Ashamed of Millennials
"For Millennials, Brands May Be As Important As Religion, Ethnicity" reads the headline of a Fast Company blog post. It's a headline that would make me want to identify as Gen X'er.
Fast Company points out, however, that the study from PR giant Edelman is about personal identification online specifically, so the question is how do Millennials understand the relationship between their real and online identities. Unfortunately, I don't think that those who leave the religion question blank on Facebook identify as Catholic in real life.
As a Millennial, I find it strange that reviewing products online would be a "core value" to anyone. But I do understand this quote from one of study participants, on Edelman8095, the study's Tumblr blog: "It's not about your company. It's about me helping my friends."
"Millennials value helping others" might be what this is really about. Meanwhile, it also seems to be true that Millennials don't value traditional identifiers. Doing is more important than being. It might explain the appeal of "Christ follower" over "Christian" among Hipster Christians.
What can Catholics take from this information? I know religion isn't business, but you could translate the above quote to "It's not about the Catholic Church. It's about helping my friends."
It reminds me of the results of some focus groups we did for our magazine a few years ago: Most agreed that they wouldn't pick up a magazine called "U.S. Catholic," but when they actually opened the cover, they liked what they read.
If this is the attitude of most Millennials, Catholics need to make their product, i.e. faith, compelling and "helpful." As Paul Jarzembowski wrote a few weeks ago, we need to provide "pastoral guidance and answers" responding to their "relevant needs." And if we provide that, hopefully our "brand" of Catholicism will remain strong.