Bernardo M. Villegas
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Getting to Understand the Millennials (Part 2)

          Family is also rapidly changing, with single parenting becoming more common, especially because of the rise of the Overseas Filipino Workers. The absence of one of the married couple also leads to an increase in marital infidelity of either or both spouses.  The traditional Filipino family is being replaced by a variety of family structures.  “Brokenness” has become normal in some sectors, even aspired for by a growing number.  Broken families are given a lot of exposure in media and in one’s immediate environment.  Mainstream media seems to say “Forget about definitions.” Traditions should give way to new forms of relationships and should be allowed to evolve according to the times. There is widespread refusal to label relationships with commitment.

         There are several adverse factors that make nourishment of strong family ties more difficult:  traffic, which leads to less time with one another; distractions brought about by gadgets; abandonment of traditional family practices (such as signs of respect); the daily struggle to survive economically because of high costs of living; the misfortune of being born in a broken family which makes the victims ask the rhetorical question, “Why have a family at all?”

         The millennials have become more liberal in their views about sexuality.  This is reflected in their disposition to engage in intimacies.  Whether voluntary or not they tend to see the highly sexualized content of the media as normal and have become more tolerant towards what traditionally have been considered abnormal behavior like homosexuality and live-in relationships.  There is no longer any distinction between accepting a person as he is and the objectively wrong behavior of the person.  In other words, in accepting the sinner as a person to be respected, the sin is no longer considered wrong.  This is especially true as regards sexual morality.  There is proliferation of pornography both in music and visuals, especially in the internet.  A good number of millennials, especially men, have become addicted to pornography.  Social media can also be accused of sexual harassment.

         Moral relativism starts early during adolescence.  Among teenagers, the mindset can be described as follows:  from courtship to being friends…if both like one another, consensual sex is okay; if not, sex is deemed disgusting.  Western media has been instrumental in encouraging one-night stands, casual sex, the “I want it now” or instant gratification culture.  Homosexuality, gender fluidity, or the anything goes morality have become normal.  Those who still oppose this trend are now considered bullies.  Structures are changing and there is a great uncertainty about what role should each one take in sexual relations.

         Relationships have become shallower as a result of immersion in social or digital media.  Real friendship has been devalued by social media.  Friendships made via Facebook and the like are lacking of quality face-to-face time.  Interactions through Viber and several other digital modes are no substitutes for real friendship.  This lack of quality human relationships leads to higher incidence of depression.  Boy-girl relations no longer go through the traditional route of courtship to engagement.  It is no longer common to “save the first kiss” for marriage.  Young people today often go straight to the perks of married couples, with a thin line between real marriage and live-in arrangements or trial marriages with no long-term commitment.  During the courtship period, a new trend can be called “serial monogamy” which involves one girlfriend (or boyfriend) at a time but with no qualms or guilt in constantly changing partner.

         In a materialistic or consumerist environment, there is less room for religious faith.  Although Filipino culture is still significantly influenced by religion, especially Christianity, the millennials are poorly evangelized.  Their knowledge of doctrine is very shallow.  Thus, it is easy to attract them to other faiths that appear to be more “lively” and “cool” and hence, “real.”  They view religious doctrine as something to “swallow” rather than to understand.  Even those who have been catechized in early years are easily attracted to other faiths because they never really internalized the doctrine they got.  There is need to make the faith more urgent in a way that the youth can easily relate to religious truths as something real and visible in their eyes.  Hence, the great importance of witnessing or personal example from the adults.  (To be continued).