The Future For Millennials, It’s Complicated
James F. Cronin
It’s 2020 and, to be honest with you, I’m not all that terribly excited for this next decade. Sure, I’m excited to turn 21 this year, but except for that and finally being able to rent a car at 25, there really isn’t all that much I’m looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great life and I’m grateful for it, but the seemingly infinite number of challenges that Gen Zs and Millennials will inevitably have to face in the coming decades darken any dreams of a bright future. The consequences of climate change, growing income inequality, the commercialization of data, advancements in technologies we might not be ready for, the global trend towards right-wing populism, and the spread of fake news are all things we’ll have to deal with, and new issues present themselves every day. It’s hard to think of a white picket fence with two kids and maybe a boat without at least acknowledging these ticking time bombs.
Deloitte conducts a survey on Gen Zs and Millennials each year on their outlooks for the future and I think it’s worth revisiting their 2019 survey they released back in May as we head into 2020.
One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s survey is that, in just one year, the total percentage of participants who believed that businesses were making a positive impact on the world dropped an entire 6% – from 61% to 55%. This, coupled with the finding that both Gen Zs and Millennials cited income inequality and unemployment as one of the top challenges facing the world today, is indicative of the generally pessimistic view the two groups have towards the economy. Strikingly, 73% of respondents say political leaders are failing to have a positive impact on the world, 2/3rds said the same of spiritual leaders, and perhaps most damning, 45% said they have no trust whatsoever in either groups as sources of reliable information. Despite a general lack of trust in government, both groups still believe it’s the best equipped to deal with the challenges of the future, which says a lot for how much faith Gen Zs and Millennials have in the problem-solving capabilities of unfettered capitalism. From an economic, political, and spiritual point of view, Gen Zs and Millennials are growing more and more disillusioned each year, and this trend shows no signs of stopping.
If you wonder why young people today are such fervent activists and protesters, it’s because we’re scared. It’s because we know that the way we’ve been living is unsustainable, and it seems like nobody but us wants to do anything about that fact. We’re pessimistic about the current track we’re on as a species, but we’re not going to wallow in our sorrow. Sooner or later, but probably sooner, something’s going to give. Let’s just hope we’re not too late.