Pew Research has taken a look at the millennial generation, those born approximately from the late 1980’s into the mid 1990’s. The surveying found many interesting results that could suggest the direction the United States is headed in the future, with the majority of the age bracket leaning liberal and many also lacking a religious identity. Pew also found that the generation is the most racially diverse and technologically dependent Americans yet. Is all of this adding up to an identity crisis for millennials?
Many millennials are the adult children of immigrants. The two largest immigrant groups in the United States are Asians and Hispanics, a trend that began several generations earlier. The result is that today 43 percent of of millennial adults are non-white, a number that is increasing gradually each year. Contributing to the millennial generation’s title of most racially diverse is the fact that immigration to America has become more diverse since earlier in the 20th century, including rising immigration rates from South America. Pew examined how this has affected political and social trends. Non-white millennials were twice as likely to claim themselves as democrats, while both white and non-white were equally likely to be independent. This divide was held similarly in President Obama’s approval ratings, as non-white millennials were nearly twice as likely to say that they approving of President Obama.
As far as technology goes, the millennial generation is the first group of adults who were born into the technological revolution, an age where they have never had to live extensively without access to computers, advanced media like cable television, or even cell phones for many. This group of adults has not had to adapt yet to any significant change in the same way someone in the forties or fifties has had to. Millennials also are the most attached to social media, with the amusing dichotomy existing in the statistics where the group is the most inclined to post a selfie online, but also the most likely to declare that people share too much on the internet.
How all of this connects is up to interpretation.The gradual homogenization of race, religion and political views may be causing an identity crisis for millennials. Generations of past decades have seemed to have much broader lines defining them, allowing people to cluster together into defined groups like Hippies, Punks, Romantics and Generation Xers. Thus far, the most prominent attribute of millennials, seems to be Hipsterism, the metaculture defined more by ironic adaptations of the attributes of past generations than by any noteworthy innovations of their own.
The generation is not without merit, as it is more thoroughly educated than any previous, but there remains to be found a congealing event. Something could come from the massive student loan debt that has been heaped upon millennials, the cost for their elders pushing them towards education without the reward of a job at the end for many. Occupy Wall Street could have, or may still be, that uniting factor. Or, perhaps, the continued fight for gay rights will be picked up by millennials, giving them something to work towards together. They are, after all, the most supportive generation of gay rights yet, giving them a reason to break off from the generations of the past in a way more significant than taking a selfie. Millennials are the next generation of leadership in the United States, and solving their identity crisis is a necessity to the continued success of the country.
Opinion by Brian Moore