America is changing. It is impossible to characterize the change as simply good or bad because there is a lot of it going on and whether a shift is positive or negative may depend on one’s perspective. However, it is evident that by historic standards we are undergoing rapid evolutions in technology and culture.
Pew Research has posted its list of 18 findings from the last year that stand out to the pollsters as the most significant. Here are some of them:
–Generation Z, those in the six to 21-year-old age group, “are on track to be the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet.” Just 52 percent of this group is non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, the older members of Generation Z are going to college at a “significantly higher rate” than Millennials did.
–This may be surprising given the merger of fact and opinion in news coverage, but Pew found that younger Americans are better than older generations at separating the two. The ability to distinguish between the two was consistent across different ideological groups.
–America is increasingly coming to terms with sexual harassment as more women are willing to open up about their experiences. The Pew researchers found that about six in ten women say they have been sexually harassed.
–We think of the Millennials and Generation Z as heavily dependent on social media, but there is an increasing trend to disconnect. “While about a quarter of all U.S. Facebook users ages 18 and older say they have deleted the Facebook app from their phone, this share increases to 44 percent among Facebook users age 18 to 29.”
–In a finding that may be related, a majority of U.S. teens (59 percent) say they have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Thirty-two percent say they have had false rumors spread about them and one quarter report that they have received explicit images they did not ask for. Ninety percent of teens questioned say online harassment is a problem that affects their peers.
–We have more news than ever, and it’s getting on our nerves. Almost seven in ten Americans (68 percent) say they are worn out by the amount of news there is these days. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they are exhausted by the news, 77 percent to 61 percent.
The Pew research is just a small sampling of how our thinking is changing. The way the next generation thinks about social media, sexual harassment, ethnicity, education, the news media and hundreds of other things is evolving in ways we may not fully understand until we can view them in the rear view mirror.
We may believe that as events unfold they change how we think about things. Albert Einstein saw just the opposite. He said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
But it can also be reasonably argued that events cause us to think differently about things. Perhaps these are not mutually exclusive concepts, but rather they are constantly in motion, producing changes both small and large.
Whatever the explanation, we can always count on the fact that the world tomorrow will not look like today.