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Millennials are Practical Idealists says author David Burstein

When he was only 24-years-old, Millennial David Burstein wrote Fast Future about Americans born from 1980 to 1994, having spent six years interviewing hundreds of his peers. He got started in activism as a filmmaker of Generation18 that was used to encourage young voters to register in 2008. He concluded that Millennials are practical idealists and activists. Unlike the Boomers, they’re not ideologues, revolutionaries, or anti-authority. He traces his generation’s patient pragmatism to realism learned from growing up in an era when rapid change is the only constant, when institutions and authority are collapsing and disaster follows disaster—environmental and social. Enabled by their use of technology and free social media (over half of them add online content every week) they’ve already made significant change. “We’ve toppled dictators, helped elect a president, created social networks that have connected the world, forced businesses to adopt a social agenda broader than profit—and all before most of us have turned thirty.”[i]

Burstein believes Millenials have a “passion for making a difference” as by building large online activist organizations such as Facebook’s Causes as the larges online activist platform with over 100 million users, Mobilize.org, Ourtime.org, and DoSomething.org. The latter claims to be the largest US nonprofit for young people and social change with 1,425,974 million members who “kick ass on causes they care about” such as bullying or homelessness. Millennials use technology for relief work such as raising money for Haiti through texting and cell phone donations. (He adds that they also bought more books than other generation in 2011.)

Most Millennials (88% according to a Pew survey) believe they should and can change the world. Because of high youth unemployment, they’ve become social entrepreneurs who create their own jobs with a social conscience: Burstein reports almost a third of all US entrepreneurs are Millennials. As effective changemakers, they’ve generated “cultural shifts” in the workplace with less hierarchy, more access to executives, dialogue with customers, insistence on a social responsibility policy, and a more enjoyable work environment.

Wanting to hear from a Millennial about these charges of apathy, narcissism, anxiety and depression, I talked with David Burstein, author of Fast Future. He agrees alarmists have a loud voice and books like The Dumbest Generation become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He notes you can conduct research to tell you what you want. He pointed out that narcissism is not unique to this generation and Boomers in the 60s were known for “free love” and sexual liberation. Popular culture today is about self-confidence and self-branding, a culture of self-empowerment, which has resulted in young people becoming leaders in the present, not just future leaders as they get older. Every generation has partyiers, it doesn’t matter if there are more of them, what counts is the ability of an individual to influence many others. What does it matter if they’re doing activism and drinking?

If you look at all the studies of Millennials, far more are socially engaged. If you scan all the analysis of what they want in employer relationships, business, and politics, the picture is pretty clear. Social-mindedness has a bigger footprint and individuals have more impact through access to theirs peers. The people Burstein went to high school with can read about Fast Future and are aware of what he’s doing and his issues. He gets messages on Facebook even from students he knew in middle school that are inspired by his activism. Burnstein says people become ambassadors and carry their message forward. The fact that Millennials have introduced change before they turned 30, suggests their long-term impact on social awareness. Also, many volunteer and give money to charities, which suggests they’ll continue with their giving habits.

About mental illness, Burstein asks where do we draw the line between mental illness and stress in an era of increasing stress? Stress is not necessarily a bad thing, only if it is managed poorly. If you look at a Harris poll conducted for The American Psychological Association study of generations, Millennials are more stressed than older generations, with an average of 5.4 self-report on a stress scale from 1 to 10, compared to 4.9 for older respondents to the poll.[i] Their main sources of stress are work (76%), money (73%) and relationships (59%). They are more likely to be told by a health care provider that they have depression (14%) or an anxiety disorder 12%). Burstein says Millennials have to figure out how to find a job and make money, and be happy, but we have the ability to adapt. Why are so many optimistic about the long term? We’re trying to make something out this time in our 20s, not just getting married, but having new experiences.

I also asked David Burstein about the difference between Generations Y and Z. He thinks the big difference is his generation experienced both pre-digital and digital technology: The guiding principle for Millennials is they straddled the line. They know what it’s like to do a research project in the library but intuitively used Twitter and other social media to create political change like the Arab Spring. In contrast, Gen Z knows nothing but digital technology, as illustrated in a popular YouTube video showing a one-year-old girl trying to make a magazine cover move like an iPad.[i] Gen Z could know far more growing up with educational games on their iPhone, but Burstein questions if this familiarity with technology and instant culture will allow them to navigate the world better. “If you’re not grounded in real world experiences, it’s harder to see the problems; they have more instant culture without first being grounded in the pre-internet and pre Facebook world.” Whereas Millennials are often entrepreneurs due to coming of age in a recession, “my feeling is Gen Z will be less entrepreneurial. Also, the biggest impact is coming to technology fully formed rather than helping to shape it.” Their parents are Gen X, characterized as being rather apathetic, not as focused on parenting as Baby Boomers who raised Millennials. He thinks Gen X parents are so comfortable with social media they aren’t as protective about privacy online, and setting up ground rules, while Millennial parents are still figuring it out.

[i] Sharon Jayson, “Who’s Feeling Stressed: Young Adults, New Survey Shows,” USA Today, February 7, 2013.


[i] David Burstein. Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World. Beacon Press, 2013, p. xviii.

All woman’s village in Kenya where they escape beatings, marriages of girls to much older men, and genital cutting

An African feminist provides an example of courageous leadership as a founder and the chief of the Umoja (unity) village for abused women in Kenya.[i] Rebecca Lolosoli is interviewed in the documentary Half the Sky (2012) where the filmmakers are greeted by women singing the vagina song, and is seen on YouTube and in a French documentary about the village. She states, “We don’t want to be cut any more. We want to be equal. We’re not the women they used to know.” No men are allowed to live in this matriarchal village because even one man would try to take control, but sons are welcome. Lolosoli was in her 20s when she left her husband to save her life, founding the village in 1990 with 14 other women of her Samburu tribe. Many of them had been raped and were therefore considered outcasts who should be beaten daily. Later they were joined by other women escaping domestic violence, young girls escaping from impending marriage to a much older man, and mothers who didn’t want their daughters to suffer genital cutting.

They make money with their bead necklaces (available online) and a campsite and cultural center for tourists, enraging men in the nearest town who have beaten the women with clubs and tried to steal their cattle and copy their money-making schemes. A chief from a nearby village called Lolosli a troublemaker, who questions cultural beliefs that “the man is the head.” She reported that the men “see us laughing, and they don’t want us to laugh. They say we are too proud because we have money, because we always walk proudly in the road, but I say, what is wrong with that?” With the money, they started a primary school for the village children but don’t have electricity. (The Half the Sky DVD interviews a shopkeeper who says men buy sodas and women buy milk for their children.)

[i] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1azZgR3ujo

http://www.umojawomen.org/ The village website includes links to articles in the Western press.

http://parlourmagazine.com/2012/04/in-kenya-the-umoja-village-is-for-women-only/ This link includes a 2012 video interview with a village resident named Rose who came to the village because her husband beat her and their children. She says they want to build a high school.

Foolish young college graduates in the US TV series “Girls” and the Indian movie “Dil Chahta Hai”

A debate among scholars is raging in the US about whether young people are narcissistic or altruistic (more in Chapter 7). An HBO series about four young women several years out of college, inspired by Sex in the City (1998 to 2004), Girls (began in 2012) strengthens the narcissistic side of the debate, a devolution away from the confidence and humor of the older friends in the earlier female friends show. (Another spin off of Sex in the City by the same writer, was a prequel launched in 2012 called The Carrie Diaries about the fashionable star as a high school student in the early 1980s.) The creator and writer of Girls and lead actor, Lena Dunham, stated in an NPR radio interview, “each character is a piece of me or someone close to me.”[i] During the interview Dunham described  , the character she plays, as a brat who usually makes the wrong decisions; Hannah bombs a job interview by making a joke that the rape rate went up after the interviewer entered his university and drinks opium tea and later passes out while trying to convince her parents to continue supporting her two years after graduation. In the second season, she put the garbage of the coffee shop were she worked in neighbor’s trash bins instead of getting another copy of the key she lost to the shop’s trash recepticle.

Hannah and three co-coworkers agree to allow their boss to touch them inappropriately because he provides good benefits, certainly not a feminist stance. She quits her job when her married boss declines her impulsive offer to have sex because he seems to want it. Unlike the Sex in the City women of a previous generation, we don’t see sex associated with passion or humor. It’s true that Carrie Bradshaw and her three friends were in their 30s, but they had self-esteem, had goals and achieved them professionally and personally. Norton comments the “pathetic girls aren’t funny because these Girls have lost themselves — lost their power. They have no self-esteem. They don’t even aspire to self-esteem. That goes from awkward to just — yuck.” Hannah tells her boyfriend Adam she’s is scared all the time and he says, “Join the club.”

Millennial Anna Willoughby commented on the NPR webpage; “The characters just seem selfish and everything I resent about people my age (and not just white people, btw, like some have said [the four main female characters and their lovers were all white so the second season added Hannah’s brief affair with a black man]. Just entitled, self-absorbed, and childish. I don’t like any of the characters on this show.” Blogger Abra Deering Nortion comments, “There are different kinds of hipsters but this show represents the worst kind: Entitled and lazy East Coast hipsters who actually come across like they’re stupid. They make mistakes and bad decisions and it’s not okay. Why? Because they should know better.”[ii]

It’s not just Hannah who makes stupid choices, as when Jessa was fired from her job as a nanny for inappropriate behavior with the father of the household and marries a jerk she recently met and initially detested. She ended up leaving him in the second season after a fight over her first meeting with his parents where she revealed she dropped out of college to go to rehab for her heroin addiction. Shoshonna’s main goal seems to be to loose her virginity but without enjoyment or intimacy, finally finding a grumpy homeless boyfriend, and Marnie dumped her boyfriend because he was too nice.

A TV critic, David Wiegand believes the show is “representative of the detachment of many young men and women of Hannah’s generation who . . . express passion and excitement through emoticons and tweets.”[iii] A writer for the TV show, Deborah Schoeneman calls the characters and real young women like them,  “Women-children.”[iv] But, she sees them not racing to the altar as positive, “It’s about women celebrating femininity and community.” Dunham explained in an NPR interview that Hannah is not a “boogie” (bourgeois) woman, not like the “chick lit” young women who are in search of a diamond ring, husband, and a great house. Some people therefore have called the series feminist, perhaps because the four girls’ loyalties seem to be to their women friends while their sexual relations with men are often unsatisfying, uncomfortable and without depth, or “awkward,” as Dunham said.

The only time I saw female sexual passion in the series was when Marnie masturbates after an encounter with a rude guy. Marnie tells a friend who wants to lose her virginity that “sex is overrated.” Hannah does ask her lover Adam to be monogamous, a response to him sending her a text photo of his genitals, followed by a text telling her the photo was intended for someone else (she responded with a text photo of her breasts). When Adam asks about Hannah’s one-time sexual encounter with a guy she meets in a visit to her parents in Michigan, she is more enthused about the size of his apartment. Adam relies on monthly rent payments from his grandmother and part-time jobs.

A similar focus on foolish buddies who have recently graduated from college (however the actors are in their 30s and 40s), a popular Indian film called Dil Chahta Hai (2001) tells the story of their relationships with each other and with the women in their life. Twelve years later, some SpeakOut students mentioned having a Chata Hai attitude, meaning too carefree and irresponsible. The three friends each live with their wealthy parents in Mumbai and are respectful to elders. The most sensitive of the guys, painter Siddharth falls in love with Tara, an older divorced alcoholic woman, although there is no way they can in any way show their love. She tells him, “The trouble with your generation is they think anything is possible.” In the usual Bollywood style the friends dance with lots of hip trusts and sing: “We are unaware of fear” and “Our paths are full of glory” as they reach for the stars. In a more realistic vein, the lyrics note, “Everyone seems to be lost,” and “We’re a little crazy.” Also typical, we don’t see any physical contact between men and women, but the guys hug each other. Akash limits his romances to two weeks because he doesn’t believe in love—until he falls in love but risked losing her to another man because of his reluctance to acknowledge love. Sameer is foolishly romantic, often falling in love as with a Western girl who robs him while the guys are on vacation in Goa. He falls in love with a girl his parents introduce him to for an arranged marriage after initially agreeing they wanted a love marriage. After Tara dies of liver failure, Sid meets a woman at a Goal reunion two years later and all three guys are shown eating together with their girlfriends, presumably ready to begin responsible adult life.

The US and Indian characters illustrate Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett’s description of a new emerging life stage in between adolescence and adulthood, as when Dunham said about her characters, “There’s no such thing as age appropriate behavior.” When Jenna got married, Hannah asked her, “Do you feel like a real adult now?” Like the character she plays, Dunham is dependent on her parents—living with them half the time. Another character, Ray, observed, “It’s not adult life if your parents still pay for your Blackberry.” Arnett defined “emerging adulthood” occurring as young adults in developed countries spend more years in education and thus wait longer to enter careers and marriage.[v] He points out that in Western Europe the average age of marriage is nearly 30, which is about the time they feel they’ve arrived at adulthood and financial independence, similar to other industrial nations. Arnett believes having this period of freedom for young adults is a positive achievement by industrialized countries. Arnett warns that “youth bashing” has become too common, ignoring youth accomplishments.[vi] He calls Millennials the empathic generation.

[ii] Abra Deerin Norton, “HBO Girls: Hipsterism Gone Awry,” May 8, 2012.


[iii] David Wiegand, “HBO’s Game-Changer Sitcom Funny, Smart,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 12, 2012. http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx

[iv] Deborah Schoeneman. Woman-Child. Amazon Kindle Singles, 2012.

[v] Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, “The Long and Leisurely Route: Coming of Age in Europe Today,” Current History, 2007. http://www.jeffreyarnett.com/articles/Arnett_2007_CurrHist.pdf


What Are Global Youth Thinking?


Greetings. Thank you for being part of my global youth book. If you would like to critique a draft, I’ll be happy to email chapters. The Table of Contents is below.

I’m still adding survey responses in case you know youth who would like to be heard in the book. The questions are also below.

I invite you to add your thoughts and photos to our Facebook page called “Global Youth SpeakOut.” Some interviews with students around the world are on YouTube under “TheGlobalyouth.”

Finally, from talking with so many students globally I realized they need a book about how to cope with test anxiety and stress. I have a draft of that book and invite you to add your advice and experiences. Thank you! I look forward to hearing your latest news. Gayle Kimball, Ph.D.



Awesome: How Global Youth Will Transform Our Future

Over 3,800 young people from 72 countries SpeakOut! Future leaders reveal trends in youth culture and identify crucial global issues to reveal future directions.

Table of Contents

 Part 1 Getting to Know the New Generation
Chapter 1 Global Youth Power and Issues

Youth Power; Get to Know Eva, Abel, Sahar and Yuan; International Youth Issues: Urban vs. Rural; The Gap Between Rich and Poor

Chapter 2: The Millennial Generation and their Elders

            Teenaging of Culture vs. War on Kids, Youth Generation Characteristics, What Youths Think About Adults

Chapter 3  Consumerism vs. Caring for Others

Media and Common Language, Teen Style, Multinational Corporate Consumerism


Part 2 Youth Activism
Chapter 4: Youth Activism for Equality

 Activist Youths vs. Apathy, History of Youth Movements, The 2011 Arab Spring, European Summer, US Fall and Russian Winter Youth Demonstrations 2012 Protests, The Occupy Movements, Change Making Tools: Electronic Networking

Chapter 5 How to Create a Revolution in 18 Days

The Groundwork, After Mubarak Stepped Down, My Interviews with Demonstrators in Tahrir Square, Women’s Role in the Revolution
Chapter 6  Gender Equality

Current Status of Gender Equality, Life For a Traditional Village Teen, Women in Government, Global Feminist Activism, Fourth Wave Feminism
Part 3 Youth Values and Beliefs
Chapter 7 Traditional vs. Modern Values

            Life Purpose, Values, Rural vs. Urban, Respect for Elders, Consumerism


Chapter 8  Beliefs about Religion and Spirituality

             Suffering, Religious Purpose, Beliefs About God, Participation in Organized Religion, Spirituality

Greetings from California. I’m writing a book that gives you and other young people around the world an opportunity to say what’s on your mind. This is your chance to be heard. Many of you have wonderful suggestions for how to make our world a better to live in, so I’m asking people age 19 and under to respond to 12 questions.  I have a draft of the book if you would like to critique it.

See www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Global-Youth-SpeakOut/160382763986923 for photos.

Please also forward to kids and their teachers so they can be part of the global youth book.

Thanks, Gayle Kimball, Ph.D. gkimball@csuchico.edu


1. If you could ask a question of the wisest person in the world,

what would you ask her or him about life?

2. What bothers you in your daily life?  What practice best helps you stay calm?

3. If there was one thing you could change about adults, what

would it be?

4. What would you like to change about yourself?

5. What do you like to do for fun?

6. When have you felt most loved by someone else?

7. Why do you think you’re here on earth; what’s your purpose? How are you influenced by global media (TV, Internet, advertisements, etc?)

8. On a scale of 1 to 100, how highly would you grade your

school? Why?

9.  What work would you like to do when you’re an adult?

10. If you were the leader of your country, what changes would you make?

11. How is your generation different from your parents’ age group?

12. Imagine you get to write on a T-shirt going on a trip around the world. What do you want your T-mail to say to people?


What questions are missing that you’d like to answer? Your email. . . . . . .

What first name would you like used in the book to quote you?

How old are you?

Girl or boy?

What city and country do you live in?

Gracias! Merci! Danke! Arrigato! Chi chi!


> > > > >Previous Books:

> > > > > Essential Energy Tools book and 3 videos.

> > > > > 21st Century Families: Blueprints for Family-Friendly Workplaces,

Schools and Governments. (Equality Press)

> > > > > How to Create Your Ideal Workplace (Equality Press)

> > > > > The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide (Equality Press)

> > > > > 50/50 Parenting (Lexington Books)

> > > > > 50/50 Marriage (Beacon Press)

> > > > > ed. Everything You Need to Know to Succeed After College (Equality


> > > > > How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce (Equality Press)

> > > > > ed. Women’s Culture (Scarecrow Press)

  • > > > > Ed. Women’s Culture Revisited. (Scarecrow Press, 2005)



How to Deal with Test Anxiety and Stress

I have a lot of experience studying and test taking for my bachelor’s degree, teaching credential, two Masters Degrees, and Ph.D. I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you. Traveling around the world, talking with young people for my book Awesome: How Global Youth Will Transform Our Future I heard how much time and sometimes worry and anxiety goes into studying for the university entrance exam. I wanted to add the advice and experience of young people from various countries, high school and university students, to discover how they excel. We started a Facebook page called Test Success: How to Cope with Stress and Anxiety where we invite you to add your comments and suggestions. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Test-Success-How-to-Cope-with-Stress-and-Anxiety/185582088232378?skip_nax_wizard=true


To take tests well, when studying for a test, quiz yourself on questions you think might be on the test. Find out as much as you can about the form of the examination. Will it be essay or multiple choice?

Study with small groups and take turns quizzing each other, as the best way to learn is to teach. Negative self-talk is an enemy, so post positive messages around your workspace, on your mirror and refrigerator, such as “I am capable of deep concentration to remember what I read. I’m calm and focused when I take a test.” Set realistic goals ad reward yourself for achieving them, as we respond to rewards and praise. You might ask your parents to add to your rewards when you achieve a goal. Give yourself and others more praise than criticism. Look for the positive lessons in a challenging problem. If you didn’t do well, think about what you learned from the experience rather than beating yourself up.

Start with a deep breath from the lower stomach area. Quickly imagine the most calm and perfect place for you, such as a beach, a lake, a mountaintop, or a sand dune. Look at the teacher for a moment to focus and then get started. Read the instructions carefully. Tilt the paper so your head is not bending over in a tired position. Go through the questions and do the easy ones first. When in doubt, go with your first response. Then go back to the question you’re not sure about. If you have time, check over the answers several times before handing in the test.

To improve your test-taking results, be over prepared and avoid cramming. Try to predict test questions as you study and write down answers on study cards. Breathe, relaxing your muscles as you exhale all your air, gently expanding your belly as you breathe in air. Do this at least three times. Always reading the directions completely, nothing point values so you can plan your time. Don’t leave any answers blank, even if you have to guess, unless there is a penalty for wrong answers. In true and false tests, inclusive words like “all” and “always” often flag a “false” statement. There are usually more true than false questions on a test. Longer questions are likely to be correct. Read multiple choice statements noting whether each is a “T” or an “F” so that you can respond to an “all of the above” choice (these are likely to be true).

During the test, if you feel anxious, take deep breaths, visualize getting your test back with an “A,” imagine an invisible wise person helping you, or use positive self-talk. Tense and relax your feet, ankles, calves, and other muscles.

Also see interviews with teens globally. http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGlobalyouth


How to Talk to Your Teenager About Sex


Talk about your sex ed process as a teen and what you wish you’d known or talk about a case study that illustrates the point you want to make such as condoms don’t prevent contacting herpes sores on exposed parts of the body. Make a book available such as my The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide based on teen’s experiences with a chapter on sexuality. Do the talk now before it gets charged by a romance. These approaches keep the focus off your teen. Ask if she or he has any questions and offer to exchange questions and answers in writing if it’s embarrassing to talk in person. I made a point of explaining to my son about how a clitoris is analogous to a penis and should not be ignored when my son started asking questions. He told his friends. Rutgers University has a sex ed website written by teens for teens. http://sexetc.org/

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