Rasamny: Millennial label needs to be divided into more accurate subgroups

This was originally published in The Daily Orange. 

It’s difficult to imagine any generational similarities between a college student who’s learning how to become independent and a person who is married with kids.

And yet, categorizing these two different groups of people into one collective group happens often.  Actually, in my case, it usually happens every week with this column. The millennial age range encompasses people from 18 up to 33-years-old, or those born between the early 1980s and late 1990s. However, I don’t think classifying these different age groups into a single category is the best and most accurate way to do so.

Millennials are known as the most diverse generation, but rather than have things such as race, gender and sexuality influence how this generation is categorized, they should be grouped by major norms. With this said, instead of grouping millennials into one large entity, like we usually do, millennials from 18–24 years old should constitute one group and those above 25 should form another.

Clearly differentiating the two from each other as separate subgroups of millennials would not only help gain a more accurate representation of the generation’s behaviors and norms, but also further develop research on their financial norms and social habits.

Statistical evidence in a Jun. 14 Financial Brand article shows the difference between these two age groups. For example, the article reported that 29 percent of millennials in the younger age group manage their own finances, compared to 51 percent of older millennials.

In some ways, it makes sense to categorize millennials into one group, since most millennials do have the commonality of Baby Boomer parents, with the exception of some from Generation X. But the fact that millennials have been raised by the same generation definitely does not automatically mean they will turn out with similar characteristics. A millennial born in 1981 was 15 years old by the time someone was born in 1996, and a society can be significantly different during that time.  And although this may also be applied to past generations, in the case of millennials this age gap has influenced millennials’ use of technology.

It’s true, millennials are a tech-savvy generation, but it’s not accurate to say that all millennials are at the same level when it comes to technology.

Millennials experienced the spread of the Internet and technology at different stages in their lives. For example, a 2013 Jul. 17 Barkley study reported that 44 percent of millennials who are now parents chose Wal-Mart when asked which retailer they would purchase from for the rest of their lives.  The other options included Amazon and Target.  Surprisingly, the generation that is crazy for the virtual world, did not pick online-marketplace Amazon.

These are major principles that define the millennial generation. And since there is a significant difference between the two groups’ relationships with technology, it would be more precise if this was addressed.

Not only did we not grow up in the same time, but there events that impacted the older millennial generation differently than the younger millennial generation.  The introduction of mainstream technology and easy virtual accessibility was at radically different points in millennials lives.  All millennials don’t share core values that define the millennial generation — it’s time to differentiate between the older and younger millennials.

Tamara Rasamny is an international relations and newspaper and online journalism dual major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at twrasamn@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @Tam_Rasamny.

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Millennials Must Work to Close Gender Gap

The millennial generation is known for its diversity, its liberal ideals and its support for same-sex marriage.  And yet gender inequality still persists among millennials in the job market.

Last Wednesday, Cosmopolitan.com released the results of a survey in an article called, “5 Things Millennials Should Know About the Job Market,” where they briefly touched base on statistics of millennials’ jobs after graduation.  Although they mentioned the gender gap, Cosmopolitan’s reference doesn’t do it justice.  The article only states how many men and women have jobs lined up before and after graduating, and the percentage of men and women who work on a salary or hourly compared to their first jobs.

In fact, although a Dec. 2013 Pew Research study reports the gender gap is closing among millennials compared to the national average, with millennial women earning 93 percent of what millennial men earn compared to the average 77 percent, some may think a low seven percent gap is something to be proud of.  Despite the fact that this gap has decreased over the last 10 years, the mere seven percent is still not something to dismiss due to its small quantity.

With this said, although women are directly impacted by unequal pay, it’s not just women’s issue ––it’s a millennial’s issue.

Our prospects for the future may all be different.  Whether some of us plan on getting a job right after college, pursuing a post-graduate education, or even taking some time off and traveling the world, I think it’s safe to say that most of us would like to apply what we learned in college to good use and get fairly paid for our work.

But one of the crucial questions a lot of millennials don’t really consider is when we actually do apply these skills with whatever job we choose to pursue, will we be paid the same amount as our colleagues? And that answer, at least for most women, is no.

As college students, some us us will graduate with a lot of student debt on our hands.  Men and women pay the same tuition, and yet women fall short when it comes to paying off their student debt, according to an Apr. 7 Forbes article. The article also explains that the older people get, the larger the gender gap increases.  Therefore, it may only get worse.  This can directly impact how millennial women pay off their student loans, and more broadly across generations, this influences how much money can go into retirement savings as well.  Of course, other factors like the willingness to put money aside can impact how much people end up saving.

Millennials can respond by reaching out to policy makers and companies and demanding them to address these salary differences, since a lot of the time unequal gender treatment may not necessarily be intentional.

With all the negative stereotypes millennials are associated with — ranging from lazy and impatient to disrespectful and conceited — we’re actually the generation where women and men are the closest to be paid equally. Seven percent is lower than the average, but we still have a long way to go. Millennials should make it their goal to diminish the gender gap so when the next generation is surveyed, the gap no longer exists.


Rasamny: Low millennial turnout rate due to lack of information

This was originally posted on The Daily Orange.

While to many it may have been well known that the midterm elections took place last week, statistics are showing otherwise.

Only an estimated 21.3 percent of millennials voted in the midterm elections, according to a Nov. 5 International Business Times article, which is similar to the 20.4 percent of millennials who voted during the 2010 elections.

Many millennials have taken to their social media accounts, frustrated over the GOP’s control of Congress. If more millennials had voted, the results may have been in favor of the Democratic Party. So the crucial question is, why didn’t we vote? I think a large reason for this includes a mixture of apathy, but mostly, lack of information.

For example, on Nov. 4, I was sitting in the library with a friend of mine, when I asked her if she voted. She looked at me, confused, and asked, “Voted for what?” We were on the first floor of the library, where voting stations had been set up on that same floor. Although there were two voting stations on Syracuse University’s campus — in the Nancy Cantor Warehouse and in Bird Library — the overall campus’ atmosphere days and weeks before Nov. 4 was not the same as it was during the 2012 presidential elections.

When MTV announced its #WhyIDidntVote hashtag, many took to Twitter and explained their side of the story. One of these Twitter users accurately portrayed the typical millennial procrastinator when he tweeted, “First, it was apathy; then, I forgot to register #whyididntvote.” However, although apathy towards politics from our generation does indeed exist, I don’t think this was the primary reason many millennials tossed their vote aside last week.

Instead, I think a large factor in millennials’ low voter turnout has to do with lack of information concerning how to vote and the steps people need to take in advance. For example, college student Zee Krstic (@zee_krstic) tweeted what many college students experience when voting time comes along. Krstic said, “@MTV I didn’t vote because I’m an out-of-state college student and mail-in ballots are LITERALLY impossible to understand #whyididntvote.”

This tweet reveals a major issue millennials face, since many college students who travel outside of their home state or outside of their voting precinct, have to fill out an absentee ballot well in advance. This can discourage college students from voting, since millennials are used to getting things done with the touch of their fingertips.

In my case, I didn’t vote because I’m not a registered voter and wasn’t really aware of the registration process since I moved back to America in 2012. Unfortunately, when I did try to register, it seemed like it was too late because there was no quick way to register online and most options included going to register in-person or downloading the form online and sending it by mail.

Millennials must realize that voting is a great right to exercise, and they need to move past the apathy and seek out information they may need to reflect their opinion through the polls.

Tamara Rasamny is a junior international relations and newspaper and online journalism dual major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at twrasamn@syr.edu.

Rasamny: Snapchat should expand international video features

Originally published on The Daily Orange.

During my ritual of unhealthily checking Snapchat every 20 minutes or so, I look at my screen and am disappointed that there are no new stories in my feed. As I contemplate rewatching my friends’ snapchat stories, a different story catches my eye: Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead.”

Snapchat has allowed its users to experience different cultures by personally connecting with each other through its “Live” story feed, also known as Our Story. Anyone who has the application can check in on events occurring around the world that Snapchat features, such as Dia de los Muertos. These event coverages are compiled from other Snapchat users’ videos and photos from that location to form one giant story.  Snapchat’s live feed ranges from college sporting events to the cultural events such as the yearly Festival of Lights in India, also known as Diwali.

The addition of this feature has been an innovative new way to expose our generation to other cultures. But after using this feature for a few months, I am a little disappointed with the relatively low number of international live feeds.  More often than not, the app shows live feeds of events happening in the United States.  With the exception of Diwali, the World Cup, Dia de los Muertos, and a couple other stories from outside the U.S., there haven’t been many other worldwide events published on the feed. Snapchat can make Our Story even better by consistently streaming more international events or events that we wouldn’t be able to see from our regular Snapchat friends.

Although technology, current events, films and music are ways to connect people across different cultures and areas of the globe, Snapchat is doing this in a more personal and unique way.  Instead of simply reading about the Melbourne Horse Races in Australia, or even watching a short video about it, the stories on Snapchat allow viewers to get a 10-second glance of a person interacting with family, friends and the environment around them.

The Our Story feature allows people from all over the world learn about things they may not have known about beforehand.  For example, as a person who knows a lot about Mexican food but very little about the actual culture, tradition and celebrations, I didn’t know what Dia de los Muertos was until after seeing Snapchat’s live feed and Googling it myself.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Snapchat recently has added more stories with the introduction of “Our Campus Story,” which allows students to post pictures and videos on this feed.  Unlike the live feeds we see today, students who are actually on campus are the only ones who will be able to watch and post to this feed. This is a nice addition, but it still only shows us what we can already see from our friends.

The concept of a live feed has been a great start for Snapchat, especially in allowing millennials to collaborate and virtually interact with each other, but I hope the app develops this further, bringing in more events from different areas of the world such as countries in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, among other places. It would be extremely enlightening for American millennials to get a personal view of people their age recording videos on cultural celebrations.

Tamara Rasamny is a junior international relations and newspaper and online journalism dual major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at twrasamn@syr.edu.

Rasamny: Millennials should not wear offensive Halloween costumes

Originally published on The Daily Orange:

With Halloween in just two days, people are preparing to dress up in costumes, whether its sexy, funny, or in rare cases, actually scary. But when deciding on a last-minute costume, millennials should avoid wearing a controversial outfit that will likely end up being offensive.

We’ve seen these costumes before. Acting as a caricature for things such as a major event, race, socioeconomic class, and gender, these costumes try to make an extremely serious situation into a laughable matter. Because of the viral nature of the internet, a costume that seems funny to a group of friends could actually end up coming back to haunt them in the form of an embarrassing, offensive picture.

With the Ebola virus already affecting around 10,000 people, the Halloween costume of an Ebola health worker, or a “sexy Ebola nurse” is beyond inappropriate.  According to an Oct. 26 Daily Mail article, the costumes are being sold for almost $60, with separate lengthy yellow boots sold separately for $80.

The website selling these costumes even attempts to make it seem like these ‘outfits’ are a fashion statement. The website says, “The short dress and chic gas mask will be the talk of Milan, London, Paris, and New York as the world’s fashionistas seek global solutions to hazmat couture.”

Instead of being the talk of the town, anyone wearing that costume will be a mockery on social media.

For example, we still hear about two young women who thought their 9/11 costumes were hilarious. Last year, the women wore costumes that were labeled “North tower” and “South tower” with an American flag on their heads, clouds of smoke, fire, and even shadows of people jumping out of the buildings.

The fact that people even dressed this way––whether they were trying to make light out of a horrible event or not–– is completely insensitive for those who have a connection to the events on 9/11.

This costume fiasco wasn’t the only Halloween related incident that got the online and news world’s attention. Actress Julianne Hough, most commonly known for her role in “Dancing with the Stars” and “Safe Haven,” received a backlash for her “Orange is the New Black” costume, in which she dressed up as the character Crazy Eyes costume. As part of her costume, Hough wore blackface makeup. Donning blackface is a surefire way to make sure you don’t get a job after that picture is circulated on social media.

So this Halloween, before you pick an outfit that you think will result in a few laughs, lustful stares, or horrified screams, think about if your costume is offensive. If you’re unsure if people will think it’s funny, they probably won’t. They will, however, share your picture with the caption, “How not to dress for Halloween.”

Tamara Rasamny is a junior international relations and newspaper and online journalism dual major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at twrasamn@syr.edu.


Rasamny: Millennials must take precautions to avoid falling victim to hackers

Originally published on The Daily Orange:

Not a week goes by without news headlines declaring hackings or cybersecurity attacks of some sort. Whether these breaches include pictures of at least 200 celebrities, 100,000 pictures from  third-party Snapchat applications or the 76 million households affected by JPMorgan Chase’s recent hack, more and more of the places we thought were safe are becoming targets for future cyber attacks.

With all these security breaches, one thing is clear: millennials aren’t safe.  

We need to stop expecting companies to guarantee our security and privacy, and take it upon ourselves to do so.  

In some cases, there’s not much people can do. Companies that are attacked end up losing millions of people’s private information like their home and email addresses, phone numbers and, in some cases, their payment numbers.  This is nothing new. It has happened to stores like Target, Home Depot and, most recently, Kmart.

Customers who shop at certain stores shouldn’t have to expect to that their information will be stolen after their weekly grocery run to a supermarket.  

Companies should be held responsible for these hacks. But since — as of right now, at least — there’s no solid way to guarantee security from hackers, millennials need to take it upon themselves to make sure that they do their best to protect their private information.

According to a Sept. 5 Wired article, people need to follow three simple steps to avoid getting hacked.  

The first and most obvious step to take is avoid using the same password for everything.  Instead, download a password manager, which generates random encrypted passwords for all the accounts you have and allows you to use one main password to unlock the rest.  Another cautionary step is to set up a two-factor authentication, which forces you to type in a code sent to your device when you are signing in from a foreign location or different device.  

Syracuse University is also taking similar precautionary measures by mandating that students change their SU NetID passwords at least once a year, starting on Nov. 3.

As for security issues with Snapchat, the app itself seems to guarantee privacy by making its pictures and chat messages self-destruct in a certain time period. But hackers were able to obtain many pictures through third-party apps that allow their users to save pictures instead of having them disappear forever.  So although hackers did not necessarily attack Snapchat’s servers, they did obtain the pictures another way and millennials should be wary of apps that might not have as strong of a defense system.

Some have argued that nude photo leaks from Snapchat or any other platform are the senders’ fault. I am not blaming people who had their photos stolen from them. Hackers should have never done that in the first place. But since they have, millennials must take appropriate measures to avoid falling into these traps until companies are able to develop airtight security measures.

Corporations that put their customers’ information at risk must take necessary steps to secure that information. Until they do, we can’t always stop hackers from gaining access to our personal accounts — but we can take appropriate and cautionary steps to decrease the likelihood of these cyber attacks happening to us individually.  

Tamara Rasamny is an international relations and newspaper and online journalism dual major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at twrasamn@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @Tam_Rasamny.

Rasamny: Insensitive Ebola jokes on social media reinforce millennial stereotypes

Originally published on The Daily Orange:

When coverage of the Ebola virus first appeared in the media, it seemed far away — 6,000 miles away, to be precise.

But when the virus showed up in Dallas and received more mainstream media coverage, our generation responded to it how we would to any widely covered news story: on social media.

Some of the posts on social media have expressed fear and concern. But some have expressed more disturbing opinions. Some have taken to joking about the disease and treating it as if it is just another Internet meme. Our generation is sometimes seen as self-centered and clueless about world events. When we joke about something that has already killed more than 4,000 people, we are only perpetuating that stereotype.

So far, there have been a little over 8,000 people affected by the virus, with more than 4,000 of them resulting in death, according to a Friday Al Jazeera article. That’s a 50 percent fatality rate. That’s not funny.

And as the number of victims increases, so do the insensitive jokes, which have appeared on Twitter, Facebook and on Yik Yak. I’ve seen jokes ranging from racist comments to plain unintelligent ones.

For example, on Twitter, @GisellePhelps said “Cowboys: 5. Ebola: 2. Dallas needed the pick me up! ;)”

One anonymous user on Yik Yak said: “Everytime ‘Sierra Leone’ by Frank Ocean comes on shuffle I skip it in fear of getting Ebola. Is that wrong.”

A Facebook group called “Ebola Jokes” said, “Remember kids, if you set eyes on the new kid on the block from Africa, you’ll get Ebola.”

It’s completely inaccurate to generalize what has happened to 8,000 people from four African countries to represent an entire African continent, where there are 1.1 billion people from 54 different countries.

These jokes aren’t funny, and the attempt to make light of a serious situation is extremely misguided. The jokes are not only disrespectful and insensitive, but also exhibit an inability to comprehend serious issues on a global scale.

Additionally, it seems like one of the main reasons millennials in the U.S. are joking about Ebola in the first place is because the disease isn’t a direct threat to their lives –– yet. Just because this disease has not been prominent in the U.S., and is most commonly seen on the news, does not give people an excuse to make fun of the situation.

There are some people who are an example of how our generation should be reacting to this international health crisis. Instead of laughing at the situation, they are speaking out. Michael Essien, who is part of the Ghana national soccer team, took to Twitter and said, “the true victims of Ebola deserve better and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. #sue.”

Some may argue that it’s better to joke about the issue than not talk about it at all. People need to be storming their social media accounts expressing their concerns and thoughts for those affected by Ebola. But joking about it is not the way to do that.

Our generation has a lot of power on social media, and it’s extremely shameful we are using this power to joke about other people’s suffering.

Tamara Rasamny is a junior international relations and newspaper and online journalism dual major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at twrasamn@syr.edu.