The problem with the term ‘millennial’ – Shingy

19 Aug 2016

AOL digital prophet, David Shing, otherwise known as ‘Shingy’. Image via Luke Maxwell

At AOL DevFest 2016 in Dublin, the company’s digital prophet, Shingy, told about the flaws of the label ‘millennial’.

“I have a problem with it,” said Shingy, real name David Shing, when asked his opinion on the term used to describe today’s young adults.

Not the choice of word, not the immediate blanket use of it since it was first posited, rather the needless boxing-off of a major, varied grouping of people around the world.

Future Human

“They’re just young adults, they’re acting like young adults have always done,” he told us, at The Royal College of Physicians.


“The difference is their playgrounds are different than what we had. It is on a screen now, not the backyard.

“That’s what it’s about, behaviours and the context of what that behaviour is. It doesn’t matter who they are, we don’t need to pigeonhole them.”

From a corporate perspective, Shingy feels the onus is on businesses to better explain the products and services they are developing for young adults, reaching out to a group of people who have been brought up online, not off.

“The mobile experience is everybody’s game,” he said, broadening out the topic beyond those aged below 30.

“We’ve all had [the mobile experience] in our hands for 10 years. We all have to think about what people are doing. We are all acting similarly, we just want brands to grow up, we want young adults to grow up with brands that we represent.”

When asked about his views on gender diversity in the tech world, Shingy, much like AOL as a whole, was fairly liberal in his views, stating women “help create culture”.

“There’s something different about the way they organise around solutions and problems,” he said. “If there’s a bunch of young women together all looking at some experience, I want to understand what they are doing. Because they are the ones making culture.

“The gender equality piece for me is part of what I believe in, it’s deeply rooted in what we should be understanding in the empathetic environment that we’re in today. Should other leaders purpose that? That’s all based on their own principles.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic