Talkin’ About My Generation

The big story in today’s RedEye (the Chicago Tribune’s free daily, for nonlocals) is a study by Pew about millennials, the folks born between 1981 and now. (That’s most of anyone likely to be reading this.) The story, which you can read for yourself here, had some interesting things to say about us young’uns, despite the story’s familiar tone – the kicker is “Study finds those ages 18 to 29 more tech-savvy, open-minded, liberal than predecessors” (no, really?) and they are shocked, shocked that “being famous” isn’t one of our top priorities. But for my money, the most interesting things are as follows:

  • 75% of us have profiles on social networking sites. Personally, I’m surprised it’s not more. I can’t think of more than one or two people my age who don’t use Facebook alone.
  • One in five of us think pornography should be illegal. Seriously? Like, actually illegal? I’m always surprised how much of other people’s freedom some people are willing to take away for the “good of society”. This is one of those issues that’s a hot button for me – not porn specifically, but, like, people who want television networks fined for showing things they don’t want their kids to see. If you don’t want your children to see something on television, don’t let them watch it. Parenting is your responsibility as, you know, parents. OK, rant over.
  • Eight out of ten of us sleep with our cell phones next to our beds. This isn’t actually all that surprising, I suppose, but the article doesn’t seem to make the connection that many of us use their alarm clock functions in place of owning an actual alarm clock.
  • We are incredibly optimistic. Despite the report’s characterization as being the “most connected” generation, there’s something else interesting about us: we see things getting better. One out of every eight of us – and that includes the folks who are pushing 30 – moved back in with our parents because of the recession. Nine out of ten are satisfied with the amount of money we have or believe ourselves likely to have in the future. And we’re on track (perhaps unsurprisingly, given past trends) to become the most educated generation in American history.

So, despite our “connectedness”, which is treated as a weird thing like too many newspaper reports written by older people who can’t understand WHY we’d want to be in touch all the time, we’re still not gonna be the downfall of the world through laziness and a desire for fame. We’re smart and confident, on the whole. What a pleasant surprise.

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