The Lost Generation refers to Americans who came of an age in the post-World War I climate of instability with a sense of disillusion and resentment towards traditional forms of authority, including God and the government. Although the US has experienced similar economic setbacks and military losses in the past decade, calling our generation “lost” would be a misnomer. Rather than feeling discouraged about our ability to fix society’s problems, we are a resilient, active and an optimistic group of individuals who live in a world of constant innovation. And when we want change, we don’t just ask for it: we demand it.
Young Americans have not become bitter about government; instead we take an active part in enacting social change. Around 22-23 million young Americans (ages 18-29) demonstrated their political engagement and enthusiasm by comprising at least 50% of voter turnout in last year’s presidential election, an increase from 2008 by one percent. During the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011, which sought to criticize how corporations allocated taxpayer bailout money following the economic crash of 2008, Millennials fought for a change in the current state of socio-economic inequality. 64% of Occupy protestors were younger than 34, but out of all the protesters, only 13% were jobless. These figures contradict the assumption that most Millennials are out of work.
And while this generation seems to be delaying the prospect of marriage and the buying of homes, that shift represents a change in social expectations more than tough economic times or an inability to commit to a life plan. Tying ourselves down to a family as early as our parents did is no longer a priority.
Contrary to popular belief, the digital age has fostered a generation more cognizant of the world and its social issues. While some search for images of cats on the Internet, I, along with many others, use technology and social media to follow politics and current events. I first heard of the Violence Against Women Act on Massachusetts Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy’s Facebook page and then later followed the heated debate over the struggle to reauthorize VAWA on Tumblr. Political figures understand that there is an audience of young individuals who are willing to listen and believe that the political process can achieve progress in our communities.
Labels are just labels. Generation X, those born between 1965-1979, were known as slackers, but these same slackers created Amazon, Google and YouTube. So while we currently may be known as “Generation Whine” and “Generation Debt,” I call on you, the reader, to prove the media wrong and decide for yourselves how you really want to mark your place in this world.