Hard News by Russell Brown


Kids these days

Pew Research's A Portrait of "Generation Next" looks like this week's must-read. Pew finds that America's current 18-25 generation is more liberal, more tolerant and more Democrat leaning than the one before - but somewhat lacking in terms of personal goals.

The Summary of Findings has more detail and the full report is here in PDF format. The overall impression suggests both a distinct and a different generational group:

Some interesting bites from the full document:

Social networking:

They are the “Look at Me” generation. Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and MyYearbook allow individuals to post a personal profile complete with photos and descriptions of interests and hobbies. A majority of Gen Nexters have used one of these social networking sites, and more than four-in-ten have created a personal profile.


Gen Nexters stand out from other generations on one measure in particular. They are much more accepting when it comes to downloading or sharing music or video files without paying for them – 46% of Nexters said this was okay, compared with 28% of Xers and less than 20% of Boomers and Seniors.


20% of today’s 18-25 year-olds say they have no religious affiliation or are atheist or agnostic. Only 11% of those over age 25 fall into this category. The gap between young and old has increased substantially over time. In the late 1980s, 11% of young people were non-religious, compared with 8% of those over age 25.

There is a clear generational divide on the issue of evolution. Nearly two-thirds of Nexters (63%) believe humans and other living things evolved over time, while only 33% say all living creatures have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.


One show that has a particular appeal to young people is “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Fully 13% of Gen Nexters report watching the show regularly, compared with 6% of the general public.


These voting patterns reflect a broader Democratic leaning among Gen Nexters. In 2006, 48% of young people identified themselves as Democrats or leaned toward the Democratic Party, while only 35% identified themselves as Republicans – the lowest number recorded by Pew in its nearly 20-year trend. This makes them the least Republican generation. Larger percentages of Gen Xers,38

It is not the case that young people have always been more Democratic. In fact, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, 18-25 year-olds were more Republican than older age groups. Some political science research suggests that voters make the connection to a political party relatively early on in their adult life and tend to stick with that party as they get older; Generation X continues to be the most Republican-leaning generation today. If Gen Nexters remain solidly Democratic and continue to become more politically engaged, this could have major consequences for electoral politics

They are significantly less cynical about government and political leaders than are other Americans or the previous generation of young people. A majority of Americans agree with the statement: “When something is run by the government, it is usually inefficient and wasteful,” but most Generation Nexters reject this idea.


They are more comfortable with globalization and new ways of doing work. They are the most likely of any age group to say that automation, the outsourcing of jobs, and the growing number of immigrants have helped and not hurt American workers.

Pew also split out the marijuana question.

Not unrelated to the above: Pew's Riding the Waves of "Web 2.0", which finds the Web 2.0 concept "More than a buzzword, but still not easily defined." I thought the concluding paragraph of the paper, looking at the contrasting fortunes of GeoCities and MySpace, was pretty insightful:

The Geocities vs. MySpace comparison not only demonstrates the commonalities between the internet of 1996 and 2006, but it also provides a point of departure for understanding concepts of online presence in the Web 2.0 era. While the Geocities model relied on the metaphors of a place (cities, neighborhoods, homepages), MySpace anchors presence through metaphors of a person (profiles, blogs, links to videos, etc.). Geocities encouraged us to create our own cities and neighborhoods as points of entry to our personal worlds; MySpace cuts to the chase and enables direct access to the person, as well as access to his or her social world. And whether we call the current world 2.0 or 10.0, there's no question that the internet of today will look positively beta to future generations.

A further thought on yesterday's post: members of the gay community have every right to feel disgruntled at the programming that's been hurled at them by TVNZ in the past few years. I don't think it's fair to visit those feelings on Umbrella Productions merely because it was the only company to file a prop that actually met the possibly misguided "ob-doc" reality brief issued by TVNZ. Some of what is being said is bitchy and stupid.

Halliburton is moving its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai. Of course. Taxes are for little people. Killer fact: the $2.7 billion that Halliburton is calculated to have overcharged the US government for services in Iraq is greater than the company's entire 2006 profit.

And, finally, check out the raging success that is Jesus Christ Superstore, featuring actions figures of God and other deities. But why is Allah's box always empty? And why did Ganesh sell out before either of them?

PS: I have one double pass to give away to any show on The Clean's tour this month - dates and venues are in the ad on this page. Click reply - first in, first served. UPDATE: It's gone! I hope the unlucky punters will proceed to buy their own tickets ...

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