Connected to Change: The Millennials

The millennials

I didn’t notice it at first but there’s something pretty amazing going on with young people today. The Millennials, aka Gen Y.

They are socially motivated. They are globally connected. They don’t just want change. They see it as necessary to their, our, survival.

Yeah, I know someone is always saying that there’s something unique, or special even, about the up-and-coming generation. Such categorization, age-based compartmentalization, can be tiresome.

We all know about the Baby Boomers, my generation, and that they still think they’re special. My parents came in just at the tale end of the so-called Greatest Generation — so called largely because they actually didn’t appear to think they were special at all. They just buckled down and got the job done.

Let’s face it: Trying to generalize about a group of people who just happen to be the same age is a pretty risky business. Most Baby Boomers don’t seem that special to me. And not everyone in the Greatest Generation was that great.

To look at the Millennials (see photo above), you might on first glance think they are just engaging in the latest version — though more digitized — of the same old American lifestyle of consumerism, self-centered careerism, a sense of privilege and the national pastime of generally ignoring what’s happening in the rest of the world.

Chances are, you would be wrong.

At least, that’s what I have discovered as a journalist covering matters of global health, global poverty and development in and around Seattle. I am constantly running into the most amazing young people!

As the book Generation We put it:

The Millennials are a special generation, potentially the greatest generation ever. They are not pessimistic or vengeful. Rather, they are sober in their view of the world. They believe in technology and know they can innovate themselves out of the mess they are inheriting. They believe in entrepreneurship and collective action, and that each person can make a difference. They are about plenitude, and they reject cruelty. They are spiritual, responsible, tolerant, and in many ways more mature than their predecessor generations. They reject punditry and bickering, because they are post-partisan, post-ideological, and post-political. Most important, they believe in the greater good and are ready to dedicate themselves to achieving it.

Today, and for the next few days, I’m going to describe some of these people. It’s an arbitrary selection and in no way represents everything going on even in our community. But it will give you a sense of what I claim is, in fact, a pretty special generation — and a group of people keenly aware of their connection to a changing world.

The Millennials.

Let me know if you know of a global Millennial. Post a comment, or your own story.

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About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org, follow him on Twitter @tompaulson and/or send a comment below.

  • http://twitter.com/courtneybking Courtney King

    As a Millenial, it is fantastic to know that other generations have faith in our potential. We believe in ourselves, but sometimes it feels as if we are constantly ridiculed by society at large for our “laziness” and “fear of professional commitment.” I love this post and will be looking forward to reading any other opinions about the GenY group.

  • Terry

    there is a group here in Spokane called Community Minded Enterprises and virtually all of the staff and volunteers are what you are describing as Millenials. It is the most inspiring place to be in the city or county. They are absolutely incredible people. Some move on to other jobs and responsibilities, taken on greater challenges, but they gather and get traction at Community Minded. A great thing for my area.