Millennials redefine the ‘American Dream’ for themselves

Photo of Michelle Chance writer of this opinion
Michelle Chance

Millennials: The moocher generation. We are stereotyped as being the degenerates who are late to move out of mom’s spare room and find a job.  Studies show that we do not share our parents’ and grandparents’ better financial privileges. Yet, we are still labeled as irresponsible adult-children despite the burdens of astronomical student loan debt, an economic crisis, and struggling employment rates.  Perhaps some of us are late bloomers, or victims of the “American Dream” gone awry. Either way, this does not mean we are all miscreants.  The unique challenges that have shaped the decisions we make regarding our lives have actually given us the opportunity of being one of the most outspoken and decisive generations when it comes to social injustices. We may be facing harder economic times than our parents and grandparents, but it might be giving us a better opportunity to stand up to oppression.

In spite of being typecast as lazy, aloof, and apathetic, Millennials harness modern technological resources, like social media, to create swift moving activism.  For example, the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #handsupdontshoot were online representations of key phrases that were chanted during nationwide protests against the shootings of unarmed black men by police.  Online movements such as these, spread messages from specific communities to the rest of the country faster than traditional forms of protesting, thanks to the Internet. Something that previous generations use, but haven’t harnessed like we have. On top of social media, Millennials also use crowdfunding and other forms of online fundraising to raise money and awareness of certain causes.  So our voices are strong online, and they are growing stronger on the street, but what about inside the ballot box?

According to a report by Pew Research Center, data compiled from the 2012 Census Bureau report showed that the youth vote declined by more than 41 percent, while the “the turnout rates of adults ages 65 and older rose to 71.9 percent in 2012.”  For some reason, Millennials distrust the voting process. However, the numbers do not lie. As long as the older generations show up to fulfill their “civil duty,” their candidate and party will likely always hold positions of power.  Our first move toward independence lay within challenging the statistics of who the voting majority is. Do we really want to be told what to do by people our parents and grandparents vote in?  Millennials may not have the same privileges as our ancestors did. However, we do have the ability to overcome hurdles by speaking up for ourselves and against injustices.  We are not the downfall generation, we are simply redefining the “American Dream.”

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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