“Millennials get a bad rap. Lazy, narcissistic, and entitled are adjectives commonly used to describe this new generation of tech-savvy teenagers.”
For anyone over 30, those words from Aarick Knighton ’16 may ring true. That’s why Knighton, a student in the School of Information Studies (iSchool) set out to change that mindset. Or at the very least, provide some insight.
Knighton’s new book “Generation-i, The Millennial Mindset” helps to clarify what it’s like to be a member of the current generation. Baby Boomers or members Generation X may have a hard time understanding Millennials, typically defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000. Knighton’s book aims to demystify a group that has never known what life is like without an iPhone or computer.
“The book is essentially me on my soapbox advocating for my generation,” says Knighton. “It’s a collection of essays from my perspective of things we go through and how it shapes the way we view the world. Technology has changed the way we do everything, the way we interact, the relationships we have, the way we consume information. This book attempts to explain how and why Millennials think and act the way they do.”
Knighton admits early on in his book that he dislikes the world “Millennial,” believing the media gives the word a negative connotation. Knighton spends the next 170 well-written pages explaining how his generation got to where they are, giving a look inside the Millennial mind and explaining the new American dream. He explains how social media works and how his generation uses it. He writes about music, about life and about race in America, including the racial dynamic he faced in high school and college. He writes about life, love and even illegal drugs. In a nutshell, he touches all the bases when it comes to the world we live in today.
The book itself was written last summer, in three months’ time.
“It was cool to see. When I first held the book in my hands it was a real ‘wow’ moment,” says Knighton. “Writing a book was always on my bucket list. I just didn’t expect to do it at 21.”
While Knighton has the perspective of a Millennial, he also has a nose for news, writing a technology column for The Daily Orange, and as a member of the Syracuse University social media team, #44 Social. “Aarick is wise way beyond his years,” says Maren Guse, assistant director of digital and social media and an adjunct professor at the iSchool. “His communication skills and work ethic are both exemplary, and this book is proof of that. He spent his entire summer writing, which is a sign of his passion and dedication.”
So, did the words effortlessly fly from keyboard during the writing process? Not always. “There were points that I was thinking, why am I doing this?” says Knighton, describing the periodic writer’s block that would settle in. “Then, there were days when I couldn’t stop writing. It’s a self-revealing process. You learn a lot about yourself and your thought process.”
As for his next book, Knighton says he’s still undecided. His first focus is on graduating this spring, and of course, selling his book.
While Knighton has a Millennial mindset, he also has a mind for marketing too.”It makes a great stocking stuffer,” he says.