10s kids, part 1: Predictions for the younger generation in America’s future

3 Oct

So this isn’t strictly travel related. But I like to ponder this sort of thing. I wonder, in 30 years, what my generation will talk about when it comes to “back then”. So, in a series of three posts, I’m going to give my thoughts on what I think will be remembered as unique to my coming-of-age decade, and why people will miss each of these things. In this first post, I’m going to roll the dice and make some predictions as to what will happen in the future. Here are several trends that i think will occur in the next 20 years. As always, predictions are difficult, and there will be a good chance I will be completely wrong.

Ethnic enclaves won’t be as common in US cities, and new immigrants will assimilate

There are signs that this is occurring. Immigrants, especially ones from Asia, are moving to suburbs more than ever. Rent is becoming higher and higher in city centers, and many suburbs have great public schools. I think that this trend will continue, as immigrants, as a whole, tend to be financially successful and entrepreneurial (despite what Donald Trump wants you to think). The ethnic enclaves of New York City and other dense areas that have formed over the past 30 years will still exist. But it will largely be a tourist novelty, as more and more gentrification occurs in the inner cities.

Young people will live in smaller spaces, but many won’t mind as long as they have their digital technology

The rents in America have skyrocketed for the past 10 years, so more and more of young Americans’ income is being spent on rent. At the same time, many young people are content with less possessions. With an iphone, one has access to a lot more information than people in the past. The once classically American dream of “2 cars and a green lawn” will become “2 digital devices and a downtown condo”.

Access to experiences will become more valued than personal possessions

The experiences of youth are everywhere on social media. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat feature a cocktail of photos, stories, selfies, and albums that capture the youth experience. I think this trend will continue, because there will be less disposable income for items, and so people would rather focus on experiences. One thing I believe is a common misconception is that people post about experiences to brag. As a young person, I believe it’s not about that at all. It’s about distinguishing oneself in a way that doesn’t involve material possessions.

Young people will rediscover the great outdoors

Right now, national parks are visited by mainly older white people. But I think that will change.  It’s less easy to predict, but I do believe it will happen in the next 30 years or so. I think that, as young people are strapped for money which would be spent at hotels, camping and the great outdoors will become a more affordable and viable vacation option in many parts of the US. I also think that people will want an occasional escape from technology.

There will be a backlash against the current system of capitalism, but social democracy won’t come to America anytime soon

Bernie Sanders’ crowds have shown that people aren’t into the current system. I think that in the next few decades, the left will make some major victories in rolling back the neoliberal corporate capitalism that has taken over in the past 30 years. That being said, I don’t think we’ll see a return to 1950s level taxes and unions anytime soon. For one thing, technology will mean that many low wage workers’ jobs will be replaced. There is also a growing libertarian streak in “progressive” youth. Many millennials support Bernie Sanders, but his crowds still are dwarfed by the number of people at sports games. Old fashioned left-wing labor culture won’t make a comeback. Instead, there will be unions for self-employed people and higher skilled workers, and a focus on retraining low-wage workers whose jobs are lost to robots.

Young white males will start a backlash against political correctness

I see it now at college. Speaking from experience, white liberals in my generation were fine when teachers didn’t want to say the word “nigger” while reading aloud a chapter of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But the conversation has now ventured into talk of cultural appropriation, micro-aggressions and trigger warnings. Even if the fears of an attack on of free speech aren’t valid, young white people will revolt against the political correctness culture. Some will take it too far and revert to old-fashioned racism, but many will simply say shocking things as a way to stand up for free speech. I think there will be more events like “everybody draw Muhammad day” simply to stand up for free speech. The “Social Justice Warriors” of Tumblr have become portrayed as representative of the left-wing, feminist, anti racist crowd, and the effects of this backlash will be felt by them first and foremost.

Meeting new friends and dates online will become normal, not the “weird” thing

As people spend more and more time behind screens, it won’t be long before the stigma around online dating fades. Its starting to happen with Tinder hook-ups but it will also happen with meetups arranged online. There’s evidence that more and more young adults in America are struggling to make friends in person, and inevitably, they will want easier access to human connection.

Driverless cars will be a thing

Driverless cars will become part of our everyday lives, and I think it will be much faster than many researchers think. For the first year, many people will fear riding in them, but once the fear vanishes, they will grow in popularity drastically. There will be a few note-worthy accidents that may set things back a little, but ultimately, with the lack of major investment in public transport in America, people will start to use super-affordable driverless taxi services a lot, and be less likely to own their own cars.

There will be an acceptance movement for introverts

No, it won’t be a bunch of entitled Fedora-wearing neckbeards saying “girls don’t choose the nice guys, simply because nice guys are quiet”. But I think that, as technology grows, and more and more people struggle to make connections in person, introverts become content with themselves despite having few friends. People will start campaigns at schools to teach quieter kids to be happy with who they are, and will become angry about the term “loser” still being used to refer to quiet kids in 2025. Yes, quite a few of America’s worst mass-shootings have been done by introverts, but people will eventually start a backlash against the anti-introvert stigma that has bubbled for so long.

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