The Millennial mindset: A real chance for hope and change

Last week, I planned on writing a pitch that would have revolved around this attitude of cautious optimism we as Millennials should have every reason to embrace.

The first few paragraphs would have discussed our generally higher standards of living compared to our parents’ just a generation ago. Lifespans, after all, are vastly improving in lock step with medical advances that make disease more curable every day. Technological advances once beyond their wildest dreams are now an integral part of our daily lives.

Somewhere in my post, I would have mentioned how, in 1998, my family bought our first Windows PC. Today, two of my three siblings have easier access to cell phones than I did at their age, my parents both have laptops and dial-up internet is a thing of the Stone Age. As if by second nature, we are so connected through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets that revolution, like that of the Arab Spring and Ukraine, can go viral. These tools have toppled governments, redrawn maps and brought easy access to globalization to millions previously cut off.

 

 

I would have wrapped up my thoughts somewhere around this line: Sure, we as a generation face a crossroads right now just like countless others have before. Like our parents and grandparents, we face the possibility of a new Cold War.

While this unexpected turn of events including a global grudge between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin may seem foreboding, it is nothing worse than much more dire threats of a Cold War that could have turned hot and a world war that could have been lost. Prior generations have overcome worse.

In the midst of rising uncertainty, some of us aspire to law school, post-grad programs or maybe even a future out in the work force. We see a bleak jobs market, a devalued dollar and political power bringing out the best and worst in humanity.

While putting this column together, I realized that there’s a lot for which to be hopeful, despite revolution, drought, political instability and personal dramas. We can overcome these problems with grit and elbow grease that we Millennials have at our digitally integrated fingertips.

This phenomenon presents itself a lot like Econ 101: with increased demand for consumer goods, a supply is being met. In an effort to ease economic woes, alternative currencies, like Bitcoin, are largely being adopted as more Millennials ditch the dollar. So too is the Dark Net, Tor and private email networks, as concerns over privacy become all too relevant.

Among our generation, there are as many hopes, dreams and aspirations as there are people to make them happen. No matter what the world throws at us, I see no reason why our personal goals can’t be met even more than they could before. At the end of the day, as the character Gandalf the Grey once reminded the Hobbit Frodo Baggins on screen in Peter Jackson’s epic based on the Tolkien classic, “all we need to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

A classmate of mine from high school lost his battle with a heart condition in his sleep last week. A Virginia Tech undergraduate, he had a whole life ahead of him and only so much limited time to fulfill his life aspirations. There is only so much we can do in life, but also so much we’re too often afraid to try.

Between nations, borders, barbed wire fences or any physical barrier to human advancement, no army can stop an idea whose time has finally come. Now, time is ticking. What will you do with yours?

RIP Kevin “Tinder” McPhillips Tinley.

Gone, But Not Forgotten.

Reach the columnist at jbobay@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter at @JDBobay