A while back I went to an Alanis Morissette concert. It was a last-minute decision and, as a result, my seat was up in the nose-bleed section of the venue. As I looked down across the darkened arena toward the stage, I saw hundreds and hundreds of little blue rectangles of light in the crowd. At first I thought people were holding up their cell phones the way people held up lighters at concerts back in the day, but I soon realized people were actually watching the concert through their devices as they recorded it. This made absolutely no sense. And then it hit me. Before me was an audience of the much-maligned Millennial Generation. That self-absorbed generation that eschews material possessions, such as cars and houses and are all about immediate gratification and living in the moment was actually missing an opportunity to experience the performance with their own eyes. They were literally at an Alanis Morrissette concert watching her perform "Isn't it Ironic?" through their phones. I found the whole thing more than a little amusing.
A few days ago, I shared this with my 27-year-old daughter. She said I missed the point completely. What I saw wasn't ironic at all. She said people were recording the experience so they could share it via social media with those who couldn't be there. It was about sharing a good experience. She said what I witnessed was an act of kindness and selflessness where people gave up their opportunity to see the performance directly so that others could benefit. I immediately felt like the old man on the corner shouting at the kids to get off my lawn. Perhaps Millennials get a bad rap and are much more caring and compassionate than previous generations give them credit for. The lesson for me was that while market and demographic data are fine, they are no substitute for getting to know and listening to your audience.