The millennial generation is mystifying. Amongst other things, they've grown up with new, globalizing technology that would undoubtedly create a much different culture than preceding generations. One important aspect of this culture that's been greatly influenced by this technology and social media is humor. What millennials find funny may leave the rest of us baffled and frankly, confused.
While conventional humor, including puns, irony, wit, and slapstick, are still valid, new types of humor are gaining traction and popularity with this generation. Examples I've noticed are absurdity, universality, and self-deprecation.
Social media platforms like Instagram and Tumblr are places you'll witness these types of humor the their best. On Instagram, popular accounts such as @girlwithnojob, @thefatjewish, and @fuckjerry have numerous uploads that cover these categories. Let's see if you can relate to any of these
The absurd poses an unreasonable and illogical concept as a normative statement. For example, on @fuckjerry's Instagram account, there is a picture of a baby's fine-haired head next to a kiwi, with the caption "don't talk to me or my son ever again," implying that the kiwi is the baby's son. While we can all deduce that the kiwi is in fact, not the spawn of the infant, it's funny because they look so similar. The absurd plays a large role in the concept of memes. A meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase, or piece of media that spreads from person to person on the Internet, often as mimicry. It is usually a picture with two lines of text that are relatable. Oftentimes, the picture is used to communicate a feeling without explanation of what the picture means--the audience is just supposed to understand. When the text says something normal but is juxtaposed with a ridiculous picture that has nothing to do with the text, the outcome is often comedic.
This is the concept that people can relate to a picture or a face and know exactly what the author is trying to convey. Memes play a huge role in this category of humor. This type of humor is especially popular with millennials because it creates a sense of community that transcends tangible relationships. Since online interactions play a huge role in their social lives, millennials enjoy easy ways to relate to people in their lives, or even with people they will never personally meet.
Although this may seem common and self-explanatory, the depths of self-deprecation are furthered with the introduction of memes and the type of message conveyed through a meme. Millennials have embraced self-deprecation as a great type of humor to have in a globalized society where people interact less in person because it adds an element of the ability to relate to the person with whom you are interacting.
One meme on @girlwithnojob's Instagram account is of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. The text reads "When bae asks for a pic at 2am but you already took your makeup off & then you remember that one app you got" with a side by side comparison of regular Gollum and Gollum with winged eyeliner, mascara, and red lipstick. This one meme is a perfect combination of all three types of humor. It is absurd because you really don't look like Gollum, universal because most people can relate to the desire to always look put together, and self-deprecating because, again, it infers that you look like Gollum.
Ok, this is all well and good, but how does it relate to you directly? How can understanding the types of humor millennials enjoy make you money? How can it make your business grow?
It is commonly held that humor in the workplace is the key to success. It improves productivity, social relations, and health. Laughing makes people happy and happy people tend to do their jobs well and with enthusiasm. It increases perceived leadership skills, credibility, and profit. A good sense of humor can get you far in the workplace.
Employing comedy when interacting with millennials can help solidify the connection you make. If you're having trouble relating to the young new worker in your office, try cracking a joke or sharing a (tasteful) meme. If you can't seem to tap into the millennial market with your product or business, incorporate humor. It gives you a perspective of what appeals to them and how their mind may work differently than yours. Look to Instagram and other social media platforms for help. Making people laugh is one universal way to relate, no matter the age gap.