Our Generation can be the one that makes great change simply because we decide to do something. It’s not that other generations haven’t done something or caused great change; it’s that millennials feel maybe it’s time to accelerate such change or perhaps alter the course of the change. If you are trying to decide what capabilities a weapon or a tool (or a person or a group of people) has you have to look at its features and resources available to it. So what do we millennials have going for us?
Well obviously we have more time compared to the generations before us. Simple mathematics, we have a majority of our natural lifespans still ahead of us. If we refer to ’83-05’ as the period in which millennials were born (feel free to dispute the dates, it won’t render my point moot) then the oldest of us is (or around) 33 and the youngest is 11. The oldest of our generation hasn’t even lived half the average life expectancy (71 is the average with both genders factored in). In terms of impactful years we’re just getting started.
Another benefit of being a millennial (possibly two benefits depending on how you look at them) are our education and our access to infinite data. A greater percentage of millennials of the appropriate age have college degrees in comparison to Gen X and the Boomers, and we have more to come. And perhaps our greatest benefit is that fact that we have had the internet for most of our lives. Granted the Boomers and Gen X’ers pioneered and gave us that tool (for which we are immensely grateful), but we have to be the most affected by it. We have nigh unlimited access to nigh instantaneous knowledge, and have had it for most of our lives. We have had GOOGLE and Wikipedia, and countless publications and resources on demand to fulfill our curiosities. Don’t get me wrong, the generations before us were no less intelligent and no less ingenious, but I believe that to say we do not have some degree a greater advantage because of the internet would be foolish (and perhaps insulting to those who gave it to us).
Another advantage is that millennials in general (not all of us, but in general) have a propensity to apply critical theory. We like to question EVERYTHING, and we like to question it to death. This is one of the reasons we have taken such advantage of the internet. We don’t like to take things at face value. We don’t like to just accept norms. Is this a bad thing? I say no. It causes us to research, and learn, and take interest in the world around us.
Ok, so let’s simplify these advantages and say that Millennials (born ’83-’05) have the advantages of Time, Knowledge, and a Thirst for Understanding.
How will Millennials cause change?
Simple. Apply the above advantages. You have to remember what I said earlier, we are just now beginning our years of impact on the world. We are just now old enough to make decisions out from under our Gen X and Boomer parent’s influence. We have access to the greatest means of communication and social interaction the world has yet known and we can use that to help us make decisions, and explore new ideas and ventures. We have time and resources to increase our monetary wealth (to then be used to benefit others). We have the abilities to perhaps increase our time (if we can increase our lifespans through medical research). We have the abilities to increase our footprint on history through the advantages our parents gave us. Yes we have flaws. We spend too much time on our phones and computers. We live at home too long. We take longer to become financially stable. We take longer to get married and commit to relationships. But we also have work ethic. We have more efficient communication methods. We can question, and learn, and understand anything we desire to. We are only limited by our own laziness or lack of ambition.
Most importantly, we will make change because we have no choice. Gen X and the Boomers (our parents and grandparents) are going to die. And when they do die, we are the generation that has to continue on. As much as we will love and miss our parents and grandparents and don’t want them to go, we are going to be left with the world they’ve given us. And we aren’t satisfied. No more satisfied than they were with the world the generation before them left. They’ve given us a lot, but wouldn’t we be dishonoring them if we didn’t try to improve on what they left us? Yes we’re idealistic, and we want to revolutionize institutions to achieve the ideal and perfect. But you have to admit what we have now isn’t perfect. And we admit we can’t achieve perfection either, but shouldn’t we try? Shouldn’t we be at least aiming and driving in that direction? We aren’t trying to be blatantly combative; we’re just trying to get a head start.