Clearly, opinion leaders and thinkers of the modern age have an issue with Millennials. So here’s a radical argument that should send O’Reilly and his white-haired sycophants into orbit: the folks making this argument are members of the generations responsible for seriously screwing things up in America, while the generation they’re disparaging will be the one to save this country. You read that right, folks: the adults have crashed this thing into a deep, deep ditch, and the selfie-taking, tumblr-reading, narcissistic members of the “everyone-gets-a-trophy” generation are going to be the ones to throw it in reverse, back over whatever is in our way, and get this country back on track.
I wouldn’t make such a controversial claim without the stats to back it up. Here are four reasons why the Millennial Generation is going to save America:
1. We’re more tolerant than any other generation.
Millennials are “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change” (Pew Research Center). And given the issues that currently plague our nation — war, recession, political polarization, race issues — this is a significant finding because the America we’re about to inherit seems hesitant to embrace change and still seems to be haunted by a serious degree of xenophobia. 69% of Millennials are in favor of marriage equality (Public Religion Research Institute), and “only about six-in-ten were raised by both parents” (Pew Research Center). The commonplace nature of composite families and a cultural acceptance of equal rights for all people indicates that race and inter-sexuality relations will cool off significantly as Millennials enter positions of power in politics and business. The most important of the values above, though, is open-mindedness. The tech explosion that defined our childhood and the Great Recession have trained us to become adaptable embracers of quick, efficient, and outside-the-box solutions. Perhaps our generational slogan could be borrowed from Apple, the company that has helped define us more than any other: “Think different.”
2. We’re better educated than any other generation.
Our generation was raised with the constant reminder that our “education comes first,” and we bought it hook, line, and sinker. “Among 18 to 24 year olds a record share — 39.6% — was enrolled in college as of 2008, according to census data” (Pew Research Center), and “75% say college is a worthwhile investment.” I could pontificate about the importance of education and the opportunities offered to highly-educated individuals, though that hardly seems necessary. A well educated population will enable continued innovation and progress in fields of business and policy, and America can only be well-served by an intelligent population. As America becomes a more demographically diverse nation, higher education will become of more value given its cornerstone characteristics, including the open and free flow of ideas and the promotion of an open mind, leading to an increased understanding of others.
3. We like people, and we like to bring people together.
Millennials are the first internet generation, and we’ve been more than happy to let that define us. The internet is the single most powerful tool of individual empowerment and we have tapped into that and already begun to revolutionize how people communicate and do business. Mark Zuckerberg has revolutionized interpersonal communication — and succeeded in making the world significantly smaller, bringing people across borders closer together than they’ve ever been before. While Tinder founder Sean Rad has demonstrated how the internet can be used as a tool to connect people intimately, which, whether you think Tinder is a good thing or not, is bringing together people and helping them develop relationships. Sure Facebook and Tinder aren’t going to undo years of costly war and incompetence in government, among our society’s other ails, but the societal innovations made by the tech revolution are severely under-appreciated, and we’ve yet to realize just how large of an impact they’ll have on our nation’s future — more on that later. Bottom line: we are people interested in and concerned for other people.
4. Someone has to.
Years of constant war, exploding debt, political polarization, and weak leadership have left the United States of America in the worst shape it’s been in since the Great Depression. The Boomers and the Gen Xers have had their chance to pilot this ship, and haven’t achieved anything significant: what was the last great thing America did? Whatever your answer is, I seriously doubt it was the direct result of the effort of these two generations. Our country is due for and deserving of bold leadership and new ideas, and that’s going to take a generation of people who think differently than their parents and solve problems in different ways. The Millennial generation is America’s last, best hope.
So, to what does this all add up? What does Facebook have to do with ending costly wars? How can higher education help cool race relations? The answers lie in the attitudes generations take towards other people and peoples. Millennial staples like Facebook and the college degree are symbols of increased communication and understanding between both individuals and groups. While the Millennial generation isn’t without its faults — selfies are a pretty heinous crime against humility — its weaknesses have been severely mischaracterized and misunderstood by critics, who are typically looking for a generational scapegoat since their generations’ time at the wheel has been lackluster to say the least.
Our critics accuse us of being too open to change, and, frankly, too unlike them. But their approach has yielded few results, and we’re already at work transforming the world. So to the Bill O’Reillys of the world, I caution: the America of the future is open to change, hates bureaucracy, loves efficiency, and is the least xenophobic it’s ever been. And the coolest part about it? That’s a good thing. The sooner the Millennials can get a firm grip on the wheel, the sooner this thing will be back on track.