My 17 year old daughter asks me to review a letter to the local newspaper where she protests she will not be able to vote this go around - even though she is going to be burdened with all problems her generation is inheriting. Her cousin, also 17, when asked what he would like to do next summer goes "Help out in Darfur".
Part of me admires these 17 year olds. I had never been on a plane at that age. I was spectacularly unaware of what was going on even down my neighborhood, let alone around the world. The other part of me wants to ask my daughter - "how exactly will all the texting and time on Facebook solve the problems you are inheriting?" It wants to ask "Instead of Darfur how about getting an honest summer job and helping your mom with the garbage twice a week?"
Generation We. "A new generation is poised to seize the reins of history. It’s a generation unique in history—the Millennial generation. Born between 1978 and 2000, the Millennials currently include 95 million young people up to 30 years of age—the biggest age cohort in U.S. history." says my friend Eric Greenberg in his book on the topic (also available free in PDF format). He also has a site with a blog and a YouTube video filled with resources on the topic.
As a parent, as a technology marketer, as an employer with a young workforce, as a politician you better get to know this generation - fascinating and frustrating as it is . We may find in 2 weeks, understanding the demographic is what helped Obama reach the White House. Or may be not.
"Yet though the Millennials lean Democratic, our research demonstrates that they’re far more wedded to progressive political and social views than to any party. More Millennials in our study described themselves as independents (39 percent) than either Democrats (34 percent) or Republicans (24 percent). And on issue after issue, from the economy to global warming to the war in Iraq, the young people we surveyed favored progressive solutions even as they rejected both “conservative” and “liberal” labels."
On a personal note, it was good to reconnect with Eric. He was the uber-salesman at Gartner who maxed every sales target and kept reaching for higher ones. He then founded Viant and Scient - and made himself and his investors billions in the last bubble. But he took a spiritual turn around 2004, and time in Peru, with Aborigines in Australia and Native tribes in the US and generally looking after his health has morphed his outlook on life.
And it shows in the book.