What will the history books say about millennials?
The Editorial Board
Despite the challenges plaguing the world this summer – whether it’s been police brutality, anti-LGBT hate crimes or terrorist attacks – we are currently members of a generation surrounded by innovation. Since Generation Y is the last to remember a technology-lite childhood, as opposed to now where iPads are practically children’s toys, we’ve grown up in a climate of home computers and social progressiveness that has made millennials smarter than ever.
This brings forth the question: What will the history books actually say about millennials?
In order to find an answer, a rock-solid base would be the studies of William Strauss and Neil Howe on generational cycles. In their 1991 book “Generations,” both historians theorized that generations are shaped by the events they encounter in their youth and young adulthood. In true causal fashion, these members share common beliefs and behaviors that mold the world going forward: just like how Generation X and the sexual revolution popularized AIDS research for today.
As for us, 9/11 was the threshold that, once crossed, made the threat of heinous murders at once very real. The fact that such crimes could be fueled by hate for other races and religions was then, and remains now, mind-boggling. Let alone at a time where the Civil Rights Act wasn’t even 40 years old.
Above all else, it marked a very early (but necessary) awareness to serious issues. In front of our eyes, we witnessed media coverage of buildings – which all represented America’s economic power – being demolished by hijacked airplanes. It redefined an entire culture to be conscious of its socioeconomic attitudes, which is most likely why we were able to transition into the dawn of social media so well.
Once Facebook was created in 2004, methods of socialization were tossed into an ever-changing spiral of innovative contemplation. Think about it: before 9/11 and Facebook, we were already taught in schools to be accepting of different people and ideas. After Mark Zuckerberg’s invention, however, anyone past the age of 12 was encouraged to join the website and maintain lasting relationships through interactive statuses and directories.
Believe it or not, subsequent media that followed suit – Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram – became vital proponents for a communication age that previous eras never had. While some elders can define us as “lazy” and “always looking at our phones,” our fast exchanges of ideas increased our intelligence early on and signified how quickly social attitudes could improve.
Barack Obama, our first black president, is a breathing example of this. His 2008 campaign was predicated entirely on change, which heavily resonated with 18 to 29 year olds who saw how the War on Terror negatively impacted America. Say what you will about Obama himself, but the way that he fostered political interest through social media was unprecedented and helped influence how we look at today’s politics.
As a matter of fact, a big reason why millennials harbor such vitriol for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is because of their constant failures at understanding us. We don’t want our president to connect to us by dabbing, nor do we want a commander in chief who openly mocks Mexican culture on Twitter. We want to make sure that our officials are painstakingly working towards a time where everyone is treated equally – regardless of backgrounds, politics or (in the case of dabbing) trends. We want to look towards the future, not be reminded of methods of days past.
Furthermore, our generation has seen U.S. crime decline for the last two decades. Because of this, murders like the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile situations shock us since they’re both racially charged and out of the norm in our era of transition. It’s also why the Dallas shooting took such an emotional toll on us. Not only did that crime interrupt a brief moment of protest, but it was also an unwarranted, selfish act of hate versus hate.
As much as some millennials abuse social media to foster disdain, use their politics to demean those that think differently or pessimistically assert that “change will never happen,” most of us have the potential to change the world right now. History books will definitely say that we proved how beneficial technology can be. We single-handedly created internet movements that took the news by a storm, forcing scientists, historians and others to adapt to us.
We’re destined to do a lot more worth writing about, but for right now, we should be proud to be a better generation than anyone could ever imagine.
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