Millennials don’t seem to take comfort in the same things as their elders do. A new study from the Pew Research Center called Millennials in Adulthood finds that far fewer of them identify with a religion or a political party. They’re less likely to be married than previous generations were at the same age. Only half call themselves patriotic, and a scant 1 in 5 thinks that most people can be trusted. Just a handful expect that Social Security will pay in full when they need it.
Is alienation from these most traditional pillars of society getting them down? Not in the least. Millennials are more likely than their elders to believe that the nation’s best days are ahead of it and to trust that they’ll have enough money to lead the lives they want.
Peter Coy at Businessweek wonders why we’re so optimistic when we have nothing to be optimistic about. Good question. Is it, “the timeless confidence of youth”? Our “digital lives” (heh)?
Maybe it is because living without politics, religion, and patriotism just means we are embracing the hilarious meaninglessness of life (life without social security benefits) much earlier than previous generations, and hoping to God (or, not-God) that our lives get a little bit better before they burn out for good. Because when your expectations are already really, really low, can you ever be truly disappointed? Oh yeah, and fewer loveless marriages. Woohooo.