Are millennials applying too many filters to their lives?

The simple act of taking a photo – have you ever stopped to think how much that has changed in the last 20 years?

Let’s time-hop back 20 years to 1997. Taking a photo went roughly like this. You set the photo up – you took the photo – and then somewhere in the next 10 days to 5 years you might get around to developing the film. If you liked the photo it might get stuck in an album or maybe even a frame. If you didn’t like it – you normally said yuck – and then the photo was promptly flicked to the bottom of the pile and that was that.

Now think about taking a photo today.

Part 1: Taking the photo. You set the photo up – take a quick test to see if it’s any good – likely re-arrange a few things – possibly change the angle you are on – take another test shot – okay looking great now – let’s take about 30 photos just to be sure.

Part 2: Editing the photo. You decide which of the 30 is the best base to work with, you finally settle; not perfect but workable. You crop, you rotate, you enhance, you apply a filter. You may even apply a filter over a filter until finally you have a visually striking image that carries a moderate resemblance to reality. No matter the most important part is about to happen.

Part 3: You post to social media.

Yes, yes, I hear you saying “oh the older person has made an observation, well done.” But have you actually stopped to think how these behavioural changes are impacting every aspect of your lives?

We are effectively living a photoshopped life. If we don’t like how something looks, feels or sounds – we have become accustomed to applying so many filters to our lives that we can make even the shittiest of days’ sound incredible. However, the problem with this is that it sets unrealistic expectations. Especially when it comes to your career and being an adult.

Whenever I read an article about millennials I find myself skimming the article and before I even read it in depth – I want to see what the comments have to say. And every time I am impressed at how defensive many of the comments are:

“Ah yes, just what we need, more Millennial-bashing click bait. Never mind the fact this Millennial has a successful medical practice whilst simultaneously raising an 18-month-old child and running a household.”


“No. My kids are awesome. Because I taught them to do things on their own.”

Hundreds of similar posts and comments all in the same vein. I’m fine. They’re fine. Be quiet – you’re crazy – there’s nothing wrong. We continue to apply filters to our own lives.

But it’s not quite true. We are looking at the world through our chosen filters.

Let’s take a look at the facts.

>> Official youth unemployment rates are currently 2.5 times higher than the national unemployment rate.

>> Underemployment has also become a significant issue in the market – with rates exceeding those of unemployment.

And how does this translate? In February 2017 there were more than 650,000 people aged between 15 and 24 looking for work or underemployed. The reality is young people far more likely to be in casual and part-time jobs than 20 years ago.

The current generation coming through is officially the most educated generation we have ever seen. A great thing. But it also means that a degree is not enough to make you stand out any more. Gone are the days where a degree led to guaranteed employment – these days a masters, honours or PDH doesn’t even guarantee that. Employment and education are no longer unconditionally bound.

We also have to acknowledge that we are all now existing in a post GFC economy where budgets are leaner, the cash splash has well and truly dried up and ROI is essential. Never before has business needed more of a return on investment, and that starts with the people we are investing in.

So yes – it’s all a little bit tougher than it used to be. But we also need to remember that generations are not just labelled for their pop culture and behavioural mannerisms – generations are also reflective of the world that they are growing up in – and this remains true for millennials.

So what do we do?

Firstly – we all collectively need to stop applying filters to our lives to make them Instagram worthy. We need to find a way for young people (actually all people) to be able to say “hey, this isn’t quite working out like I planned”.

We need to stop masking our failures because of how it might look. When did the answer to not finding a job become going back to uni for another year or two of study? Yes it looks good and who doesn’t want an extra year of #studentlife … but are you delaying the inevitable and why can’t we just admit how hard it is to get a job.

And then we (the older people) need to start finding ways to help them instead of identifying and criticising their flaws. And you (the younger people) need to understand that there are so many of you in the same position and it is okay to say “this is tough – I could do with some help”.

If we have any hope in solving the problem, we need to start by admitting it is there.

Solutions come in many different forms. Every day at generationYOU we’re working with millennials to expand their skillset. Through weekly career hacks, live events and even a digital program, we’re taking a proactive approach to millennials and their career.

You can keep up-to-date with all of our articles and generationYOU news by signing up to our newsletter: