Editor’s Note: Kids these days. Say what you will about Generation Next but they are definitely people to pay attention to, as our newest columnist, Chloe Fox, so passionately lays out. Her column, “In With the New,” will examine the things that are important to millennials and why that is important to all of us. At 29, Chloe is smack in the middle of this demographic bulge. She is a new mother, balancing career ambitions with family obligations, and has moved all over the country as a military spouse. No one can speak for an entire generation, but Chloe’s perspectives are rooted in this generational shift and her voice reflects the changing priorities of many of her peers. Chloe is the Editor of HuffPost Hawaii and a member of the Civil Beat Editorial Board. 

When my mother was growing up, Hawaii was not a state, Qatar was not a country and Vietnam was in the grips of a disastrous and bloody civil war.

Now, the intrepid and dutiful woman has spent a Christmas in each of these “foreign lands” in order to visit her three children and six grandchildren, proving that the world today isn’t only flat, it’s surprisingly mutable.

To bridge the generation gap and put this radical change into perspective, imagine opening presents under a Christmas tree in Afghanistan or seeing Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Marianas on the electoral map.

As 75 million millennials (those of us born between 1981 and 1996) enter adulthood, these changes aren’t as far-fetched as you might think. (See John Oliver’s latest on the American territories if you don’t believe me.)

millennials stock photo

Five friends and the requisite selfie.

iStock

The collective American consciousness is changing faster than ever before. We are now a nation that is more familiar with Arabic than we are Russian; more at home in Communist China than we are in houses of worship; and as dependent on Internet access as we are independent of gender roles.

The full implications of this paradigm shift remain to be seen, but in the coming months, this column will explore how a changing American populace affects both America writ-large and Hawaii specifically.

Researchers, journalists and marketing gurus have spent the better part of the past 10 years trying to understand millennials. They’ve done exhaustive examinations of our reliance on technology, our buying habits and even the existential meanings behind our emojis as if we’re lab animals in a grand experiment.

This constant examination, with its broad stereotypes and apocalyptic conclusions, is often excessive and very often superficial. The term “millennial” has been used to label 75 million of us as entitled, needy, lazy, and woefully underprepared to replace those who came before us (because, of course, the baby boomers got so much right).

Writing for New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer, Jaime Fuller noted that “much of the endless commentary about millennials sounds better when repurposed as a voice-over track for a nature documentary.”

Take, for instance, this line from Marketing Daily, “Because favorite brands help them feel connected, influential, and productive, Millennials instinctively covet and protect them.”

These attempts to “figure out” a broad swath of the population feel like the sociological equivalent of parents spelling something out to keep it from their young children — they often forget that we can read.

The oldest millennials are already in their early 30s; we’re getting promoted at work and starting families. We’re starting to realize that it’s a time-honored tradition to resent and bash young people — Don Draper’s disdain for the flower-children of the late 1960s feels remarkably familiar — but it doesn’t do anything to stop or change them. We’re going to take up the mantle with as much force, rigor and determination as any generation before us.

The only difference being, by virtue of our sheer numbers and force, we may surprise some of you.

So here’s a quick primer, with more specific examples and nuances to come:

Overwhelmingly, we’re a generation that values diversity and equality. As a peer wrote in New York magazine, “We had a (politically correct) education — people tried to hide from us as long as possible that not everyone is equal. We were told we all have a fair chance of making it. That’s just not so and we’re starting to realize that.

Hence movements like “We Are The 99%,” #BlackLivesMatter and Equal Pay For Equal Work.

We’re also a generation that doesn’t see issues like climate change, same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization as partisan. When we actually start showing up at the voter-booth en masse — an inevitability considering we’re a more civic-minded generation than most — you can expect to see legislation in favor of those issues pass easily and the political climate shift from long-held social divisions to economic and foreign policy ones (we are the generation, after all, that came of age during the War on Terror and the Great Recession).

While Christmas in Afghanistan is still a ways away, these domestic changes are closer than you may think, which is why it’s time to stop characterizing my generation and start listening to us. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you like millennials or not, if you agree with our values or not.

There’s a generation of over-sharing, screen-addicted, trophy winners coming — we’re coming for your jobs, your houses, your ballot-boxes and your grip on reality.

But first, a selfie:

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