The only thing that seems to rival the prevalence of conflict in our society is the free flowing assignment of blame. Democrats blame Republicans. Conservatives blame Liberals. Everyone blames Lindsey Graham. But what we fail to realize during all of this partisan finger-pointing is that iGen’ers do not view our societal woes as red or blue. They see our problems in shades of grey (as in the color of your hair, old timer.)
For those of you who are not familiar with the iGeneration, these are the 75 million or so Americans that are currently between the ages of 5 and 22. These young adults are the focus of my work with the George Milton Group’s Teen Think Tank Project, a conflict resolution initiative that works with high-achieving teens to explore social issues, develop critical thinking skills, foster effective research techniques, and implement problem solving strategies for real life issues. During a series of virtual town hall-style presentations last week, Teen Think Tank Project board member Kelly Nagle and I spoke with a number of high school students about some of the issues facing our society today; and it did not take long for me to realize two things: 1) Teens do not feel as if their voices are being heard during conversations with adults about social justice issues; and 2) If you’re old, those issues are your fault.
The former should come as no surprise to anyone. We are not breaking ground here. However, what I do find intriguing is this generation is not taking the slight lying down. They are putting down their smartphones and pointing fingers. Channelling their inner Jack Weinberg, they are placing blame squarely on anyone over 30.
In a survey that I conducted at the conclusion of these presentations, students were asked to assign blame for the major issues we are facing in society. A whopping 70% point blame at their parents and grandparents. That’s you. That’s me. (That’s anyone who is actually looking forward to renewing their driver’s license by mail because you looked a LOT better four years ago.)
Of course, there are a few things to note before we draw any definitive conclusions from this exercise:
- What’s up with the olden days totally escaping blame for the state of our socio-political affairs? Didn’t they invent fossil fuels?
- Poor Millennials. Even teenagers think they are a scourge on society.
- I am not a professional pollster, so this data should be consumed with the requisite reservation.
- This poll has an extremely small sample size; therefore, under no circumstances, should it be mistaken with a scientific poll.
But if you consider that 31% of Americans don’t even believe in science, far be it from me to stand in the way of progress.
Learn more about the George Milton Group’s Teen Think Tank Project and find out how we are empowering today’s teens to address tomorrow’s problems.