GLOBAL YOUTH STUDY REVEALS A GENERATION TRANSFORMED
The World’s 20-Somethings Are Marching Toward Change
NEW YORK—Feb. 4, 2010—For the first time in modern history, a generation of young people has been not born, but reborn. The once-labeled Millennial Generation of people now in their 20s were lamented as pampered, unfocused and even solipsistic. But the launch of a historic global leadership summit called One Young World is emerging as a generational hinge: The 20-somethings who were once mocked for their self-focus have revealed themselves as the Real-Time Generation, engaged in the world, armed with the power of social media and narrowcast communications, and defiantly marching toward change.
Although the One Young World Inaugural Summit on Feb. 8-10, 2010, might be the flashpoint of this transformation, the millennials’ emergence as a modern-day iteration of the Great Generation has been developing for years. But only the lead-up to the February summit—which called for the organization of thousands of young people from all the world’s 192 counties, in addition to coordinating assistance from Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus, among other such leaders—has revealed the true extent of the transformation.
In preparation for One Young World, Euro RSCG Worldwide, the global communications firm behind the summit, worked with market research agency YouGovStone to produce one of the most far-reaching and comprehensive studies of global youth opinion ever undertaken. The results uncovered the existence of an astonishing consensus among young people from regions as disparate as Southeast Asia, the Middle East, North America and Australasia.
Two-thirds of the world’s young people agree, according to the One Young World Global Youth Study, that climate change will seriously affect their lives, and 82 percent of them see warming as a threat to future generations. This kind of game-changing consensus among young people extends to the corporate world, which two-thirds of young people think has too much power, and to the role of the media in promoting political freedom.
Leading trendspotter and Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America, President Marian Salzman interprets the stereotype-shattering results as defining facets of a generational personality. Salzman recent explained to PRWeek that the Millennial Generation has in fact emerged as the Un-Millennial Generation, or, in her more positive coinage, the Real-Time Generation.
It’s this conception of a generation that has never known life without the unbounded access of the Internet, and has never been muzzled by the high threshold of traditional media communication, that explains both the unexpected consensus found by the One Young World Global Youth Study as well as the worldwide buzz of initiative drawing young people from around the world to the One Young World summit.
Salzman has isolated 10 trends that mark the Real-Time Generation and provide a user’s manual to understanding the effect they will have—and are already having—on the world:
• The Real-Time Generation has real-time expectations. If information or communication is not happening in real time, it’s not considered relevant or even interesting.
• Life is lived locally by the Real-Time Generation. In a strange twist, the universality of social media lets 20-somethings locally configure their social networks and online information.
• Radical transparency is an assumed part of their lives. Reality TV and the openness of the Internet means that for the Real-Time Generation, if it exists or occurred, it can be found online.
• The world is free, or at least cheap. The Real-Time Generation came up in the age of inexpensive manufacturing and free Web service. To them, rock-bottom prices are simply expected.
• Luxury is the norm. The steep rise in standards of living and the proliferation of what once were considered luxury goods got the Real-Times used to the good life.
• Entertainment is a must. Whether it’s to learn a new language, make a phone call or even pump gas into their car, entertainment is an ever-present reality that Real-Times won’t go without.
• Global concern underpins their lives. Even as they insist on entertainment, they’re ardent about the environment, economic justice, world health and poverty.
• Pro-business, but anti-multinational, the Real-Time Generation sees global business as a potential for positive change but is well aware of its tendency toward excess and abuse.
• Media bias is understood as a constant, and, thus, regulation is required, according to Real-Times, to ensure that the media maintains its independence from government and business.
• Naturally focused on “me,” but aspiring to “we,” the Real-Time Generation learned from boomer parents about the primacy of individuality but still believes that no individual is truly happy while others suffer.