Young people are skeptical, connected and happy

Viacom surveyed 28,600 young people in 30 major countries. 9% trust religious leaders, down from 42% in 2012, when the survey was last carried out. 2% trust politicians, down from 27% in 2012. Yes, 2%, an astonishing 2%.

So that means young people around the world are depressed and cynical? No. 76% describe themselves as happy, down just 1 percentage point from 2012. 32% say they get stressed, up just one percentage point from 2012.

Here’s some quotes from these young people:

  • “Technology doesn’t make me who I am, it lets me be who I am”
  • “I still want to land the job of my dreams, but right now it’s more important to get a job at all”
  • “My age group has the potential to change the world for the better”
  • “It is great to have people from other countries coming to live [in my country]”
  • “Having access to the internet makes me curious and changes the way I think about the world”
  • “We can learn from global trends and ideas to push for improvements and change here in our country”
  • “Sharing and connecting, it isn’t just about Facebook and Twitter – it’s about maintaining a meaningful connection with friends and family”

Trumpism and Brexit are not young people phenomena. They are the delusional dreams and nightmares of old people desperately wanting to get back to some perfect past that never existed.

Young people today have few delusions. They are better educated, better informed and much more connected than their parents were when they were young. Yet, their job opportunities and pay are less. They’re not looking for the dream; they’re looking to keep it real.

“In 2012, people defined happiness in terms of time and money,” the Viacom survey states. “In 2017, their sources of contentment shifted from the material to the experiential. Success today is more about deep connections to others and less about superficial markers like looking good or driving a nice car. The top 5 signs of success now are happiness, being part of a loving family, enjoying your job, finding balance in life, and being around the right people.”

That’s a big shift. Today, it’s the experience with the thing, not the thing itself, that matters most. Brands, are you listening? Governments, are you listening? The captive audience is no longer captive. They just don’t trust the Man or the Brand anymore. Every day there are billions of connections and conversations that you’re not invited to. You don’t control the message anymore.

“The internet is helping people connect more with others, exposing them to new perspectives, and inspiring curiosity and community action,” the Viacom survey states. “There is a pervasive and strengthening sense of unity among people of all ages – most agree that their age group has the potential to change the world for the better.”

Young people are already changing the world for the better, but the Empire of the Man is striking back. There are no guarantees in life but if I were betting, I’d be betting on youth.

The New Normal: Viacom young people study



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