Let the criticism fly. From being criticized for putting avocados on toast to being held responsible for the death of department stores, Generation Y (commonly referred to as “Millennials”) get their ass ripped open over anything the media can even slightly associate with the behavior of 20-somethings. This is a generation that grew up with a generational silver spoon in their mouth when it comes to matters of self-acceptance and congratulatory rewards for less-than-excellent performance. William Strauss and Neil Howe, two influential American historians and pop sociologists best known for their formulation of the Strauss–Howe generational theory, identify seven popular traits among Millennials: special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving.
Essentially, Millennials like community, especially when that community pats them on the back for simple tasks and shields them from the existential horrors of reality. Because of this, many Millennials have enjoyed lives that are relatively untouched by criticism or chastisement, and one could theorize that this is because the world has invested a lot into this generation.
Millennials hold, or will eventually hold, many positions of socio-political power. Leadership among younger peoples, generally between the ages of 25 and 35, is a growing phenomenon in the business industry, and it has been predicted that a company’s ability to attract, develop, and retain Millennial leaders is one of the most important tenants of a company’s leadership.
Sometime in the last decade or so, everything has become about marketing to Millennials, hiring Millennials, and keeping Millennials from jumping ship. In Corporate America, everything has been about these tech-savvy harbingers of ideological pluralism and community through entitlement.
Now, however, Millennials are currently the operators of the contemporary socio-political world, and the entire Western world has seemingly opted to cater to their whims, albeit not without substantial criticism of their entitled stereotype. A new generation is emerging onto the seen, and this generation – labeled Generation Z – harbors surprisingly conservative values, more so than the previous four generations.
Only 26% of Baby Boomers, or those born closely after the WWII era (approx. 1945-1965), identified as religious when polled. That number saw a slight decrease to 21% when the same question was offered to Generation X, and proceeded to drop to a mere 18% for Millennials. According to a U.S. study in 2016, Dr. Joan Hope discovered that 47% of GenZennials identified as religious churchgoers, and that an additional 31% claimed to be spiritual but not religious. That means that approximately 78% of the young adults being raised in the U.S. are vehemently against the anti-traditionalist sentiment expressed by their generational predecessors.
Generation Z is conservative to a point that has gone unparalleled since the veterans of World War II. This means that a generational conflict is imminent and will involve a titanic struggle for ideological prominence in the American world today. But, will Generation Z, like their parent Generation (the “Baby Boomers”) be widely ignored? Or will their voice be heard and responded to with acceptance and implementation of conservative values?
The result lies in who controls what. Primarily, social and political change occurs through the product of higher education. When liberals possess most academic chairs in universities, the populace receives ideas trickled down from elite liberal academics who educate (or perhaps “indoctrinate” is the proper term) students who will enter into the social sphere with liberal leanings. If the American social landscape is ever to revert to conservatism, then Generation Z must concern itself with winning over the university.
This is not a world away, nor is it an impossible concept. Various anti-leftist, center-right academics have spoken against various leftist ideologies. Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist and cultural critic who has been censored by YouTube in the past, has recently expressed a desire to begin an online university, untouched by Marxism, postmodernism, and collectivist identity politics. Peterson is an attractive figure to young YouTube-users, mostly because of his pragmatism and disaffectedness with political correctness, having strongly opposed Canadian legislature that has mandated the usage of non-binary gender pronouns. Peterson receives over $60,000 per month from voluntary contributions from his fans, which he plans to direct towards the technical side of this educational platform.
In any case, the future of the socio-political world revolves around the reception of Generation Z’s voice. Will they, the conservative generation, be paraded as justified reactionary-revolutionaries? Or will they be swept under the rug like their parent generation, ignored in favor of the cradled Millennials? Time can tell, and only Generation Z can truly affect the outcome.