Recently, a certain report has made its way around the Internet. Several websites ate it up, loving the inflammatory content, with headlines such as “Young America’s Dirty Little Secret”. While the report (written primarily by Professor Jean Twenge) itself is long and extremely detailed, it doesn’t take a lot to understand what it’s trying to say: the Millennial Generation does not care about the environment (or community, for that matter). Among the accusations were also that the Millennials were less concerned with problems of today and more focused with money and public image.
There is no constructive criticism, it doesn’t tell us how to do better and it does not improve anything in the slightest. The report is simply blunt, devoid of emotion or hope. In other words, it is professional to a fault. No matter what generation you are, we have a common responsibility to work towards bettering society today. Shouldn’t we, as humans, work together towards a common goal? To aimlessly attack the Millennials over and over again shows not only a lack of support, but a bias with an agenda to smear.
While I have the utmost respect for the professors who have written the report, I can’t help but feel in order to publish their findings, they isolated many findings and ignored many facts.
First, is that they overlooked that the whole Millennial mindset is one of social activism and civic engagement. We saw that with SOPA, we saw that with #KONY2012 (admittedly, while rightfully criticized, the campaign did bring awareness to a lesser-known humanitarian issue), and we’re seeing that right now with the Trayvon Martin case. We resonate with these causes because of our perception of basic human rights and the holistic good found in them, whether by constitutional reasoning or intrinsic values. While I’m not sure what is Twenge’s reasoning behind this, I know for sure Millennial activism within these areas were not driven by monetary or fame-related incentives.
As for her previous claims, I simply can’t believe that Millennials are not concerned with the environment. It is the Millennials you see in the world today that are innovating, searching for more sustainable sources of energy, etc.
A survey done by the Pew Research Group shows that an overwhelming majority of Millennials believe in more government funding for environmentally-friendly projects. And another study by Benson Strategy Group notes that the top three issues that Millennials see as important for their political representatives to address are improved schooling, investing in renewable energy and protecting our environment. With all of this data, it’s safe to say that Twenge’s report seems skewed and at the very least, slightly misleading.
Another blog that noted that Twenge’s study used a flawed survey methodology. One specific statement from that blog that stands out: “[Millennial] behavior is a better indicator of their core values than their attitudes as indicated by a survey questionaire”.
These surveys could honestly say what they like. But what really matters is what we’re doing daily to exemplify what we stand for.
Are you interested in stepping up and preserving the environment? Here are some resources that could help out:
- My co-blogger Kevin Beerman recently started an excellent blog series dedicated to planning and executing your own service project.
- Energy Action Coalition is a great place to start looking for ideas and become acquainted with environmental issues.
- Green Pro Bono is a non-profit legal initiative open to providing legal assistance for Millennial-led projects.
The fact that so many overlook our achievements is disheartening, but not permanent; until they have to admit how much we’ve done, it’s our job to remind them (through our everyday actions) just how much we are capable of.
Nathan Chen is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. He lives in Seattle, Washington and thoroughly enjoys the activism-infused setting he lives in. His personal goal is to, in any way possible, gain recognition for The Millennial Generation while also helping it realize its full potential. In the future he wishes to pursue a career in law or journalism, with an intent to serve others.