The Globals Generation

I ran across this NPR piece about the many transient 20/30-year-old Americans bustling around the world today.  According to John Zogby, author of The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream, not only do we have access to a completely different lifestyle from our parents, but we seem to have created a disparate American Dream for ourselves, too.

The New American Dream:

  • Accumulating experiences rather than things
  • Public service based on the idea of a shared fate

Looking back, I’ve met so many people in college and on the road who perfectly fit this profile, and it’s strange for me to conceptualize us all as this mass movement toward a new American Dream.  Sometimes I feel more like we’re a lost, disillusioned generation–possibly, cornered into fleeing the country and wanting to change the world because we don’t have the most inspirational alternative options.  Zogby makes a good point though that, with the efflorescence of social technology, our perception of near time and space has led to our more global mentality.  However, I’m not sure how much the globals generation can be reduced to these elements: access and technology.  Personally, my inspiration for travel has relied more on a learned need for cultural understanding that started in interaction with my immigrant friends and their parents (including my own family.)

It’s interesting to me that the culture of the globals generation depends a great chunk on travel, and probably very often solo travel.  I’m curious about how members of this generation learn to conceptualize travel as idealistic, even romantic and adventurous, etc.  I’m curious about how they learn to travel period, because I’m confident most of us didn’t learn it from our parents.  My parents are only just now beginning to travel outside the country, and they have traditionally spoken of foreign travel only as vacationing.  My grandma travels only to visit relatives in the Philippines.  I’ve always been attracted to the idea of traveling with a feeling of semi-permanence.  I guess you could say it was a sort of search for global belonging, if not just a desire to gain belonging in the most impossible of circumstances…foreignness.