Thursday, August 23, 2007

Generation Next

Tucson, Arizona. Early 2007 the Pew Foundation released a detailed 69 page report regarding Generation Next. For those not aware, Generation Next refers to those who grew up with personal computers, the Internet, and the cell phone. Almost 100 percent omnivore, they have a different view of reality, and they are the ones who will save (or not) the planet from the best efforts of those currently seeking to destroy it. The reader can research for further details. I present my take. The report has interesting features.

Gen Nexters are so connected via Facebook and cell phones that peer-to-peer relationships dwarf the influence of elders. They consume alcohol and illegal drugs as much as they choose and engage in casual sex per their own judgment, armed with birth control and the knowledge to prevent STD's.

Racism, gender bias, and intolerance of homosexuality are all but extinct as acceptable conversation, and their global connectedness dissolves the xenophobic outlook leading to far less concern about immigration or the presence of other ethnicities. Even with 911 and terrorism, the young group simply does not have a "keep them out" viewpoint.

Young and generally healthy, they forego health insurance and are not overly uptight about it. As they age this will change.

Regarding political impact, two forces are competing. Generation Next is far more sympathetic to Democrats than Republicans, and to the extent they get involved, it swings blue substantially. The force that detracts from this is that they tend not to be active or vote, which dramatically reduces the actual influence. However, the trend in participation is climbing over the even less involved Generation X. If Democrats tap into this group effectively, the return will dramatically exceed an equal effort exerted by the GOP.

Both religious organizations and the GOP hemorrhage credibility profusely when they bash homosexuality or evolution, promote abstinence and sexual oppression of any kind (denial of morning after pill, RU-486, birth control, abortion), or express animosity towards illegal aliens. Since who is legal and who isn't cannot easily be recognized, while at 46 I can make the distinction, to this young group immigration positions of the "they are criminals" variety occurs as racism against the Latino population. I can promise from personal experience that to Gen Nexters, seeing a peer denied access to a university education (even if they can pay) because "they don't have papers" occurs as barbaric. Their angle, "Let Maria get an education, and she'll be a good worker in the country!"

Advice to Democrats, get out the YOUNG vote, and they are ONLINE.

How many students are at the University of Arizona? They are voting age. How many can register to vote in Arizona? (Hint: a lot.) Education. Immigration. The War. Success in the global economy. Reproductive Freedom. Blue candidates should consider universities that fall in their districts.

They defy the GOP view that government is bad and defy your humble blogger's view that corporations are bad. They are fine with both government and corporations. I need to educate these folks about corporations.

They maintain effective relationships with parents, but with far greater sophistication. Parents get continued affection and relationships for a $$reason$$. Gen Nexters highly value education and expect parents and grandparents to provide substantial help, more so than any prior age group. They want higher education and want help paying for it.

In case the categories are not clear:

Generation Next: 18 to 24 years old
Generation X: 25 to 40 years old
Baby Boomers: 41 to 60 years old
Seniors: Over 60

All face different realities. Seniors and older boomers can retire with both pensions and social security. Younger boomers are seeing pensions eliminated or reduced and the trend points to zero. Generation X can forget a company honoring any pension promise (except for the most elite) and needs to build a 401(k) if they want anything. Some social security may still be around, but checks will start later and be smaller. Gen Nexters know that independent wealth by retirement age is now a requirement, because they can forget about any public assistance whatsoever beyond a poverty level pittance.

A real treatment would disaggregate by SES. The rich are fine. The poor are screwed, but this story holds for the aggregate.

In a somewhat new development, the desire to be famous has grown significantly over prior age groups. Perhaps it's the TV they watch, and they watch a lot, and the Web sites they visit. They seek fame and fortune, but fortune is the highest priority and at an unprecedented level. They enter college for the employment opportunities it will make available. Forget about this character development stuff unless its leads to money. They want the best jobs and select majors increasingly with this objective. They use the Internet to learn about colleges and majors and consider at unprecedented levels the employment prospects associated with their choices. Once employed, they will show their employers the same loyalty their employers provide them:

NONE.

4 Comments:

Anonymous dustin said...

I can understand gen next's fixation with high paying jobs. The problem is that not everyone can be a highly paid executive. I notice that many folks go in for the MBA/Finance type degrees. I think what we are going to see is an explosion in financial jiggering and a decrease in actual innovation, at least here in america.

I'm not a corporation fan myself. Corporatizing tends to take the humanity out of a business. I always wonder why the first move of every company heading into rough waters is to cut labor. wouldn't making a better product acheive the same ends? As for outsourcing, well, as we have seen in the last few weeks, you get what you pay for. My current employer outsources production, and has continuous problems with quality control. Of course, they foolishly neglected to have their own QC personnel on site. The result is wasted time and money not only there, but also here in operations, mostly in the form of wasted labor spent doing the same job multiple times due to equipment failure.

8/23/2007 7:44 AM  
Anonymous the doctor said...

71 % of college students believe that gay couples should have identical legal rights as married couples.

8/23/2007 1:16 PM  
Anonymous The Navigator said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the spiritual shift occurring.

They are distinguishing spirituality from religion.

This would match with the skepticism they have towards those of us who remember changing the channel by turning a knob and improving reception by fiddling with an antenna.

8/23/2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger Eli Blake said...

i would agree that this is a natural constituency for Democrats.

And the longer we stay in Iraq, the more so. As long as we continue to make it clear that Iraq was a war of choice, and was not the war we were plunged into on 9/11 (despite the attempts of people on the other side to blur that difference, most young people who are involved know that.)

Most of them have only known two Presidents-- Clinton and Bush.

They know this: Clinton: jobs, prosperity, a budget surplus, peace and the country was humming along well enough that we had time to worry about the President's sex life (and I'm not sure that they are likely to be as uptight about sex in the White House as some earlier generations.) Bush: economy inconsistent at best, high gas prices, rapidly increasing tuition costs (this looms large to young people), an unpopular war and budget deficits. They also know that his party tried to impeach Clinton over sex.

Which party do you think they would pick if they don't have hang-ups about sex (which most don't)?

8/24/2007 9:43 PM  

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