This is one of the best analyses of the heart of the current generation of young people that I have come across:
“…Let me describe the contours and complexities of emerging generations.
In many ways, young people perceive the world in very different terms that people ever have before. For example, the lifestyles of [young people] are more diverse than those of their parents’ generation, including education, career, family, values, and leisure. Young people do not want to be defined by a “normal” lifestyle. They favor a unique and personal journey. Many young people do not expect to be married or to begin a family as a young adult (if at all), though this may have been the expectation in the past.
For [young people], relationships are the driving force. Being loyal to friends is one of their highest values. They have a strong need to belong, usually to a tribe of other loyal people who know them well and appreciate them. Still, under their relational connectedness lies fierce individualism.
Even thought they esteem fair-mindedness and diversity, they are irreverent and blunt. Finding ways to express themselves and their rage is an endless pursuit. Being skeptical of leaders, products, and institutions is part of their generational coding… They do not trust things that seem too perfect, accepting that life comes with its share of messiness and off-the-wall experiences and people.
Americans of all ages are inundated with media and entertainment options. Yet [young people] consume more hours of media from more sources that do older generations. Many enjoy immensely that latest hot movie, music, website, or pop culture buzz. Technologies connect young people to information and each other – and power their self-expression and creativity – in ways older adults do not fully appreciate.
Young people engage in nearly constant search for fresh experiences and new sources of motivation. They want to try things out themselves, disdaining self-proclaimed experts nad “talking head” presentations. If something doesn’t work for them, or if they are not permitted to participate in the process, they quickly move on to something that grabs them. They prefer casual and comfortable to stuffy and stilted. They view life in a nonlinear, chaotic way which means they don’t mind contradiction and ambiguity. They may tell someone what that person wants to hear, but then do whatever they desire.
Spirituality is important to young adults, but many consider it just one element of a successful, eclectic life. Fewer than one of out ten young adults mention faith as their top priority, despite the fact that the vast majority of them attended a Christian church during their high school years. most young people who were involved in a church as a teenager disengage from church life and often from Christianity at some point during early adulthood, creating a deficit of young talent, energy, and leadership in many congregations.“