Let’s cut to the chase. Millennials want what everyone else wants — before they have been brainwashed, or conditioned, by our materialistic consumer society. The “Me” mentality has distorted the world view of what is most important in life, of what brings about happiness and fulfillment. Pedestrian Pete’s hope is that Millennials, with an upbeat sense of optimism about the future, but skeptical of older folks, can teach the rest of us, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers why we should see The World as “Us,” “We.” This can re-shape our mission in life, to make the world a better place.
The Three Largest Generations
Now ages 52 to 70 years old, Baby Boomers make up about 70 million Americans, mostly older and more conservative, with many of them retired (10,000 each year). Generally, they are Republican in their thinking, anxious to acquire and hold on to material things, in the face of a dangerous world out there. Over the next 20 years, Boomers will inherit a whopping $15 trillion and will account for 70% of all U.S. wealth. These are the folks with the money.
Now ages 36 to 51 years old, Generation Xers are about 60 million strong, still working hard to accumulate wealth and savings, but frustrated by the ups and downs of the global society. Xers seem to be in a hurry — to make it, and make it big. Many of them are high-tech IT folks, spurring the outburst of technical advancement. Some are leaders of the “Creative Class.”
Now ages 18 to 34 years old, Millenials are about 75 million strong, some still in school, living at home or, starting new jobs and families, and are Uber and Lyft prone. This is the largest single generation in American history. They embrace diversity, globalism and new ideas, and want to live life authentically. They are a stark contrast to their parents and grandparents. They are less materialistic, urban oriented, and the new trendsetters. The future will be led by Millennials, a hopeful sign about where we are headed. This should give comfort to the rest of us. Millennials — it is widely reported — when given the choice, would rather own a lap top and cell phone than a car, which tells us something about their values. Pete cautions that if they move to the ‘burbs for that bigger house, then a car, maybe two cars, will become a necessity.
Comparing Millennials and Baby Boomers
Looking at the state of our nation today, the Generation Xers are the “in-between” group, with vestiges of the aging Boomers, and the energy and tech-savvy powers of the Millennials. It makes sense then to compare Boomers whose ideas are time-worn, to Millennials whose ideas are taking root. Instead of a long narrative, Pedestrian Pete thinks the following chart will be more informative.
|Spiritual, altruistic||Religious, church-oriented|
|Generous, outward focused, humble||Self-centered, inward focused, conceited|
|Global, cosmopolitan||Nationalistic, xenophobic|
|Voter apathy||High percentage voter group (Republican)|
|Multi-ethnic, diverse||Segregated, tribal|
|Democratic, equalitarian||Elitist, biased|
|Social networks active||Emails, maybe Facebook|
|Urban oriented||Suburban oriented|
|Walk, bike, take transit||Car-dependent, drives everywhere|
|Collaborators, team players||Tribal, segregated|
|Embrace diversity, connected||Diversity challenged|
|Open-minded, idealistic||Narrow-minded, rigid, cynical|
|Tolerant, tear down fences||Intolerant, build fences and wall|
The Lessons of Three Generations
Boomers, in part because of their wealth, feel like they are “in-charge” and that their more conservative views must be respected. Yet the younger folks say, “look at the world you have created” — wars and international disorder, racial and cultural prejudice, the wealth gap, selfish nativism, poverty, and pollution. Even though they feel that the older folks don’t take them seriously, in part because of their relative youth and their spirit of openness, they are not wavering; they are sticking to their guns. To sum it up:
● Youth will be praised and validated again. Boomers and Xers will have to listen. Millennials, large numbers of Bernie Sanders supporters, will be given major credit for the election of Hilary Clinton.
● The demand for “walkable urbanism” and in-town living and working will increase.
● Boomers will join Millennials, trading home in the suburbs for exciting city life and will flourish.
● Inner-cities will become for compact, diverse, efficient and beautiful.
● Smaller urban housing types, including “live-work” close to work and play, will become the norm, relying on cafes, restaurants and public places as the new “living rooms.”
● Levels of tolerance and acceptance of diversity will rise, as well as more resilient globalism.