A new study by Pew Research looks at the Millennials in Adulthood (18-33) and finds significant differences in how they relate to social institutions compared to previous generations at that age. Generally, Millennials are significantly less likely to be married, have a full-time job, and affiliate formally with a religious organization (church, synagogue, mosque, etc.).
Why does this matter? First, these three factors are directly linked with personal happiness and well being, as well as sound financial standing. But they also demonstrate a positive ability to get along with others in a variety of social settings. Basically, when we are involved in work, marriage and religion, we learn to share with each other and be empathetic towards others. We learn to communicate and problem solve in ways that are productive and healthy.
Is it really surprising that, according to this study, Millennials show drastically less trust in others? Is it surprising that Millennials lead all other generations in out-of-wedlock births? Millennials are less likely to describe themselves as patriotic, political, religious or environmentally concerned. Is it ironic that the majority of Millennials have posted a “selfie” while a majority also admits that they share too much information on-line?
Please don’t think that I am blaming, or as they would say, “hating on” the Millennials. Their parents, their schools and the media have fostered both self-obsession and a de-valuing of traditional institutions, beginning with the shift of the “counter culture” to the mainstream in the early 70s. Of course this group has the highest approval rates for legalizing marijuana, sexual “hook-ups” and same-sex marriage. They have been taught that every value, every lifestyle is “relative” and that traditional structures can all be “deconstructed” as tools of inequity.
The problem is that the Millennials are “… the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same stage of their life cycles.” Along with these problems, they face the dangers of an increasingly hostile world where personal and national security are at risk. Work, marriage and religion, besides their intrinsic rewards, are the main social tools we have to help each other survive and thrive in the face of such dangers.
In short, the previous generations have failed the Millennials. By breaking down the traditional, we have left the younger generation with few tools to survive in this world. Without work, marriage and religion, all that is left is government and technology, and these words of solace: Big Brother is watching you.
August 27, 2012
Byron York discusses Paul Ryan as the first post-boomer candidate ever to run on a presidential ticket. Given the economic challenges that Gen-Xers face as Boomers begin to retire, a cross-generational ticket seems appropriate for the country’s needs.
Does the rise of leaders like Representative Ryan and Senator Marco Rubio signify a shift in governance? Will Ryan’s inclusion make Romney more electable? What do you think?
May 4, 2012
January 3, 2012
P.J. O’Rourke, that cranky Boomer wit, answers this burning question:
Popular culture is hard to qualify, and the baby boom is hard to quantify. Definitions vary. I choose a strict interpretation—people born from 1946 through 1960. You’re not a baby boomer if you don’t have a visceral recollection of a Kennedy and a King assassination, a Beatles break-up, a U.S. defeat in Vietnam, and a Watergate. (Unless you were stoned for a decade, in which case bring a note from your drug dealer.) Plus, and I rest my case, Barack Obama was born in 1961. What a typical frustrated, cynical, over-educated, under-informed member of Generation X he is, with his slacker attitude toward institutions, specifically the Constitution.
Gen-Xers protest – maybe Obama is just a late boomer.