Why Does the Millennial Value Experiences Over Things?

Which would you rather have: 10 new pairs of Zara booties or a trip to Mykonos, Greece? The answer might seem simple. Could anyone pass up Zara boots?

Kidding, nothing beats Greece!

Years ago, it would’ve been as simple as that, though. People would put their worth in their possessions rather than their experiences; focusing on what they ‘had’ instead of what they ‘did.’ However, as in many areas, Millennials are starting to deviate from the normal “status symbols” like expensive cars and watches, and instead are spending more of their money on things that satisfy more than just instant gratification cravings. Going to concerts, visiting Instagrammable museums and even going on extravagant picnics are reigning over material items in younger generation’s bank accounts.

Does this mean that people are finally realizing the enriching value in experiences? Or is it just a ploy to get more Instagram followers?

According to business.com, social media is credited in this development by saying that “Millennials want to feel connected. They are also scared of missing out.” Social media seems to be one of the greatest contributors toward this movement of experience, as people are much more self-aware of how they appear on social media and their ability to influence other’s perceptions of them. Everyone seems a little more perfect on their Instagram and Snapchat, which creates this intangible way to measure self-worth. A vacation-esque picture on Instagram is worth more than a new purse.

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In July of 2017, we took an hour boat ride to a small-ish island right off of Bali. It’s called “Nusa Penida” and I had never heard of it until a local told us to go. There was one gas station, a handful of hostels, a fruit stand or two, and only dirt roads to drive on. We had a local kid show us around and after a 2 hour scooter ride in the jungle on the gnarliest roads you can imagine, we made it to this view. We were the only people there, and when we approached the top, riiiight before the sunset, I started crying. I truly had never experienced anything like that moment. And I don’t know if it was the moment, or the place, but something about it changed me when I saw this view for first time last summer. I don’t remember my thoughts exactly except for the overwhelming “how is this real?!?” over and over. I also remember not thinking, but KNOWING it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and maybe will ever see. And I thought how lucky I was to be there right then. I remember thinking how sad it was that so many people wouldn’t get to experience this view in their lifetime. I thought about if I would even make it back there again. I vowed I would, and here I am 9 months later. 9 months and everything about this place has changed. Restaurants crowd the entry way, parking lots are filled with motor bikes and tour buses, tourists are fighting for a good Instagram angle, and it broke my heart for a second. But then I remembered that first time, and my first thoughts and how desperately I just wanted everyone in the world to see this place for themselves. And it’s happening. That’s the truth. People are seeing the world. Of all ages, of all backgrounds, we’re exploring, and experiencing and that’s something you can’t say about people 20-30 years ago. So whatever your motivation may be, EVEN if it’s a cool Instagram picture 😉 run with it. the world is big, and beautiful and it’s waiting.

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Take Indy Blue (@indyblue_), who travels the world with her friends and takes pictures worthy of a Millennial version of Time Magazine. She also creates videos on her YouTube channel that will make you want to drop everything and hop on a plane.

As surveyed by Forbes, 78% of consumers said that “Posts by companies they follow on social media impact their purchases.” However, many companies are behind the social media curve, which lends hand to social media influencers having the ability to take over much of the social scene, influencing people around the world by their Insta-worthy trips and activities.

While Instagram began with the intention of being a platform for people to share their day-to-day and connect with friends, it soon fell to businesses and eventually “Insta-models” who changed the perception of what it meant to post on social media. And as for the push towards experience-related spending, when hours are spent scrolling through feeds of people that travel around the world and take awe-inspiring pictures to show for it, who wouldn’t want to follow suit? Who wouldn’t be inspired to spontaneously take a trip to Europe? Or even just to a local park for an Insta-worthy picnic?

Refinery29 created an interactive “fun-house” called Refinery29 rooms with Insta-worthy installments that encourage people to post about their experience.
Refinery29 created an interactive “fun-house” called Refinery29 rooms with Insta-worthy installments that encourage people to post about their experience.

Even though it may seem like Instagram is being corrupted by people painting their lives to seem picture-perfect, even when they aren’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rise of Millennials spending money on experiences is all for show. After all, many people dream of having the opportunity to travel halfway across the world and document it, but many are too afraid to pursue the dream. Social media influencers and businesses are exploiting this unfulfilled desire within so many and showing the social community that although something might sound unattainable, it may be within closer reach than it seems.

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