Millennial Think Tank: Globalization, Technology and the Millennial Perspective

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This week we tackled the enormous topic of Globalization, Technology, and our Think Tank’s perspective of it. Needless to say we will have to revisit this topic again –  there is so much to be said and thought about. This post is a recap of our discussion, but first, here is our panelists,  with the entire hangout embedded below:

Technology has certainly sped up the shrinking of our globe; relationships are built via social networks, and accessible (free) video conferencing has allowed for the deepening of relationships with people we have not met in real life. Both ArCompany and SteamFeed, were founded by people whose relationships were purely digital and not ‘real life’ when the companies began. So, we started our questions along that line:

How does globalization impact your life personally?

DJ Thistle told us about SteamFeed and how unexpectedly international the company became. With authors from India, Asia, Australia and all over the globe, his relationships with these people has changed his perspective. SteamFeed’s goal of finding the best quality writers who are working and executing on the things they want to write about was what DJ and his co-founder, Daniel Hebert were focused on, not the geography of those writers.

Because Joe Cardillo works in communications, many of his relationships are virtual as well; from a professional perspective he has friends and business relationships well outside of the US. His awareness of global issues has also expanded.

Kayvon, our youngest Millennial who will be starting his college career at UPenn’s Wharton School of Business tomorrow, begins his adult life as a digital native with the ability to connect and build relationships via technology. He recently attended an international conference in Washington D.C. with 400 Millennials representing 50 companies. He built friendships, and they exchanged social media profiles (Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber) instead of telephone numbers. He realizes it will be much easier to maintain these relationships with technology, and he saw an immediate impact on his music social media profiles because those new friends went and connected with his

Tiffany weighed in with comments about the immediacy of international news and human interest stories. She has also been able to make friends, and travel more internationally.

Kiernan tied global trade into his life as well, from the products we have access to… and that the US is the perfect place for that to blossom considering our diverse individual heritage.

Has globalization diminished or encouraged nationalism?

Kayvon, who is Iranian-American, watched the world cup with other dual citizens. He found himself holding back from criticizing the US National team’s performance but realized that, because he was surrounded by dual citizens, he could be more honest. He said that his connection to so many international citizens has made him pause to think about the ‘America First’ idea… thinking, no, they should want as much for their country as I want for mine.

That led to a bit of a raucous discussion about American ‘in your face-ness’ when it came to sporting events internationally. Hessie, our sole Canadian this week, said that Americans were always more vocal. Of course I had to call that out, since my 3 business partners, all of whom are Canadian, were pretty damn vocal during the Stanley Cup. But in seriousness, there were two important questions that arose out of that discussion:

DJ: Why shouldn’t we be loud and proud about it?

Kayvon: Why shouldn’t we be able to say ‘the US sucks’ at a sport as well.

Tiffany thinks that technology and the shrinking globe has both diminished AND encouraged Nationalism on the part of people feeling as if their national identity was being threatened. She talked about the very American tendency to be hyphenated; we are German-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Irish-Americans. Having more access to either physically or virtually travel more and learn about the first part of their own hyphenated heritage has caused many to embrace it and own it as part of their identity.

Hessie also brought up the very salient point that Millennials are changing the face of America considerably; the percentage of Millennials who are of Latin heritage, coupled with the rate at which Millennials intermarry racially, is going to have a huge impact on what America looks like both visually and from an heritage perspective. Kiernan pointed out that America is one of the only countries where people identify with a nationality rather than an ethnicity, and that now, perhaps that will be moot as our global village shrinks. And in response to that and our discussion, DJ had one of the most brilliant quotes of the session:

Maybe we’ll be Americans now.

One thing was clear: our virtual connected-ness has made us all more aware of other countries’ identities, and it seems, more understanding of different nations.

How much greater is our empathy for other nations?

Kayvon picked up that thread stating that he is intensely aware of how blessed we are to be born in the US, with so many opportunities. And of course, anyone born into a Western, developed country is also very lucky. Kayvon used the example of US vs Ghana at the world cup; he felt strongly that he should not brag about how much better the US was in that situation… not from a sporting perspective, but from a quality of life perspective. He noted his awareness that we are all beneficiaries of the long history of prosperity the US has had.

Kiernan mentioned a BBC study that demonstrated that inequality is diminishing across the globe, except in America where it is on the rise.

How does this impact the Made in America label? Does it matter anymore?

In the 70’s when I was growing up, manufacturing was falling apart in the US, and there were attempts to tug on America’s patriotic heart strings to buy American made products. In our first Millennial Think Tank, Kiernan had questioned when we officially ‘gave up’ on the idea of a strong manufacturing tradition in the US. I had not been able to get that out of my mind since he first tabled it.

If we are truly embracing this global community, and if brand ethics are as important to Millennials as they purport, WHY not reward a company like League Collegiate Oufitters (ArCompany client) that is making product in El Salvador, and changing the lives of its employees there as well?

Kayvon asked – why not support the rise of an economy in another country not so well off? Why should we be so selfish to think we should only buy from US companies?

Kiernan and DJ had interesting perspectives: Kiernan lives in Allentown, where the demise of Bethlehem Steel has impacted them for decades; a town haunted by the memory of great paying manufacturing jobs that were never replaced. He has grown up on the stories of America’s past greatness for skilled labor jobs, and has a nostalgia for it.  DJ, who hails from New England, another area with a grand tradition of manufacturing, has a similar outlook. He  thinks that globalization is still in its infancy, and it is far too early to individually operate as if we are one connected market helping each other out. He would still choose the American made product. I found it interesting that the two members of our panel who grew up with the historic memory of great American manufacturing had the most attachment to Made in the US.

Joe brought up the fact that Made in America makes so much less sense to him: are ALL of the parts of that product actually made in America? Its not so easy to see things as Made in America. He asked “are we even allowed to think of things on that small scale anymore?” He equated the ‘an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere’ to business.

Tiffany, who works to help people find employment, found it difficult to get behind Globalization in real life because she works with people who cannot find a job. The ‘middle,’ the old skilled labor class, has evaporated and there is no where for those people to go. She greatly senses how much America’s Middle is hurting; and when she goes into her office and looks into the eyes of someone unemployed… globalization  is such an abstract concept other than the fact that it has removed jobs that her clients may have had.

Have you traveled outside of the US? Does technology make it more accessible?

When posed this question, again we got varying responses:

Jillian still faces the reality of budgetary restraints when it comes to travel.

Kiernan’s close friend is visiting Indonesia… constantly messaging Kiernan about his new friends and sending images, and talking about starting an import business. He compared that experience to what it would have been like for early generations to have a Pen Pal; technology has made the possibilities to much more tangible. Sure, every generation in the history of life has had individuals with a strong wanderlust – but now the possibility of travel is so much more accessible to so many. Traveling to CA from the East Coast used to be exotic. Now, Kiernan has developed relationships with his cousins in Italy, and can watch their videos… they don’t speak English, but he can use Facebook’s Translation tools and understand them. One thinks of the generations of Americans who remember their historical heritage, but lost contact with any family left in their old country. Kiernan summed it up poetically:

It has broadened our horizons on the places we can go and the things we can experience.

What responsibility do social networks have to provide access to information globally?

This was the question that spawned the most divergent opinions of the night:

DJ immediately zeroed in on the fact that Social Networks are free, and therefore we can’t demand things of them just because we use them.  Kiernan rejected that, saying that the data and information we provide in return are our payment. We realized right then and there that this topic was too big for the last 5 minutes of our discussion, and put it on as the main topic for our hangout on September 4th. We did tip toe into it though, and came up with these points to further explore:

Kiernan: A lot of governments are reluctant to embrace our open social media because they don’t want to adopt American ‘values.’

Social Networks have a responsibility to hold back some of what they’re doing, they’re so aggressive about being everywhere. But that they aren’t being open at all.

Joe: Asked the pointed question of DJ: Did he think social networks have any responsibility to provide access to open information.

DJ: Questioned whether  Kiernan was accurate about Social Networks being aggressive.

He also thinks they have a responsibility to a degree to both protect the public from misinformation (i.e. shutting down the Anonymous Twitter feed when they released the name of the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson) and  to protect their brand; after all, they are businesses.

Tiffany: The social networks are not responsible for denying global citizens access; the governments of those countries are in control of that. She doesn’t think it’s Facebook’s responsibility to ‘fight the government of China.’

She also thought that Twitter did the right thing in regards to Anonymous’ Twitter feed. These networks are not traditional press and aren’t held to the same standard.

In closing, Kiernan brought us back to the beginning of a profound question: If we want to say that the primary purpose of the internet is to provide free access…. and then his wi fi cut out. But I think that we understand that we came to the crux of the future discussion: what is the primary purpose of the internet, and what responsibility to social networks have?

This generation that so many pundits are so apt to generalize about as one monolithic group certainly have very divergent views on all of this… that discussion September 4th is guaranteed to be a barn burner.

Join us next week on Thursday night at 8pm, Google+, for Millennial Think Tank: How to Find and Keep a Job.

Photo credit: Genista via photopin cc.

2 thoughts on “Millennial Think Tank: Globalization, Technology and the Millennial Perspective

  1. hessiejones says:

    Soulati thanks my friend:)

  2. hessiejones says:

    danielnewmanUV thanks my friend:)

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