The Most Powerful Generation

TextingRain 300Some years ago a college student told me that today’s students are much less powerful than the students of the 1960’s and ’70’s.  They just don’t have the clout that young people did 30, 40 years ago.

I was stunned.  Today’s students are the most powerful generation, in the history of the world.

In a previous post I talked about working with WikiPedia.  When our organization first contacted them, they were the #19 website in the world.  As I noted, Wikipedia was working with fewer paid employees than a fast food outlet, their internal administration was in turmoil, they were struggling for funds, and yet they were competing with and surpassing massively-funded corporate websites such as Amazon, CNN, Google, Microsoft, and AOL.

Today they are the #7 website in the world.  This is a demonstration of the strength of collaboration and openness.  This is an example of the powerful tools available to young people today.

Look at Youtube, WordPress, eBay, facebook, Twitter, Linux & the OpenSource movement.  Using freely available software, and new technologies – Internet, eMail, texting, tweeting, ListServes, message boards, social networking, blogs, eZines, podcasts, live audio/video streaming, RSS, cell phones, cell phone cameras, cell phone video cameras – the public, overwhelmingly students and young adults, have created trillions of dollars in profit for individuals and corporations.

Alexander, Caesar, Kublai Khan, the Bourbon Kings, the Czars of Russia:  none of them had a small fraction of the power that students have today, at their fingertips.  Nor did the protestors two generations back.

So what could students accomplish if they decided to change our country and our world?  What social, political, economic, and educational revolutions & evolutions could they produce?

It is said that you can’t fight City Hall.  It is actually quite easy to fight City Hall, if you know what you’re doing.  It’s the media you can’t fight.  The media control the message, so they are unbeatable.

Unless you are also media.  Then you can fight the media, head-on.

And today, young people represent media vastly larger and more powerful than CNN, Fox, BBC, and Reuters put together.  In fact, today’s young people have created new media that radically change the very concept of media and which eclipse – and even obviate – traditional broadcast and print media.

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Think about it.  Previously, media was a bit of a misnomer, because it referred not only to the medium, but to the content as well.  Today?  The most powerful medium is telecom:  Internet, phones and computers.

And increasingly, the content is controlled by the public.  Web 2.0 blew up and blew apart the medium and the message.  More and more, corporations only control the medium.  And the message?

That is controlled by people.  Overwhelmingly by young people.  Students and young adults are starting to control the message, and there is nothing the press, the pundits, or the powerbrokers can do about it.

This is rapidly emerging in the Bernie Sanders candidacy.  As the media shills for their preferred parties, ideologies and candidates, an old fogey – the anti-photogenic Sanders, with his felonious hair and his socialist outrages – has irrevocably changed politics everywhere.

If the traditional media weren’t so, well, traditional, they would realize that the 2016 presidential race is a sideshow.  In the progress of humanity the radical candidates with their radical messages are minuscule considerations.  Future historians will not talk about Trump or Cruz, they will talk about the revolution Bernie leads.

Let me be perfectly clear, I am not talking about Sanders’ policy proposals, I am talking about his election strategy.  I will write more about this in the future, but Bernie does not need to win.  He has already changed the nature of elections and politics.

Everywhere.

Forever.

Bernie did this by tapping into the most powerful generation.  Young people are creating a truly democratic movement, one where the people have direct and immediate control of their governments.

Today’s young people are not powerless.  They have more power than anyone has ever had.  Ever.

They have so much power it’s scary.


Texting in the Rain courtesy of Garry Knight via Flickr.

4 Comments

  1. Lonnie Jeffries

    The obvious question is: “What will they do with this ability”? Those who have the ability to mold the future…will they do so wisely, or squander it for short-term, selfish goals? I guess only time will tell!

  2. Ron

    I would have to disagree with your premise that because there is more open communication and processes to make communication easier that “today’s students are the most powerful generation”. Look back on the late 60’s and early 70’s and compare the changes the young people made with massive demonstrations and student unrest and compare that to much of the current student activities. Where that generation was directing all of its attention to an unjust war and the unnecessary deaths and injuries brought on for political reasons, today’s generation is more interested in hurt feelings when someone says or does something they don’t like. If someone said or did something to the 60’s generation that hurt someones feelings, the answer was, “get over it”. Today, universities and schools go out of their way to shelter kids from “hurt feelings” You don’t like a conservative speaker on campus to present opposing views, ban the speaker. You don’t like GOP supporters chalking the head of Trump on campus, complain that it is offensive and the school investigates who did it.

    This generation might have the tools to be the most powerful, but the baby boomers and the Gen X parents have raised a generation of wusses that can’t handle opposing views and accept that others have opposing views and debate the good and bad of both perspectives. If they don’t like an ideology or position taken by someone else, that position should be eliminated. And the way they do that is by complaining that it is offensive.

    “Get over it”. Taking positions on things that matter, using the technology that they have in hand will make them the “most powerful”. As long as they complain about something they don’t like being offensive and others shelter them from that, then they will just continue to be “wusses”.

    • M

      I hadn’t really considered that aspect but there’s certainly some truth there. Perhaps “most empowered” is closer.

      Political correctness is foreclosing in-depth discussion of serious topics. Professors are frightened to teach controversial subjects. Famous comedians (some with notably liberal stances in real life) are refusing to play for college audiences. “Micro-aggression” is coming into vogue as the newest buzzword — think of it as PC amplified exponentially. Where I can often see some value in PC, I’m having trouble seeing any with “micro-aggression” and tend to see it as a passive-aggressive horror, an attempt to assume power without necessarily possessing any of the qualities typically associated with wielding power–knowledge, leadership, etc.

      Consensus seems to form around ideas that are more narcissistic than altruistic.

      Or I may simply be too pessimistic. Sander’s campaign is breaking all the records in both the way and the amount of contributions it’s raising.

  3. Carey simon

    The younger generation is more aware of politics due to the easy access of Internet . Therefore , are easily persuaded as to who to vote for. Our generation tended to follow our parents ideas on politics simply because we had no access to social media. Most of the time we had to watch their television channel of preference. This generation would most likely jump on the Internet to find a topic of their interest.

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