Everyone in the country knows who Johnny Manziel is — from avid Cleveland Browns fans to my grandmother, who doesn’t really care about professional football. And everyone has an opinion about the rookie quarterback. Whether they love him or loathe him, people are talking about Manziel and his actions on the field and off of it. Regardless of your opinion on the former Heisman winner, one thing is certain — you better become accustomed to his mindset and lifestyle because it is representative of the upcoming wave of future NFL stars.
That isn’t to say that every player coming out of college and into the NFL will spend free weekends partying in Las Vegas, but it does give the public an inside look into the mindset of a generation raised by social media. Whether intentional or not, life for this generation is about instant gratification. It’s about the number of followers you have on Twitter and Instagram, the amount of people vying for your attention and your digital popularity. In the world of TMZ and Twitter, you haven’t “arrived” unless you are an internet celebrity.
The lives of this generation are playing out (and being documented) online. Their interest doesn’t surround “normal” athletes or musicians, politicians or movie stars. They are drawn to extravagance flash. For example, the wedding of the decade for them wasn’t Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal nuptials. It was Kim Kardashian and Kanye West tying the knot — a woman with a reality show and a well-known rapper.
Success to this generation isn’t necessarily gained by working hard and earning respect of their peers. It is gained by popularity and name recognition. Johnny Manziel’s Las Vegas getaway wasn’t the rebellion of an out of control adolescent, it was the celebration of perceived success by a kid who finally “made it”. He’s on every sports publication, website, channel, etc. He just agreed to partner with LeBron James‘ LRMR marketing firm. He is the talk of the most famous sport in America. In the eyes of this generation, Johnny Manziel is the pure definition of success.
Before knocking a kid for how he spends his free time, one must understand the mindset of his generation. The same way our parents had to understand the differences between us and them. Whether it is in regards to friendships, relationships or money, happiness is being achieved through instant gratification. It’s the only world they know, as society raised them that way. It’s the result of a world run by the internet, and Johnny Manziel is just a product of that world.