechanisms gaining momentum at universities:

-          Anonymous compliment sites – Compliment Facebook pages have been cropping up for colleges around the country — students anonymously post compliments for friends, crushes and randoms in their Psych 101 class. While compliments run the gamut between sincere and joke, most seem to reflect a witty hybrid of both. A sampling:

o   “_____ has her sh*t together more than anyone I know. The most beautiful and the most insightful.” ~Kenyon compliments

o   “______, every time I see you I just feel happy …. Also, you make a mean Spotify playlist.” ~Kenyon compliments

o    “____, you are like the kidney of Hamilton College. People abuse you sometimes, but everyone loves you and needs you no matter what.” ~ Hamilton compliments

o   “_____ has a neat beard, a cool personality, and rocks at social media (texting, twitter, and stuff like that)! He’s also nice. Xoxo” ~Michigan Law compliments

-          Lulu- This new app is exploding at the University of Florida and other campuses down South – it allows girls to rate guys in their Facebook network across a variety of dimensions from manners to sense of humor to commitment potential. Each guy is also assigned positive hashtags (e.g. #WillSeeRomComs or #Perfect Grammar or #SexualPanther) and negative ones (e.g. #IntegrityChallenged or #Worlds Worst Massages).


Many guys are obsessed with their rankings and feedback, and are clamoring to check girl friends’ cell phones to check their latest status. And when they aren’t pleased, we’re seeing responses in Twitter like this:

Tweet: “I HAVE TROUBLE WITH COMMITMENT?!?! YOU INSIGHTFUL BITCH! #Luluproblems #yoursoright”

With all the interest in soliciting “likes” & positive feedback across different platforms, we’ve also heard rumblings of annoyance that peers are so feedback obsessed. Some of this is reflected in snarky or fake posts seen on these sites. Regardless, we don’t see the “looping” trend reversing anytime soon.