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S1E2 State of love and trust

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In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was trust. Initial reports told us that Millennials were trusting in government institutions and authority. Over time, we have seen that shift as Millennials (and um, the rest of us) were witness to the failures of the banking industry, the federal and local government and other institutions over time. In this episode, Farrah and Adam find some data from the early days that served as the basis for some of these conclusions on trust, but look at them in comparison to other generations surveyed at that same young age to see if the data holds up.

In The Demo, a podcast about how stories of groups are created, subverted and destroyed. On the first season, we pursue the origins of the Millennial Myth. Farrah Bostic is the founder and Head of Research & Strategy of, The Difference Engine, a strategic insights consultancy focused on helping business leaders make decisions. Adam Pierno, author and brand consultant and managing director of brand strategy at Arizona State University. Our host is voiced by Eliza, a robot created by

Music by 0megaMan under the Creative Commons license. Learn more and find research and supporting materials at

Show outline (which is generated by another robot;

0:00Where do these crazy ideas about millennials come from?

3:38 Each cultural observation of each generation is a reaction to the generation before it

8:34What is the current size of the millennial audience?

12:58Looking at the crystal ball in 2000 and 2001

18:03The relationship between the relationship with their parents and the idea of being overachievers

23:08Millennials are more trusting and invested in government

29:11Pew’s longitudinal data on trust in government

34:10The impact of the 2012 election on millennials and how it’s different from previous elections

Episode transcript:

Eliza T Robot 0:02
Welcome to In The Demo, a show about the stories that get told about groups, how those stories got made, what we think those stories get wrong, and why it matters you hosts. Farah Bostic is the founder and head of research and strategy of The Difference Engine, a strategic insights consultancy focused on helping business leaders make decisions. Adam Pierno author and brand consultant and Managing Director of brand strategy at Arizona State University. You are now in the demo.

Farrah Bostic 0:40
Hi, I’m Farrah Bostic. And as of this recording, I’m a Gen X or

A P 0:45
I’m Adam Pierno, also Gen X. Together. We have lots of questions, Farrah, great to see you again. What are we, What have we been debating for the past two months?

Farrah Bostic 0:57
We have been debating what is a millennial? Yes, we have been debating are there millennials? That’s that’s the question is millennial thing.

A P 1:10
What and where did the idea? You asked a question that blew my mind. We started with? Where do these crazy ideas about millennials come from today? Right, like the avocado toast thing that could be rich if they would just stop eating avocado toast and some of the other outlandish bits. And your question was, wait a minute. Why are we talking about today? Why don’t we go back? Where did we even come up with the idea that this group of people was as homogeneous super generation that needed to be talked about in this way in the first place.

Farrah Bostic 1:48
I went right back to 99 2000. And reading early, like trend reports and surveys of this new generation that was being called various things. And then somewhere in the midst of that I got my hands on a book called Millennials rising. And it occurred to me that I must still have this book. And then it occurred to me that it must be in one of my mother’s storage units. And so I bought the book again. And sure enough, yes, that was where I got most of the the original ideas about what Millennials were supposed to be. And that instead of being this like hard to manage, want to sit at the table eating avocado toast, whatever we want to say about them. But now that they had started out as these exemplar children, who trusted their, you know, trusted the government and had good relationships with their parents, and generally were optimistic about their futures and everything was up into the right for millennials.

A P 2:43
I think what we’re going to be exploring together and what we’ve the research we’ve been doing into all that is, partially what are the foundational theories and hypotheses or or outright just claims that were made? Either with data or sometimes with vibes? Yeah, like, this seems good. But also, what are those expectations do? What are those expectations lay on someone and we identified at the top were Gen Xers and I remember being told for five straight years how much of a slacker I was Mm hmm. And thinking like, okay, I can listen, I can slack. Like, if that’s what we’re doing, nobody can slack off like I can, I’m the best. So I always thought if you’re going to do something, be the best at it. And I wonder what impact that has on Millennials from the earliest days. And even now as the headlines continue to just bash them as an entire group of people and lumped them into these categories that I’m sure more than half of don’t fit into something that you’ve pointed out is that each cultural observation of each generation is a reaction to the generation that comes before it. So if Gen X is was observed as the slacker generation, neither you nor I strike me as a as a slacker. Then the next generation would be observed as the opposite of that. Now, right question to me is, where’s the line? Exactly? Why is it a year on January 1 People just Stop slacking and started being this optimistic golden child? Okay. Let’s just say I go with that. I love it. Let’s do it.

Farrah Bostic 4:33
Yeah, none of these lines are clean right like arguably well not according to the the the people who apparently originated the the name Millennials but like my brother born in late 1980, firmly identifies as a millennial. I’m born late 76. And and don’t but like raised in the same household only four years apart. Very different experiences of the world. Like, you know, your that for years makes all the difference in terms of what you experienced about culture and media and, and the economy and everything else. And so you can have millennials and Gen X or children in the same household. And the idea that like, therefore it’s a nice clean divide of generations just doesn’t actually bear out in people’s homes.

A P 5:21
So yes, his experience is different because he had an older sister four years older. So he had when he was a freshman in high school, he had a senior in high school that that shapes his experience of growing up entirely differently, someone born in the exact same day, it may be an event in the same zip code that doesn’t have that same you know, family structure or household or, or total experience. If your parents were together, it’s a different set of circumstances your school could be good or bad, you’re taking the bus to school or walking to school, you know, all these things contribute in a way that can’t be totally factored in. Across a an entire population,

Farrah Bostic 6:01
especially a population we’re saying is about 80 million people like it’s drawing a circle around a 20 year span and 10s of millions of people and saying, Well, they’re like this is pretty, I mean, pretty ballsy. To be honest, like that’s that is definition of hubris, it seems to me, we should

A P 6:22
definitely put a bookmark in the idea of where what are the boundaries? And what is the level of hubris of somebody putting the boundaries around it and saying like, this is the time period. And what is the what are some of the challenges that come with that and really look at that more closely. Let’s get in the Time Machine. Look at what were some of the early prognostications and early characteristics of what was then called, I don’t know, when they became Millennials versus Gen Y was the other was the other name, which again, indicates the reaction to Gen X. Yeah.

Farrah Bostic 7:04
I mean, it seems like it sort of did some battle for a little while, from what I was able to find Gen Y seems to have been coined by Ad Age. And,

A P 7:15
yeah, for their, their research and intellectual rigor.

Farrah Bostic 7:18
And meanwhile, these these guys who wrote Millennials rising, had been using the term Gen X since 87, when these kids are starting kindergarten, and then we’re thinking about Alright, so they’re the they’re the class of 2000. Right? That’s that that’s, I think, kind of where that begins to be the name. Where

A P 7:36
you, you mean, millennials? You said yes. Oh, sorry.

Farrah Bostic 7:39
Yes, I did not mean Gen X. I meant millennials. I’m a, you know, self centered Gen X, or who’s just lacking my way through this podcast. Exactly. And then you get into like, some kind of basic demographics that were happening at the time. So it was, you know, yet another generation of an increasingly diverse generation of youth. And there were a ton of them. So there, there was sort of an idea that in the 70s, into the early well, really the 70s, there was this birth dearth. And that was part of what characterized Gen X, even though there were, in fact, more Gen Xers than there were boomers. And then there were more millennials than there were Gen Xers. But like, there was a sense of a baby boom, that happened in the early 80s. And so we had a lot of them. So we have a lot of them. They’re diverse. They just inherently understand technology, they buy a lot of stuff. And they’re good kids.

A P 8:34
Yeah. And let’s, let’s work backwards from the let’s start where you were you finish that list. So the demographics and the size, the audience sizing, we we’ve discussed, we’ve seen estimates going back to 2000. And, you know, up through what, what do you think the peak of millennials reported? was? Was it 2010 2015 As they were maturing into home buying car buying? Consumers?

Farrah Bostic 9:05
I think that’s probably right. I think there’s kind of a, you know, a historical trendline of once you cross 35, marketers stopped caring about you. And so they stop writing about you that much in the media. So yeah, that’s probably about right. 2015, something like that.

A P 9:19
Yeah. It’s like, once we know that they can be targeted through NFL games, then we have to write about them and we don’t have to have like conferences dedicated to where to

Farrah Bostic 9:30
yes, they’re no longer millennials, their dads and moms. Yeah,

A P 9:34
so shameful. But there were differing lists, but a lot in the 2005 2010 range was still saying this could be more than 100 million people. This is the the name you reference boomers. One of the other names given to Gen Y slash Millennials was echo boomers. Yeah, that’s relevant both in terms of the theoretical scale of the is the generation but also as a response to the values of baby boomers at that time, not when they were the same age because their values were pretty similar. At the same age, but when they when they were parents, some of this was a response, wasn’t it?

Farrah Bostic 10:16
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s right. I think, you know, there’s there are even some good quotes in the in the millennials rising book from some boomer parents, I think there must be teachers that they interviewed, but talking about, it’s not until you have kids of your own, that you realize that it’s probably better to treat kids well than to not, you start looking at how your own parents treated you, which was like, come back in time for dinner. Like that kind of get out of the house, leave me alone, come back in time for dinner. You know, my, my dad had stories of like, when the street lamps turned on in Southern California, that’s when he was supposed to come home. And that was his signal that he was okay to come back to the house. Yeah, otherwise, he was expected to just get lost, like, totally out of here. Yeah, I

A P 10:59
think the rule for us was when you hear your dad whistle, my dad had this incredible whistle, you know, and you could hear him from down the street, or from wherever I was, like, oh, man, I’m just gonna run it home. That was it. Six o’clock that whistle get on a different time.

Farrah Bostic 11:16
Indeed, but that 100

A P 11:17
million person generation did not bear fruit. And it did not turn out to be? Well, depending on what years you include. It obviously would shrink the number of people born during those years. So it changes the size of the audience. It ended up being closer to what’s the number you you put it up 7080.

Farrah Bostic 11:40
So this article from 2002, or the speech from 2002 says 70 plus million, I keep kind of hearing a rough 8081, something like that million. I’m definitely not finding anything that says the current size or the peak size at like 2015 was 100 million for sure.

A P 11:57
I never think it didn’t reach that, I think but in the 2000s. I remember reading. That’s how big it could be. And that was part of the purchasing power.

Farrah Bostic 12:06
Exactly. I think the other part of that idea of how big they were going to get was not actually just like endemic birth rates in the US, it was also increasing immigration. And so there was I think there was an idea that that, that that immigration curve was just going to continue kind of indefinitely, and that people were just going to keep coming to the US. But of course, the the concerns about demographic change and majority minority and immigrants taking jobs, and all of that kind of stuff started to tamp down on how much immigration was happening by the time you get into the late 90s. And certainly, from the Bush administration, in the second Bush administration, on an 911. You know, you have a massive kind of tamp down. So maybe that last 10 million, you know, didn’t make it across the border, essentially, because the winds had shifted from being generally in favor of immigration, that generally against it.

A P 12:58
Yeah, it that’s an interesting piece, the idea of the increasing size of the generation, the cohort, I guess, and then the increasing the growing diversity of that population, which is looking at a crystal ball and thinking okay, before 911 Yes, I understand this prognostication in 9899 2000, you know, even the first six months of 2001. And then again, when Obama is elected, I think, okay, it could reignite, you know, more more optimism among people that would, I would think would come to the US, then the great recession comes and changes the course of a lot of policy and a lot of ability for people to migrate and move around. So it doesn’t, yes, over 22 years, some of that diversity promise has come true, but not to the degree or at the trajectory that was projected in a lot of the millennial writings that were written around this time around 2000. In the early early days.

Farrah Bostic 14:05
Some of that is like the kind of latency of, you know, reporters and columnists. So like by the time they’re looking at a thing, things have may have may have already changed. And so yeah, there was sort of this like, pretty steep increase in population in part due to immigration. And then it was leveling off at the point in time that they were like, looking back going, Oh, look at all those immigrants. And so Oh, look at all these kids. And so suddenly, it’s like, well, if we take what slope of the of the curve looked like, up to yesterday and project it forward, then it’ll be 100 million people. But of course, by that point, things were already tapering. And that’s just that’s just seems to be a thing that the news media in particular falls victim to from time to time even predicting any kind of trend.

A P 14:49
We have the luxury of hindsight and we have the luxury of going back in data and checking the sources and trying to figure out how they got to the argument and we’ll be doing that it’s looking at where did they go wrong? What were they looking at that made them think that or was it totally vacuous? I need to write something. I have a deadline to say something and this guy said something that sounded good. So I’ll write something that sounds similar. Nobody will call me on it. It seems like best intentions were a part of us.

Farrah Bostic 15:19
Yeah. I think that’s right. I think it’s like the the kind of world they were sitting in at the time that it happened, which was like, depending on where you sat, it was largest peacetime postwar economic expansion in American history. And all the rising tide lifting boats, metaphors, and all that sort of thing was going on. And it did just sort of feel, and of history, like all of that stuff was just true now, and we were just going to be global capitalists from here on out with a general default to democracy. And, you know, Pax Americana had long since one, and that’s great.

A P 15:56
McDonald’s and Moscow, like that’s it? So totally,

Farrah Bostic 15:59
yes. It’s one exactly. The Friedman theory of democracy. Really, two countries within McDonald’s will never go to war with each other. But yeah, that that kind of thing was, I think, just in the air. And so why would you think it would suddenly come crashing down? literally and metaphorically,

A P 16:18
there’s also, you know, 2000, for for listeners who are not maybe old enough to know to remember this time was an optimistic time in terms of Boom, yep. And the idea of technology veterans now looking back sounds absurd. Because I was working already in 2000. For right graduated college in 97. I already, you know, had a personal computer for a long time grew up with one. And the idea of being a veteran of it, because I could write some C++. seems ridiculous. But I but it’s what’s interwoven into that is the optimism of, boom, which was what we’re actually living now, where anything that happens in the real world can be translated online. But in the year 99 2000, and early 2001, there was a lot of experimenting and in the stock market made us think it was going to definitely happen, right then took a little time for us to figure it all out. But a narrative about a generation of consumers who understood technology inherently and could leverage it was really exciting and intoxicating idea. Well, and it was

Farrah Bostic 17:27
the idea of the they had computers in the classroom, there was the bridge to the 21st century program that I think was probably proposed under HW Bush, but actually went, you know, became a thing in the Clinton years. And, you know, I went to University of Oregon for my undergrad and started in 94. And so in 94, there were grants to state universities for internet. And so like, I remember in, you know, starting the first week, and part of freshman orientation was going to the computer lab to get your email address. Yes. And like, you know, having, you know, knowing you had to had to check your email for stuff from the school, and, and also having classes that wanted the, you know, the deliverable for the class to be HTML, they wanted a web webpage. And that was a really easy way for me to do the easy part of projects where I’d be like, I’ll take care of the HTML, and they’d be like, must be so hard. So we’ll write the paper and you put in the code, you do the coding. And I will be like, later, I’m done. This is not

A P 18:37
that hard. Drag picture here. Okay. Yes. What about the idea, these two I stitched together, the relationship between the relationship to their parents, which were supposed to be the stable, beneficial, positive relationships with their parents and the idea of being doers and overachievers I link those two together, we can break them apart? No, I

Farrah Bostic 19:03
think they are related in in the, in the way that the kind of story gets told, I think you’ve got these. You’ve got these studies happening around that time of like, you know, and a lot of them are brand research or trend research, or MTV is doing surveys or whatever and Clinique did a survey of moms and daughters, and said that, you know, 90% reported that they’re very happy with our relationship, of course, you know, think about like Clinique and 9899 2000. They’re marketing to fairly upscale middle class and above white women. You know, like, not terribly shocked to find that 90% of them say they’re very happy with their relationship. Also that they would say so is like, you got it. You got a grade that kind of a response on a curve anyway, I would like to.

A P 19:56
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Or you know, when they’re both caring Got a bag full of Clinique products that they just purchased? And the mommy things are going great. Yeah, I’m thrilled. I wanted.

Farrah Bostic 20:08
Exactly. And then things like teen research, unlimited doing some surveys of teens that were like, you know, two thirds of them saying that I really liked doing things with my family and that that was very different from previous years that half of college bound high school students said their parents opinion mattered most to them. Again, not knowing the context in which the question is asked, and not knowing the mindset of the person answering it, my guess is like, well, if you’re a college bound, high school student, your parents opinion is probably playing a pretty major role in which universities you’re even applying to. So yeah, your parents opinion the people who are going to pay for your school, that would matter to you.

A P 20:46
That trend I can tell you firsthand is only increasing, the parents are much more involved. Now I would say for Boomers, Gen Xers it was it was less of a the influence was lower, but still present. But starting with millennials, parents involvement in school selection and more involved in their life for some of the people that we would say are millennials, that’s really true. Yeah. And definitely the people that were interviewed as part of millennials rising, and this article that you found on the characteristics of Gen Y. Yeah, it’s a sample selection.

Farrah Bostic 21:21
A lot of it sample selection is exactly what I was about to say. Like, we had recently looked up the data on the average age of undergraduates. And it’s like, a very large proportion of them 40%, something like that are 25 plus. And so like, what you’re picturing when you think of a college freshman, is a 17 or 18 year old, straight out of high school. And you’re picturing someone, increasingly, I think, who knows, because I think people have been shocked to discover just how many people are going to get the benefit of the federal loan cancellations. And especially for Pell Grant recipients, I think a lot of people underestimated how many college graduates are Pell Grant recipients. And so it’s not all affluent white kids from Fairfax County, Virginia, who are, you know, going to their parents, Alma Mater, and the parents are taking out a home equity line of credit to pay for the tuition because it’s a lower interest rate than then FAFSA. So like, and they can write it off on their taxes and in a more meaningful way than student loans. Like, that’s not the average college student. So the idea of like college bound high school students, you’re already eliminating all these people who are into their 20s before they start college, which so like when you’re thinking about what it is to be college bound, I think that’s always telling. And then like I said, you know, Clinique labs, who are they going to be talking to, you know, those things start to show show their rear ends a little bit more about, about what they’re what they’re sampling for. And even some of the other sources that we saw were like, highly educated Millennials reporting X or, you know, children of highly educated boomers. Well, those also are not the majority of boomers. So that’s, again, we’re self selecting into a smaller and smaller group,

A P 23:08
yes, sub segments, which which, which have to be factored. But for this particular body of work, I don’t know why every study into a sub segment converted into an application across 80 million people. Yes,

Farrah Bostic 23:21
you know, there had been some real kind of investments in technology and infrastructure in higher education, the stock market technology, like everything seemed to be kind of going pretty well, if you were in those groups, if you were living in extremely rural places, living in poverty, living in skin that wasn’t white, then, you know, your mileage may vary. But the that that, I think is part of where you get that general idea, you also have a lot of like, you know, reported quotes from kids of that age talking about how they see government, not just as like a thing to lead them around, but also a thing that’s worth being involved in, you know, it’s a vehicle for change a vehicle for positive change. And so, you know, I will one day also be doing this stuff. And again, that’s probably a sample issue of like, Who are you talking to? And what are they adjacent to, but you do generally get this sense of the authority figures in their lives were generally trusted by this particular subset of this so called generation. And I think that that’s part of why they tend to kind of get paired together and writing about them at this in this period. And I think it’s part of what’s really fascinating about talking about them now, which I know we’ll eventually talk more about, like the way Millennials are described today. And the kind of oh, how the mighty have fallen, that happens really kind of around the 2008 to 2010 period, but at this point in time when the future is all laid out before them. And these are mostly college bound kids being surveyed, you know, what, what’s not to love things things are going great. Everybody seems to be doing a good job,

A P 24:53
especially at that time. Yeah, yeah. So we did have the benefit not only of of hindsight, but we have The benefit of being able to test not just what millennials said them in a different way or look back at the sources, but compare that to what the generation after them said in comparison. So the idea that they are more trusting or more invested in government, or they’re better believers in government authority, or however you want to phrase it fair, you shared the Monitoring the Future survey, which is conducted annually, and we’re able to track down 9999 edition. And then we compare that against 2012, which is the most recent version I can find online. So you’re taking someone 13 years later. Now, depending on where a millennial is defined, I don’t think 2012 would still include millennials. But I don’t know exactly what generation that would include, depending on what who’s trying to sell you something or a conference speaker. But looking at something more than 10 years apart, what I thought was significant. The monitoring, the future survey for people who don’t know runs a in depth study among graduating high school seniors through all areas of life points, and there’s a whole section on civics. So there’s questions that I feel good, I feel that good citizens should go along with whatever the government does, even if they disagree, or I feel good citizens tried to change the government policies they disagree with people who get together and Citizen Action Groups influence the government policy can have a real effect. There’s eight to 10 questions that they asked every year. So that hypothetically, if they had more trust, the 2019 99 respondents would have been off the charts on in agreement with or in the positive for that alignment, comparing those two the 2002 findings, not really a statistically different results. And my belief is who you’re able to reach with this survey, which I’m not sure of what school is its high school seniors, but what schools are you able to get students that will sit down and take this because the sample sizes for most of the questions are 2000, or more, some of some of the sample questions have ends in the over 10 1000s. But where you’re able to reach these students may have a different outlook. And also, myself being a student, at one time, a high school student and a college student, like I just had a totally different outlook than I have today. But looking at millennials, they don’t stand out as more trusting of the government than the generation that came after them. In 2012, where arguably, I would say it should be much lower. If I you know, if I were a high school student coming out of the Great Recession of 2012, it was just turning I don’t think the optimism would have been as high for this group that was told, presented to us as the most optimistic generation and the most trusting didn’t know they’re actually on par with this group from 13 years later.

Farrah Bostic 27:53
What if it’s possible that optimism and youth go together? That

A P 27:57
is a crazy theory. Before life before like beat you down? Like we’ve been beaten down? I can just sit here and be cynical.

Farrah Bostic 28:06
Yeah. And it’s also interesting to me, because I feel like we’ve had this ongoing conversation now about the death of civic education, as well. And I do find myself wondering, like, it’s so funny, because you you survey these high schools to students across time, and they’re all like, reflecting back at the very least what you would think a civics teacher in high school would want kids to believe, right? That this is a system you can influence and you can do good things through it. And like, you can make a difference. And people getting together and organizing, like all those things feel like, straight out of my high school civics classes. Yeah. And so like, in a way, it’s a test of like, how effective are the messages being conveyed by high school civics? Teachers? Yeah.

A P 28:48
Here’s the final exam. And here’s the survey for monitoring the future. Oh, yes. An answer to this. Yeah. Go with the flow. That’s right. Yeah. Right. My vote counts. Great.

Farrah Bostic 28:58
Yes. So I wonder now like when people are saying like, Oh, we need to do a better job of civics education. Do they mean the nuts and bolts of how the system works? Or do they mean like, teach a bit more cynicism? And I just don’t know,

A P 29:09
but I think we’ll have plenty of that. The last bit I wanted to talk to you about was on this idea of trust in institutions and government. You and I looked at this Pew study. Yeah, we have the longitudinal data, data on percentage of people who trust the government in Washington always or most of the time. So Pew is fantastic resource for these longitudinal studies. And what’s incredible is that they add the millennial generation in looks like 2004 is the first year for a generation that we were told had this trust in government, there is a little gap in the trendline. And all this will be shared in the show notes. But over time, to the point of that optimism, optimism fading, you can see it spiking and declining along with every central hill over everybody else’s want to get To 2015, you can see them all sort of collapse into a neat line around goes from a height of, there’s a group of people in the silent generation and Boomer generation that are 50%, who say they always trust the government in 2005, and pretty much all the groups are under 20%. By the time we get to 2019, with millennials, you know, just at maybe 19 and a half percent of people saying they always trust the government.

Farrah Bostic 30:31
I mean, as a fine, like, it’s so interesting now, especially with talk of ending forever wars in that dataset of looking at that October 6 2001, set of numbers that spike, or Gen X 62%. Trust the government in Washington almost most of the time, and Boomers 59%, Silent Generation 51%, obviously, that millennials aren’t being tracked yet. But that like real high level of trust, three weeks after 911 is pretty impressive, given later conversations. And I think the general shape of the chart is this slow decline kind of thing, and sometimes not so slow. But even when you start introducing the millennials, they have these gaps where they’re significantly more trusting in government than the other generations, but the shape of the line is still a downward slope.

A P 31:21
Yes, it’s a sharp decline, because in 65, the people being asked that question, do you always trust the government of Washington is at 80%? You know, it’s above 80%? Yeah. And now we’re at this place where it is under 20% For every generation. So there are spikes, and there are times where there are stand apart attitudes among the generations. And you can see some some blue ocean between millennials and the other generations in the 2007 to 2011, weirdly, then they then they do converge for the most part. And there’s another little break from 2012 to 13. But I don’t think those would be statistically different from 2013. On to you

Farrah Bostic 32:11
know, I wouldn’t expect that. Yeah, it’s there’s so close together there. It’s also interesting going back to that, that Zoomed Out View and seeing like, how the real turning point is Watergate. 72. Yeah, like, all of a sudden, it’s like, maybe not

A P 32:30
the trend for a millennial, the trend really starts and my guess is 2009 2010. When Yeah, the banks are being bailed out. It’s not necessarily it’s probably part of the economy. You know, the general downturn, people are losing homes. That’s awful. So if you’re either if you’re a millennial that the way some people describe that you could have been a college student, or you could have been, like a first time homeowner, yeah, at that point, so you could have lost your home. And then the response of the government the too big to fail time where, where big America is being bailed out and Middle America was being was suffering more. Absolutely. And that’s probably part of what, what dropped us there in 2000 2009 2010. And then it did jump back up 2010. The other interesting thing about this Pew study is they give you the date. It’s not an annual omnibus, that’s an open survey that people go and go at any given time it is day and date. So for example, 1991, it’s October 20 1991, was the date that was fielded in in 2000. It’s October 15. And 2001. It’s October 6, to your point earlier, it’s not you and I guessing general themes and moods, you could go back to that date and say what were the headlines they were reading, leading up to this. So the work we did to look back and try to figure this out. And essentially, when you get to 2015, everybody is saying you can’t trust the government on both sides. And you can’t trust the media. And you can’t trust anything except what I tell you. But maybe even don’t trust me, sometimes. Wow, look at this trust starts falling. And that’s true for millennials and all generations.

Farrah Bostic 34:10
Yeah. And it’s funny because, you know, you had made a note in here about, you know, the 2012 election and it seeming, you know, quaint, you know, to two statesmen campaigning respectfully, and yet you have pundits saying, Well, if I had to pinpoint a moment, it’s when Mitt Romney spent his entire campaign being accused of killing Big Bird. I actually, like, take the point that That’s absurd. That like prior to that other candidates had been accused of far worse. So fair enough. Let me 2012 Different was Twitter, like these things got memes in a previous era binders full of women wouldn’t have even been a gaffe. Right but it got seized upon in the Twittersphere. And then that went nuts. You just didn’t have that like extremely online is a lot of people kind of experience in previous elections. And so by the time you get To 2015, and major candidates on both sides of the spectrum are saying the system is rigged and corrupt, and you’ve got to drain the swamp and all of that stuff. Yeah. People are not feeling quite so upbeat about government. And yeah, and you

A P 35:14
do you see a, an increase, especially among millennials in, you know, that 20, coming from 2012 to 2013. And you made the excellent point, that it wasn’t just Trump, that was, you know, in that 2016 When they are, you know, leading up to that election. It was Bernie on the other side, saying, like, hey, they don’t want they don’t want me in there. And let me tell you why. And it was a different tight, it was almost more subversive. Bernie had people’s attention in a way that was like, Oh, yeah. Was it more insidious the way he was? That message was more damaging in some way to a certain segment of voters? Yeah, certain segment of the population who are like, Yeah, I don’t trust this either. Now, it’s like, well, right, that we’re probably in that monitoring, the future study had been previously like, I trust the government, I will vote my vote matters. I go along with what the government says. And then they’re like, wait a minute,

Farrah Bostic 36:07
you know, the other day, I was referred to an episode of a Jacobin magazine podcast, where they were interviewing a guy from Chapo trap house, not my usual contents. But I was listening to it going, Wow, I mean, just the way this guy who’s probably in all other respects, very similarly situated to me got pilled so hard about how bad capitalism is and what a democracy is, is just shocking. And, and it’s not that he doesn’t have a good like, you know, the, the socialist or Marxist critique of capitalism is a legitimate critique, it’s worth discussing, clearly was this whiplash for a generation of people who really felt like no, it was possible to change the system with from within that that was better than trying to challenge it from without the good citizens, you know, vote and do what they’re supposed to do. All of this is good stuff. And, and then kind of getting, you know, feeling like Bernie helped the scales fall from their eyes. And now they see it for what it really is, which is a rigged system that will never let this this guy be present. Yeah,

A P 37:12
we’d all burning he’s not he wouldn’t steer you wrong. You kidding me?

Farrah Bostic 37:16
He’s, he’s somebody it’s really nice at why why would you ever want to ever distrust this man?

A P 37:22
So in future episodes, we are going to continue trying to figure out who are some of those leading voices. We’re going to examine some of the ways those original proclamations have been transformed over 20 years into the wild headlines that people have been sharing with us about millennials today and how accurate those are. Yeah, I

Farrah Bostic 37:47
mean, if you thought it was bad that Mitt Romney killed Big Bird, wait till you find out what Millennials have killed?

A P 37:53
Essentially everything.

Farrah Bostic 37:56
Where do these ideas come from? And what about them is true? And what about them needs more context? And what about them is like that’s a big leap. Why’d you take that one? And I think hunting for clues about what drives the the leaps of imagination that a pundit class takes when they start talking about groups of 80 million people at a time you said it much better than I do.

Eliza T Robot 38:17
On the next episode of In the demo, Farrah and Adam go back in time to unravel the change in tone around media’s millennial narrative and begin seeking the text of America’s millennial myth. I’m your robot host, Eliza, please be kind. In The Demo is produced by Farah Bostic, and Adam Pierno with support from The Difference Engine music by Omega Man under the Creative Commons license. Go to in the demo podcast dot com for behind the scenes research and supporting information.

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