As a member of a generation maligned as self-centered, lazy, and perpetually adolescent, David Burstein wrote his new book “Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World” to try and set the record straight about today’s young adults. Through research and interviews with several of the eighty million American Millennials, Burstein paints a nuanced and optimistic portrait of America’s emerging movers and shakers.
You write with more optimism about Millennials than most other people. What drove you to write this book?
For the 2008 election cycle I helped produce a documentary, and have been traveling all over the country showing it at college campuses and registering new voters. A lot of people talked to me about wanting to start an energy company or a business, about doing something about education, or about other problems around them. This is a story that needs to be told. At the same time I was reading all these stories by people from other generations about how our generation is a generation of narcissists, that we’re disengaged, and that’s just not what I’m seeing. So I set out to try and tell the story of our generation from the perspective of the people framing it.
I’m curious as to how the millennial generation is shaped by the Recession.
While this generation is on track to make less money than our parents, the cost of living actually decreasing. We have the lowest levels of car ownership, home ownership and childbirth. Young people today don’t need as much money as they have needed in the past. I think for the first time, you have a group of people not motivated by money as their #1 goal. There is a sense that happiness, fulfillment and community are more important. That is something that is consistently impossible for people of other generations to understand.
How have Millennials adapted the idea of community?
People today are part of so many communities, and they’re consistently and constantly connected to all of them. They take old communities with them, and join new ones along the way. Because of the internet, people can be part of communities across state or international lines, so the ability of young people to spread the work they’re doing is greater than ever before.