It seems that our parents have underestimated us again, and we have the studies to prove it. Our generation has endured a multitude of criticisms from our parents and grandparents, ranging from laziness, shallowness, having an addiction to electronics, and being snobby brunchers. But researchers are now saying that there seems to be much more to us than just being selfie-fiends.
A Pew Research study published earlier this year claims that as a post-9/11 generation, we have been pioneering a path more progressive and enlightened than seen before by Generation X. An attack that was intended to break our spirit and confidence only drove us to push for social change. Being a “digitally native” generation, we have turned to social media to express ourselves and connect with people we might have never interacted with.
But with all of this comes an inherent distrust in the system and our country’s politics that has alienated us from the very public institutions long established with the purpose of political and social change, and upholding the very issues and freedoms we value in our global culture. Our politics have become more liberal, more accepting and more pragmatic as we vote in favor of sexual and reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization and more. We are open about the change that we want to see, but we would rather post our grievances and opinions on our social media profiles than actually contribute to socio-political discourse in a more effective manner. We can achieve this by taking an active role in directly instructing our peers on the issues we care so deeply about. We have abandoned the streets and have limited our protests to #hashtags.
With these findings, both positive and negative, there is something to be learned here about ourselves and how we can contribute to the bettering of both our futures and this country’s. By taking into account the fact that we have a general social distrust, we can take this attitude and empower ourselves to call for the reformation of the public institutions we have been disassociating ourselves from.
Private companies like Twitter and Facebook have provided us outlets of expression as tools to start on this road of empowerment, but change ends there with their profit-driven missions and the reality that we pick and choose the circles we connect with, hence limiting the reach of our message and our exposure. We must begin networking offline and taking our conversations to a more personal, more impactful level. These are real and relatable conversations that have been systematically ignored: student debt, continued racial discrimination, LGBTQ rights, the growing wealth gap, our foreign policy, and much more.
We have already made the choice to come to USF and “change the world from here”. How about we take it a step further, surprise everyone, and change the world for real?